Aug. 21, 2008
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Preseason football practice at the University of Iowa consists of more than form tackling drills and blocking schemes. It also includes dumbbells, barbells and muscle-specific stretching exercises.
“This is a very critical time in the development of our football program,” said Chris Doyle, who is entering his 10th season as head strength and conditioning coach at the UI. “Twenty-nine practices is a huge part of our developmental time, so our focus is mainly on the football field having productive practices. At the same time, we have to maintain peak performance in strength and conditioning to play at our best. We tell our guys, it’s not how strong you are in August, it’s how strong you are in November when the Big Ten championship will be determined.”
The Hawkeye defensive players — as well as the kickers and punters — participated in a stretching, agility and strength workout Thursday, Aug. 21, prior to their 22nd practice of training camp. Doyle said that maintaining an emphasis on strength and conditioning can also significantly reduce injuries during the season.
“We need to do a good job maintaining our strength and our power as well as maintaining our functional mobility during this period of time,” he said. “When you’re practicing as much as we do, guys have dysfunction and that’s when over-use injuries occur. So it’s important for us right now to continue with our mobility development to keep our guys healthy on the field.”
One of the most satisfying aspects of Doyle’s job is watching the players in their final year of eligibility improve not only in the weight room, but on the playing field as well.
“Our seniors have done an outstanding job,” he said. “To see them playing the best football of their lives is pretty rewarding because they know all the hard work has paid off. It’s rewarding as a staff because that’s why you get into this profession. You like seeing guys attain their goals and we’re just excited to see seniors come through the spring into the season and really get to the point where they’re getting ready to play their best football.”
The Iowa football strength and conditioning staff has a bit of a new look this season. James Dobson, who was with the Hawkeyes for nine seasons, and Tyler Clarke, who was at Iowa for three seasons, are now at the University of Nebraska. That opened the door for Iowa to re-hire Raimond Braithwaite, who worked at Iowa from 2002-04, as well as hiring a former UI player — Alex Wilcox. James Frazier is in his second season with the Hawkeyes and Tim Maynard works parttime.
“We maintained a fairly stable staff for quite some time,” Doyle said. “We had a chance to bring back Raimond, who was with us during a very productive time in Iowa football. Rai has a lot of experience and he’s great about developing relationships with players. James Frazier is a guy who is rising in the field of strength and conditioning — he does a great job. Alex Wilcox really values strength and conditioning. He brings a great edge to the weight room because it wasn’t too long ago when he was wearing the same shoes as our players. He’s an intense guy and we’re fortunate to have him with us.”
Human resources are just one reason why Iowa remains on the cutting edge of the strength and conditioning world.
“If you look at our facilities and equipment, there isn’t a better program in the entire country playing college football,” Doyle said. “The equipment we use helps us bridge the gap between strength training and power development that you see on the football field. Through the support of the university, starting with Coach Ferentz as well as Gary Barta and the administration, we’ve been given the opportunity to create the absolute best training atmosphere we can for our football athletes.”
Iowa opens the 2008 season at home against Maine on Saturday, Aug. 30. It is the first of three consecutive games inside Kinnick Stadium for the Hawkeyes.
To view 53 photos from Thursday’s strength and conditioning workout by the UI defense, available exclusively on hawkeyesports.com, click HERE .