Aug. 29, 2007
- Iowa opens season in Chicago
- Hey Windy City, here come the Hawkeyes
- Iowa Football Camp Central
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
- The Big Ten Network: Nuts and Bolts
IOWA CITY —The emphasis on sculpting a bigger, faster and stronger athlete has brought the spotlight to strength and conditioning programs across the country. At the University of Iowa, where ninth-year coach Chris Doyle directs the program, it isn’t all about adding bulk to a body. It’s about growth and relationships.
“As a coach, we’re in the field of education,” Doyle said. “We share the same goals as a teacher would in the development of young people. We believe there are life lessons to be learned in the sport of football that are going to carry on forever. Certainly you see our guys who come through the University of Iowa football program — they’re learning life lessons that are going to help them down the road to being a better dad, to being a better husband, to being a better brother, friend and a better member of the community.”
Doyle is a certified strength and conditioning specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). As a strength and conditioning professional, Doyle has tutored 141 student-athletes who have advanced to the professional ranks in the NFL, NHL and NBA. Iowa has had 20 players selected in the past five NFL drafts, while as many as 27 additional Hawkeyes have signed free agent contracts in the past five years. Doyle deflects any credit for the success and growth of the UI student-athletes. In what has become typical Hawkeye fashion, he defers the praise to a black and gold “team effort.”
“There are so many great people here and it starts at the top with (Head Coach) Kirk Ferentz,” Doyle said. “Kirk really sets the tone around here for integrity and character development. Our staff completely buys into the values that Kirk has laid out for us, so it’s a team effort that starts at the top and goes all the way down to whoever the last guy is on our roster. Everybody’s on the same page and everybody has a common goal — players and coaches. There’s a mutual commitment that exists and as a result there are people that come out of our program who are ready to take on the challenges of life. That’s what a good program should be doing.”
With a football squad in excess of 100, it’s important for Doyle and his staff to monitor the maturation level of the particular athlete and provide an individual program that will aid all players to reach the desired echelon in speed development, flexibility, power development, strength development as well as grasping an understanding of the basics of proper nutrition and recovery.
“It’s important to maintain a beginner’s mind and we’re constantly looking to improve our program,” Doyle said. “As players mature, they need a varied stimulus to continue to improve. They need different stimulus week-to-week. That’s the fun part of being a strength and conditioning coach for elite athletes — not only do they need it, but also it’s fun for us to design programs that are maybe a little different.”
“There are so many great people here and it starts at the top with (Head Coach) Kirk Ferentz. Kirk really sets the tone around here for integrity and character development. Our staff completely buys into the values that Kirk has laid out for us, so it’s a team effort that starts at the top and goes all the way down to whoever the last guy is on our roster. Everybody’s on the same page and everybody has a common goal — players and coaches. There’s a mutual commitment that exists and as a result there are people that come out of our program who are ready to take on the challenges of life. That’s what a good program should be doing.”
UI Coach Chris Doyle
There are four fulltime strength and conditioning coaches for the football program at Iowa — Doyle, James Dobson (ninth season), Tyler Clarke (third season) and James Frazier (first season).
There is a long string of pupil names of UI football players who have blossomed under Doyle and the Hawkeye system. Some of Doyle’s recent star protégés include Brad Banks, Bob Sanders, Dallas Clark, Robert Gallery, Nate Kaeding and Aaron Kampman.
“There have been a lot of them,” Doyle said. “Eric Steinbach is a special guy. Chad Greenway, Abdul Hodge and Jonathan Babineaux…there are a bunch of guys. If you look at the Iowa football program, we have benefitted from having outstanding people in our program.”
The strength and conditioning facility at the UI contains the usual motivational slogans — Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard. Build the mountain, break the rock.
All the motivation, whether it be from a sign hanging in the weight room, to work out plans devised by Doyle and his staff, is paying off. Numbers do not lie: A five-year football record of 45-17 (.726) from 2001-05, including five consecutive winning seasons; three straight seasons of 10 or more victories from 2002-04; six consecutive bowl game appearances; Big Ten championships in 2002 and 2004; national award-winners in Gallery (2003 Outland), Banks (2002 Davey O’Brien and 2002 Associated Press National Player of the Year), Clark (2002 Mackey) and Kaeding (2002 Groza). All those stars toiled long and hard in the weight room of the Jacobson Athletic Building.
“Football is a game that’s really geared toward the explosive athlete,” Doyle said. “It’s the explosive athlete that wins on the football field. It’s not just how strong you are, it’s how fast you can apply that strength.”
Winning in football has become tradition at the UI. The team effort Doyle stresses in the weight room has transcended to the playing fields at historic Kinnick Stadium and elsewhere around the Big Ten Conference. At Iowa it’s a successful mix of talented student-athletes and coaches and one thing is certain — the blue print the Hawkeyes use works. Look no further than a list of past all-Big Ten performers or take a glance at current rosters of almost every NFL team. You will see names of Hawkeyes in both places. Hawkeyes who were trained the Iowa way.
What Others Are Saying About the UI Strength & Conditioning Program:
Robert Gallery, Oakland Raiders: “Coach Doyle is a huge part of my success. He’s a great guy with a great program and he makes it fun. That’s why I still come back to train with him and I’ll continue to as long as he’s here.”
Sean Considine, Philadelphia Eagles: “The strength program is huge at Iowa. It’s great to have a guy like Coach Doyle who’s been here for so long. Obviously he’s one of the top strength coaches in the country, if not the best there is. That’s why I always like to come back as much as I can in the off-season. They do great things. Being able to work with Coach Doyle for five years really helped me out and put me in position not only to succeed at Iowa, but to move on to the NFL.”
Chad Greenway, Minnesota Vikings: “Coach Doyle keeps things fresh. He does a variety of things to get you stronger in different ways — they keep you excited about coming to the weight room. Coach Doyle keeps you motivated and keeps you coming in and getting stronger every day. You have fun in there and you work very hard.”
Nate Kaeding, San Diego Chargers: “I still incorporate a lot of the stuff I learned through Coach Doyle — the importance of doing functional workouts that work your whole body. As a kicker I want to work my core area and Coach Doyle really introduced me to those workouts. He also taught us about the overall importance of being prepared and taking care of the body on the field and at home with what you eat and drink and what you put in your body. I still use a lot of those things I learned here at Iowa in the NFL.”
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