When football teams start fall camp the first thing most coaches are looking for is what kind of shape the players are in. Did they work hard during the summer to get their bodies ready for the season? Are they able to pick up where they left off at the end of spring ball or have they regressed? What the coaches are hoping to see are guys that are ready to go on Day 1 of fall camp so that the team can hit the ground running.
The coach in charge of making this happen is Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Matt Shadeed. He and his entire staff are the coaches that pick up where Head Coach Blake Anderson and his assistants left off at the end of the spring. Coach Shadeed and his staff are the ones that work with the players throughout the summer to get them ready for the season. Needless to say, they play a vital role to the success of the team and just how high their potential can be when the games begin. AstateNation’s 5th Quarter Preseason series continues below with Coach Shadeed.
1st Quarter: What do you think the typical fan thinks you and your staff do during the summer compared to what you actually do during the summer? – “I think in the modern era of strength and conditioning and how it’s evolved in its importance to the success of a program is recognized more by the average fan. What I think a lot of fans may not know is what type of methods and strategies we use now with the student-athletes. Some may still assume that the old days of doing football-only exercises are what we’re doing now, and that’s where we open some eyes when they see exactly how involved we are in the total health and well-being of our student-athletes. Like with any cross-section of a group of people, I think you have different levels of awareness by the fans of what it is we actually do. A lot of people are surprised by how involved we are beyond the weight room. What I mean by that is the fact that we are involved and monitor factors like nutrition, wellness, sleep habits and body maintenance. I mean, we take our guys grocery shopping and teach them how to shop healthy. We go eat with them in the cafeteria and teach them better eating habits. We track their sleep and wellness scores. We do just as much work outside of the weight room as we do inside the weight room. Our job never stops. When the summer comes, that’s really the meat-and-potatoes time for my staff in putting in work with our student-athletes. Our goal is to make this part of their career and the preparation something they look forward to and take ownership of as opposed to something they dread. What our strength and conditioning staff does with them during summer can determine the success we have in the fall.”
2nd Quarter: Do you think that fans or parents of recruits are surprised when they hear how much more time a player spends with you and your staff compared to the coordinators and position coaches? – “I think it depends on how well-versed the parents are on the modern day process of college football. The ones that are dialed in to that and have done their research are aware of it and it becomes an important part of what they’re researching when they come to visit your program. They want to get to know me and my staff and learn about where we’ve worked before and where our degrees are from; and I think it’s awesome when they are aware of this side of the football equation. They realize that my staff works 365 days a year with the student-athletes. During the times they can’t work with the other football coaches, they’re working with us. It’s an all-year relationship. When they don’t know about us, it does surprise them when they meet us and get a sense of how much we do like I mentioned before. I tell you what though, parents get excited when they meet us and hear what we do because every parent wants the best for their kid. When they hear about how much we do with the student-athletes’ overall health, they get excited, and that gets me excited during the recruiting process and during the season when those parents come into town for games and meet with us.”
3rd Quarter: When fall camp begins and you go to practice, what are the things you’re observing compared to what the other football coaches are focused on? – “What I’m focused on is very different from what the other coaches are focused on. I know enough about football to know what I’m watching, but what I really know about is everything that gets those student-athletes on the field and gets their bodies ready and able to perform. The other coaches don’t need me to teach the guys anything about football. I’m looking for things directly related to our culture and what Coach A wants to see from our guys. I’m talking about energy levels and body language. Making sure guys have a bounce in their step and are preparing properly before and after practice in order to perform well in practice and stay healthy. We’re focused on keeping them hydrated and fueled up properly so that we can maximize their time on the field. So in reality, I’m never really watching the football side of things during practice. I’m aware of what the guys are doing; but as opposed to seeing how they execute the play, I’m looking for what type of bio-mechanics and body movements they’re using to make those plays. My hope is that we’ve worked hard enough in the offseason to give each guy a set of skills they can draw from to make those body movements in any situation they encounter in practice and in the games.”
4th Quarter: Is there a specific school of thought or mentor you draw from when formulating the strategies and methods you’ll use with your players? – “When it comes to strength and conditioning X’s and O’s I think I have a lot of mentors because I think you benefit most from a collaborative mindset in this field. There’s a great mix of people I’ve either worked for or with, and there’s also a lot colleagues I stay in contact with and bounce ideas off of for different situations. I think those connections are important to maintain as our field evolves. More importantly, it helps us at Arkansas State maintain a multi-dimensional approach. We’re not a one-size-fit-all program and so it helps me to stay connected to different schools of thought in order to fuel that multi-dimensional approach. But if there was one specific mentor that has affected me as a strength coach, as a man, and somebody I look to for advice, that would be Paul Jackson, the Strength and Conditioning Head Coach at Ole Miss. I spent time with him at Southern Miss and at Ole Miss. Paul has helped me along the way in my own development. He’s been somebody I could lean on heavily in my career and has supported me in what I’m trying to do with my strength and conditioning program.”
Overtime: What is your favorite memory from this summer? – “Wow, good question. From a personal standpoint, it’s getting to spend time with my wife and my son. He was born back in the spring, but as he’s developed, the summer months are where he started “to come alive” if that makes sense. You know, those moments when he’s hitting little milestones with his awareness of his environment or the moment when he starts to recognize me when I enter a room. That’s been awesome. My wife is just the best mom to him and so getting to just be with them more this summer was my favorite thing to do. It allowed me time to work on being a better husband and a better father than I was the day before. That time is special. From a work perspective, my favorite memory was getting to take the whole strength and conditioning coaching staff down to the Gulf Shores over the Fourth of July holiday. It was such a great time of fellowship and spending time with everybody as a group and our families. If you think about it, not many people take a vacation with the people they spend all day, every day with at work. So for people to buy in and want to do that is a testament to me about the strength of our staff and our relationships. That means a lot to me and I’m so grateful that we did it. We had a great time.”
We would like to thank Coach Shadeed for his time with the 5th Quarter. Look for more editions of the 5th Quarter with other staff members on AStateNation.