High school football games are not played in March or April, but the importance of working in spring to succeeding in fall is impossible to understate.
With high school weight rooms around the country empty this time of year for the first time in recent memory, coaches around Hall County are beginning to worry about what the long term effects may be.
Students are currently scheduled to return to class no earlier than April 24 — just five days before the start of spring practices for the Gainesville football team — and Red Elephants coach Heath Webb said he’s not sure what to expect.
“How good is that spring practice going to be after missing so much time in the weight room and missing so much time on speed and agility?” Webb said. “How good of shape are we in? What’s the quality of our practices going to be? All those things are question marks.”
The biggest issue according to Webb is the lack of access to weight training equipment.
Spring is typically the time of year when players are building a foundation of strength and fitness that will serve as the team’s backbone come fall. Missing that time is going to take its toll.
“The first three months of the year, maybe the first four months, you’re going to make your biggest strength gains, just because you’re able to lift heavily more frequently during the week,” said Gainesville strength and conditioning coach Chris Davis. “During the season, we get one heavy lift during the week. When it’s the offseason, you get two for each body part. I think that’s the biggest thing.”
In an effort to keep players in shape, Davis has been putting out workouts on social media for the team — a practice that he has seen among other strength and conditioning coaches around the country.
The idea is to help athletes develop routines to keep them busy and working, rather than slacking off, while no one is there to hold them accountable. With contact between coaches and players strictly prohibited, each member of the team will have to rely on self discipline to stay in shape.
“There really aren’t any secrets,” Davis said. “That’s the deal with this whole thing. There aren’t any secrets. It’s just who’s going to have the discipline and the routine. That’s the bottom line.”
The long term effects of missing time in spring are relative unknowns right now, but both Davis and Webb understand how important it is that players make the most of the down time.
Whether or not they do will be very evident come fall.
“Football is a preparation sport,” Webb said. “This will be the year that you’ll be able to really tell which teams really prepared during this time and which teams took it as a vacation and did nothing.”