Johnson Outlines Summer Conditioning Program

Ohio State strength and conditioning coach Al Johnson takes great pride that the Buckeyes have usually played well at the end of the season the last five years. It's a sign of a well-conditioned team. We recently caught up with Johnson who detailed OSU's summer conditioning program and more.

It is never the off-season when you're a strength and conditioning coach.

The late spring and summer is an important time for college football players looking to add power and speed before the upcoming season begins.

Ohio State strength and conditioning coach Al Johnson took a break from evaluating talent at last Friday's Nike camp at OSU to explain what the Buckeyes will be doing until camp begins in August.

"Well, strength is obviously important, but conditioning and movement is paramount as we enter what is basically the final stage of the preparation process," he said. "The biggest thing is developing teamwork and mental toughness, along with improved strength-gains. But like I say, conditioning makes cowards of us all. But we've been very fortunate and blessed here at Ohio State – especially in the last couple of years – that the kids have done an unbelievable job as far as preparing themselves physically."

One mark of Ohio State's team over the last five years is that it plays well in the second half of games, and plays well at the end of the season. That's a sign of a well-conditioned football team.

"Well, that's the goal," Johnson said. "We've been fortunate that the kids in the month of November have really stepped up. And that's the mark of a good football team. Since Jim Tressel has been here, we've had an excellent record in November and the bowl game. I'd put us up against any team in the country. And that's the mark of champions. The kids work hard and get better. It's not how you start the race, it's how you finish."

Johnson came to OSU in 2001 – a few months after Tressel was hired. He spent the previous 13 years working as the strength and conditioning coach at West Virginia. Following the Buckeyes' national championship in 2002, Johnson was named National Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year.

But he doesn't put much stock in personal awards. What really makes Johnson happy is seeing OSU win games and hearing the team recognized as a well-conditioned group.

"I take great pride in it because that's what I do for a living," he said. "I don't coach on the field and my specialty is obviously strength and conditioning. You're only as good as the people around you, and you're only as good as the people that support you. I've been very blessed to work with this coaching staff and obviously these players. You look at the (NFL) draft and we had nine players go, seven on the first day, five in the first round. So, with our coaches doing a great job of recruiting, it makes my job much easier in terms of the kids and their expectation level and their competition level and the juices seem to flow a little easier knowing that there is talent waiting behind them and they're motivated and ready to go. They want to raise the bar and play at a higher level. I think me and my staff – it's not a one-man operation, it's a group effort. Many soldiers are involved in the process."

Johnson further explained the 2006 summer conditioning program for OSU's players.

"They'll come in five days a week and lift and run," he said. "There are different times when they can come in. We put them on a summer program, but the guys understand that the summer is on them. They'll be getting pushed, but it's really on them to work hard and get better and put in the hours. They all have a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished this summer and now it's let's go out and get it done."

But Johnson does his best to keep the summer program interesting. Each year, the team gets together for a workout/competition in the middle of the night.

"We do ropes and we do some alternative things," Johnson said. "It's about toughness. We do tug-of-war, we flip tires, we do competitive position drills, wooden sled pushes. But the big thing is we try and take them out of that fuzzy, warm environment. I mean, it will be warm this summer, obviously, but we try and take them out of their comfort zone and put them in different positions where they have to figure out how to survive and how to get better. We have a lot of fun with it. It's a good bonding experience."

(When the activities are over, the team fires up a grill and cooks out.)

One of Johnson's primary goals is to see each and every player report to preseason camp in good shape. It's a tough task when you're responsible for 105 players, but that's the objective.

"It's a feeling of accomplishment to the strength staff when the kids come in and show up in good condition," Johnson said. "The season needs to be the easy part. All the preparation is the hard part. The season is the time when you have fun and you're excited about being here and being a Buckeye.

"Our goal as a staff and a program is that… we know everyone around the country is preparing for 60 minutes of football. Well, our goal is to prepare for 60 minutes-plus. So, at the end of the third quarter be able to tip your facemask to your opponent in respect and say, ‘You did a great job. I commend you. But let's see if you prepared yourself for these last 15 minutes as well as we have.' And that's not bragging; that's not gloating. We're just saying that's our mission. And we've been very fortunate at Ohio State to develop that mindset. It's not an option. We have great kids and we couldn't do anything that we do without the support of Coach Tressel and his staff. They've been awesome."

The Woody Hayes Athletic Complex is in the midst of a facelift and is expected to be one of the best facilities in the country upon its completion this fall. Johnson gave his take on the renovations.

"It's nice," he said. "But I like the archaic, gladiator mentality of roughing it a little bit and making them suck it up and taking them out of their comfort zone. I think that's important. But at the same time, we're very excited about what is coming. We're not taking that for granted. It's going to be by far one of the best in the country. You talk to any strength and conditioning coach when they get that new facility they will say, ‘We've got the best facility in the country.' But I tell you what: With the planning and the design I think this really could be the finest facility in America."

Johnson's staff includes assistant strength and conditioning coach Bernardo Amerson, and speed coach Butch Reynolds. The Buckeyes looked outside the box last year to hire Reynolds – a former Olympic gold medal winner in the 4x400 relay and world record holder in the 400-meter dash.

"Butch has been a heck of an addition to our program," Johnson said. "He has worked really hard and the kids have taken to him. And the neat thing is that he's been able to work with our kids not only correctively, but additionally he's been able to improve their speed and quickness and change of direction. It's a unique situation to be able to have someone of Butch's caliber to be able to work with you team, work with your players and the results are starting to show."


 

 



Buckeye Sports Top Stories

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\r\n \r\n","mobileBody":"It is never the off-season when you're a strength and conditioning coach.

The late spring and summer is an important time for college football players looking to add power and speed before the upcoming season begins.

Ohio State strength and conditioning coach Al Johnson took a break from evaluating talent at last Friday's Nike camp at OSU to explain what the Buckeyes will be doing until camp begins in August.

\"Well, strength is obviously important, but conditioning and movement is paramount as we enter what is basically the final stage of the preparation process,\" he said. \"The biggest thing is developing teamwork and mental toughness, along with improved strength-gains. But like I say, conditioning makes cowards of us all. But we've been very fortunate and blessed here at Ohio State – especially in the last couple of years – that the kids have done an unbelievable job as far as preparing themselves physically.\"

One mark of Ohio State's team over the last five years is that it plays well in the second half of games, and plays well at the end of the season. That's a sign of a well-conditioned football team.

\"Well, that's the goal,\" Johnson said. \"We've been fortunate that the kids in the month of November have really stepped up. And that's the mark of a good football team. Since Jim Tressel has been here, we've had an excellent record in November and the bowl game. I'd put us up against any team in the country. And that's the mark of champions. The kids work hard and get better. It's not how you start the race, it's how you finish.\"

Johnson came to OSU in 2001 – a few months after Tressel was hired. He spent the previous 13 years working as the strength and conditioning coach at West Virginia. Following the Buckeyes' national championship in 2002, Johnson was named National Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year.

But he doesn't put much stock in personal awards. What really makes Johnson happy is seeing OSU win games and hearing the team recognized as a well-conditioned group.

\"I take great pride in it because that's what I do for a living,\" he said. \"I don't coach on the field and my specialty is obviously strength and conditioning. You're only as good as the people around you, and you're only as good as the people that support you. I've been very blessed to work with this coaching staff and obviously these players. You look at the (NFL) draft and we had nine players go, seven on the first day, five in the first round. So, with our coaches doing a great job of recruiting, it makes my job much easier in terms of the kids and their expectation level and their competition level and the juices seem to flow a little easier knowing that there is talent waiting behind them and they're motivated and ready to go. They want to raise the bar and play at a higher level. I think me and my staff – it's not a one-man operation, it's a group effort. Many soldiers are involved in the process.\"

Johnson further explained the 2006 summer conditioning program for OSU's players.

\"They'll come in five days a week and lift and run,\" he said. \"There are different times when they can come in. We put them on a summer program, but the guys understand that the summer is on them. They'll be getting pushed, but it's really on them to work hard and get better and put in the hours. They all have a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished this summer and now it's let's go out and get it done.\"

But Johnson does his best to keep the summer program interesting. Each year, the team gets together for a workout/competition in the middle of the night.

\"We do ropes and we do some alternative things,\" Johnson said. \"It's about toughness. We do tug-of-war, we flip tires, we do competitive position drills, wooden sled pushes. But the big thing is we try and take them out of that fuzzy, warm environment. I mean, it will be warm this summer, obviously, but we try and take them out of their comfort zone and put them in different positions where they have to figure out how to survive and how to get better. We have a lot of fun with it. It's a good bonding experience.\"

(When the activities are over, the team fires up a grill and cooks out.)

One of Johnson's primary goals is to see each and every player report to preseason camp in good shape. It's a tough task when you're responsible for 105 players, but that's the objective.

\"It's a feeling of accomplishment to the strength staff when the kids come in and show up in good condition,\" Johnson said. \"The season needs to be the easy part. All the preparation is the hard part. The season is the time when you have fun and you're excited about being here and being a Buckeye.

\"Our goal as a staff and a program is that… we know everyone around the country is preparing for 60 minutes of football. Well, our goal is to prepare for 60 minutes-plus. So, at the end of the third quarter be able to tip your facemask to your opponent in respect and say, ‘You did a great job. I commend you. But let's see if you prepared yourself for these last 15 minutes as well as we have.' And that's not bragging; that's not gloating. We're just saying that's our mission. And we've been very fortunate at Ohio State to develop that mindset. It's not an option. We have great kids and we couldn't do anything that we do without the support of Coach Tressel and his staff. They've been awesome.\"

The Woody Hayes Athletic Complex is in the midst of a facelift and is expected to be one of the best facilities in the country upon its completion this fall. Johnson gave his take on the renovations.

\"It's nice,\" he said. \"But I like the archaic, gladiator mentality of roughing it a little bit and making them suck it up and taking them out of their comfort zone. I think that's important. But at the same time, we're very excited about what is coming. We're not taking that for granted. It's going to be by far one of the best in the country. You talk to any strength and conditioning coach when they get that new facility they will say, ‘We've got the best facility in the country.' But I tell you what: With the planning and the design I think this really could be the finest facility in America.\"

Johnson's staff includes assistant strength and conditioning coach Bernardo Amerson, and speed coach Butch Reynolds. The Buckeyes looked outside the box last year to hire Reynolds – a former Olympic gold medal winner in the 4x400 relay and world record holder in the 400-meter dash.

\"Butch has been a heck of an addition to our program,\" Johnson said. \"He has worked really hard and the kids have taken to him. And the neat thing is that he's been able to work with our kids not only correctively, but additionally he's been able to improve their speed and quickness and change of direction. It's a unique situation to be able to have someone of Butch's caliber to be able to work with you team, work with your players and the results are starting to show.\"

 

 

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