The Bombers are getting bigger, faster and stronger.
Changes in voluntary offseason workouts are already transforming the Mountain Home High School football team, and the man second-year head coach
David Joyce credits with the bulking of the Bombers is assistant coach Daniel Rodely, who is in charge of strength and conditioning for the team.
“Coach Rodely runs the weight room,” Joyce said. “I have overall guidelines, just minimum requirements that different schools have. Once those requirements are built into the workouts, I let him use his imagination and his talent as a strength coach to design the program.
“The standard is pretty high, though.”
Rodely graduated from Arkansas State, but spending two months at Auburn University last summer transformed the way the young coach will attempt to transform the Bombers, who enter the 2015 season looking to end a 30-game losing streak.
“I was at Auburn for an internship this time last summer,” Rodely said. “I worked directly under coach Ryan Russell and Jeff Jones. I’ve been in the strength and conditioning atmosphere a long time, and I had always taken a singular approach, because that’s what I learned growing up. When I went to Auburn, I realized why they do these certain things and how they benefit the team.
“There were a lot of things that didn’t make sense even when I left,” he added. “But when I started implementing them, it brought it all together. The learning process still hasn’t stopped. I learn from the kids every day. In two months at Auburn, I learned more than in four years in college.”
MHHS players making gains
And the Bombers are learning as well. Rising senior Grant Steelman has gained 20 pounds this offseason and said his squat has improved by 50 pounds.
“I can see a lot of improvement in the weight program with coach Rodely and coach Joyce here,” he said. “I think our form in the weight room is a lot better than it used to be. Now, it’s all about doing it the right way, and we’ve seen a lot more gains.”
Rodely points out that for younger players and novice lifters, the training is about using their bodies more efficiently than about making gains.
“My rules are, first, don’t get anybody hurt in training, second, try to train to not get hurt in the sport — preventing injury on the field — then, third, is enhance performance,” Rodely said. “I want them to develop tools they need to compete on Fridays, but as far as percentages, it would be harder for one of my advanced lifters to gain 25 percent than someone who just started lifting.”
Even with veteran players, Rodely makes sure each one is well-versed in each lift.
“Right after football season, we’ll do kind of a stage-zero program, which is making sure the kids know how to do lifts correctly,” Rodely said. “No one should be doing anything they’re not ready to do. We take two or three weeks to make sure everyone is ready.”
“Before we work out, (Rodely) goes over every single lift,” added rising senior Marcus May. “Plus, they’ve really expanded the types of lifts we do.”
May says he has added 30 pounds over the past year.
“I didn’t hardly gain any weight before this year,” he said. “We still have a long way to go, though.”
Simulation training at high altitude
As technology constantly changes, so does training for athletes. The coaching staff has Mountain Home’s two-way players training in special elevation training masks, which simulate training at a high altitude.
“We put 12 guys in those elevation training masks,” Joyce said. “I wear one every day when I do my workout. My wife wears one. It’s brutal, and you just really have to focus on your breathing. It requires a little more concentration.
“My favorite part is that not only your lungs are getting a workout, but it’s mental training, too. If you don’t stay focused with them, your breathing gets off and you struggle. The kids love them.”
Competition with a training partner or a fellow position player can lead to more improvement as well.
“The kids get an opportunity to compete every day, whether it’s against themselves to lift a heavier weight, or against their training partner at the rack,” Rodely said. “It’s another competitive edge I see on the field as well. The kids have been working real hard, and we’ve had really good attendance. We have about 75 percent of our varsity players who’ve volunteered their time to show up.”
May agrees that friendly competition can go a long way in building athletes.
“I have Payton Parker in my group, a wide receiver, and we go at it every day — on the field and in the weight room,” he said. “Whether we go up in weight or stay at the same weight, it’s always fun to compete. It pushes you to be better.”
First full offseason a success
Joyce joined the program in 2014 right after spring break, so this will be his first full offseason with the squad.
“Every coach besides coach (Jim) Tejcek was new, so even though I got here in April, my staff wasn’t complete until two days into two-a-days (August), at the very end,” he said. “The offseason was affected a lot by that.”
One area where Joyce is seeing the most improvement this offseason is one of the most important in the sport.
“When we played West Memphis last year, we had one kid who could run a sub-5 second 40 (yard-dash),” Joyce said. “When we play Harrison this year, we’ll have nine on defense who can.
“Those aren’t 4.6s and below, but they are still a lot faster than they were,” he added. “When we started, the entire program — that’s including incoming ninth-graders — had four or five kids who could run sub-5, and the last testing we did in May, we had 22 break 5 seconds. We’ve got a lot more 4.8s and 4.9s than we’ve had.”
Rodely has noticed a new gear to which some of the Bombers can reach.
“It’s obvious our guys look like they play faster,” Rodely said. “And that’s not just straight-ahead. Speed isn’t just running straight. They have to run forward, backward and side-to-side, or jump in the air or get up off the ground. That’s definitely seen in practice.”
Documenting individual workouts
Another aspect that has helped each player is having his own complex, personal workout log.
“Each week, they get one of these,” Joyce said, pulling out a stack of papers. “A coach has to sign off on each of these and watch you do those lifts.”
Joyce pulled one random file to illustrate improvement.
“His bench press at 70 percent in December was 140 pounds,” he noted of the player. “The last time we did bench, he did 230 as his working bench.”
Joyce then pulled a different workout log.
“Week one, his squat was 335 pounds. His squat now is 380 pounds,” Joyce noted. “What we’re looking to do is increase each lift 25 percent. That’s my overall goal for a program. What ends up happening, usually, is you make great gains for about four months, then summer hits and everything stagnates because of the running, the heat, getting ready for the season — you just don’t make those gains.”
Rodely notes the complexity of each player’s file.
“It has not only the percentage weight the player should lift, but also has their goals for the summer,” he said, “so it’s a reminder of where they are and where they want to be. It also tells them what to do, how to do it, how many reps to do, and the weight to do.
“All the information is right in front of them, so they can focus on doing the workout instead of asking me what they need to do.”