No. 4 Butler (Matthews, N.C.) polished off a perfect 15-0 season by capturing its third state 4AA championship in four years with a 56-28 win against Fayetteville Britt.
Ask coach Brian Hales what’s behind the team’s consistent success, and he endorses his players’ intensity in the weight room, including occasional twice-daily workouts during the offseason. We caught up with Hales to find out what goes on inside.
What’s the environment like in the weight room?
Hales: We take the CrossFit concept and apply it with our players — getting them to compete every time we work out. It builds competitiveness and cohesiveness among the team.
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What kind of competitions do your players do?
It can be something as simple as doing 100 box jumps or a combination of deadlift and ball slams, or 100 hammer swings the fastest.
What's your approach to offseason versus in-season lifting?
I’ll use more overhead lifts [during the offseason] like shoulder presses and snatches. I don’t really use those during the season because I want to limit the injury factor as much as possible.
Tell us a lift that is core to your strength program.
The one thing we major in is hang clean — we’ll do five or six sets of two reps.
The lift has the most translation from the weight room to the football field. It’s explosive and takes everything from just above your knee to just below the bottom of your chest. Guys who are the strongest in that area are going to be better blockers and more explosive when breaking tackles.
As for other weight room equipment, what else gets the most use by your athletes?
The tires. They may have to flip a tire nine times, then they’ll do 15 pushups and 21 jumps on the tire — and they’ll have four rounds of that.
Whoever wins gets to name the workout. The one that stuck with that workout was Salty, because that’s how you feel when you’re done — and beat up and worn down.
In terms of recovery, what’s one way you help ensure your athletes stay healthy?
One thing we do that’s different compared to other schools around us is that we do nothing at all on the weekend. Once the game is over on Friday, we don’t see [our players] until after school on Monday. It’s important to be refreshed.