Coach's Corner

Q&A with strength and conditioning coach Rock Gullickson

Rock Gullickson finished his second season as strength and conditioning coordinator for the Green Bay Packers and 30th season as a coach.

Gullickson was hired by head coach Mike McCarthy, with whom he worked with when both were with the New Orleans Saints earlier this decade. Prior to serving as strength and conditioning coordinator with the Saints from 2000-05, Gullickson worked in the same capacity for more than 20 years in the college ranks. A few of the stops as strength and conditioning coordinator during his college career included the University of Louisville (1998-99), University of Texas (1993-97), Rutgers University (1990-92), and Montana State (1982-89). At Texas, he worked with Ricky Williams, Priest Holmes and Casey Hampton.

In 2000, Gullickson received the President's Award, voted by his peers in the Professional Football Strength and Conditioning Society.

Gullickson took a timeout recently with Packer Report managing editor Todd Korth to answer questions on the team's conditioning program:

Q: What is the difference in the conditioning of players during the season as compared to the off-season?
Rock Gullickson:
"What we typically do during the off-season is we train the guys four days a week, Monday through Thursday, and we've got them for about a two-hour block. During the regular season, about half of the team, the older veterans, will train twice a week, and the younger guys will train three days a week, and the training period is only about 40 minutes, so it is significantly reduced once you get into the regular season.

"Our goal during the season is to maintain the strength that we gained in the off-season and to protect the guys from any injuries that they might incur, but also you have to be careful as to not over-train them. Particularly as we get to the last half of the season, as we get to the end, guys are kind of running out of juice, so we don't want to take away any energy that might be saved up for the games, so we have to be very careful as we come to the end of the season."

Q: What does a typical training period involve for each player? Weights? Cardio?
RG:
"Off-season, of course, is a little bit of everything. At this point during the season is primarily strength training. We do some stretching and some core stability work, but most of the work is strength and weight training."

Q: After the season, how much time do the players take off from strength and conditioning? RG: "We suggest that they take the first four-to-six weeks off after the season to do exactly what they want to do. An active rest cycle to get their bodies back and start to feel some energy come back and get over any bumps and bruises that they might have incurred during the season. But we tell them to take four to six weeks on their own. Do what they want to do. Once we get into the middle of February, we send them a short workout that will enable them to get back into the training mode, so when they come for the start of the off-season training program in March, it's not like starting from square one. They've done some preliminary work."

Q: How important is the Packers off-season conditioning program?
RG:
"When Coach McCarthy talks about the off-season, he talks about the importance of having everybody here and doing the same training. That there is kind of a brotherhood that we're all doing this together for a common goal. Last off-season, we averaged about 60 guys for a workout for the entire off-season, which is good for the Packers. That was an improvement. He has said from Day 1, ‘The off-season program is where you establish your work ethic.' He wanted everybody to be here, and we're getting there."

Q: Is it difficult to get 100 percent participation in the off-season program?
RG:
"When you think about some of the older veterans that know what they need to do to prepare themselves, you think about Brett (Favre). Would Brett be better off if he was here the whole time? I'm not sure. Brett has some special needs and he's been able to take care of himself. He's been through the game long enough, so he knows what he has to do to prepare himself. I don't know if we'll ever have 100 percent (participation), but we will certainly strive to get all the younger guys here."

Editor's note: To read more of Gullickson's thoughts on Brett Favre and his conditioning, the best conditioned athletes on the team, and how changes last year helped the Packers avoid major injuries in 2007, check out the January 2008 issue of Packer Report magazine. Click here to subscribe to Packer Report magazine.


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