University of Maryland Football
GETTING STARTED WITH VELOCITY BASED TRAINING
Coach Wes Bordelon fell into strength and conditioning by happenstance after his college playing career ended. He spent a few years hustling, driving long distances and keeping long hours. He learned coaching philosophy and training style from Coach Gayle Hatch, and how to incorporate olympic weightlifting into his sports performance training. And inadvertently came upon velocity based training while looking for specific speeds with olympic lifts.
Coach Bordelon found himself in Louisiana for the first few years of his career working with and learning from impactful coaches. And then went out to Colorado State University and worked with Coach Ryan Davis. When Coach Davis took the job at University of Maryland Football, he took Coach Bordelon with him. In the last four years, they’ve built the UMD Football program up, renovated a weight room to one of the best in the country, and incorporated VBT into the ethos of their program.
Says Coach Bordelon: “Everything in the game is speed. The higher the rate of force you can produce, the faster you are, the better athlete you are, the more success you're going to have. VBT opened up my mind to a whole different style of training.”
IMPLEMENTING VELOCITY BASED TRAINING
VBT use at Maryland started with Tendo units and it started in season. The coaching staff began noticing athlete buy-in was greater with this addition of objective data. The athletes knew what they were doing, why they were doing it, and why the device was going to help them achieve their goals. Said Coach Wes Bordelon: “VBT was a great tool to validate what we were doing and what we were trying to achieve, and it was a form of feedback for the player instantly. It created a greater sense of buy in and trust.” Some ideas to help get going with VBT:
- Start slow when introducing, new technology to your program. It’ll get picked up quickly!
- Evaluate all weight room technology, and see what the best fit is for your program and needs.
- Future proof your technology pick and make sure you go with a company and product that will grow with you
- Let the data motivate athletes will find a way to compete, so use this as a tool to enhance that.
But with LPTs came limitations in regards to workflow, they were moving slow and strings were breaking. At the same time, the UMD staff was starting to plan a new facility, one that they knew needed to be the best and most advanced facility in the country. In this way they could elevate their program, validate their outcomes, and attract the best talent nationwide. So UMD started experimenting with new forms of weight room technology. “The Perch as compared to the Tendo unit is a giant screen with immediate feedback and it is color coded. So it made VBT even simpler for our guys. They have their name up there, they have their own personal profile, so it created an even greater sense of buy-in.”
The craziest part? Wes and the strength staff at UMD don’t test true 1RMs anymore. “If you knew us, you’d know our old school method of thinking is always chasing that 1RM. But because of velocity based training we’ve seen the difference between guys who have really high 1RMs and guys who have really fast 1RMs, and we can see the explosive athletes, and we can identify those factors from athlete to athlete.” Implementing VBT and getting data points on football players outside of 1RMs has helped them identify critical factors in athlete performance.
WEIGHT ROOM CULTURE & VBT
Athletes who had been using the Tendos now liked the idea of VBT even more because they could see the immediate feedback from everything they were doing really clearly. They could also see what everyone else was doing near them, so implementing Perch created an even more competitive atmosphere. Athletes now coach each other up, hold each other accountable, and compete. “It’s been a really great tool to hammer home the intent of each day.”
Now UMD has Perch units on every single rack in the room. The staff worried about new technology being a big learning curve for players. To their surprise, players adapted quickly because it brought that sense of competitiveness. Athletes want to do it right because they can see each other's data on the rack and how each other are performing. “The biggest things we’ve seen with the players is the buy-in and the intent. And we have giant TVs in here, so we take advantage of the leaderboard.”
The strength staff will set up competitions in the Perch leaderboard for O-Line vs. D-Line and challenge them to generate the most power or velocity across the room. “As strength coaches we know it is hard to bring it every day. So if you have any tool that will just bring out that competitive juices and get the guys going, that’s a huge win.”
OUR TIPS & TRICKS
Don’t be afraid to use technology. Perch has helped us build relationships and trust, because athletes really understand why we’re doing things, that we care, and it is an additional tool to help us improve athlete performance.
Trust your athletes to compete. They’re in your room because they’re exceptional athletes, and exceptional athletes compete. Give them a tool that turns into a game and let them run with it. They will adapt to it incredibly quickly.
Use weight room technology to help recruit. There’s a cool factor with it, sure, but the biggest thing we talk about is safety with our athletes. The other side to this is that we can autoregulate everything an athlete is doing to make sure they are training at peak performance. Safety and performance are paramount.
Use it yourself. The best coaches know the importance of training their program before applying it to athletes. Use VBT, see what works and what doesn’t for you first, and then let your athletes run with it. You’ll be impressed with what you see.
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