Ever wonder what sets Super 25 teams apart from the other thousands? We’ll tell you. Each week, take an inside look at how the nation’s best teams train and prepare for Friday Night Lights.
It’s an understood tradition at No. 4 Byrnes (Duncan, S.C.) that if you want to be a future Rebel, the transformation begins in middle school.
As early as seventh grade, prospects learn to perform complex lifts like the overhead squat.
Relax. They use broomsticks and resistance bands to master proper technique before integrating weight.
“The program we have gives us a tremendous advantage. We’re ahead of a lot of other guys around here,” says senior linebacker Alex Garrett, who, along with fellow teammates, devotes himself to year-round training — summers and holidays included except Christmas Day.
It’s all part of the Rebels’ speed and development program, which strength and speed coach Mike Srock says has given his players winning results over the years — 11 state titles, including last season’s Class AAAA Division I championship.
“There’s a large bull’s-eye on the team,” Srock says. “We’re everybody’s Super Bowl.”
Gone are the days of focusing on getting as big and strong as possible. Srock’s philosophy — partly derived from strength coaches at elite programs like South Carolina and Clemson — has shifted to being all about speed.
“The game has evolved to how fast everybody can be,” Srock says.
Byrnes’ workouts are set at a quick and explosive pace — even during “recovery” training held on Sunday afternoons during the season.
The one-hour full-body sessions include a dynamic warm-up of skips and bounds followed by speed work of back pedals, side shuffles and use of an acceleration ladder.
Players then move to explosive and heavy lifts like squats and power cleans. The focus isn’t on loading a lot of weight. Rather, it’s bar speed — moving the weight fast with resistance to develop quick, explosive power.
Srock will also integrate the close-grip bench press, bent over rows, shrugs, pullups, military press and core work as a finisher.
REBEL TRADEMARK EXERCISE
Srock uses single-arm kettlebell swings to teach players how to forcefully explode from their ankles, knees and hips. He notes the amount of weight used for the exercise isn’t as important as the focus on exploding forward.
Single-Arm Kettlebell Swings
• Stand with knees bent slightly and feet hips-width apart
• Hold kettlebell in right hand
• Bring wrist to knee
• Push forward with hips and come onto balls of feet
• Swing kettlebell to shoulder height
• On descend, heels come down; return to start position
• Explode back up and repeat motion; switch to left hand
Form tip: Keep back flat
Sets/Reps: Perform 3 sets of 5-7 reps