While the games end following the bowl season, the football season doesn't end. Strength and conditioning has become a year around process for the majority of college athletes. Players work out year round, improving their size, speed and stamina.
ITV recently spent a few minutes with Coach Mike Kent and discussed the strength and conditioning program at Louisville.
ITV: What is strength and conditioning?
Coach Kent: Basically everything is sport specific now. You want to do everything that you can to enhance their performance, so everything that you try to do is related to the movements that they will be doing on the field and in their specific positions. The running program and the lifting program is based upon that.
We are a hip oriented program, so everything is basically centered around the hip. Whether it's running, jumping, flexing, power cleans and things like that and our squat routines are all going to be centered around the hip. That's where the speed and power are all generated from.
ITV: Are you doing anything differently under the new coaching staff?
Coach Kent: There's been just a few changes. There may be a little more emphasis in some areas, but it is pretty much an adaptable program, so the transition has been real good.
ITV: Are there different workout programs for the different positions?
Coach Kent: You really don't have much difference. We are going to write a very basic, foundation type program. Where you might start doing special things are with your quarterbacks and your kickers. As far as the rest of them it is pretty basic.
As far as conditioning, we do get a bit more position specific. Next week we will change directions a bit and focus on position specific running. As for lifting, your quarterbacks will be a little bit different, but not much.
Eric Shelton (ITV)
Coach Kent: Yes, but it is individualized. There might be a base program across the board, but with each person we set their goals. I'll personally chart each person and how they progress. There's not a set standard for a certain position, it is done by each person individually. You really want to be able to chart a kid from his redshirt freshman year through his senior year. For example, Robert McCune, one of our linebackers, in 2000 he inclined 325-pounds and his increase has been up to 470-pounds.
I think the biggest thing about goal setting in numbers is that it accounts for something. We could set goals to have great lifting numbers, but then not do anything on the field, but our emphasis is to have it count for something.
ITV: Can a quarterback improve his arm strength, as in his ability to throw the ball down the field?
Coach Kent: Yes, I think so. That comes into the specific type stuff. So much of the arm strength is generated by the flexing and extension of the hip, so yes it can, definitely.
Coach Kent: Sure, but then you start to get into the science of things. Obviously you are born with a certain amount of athletic endowment. So, we just have to tap that. If you are specific in your training, especially weight-bearing, like squats and things like that, you can emphasize the proper ranges of motion and increase speed.
ITV: How has the commitment from the players been in regards to the voluntary summer workouts?
Coach Kent: We've been here three and half years and the players have all shown an unbelievable commitment. It's kind of neat, because the have created a great environment, which helps them want to show up. They spend an incredible amount of investment in themselves…they're doing it all for thirteen games if they go to a bowl game. It's definitely a positive environment that they've created.
ITV: How soon do you begin working with the players once they sign their Letter of Intent to play at Louisville?
Coach Kent: Basically, once they sign we can do things like send them summer manuals. We'll include a nutrition section as well. We can't instruct them really…not until they actually come in.
ITV: Do you get involved at all in recruiting?
Coach Kent: We're not at all really. We are extremely limited in what we can do.
ITV: Are you in charge of regulating the player's diets, as far as if they need to lose weight or gain weight?
Coach Kent: We do that, but it is all in correspondence with the coaches. Coach Honeycutt is the nutritional guide and he'll sit down with the players individually and talk to them about proper eating habits and things like that. From a habit standpoint, you really have to teach them the right way to eat.
ITV: How would you say the progress of the offensive line's strength has developed?
Coach Kent: As far as what they have done in [the weight room] they have all progressed. As far as work habits they have great work habits. There is no question about whether they are hard workers. One thing I like to stress to them is that they should make each trip to the weight room count for something.
As you can see strength and conditioning plays a huge part of the success of the team. So the next time you are at a game and you see a kid that looks bigger and faster then the last time you saw them, you can thank the two behind the scene guys in Coach Kent and Coach Honeycutt for their hard work all year long.
Coach Mike Kent joined the Louisville staff in 2000 after spending one season at Eastern Kentucky where he was responsible for the strength and conditioning of 16 varsity sports. Prior to that he spent nine seasons at Appalachian State. He achieved his masters degree from NC State where he started his career as a graduate assistant from 1985. Coach Kent earned the Southern Conference Strength Coach of the year award in 1995 and he is an active member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and the American Football Coaches Association.
Coach Darren Honeycutt also joined Louisville staff in 2000 after spending four seasons with Baylor University as the assistant Strength and Conditioning coach. Prior to Baylor he spent two seasons at Texas Tech in a similar position. Coach Honeycutt worked alongside Coach Kent at Appalachian State from 1991 to 1993. He was a graduate assistant at Appalachian State and earned his masters degree there in 1994. He is a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association as well as USA Weightlifting.