Get Big

Putting size on to players is a difficult but crucial part of off season development as well as in season maintenance.  I have coached at 2 schools are the lowest end of the socioeconomic spectrum.  Most of the kids struggle to get enough calories in their bodies to just maintain while working out, let alone add on size.

I have always heard stories of teams giving protein supplements to their players but legally this is a huge NO NO, and i highly advise against that.  I want to share some perfectly legal things I have done, to help my players eat more calories throughout the day, to help them put on some size and strength.

After School Program
We have a pretty robust After School Program here with a number of academic and enrichment activities.  Our off season weight lifting operates along with the “FIT Club”.  Any student who participates is given a free snack, and a free dinner.  This is a great resource to have and I know we are lucky to have it.  This is the easiest one for me, because it is completely free to our students and myself.  I just have to take attendance everyday, and the students who come and stay for the duration of our workouts get a snack from me on their way out the door, and can go to the cafeteria for a dinner after that.

Financing Your Food

  • The rest of the ideas all come with a cost.  Someone has to pay for more food beyond the after school program. Some options include
  • A booster Club/touchdown club fundraising
  • Parents donating groceries
  • Seeking player/parent donations to purchase food
  • Food donations
  • Coach(es) buying the food

I personally buy all of the extra food out of my own pocket.  I keep my receipts, and document the cost of my donations on an excel sheet.
The ideas I am going to share below are calorie dense, and relatively cheap.  Teacher’s obviously don’t make a whole lot so I try to get the most bang for my buck in terms of calories per dollar.  I also take what they like and some variety in to account.  The kids have to WANT to eat in order to get big.  Every kid says “I eat a lot”… no they do not, otherwise they would have no problem putting on weight.

There are plenty of apps that can calculate basal caloric needs (at least ballpark range) based on age, height, weight, and activity level.
You need to add 500 calories to that amount, every single day just to gain weight at a rate of 1lb per week.  If a kid is really active, add more.

Before I share the foods I buy weekly, please keep the hippie comments to yourself.  I do not want to hear about “junk food”, at the end of the day I personally believe they need more calories overall.  I try to pick out foods that are also high in protein, since i can’t give them protein supplements. So if you have something negative to say, drive your Prius to your local CrossFit gym and leave me alone 🙂

PB&J
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I have a large table in the back of my classroom.  I keep it stocked with Peanut Butter, Jelly, and Bread.  PB and Jelly I have found is usually cheapest in double packs at Costco or Sam’s Club.  I usually get the bread from a local discount grocery store, they are under $1 a loaf.  This is a really easy way to add calories, kids can come in any time, make a sandwich or two in about 30 seconds and head to their next class.  I have a big group of kids who come in and make one every day before school otherwise they would never eat breakfast.  I keep plates, napkins, wipes, and plastic ware all on the back table so they can clean up and make their sandwiches without having to bug me.  Probably the best bang for my buck and can feed a lot of kids for cheap.
Frozen Dinners
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These are great.  I use these for a few specific kids I am really trying to bulk up with extra calories.  Each of these 3 items cost less than $1, and the kids love them.  Yes there is a lot of carbs and fat, but there is also a good amount of protein.  They just need calories.  The cheesburger Mac is every kid’s favorite, they absolutely love it.  The Totino’s pizza is a great value, only a dollar, and it is 680 calories if a kid eats the whole thing.
I have a full size fridge/freezer next to the PB&J station and I keep the freezer stocked up with these items.
Pop-Tarts
pop tarts
Pop Tarts are great.  They are cheap and pretty calorie dense.  The 2 pastries that come in each foil pack are usually at least 400 calories total.  I can get 4 packs for under $2.  That is less than 50 cents for 400 calories.  It is pretty much all Carbs but I have found them to be really convenient when a kid doesn’t have time to make a sandwich, or I want to give him something he can put in his backpack, and eat later in the day for a snack.

 

Getting WRs involved in the Run Game

WRs by nature are usually the guy(s) you want with the ball in their hands.  Speed, moves, and the ability to break a long play any time they get their hands on the ball.  The problem, is that it can be difficult to get them the ball consistently in the passing game.  You see this even at the NFL and College level where a stud WR gets held to a rather pedestrian day.  I am  a big believer in using WRs in the run game for a few reasons

  1. It guarantees they are getting the ball in their hands, more touches = more chances to pop an explosive play
  2. Gives the ball to someone else so teams can’t just attack the tail back
  3. Adds a level of deception to our offense, which many coaches feel you lack being in the gun/pistol (we will run these WR plays as well as fake to them )
  4. Motion or a unique formation presents one more element for the defense to prepare for
The 2 concepts I will talk about today are
Jet Sweep
WR sweep
In the Jet sweep, we are bringing a WR in motion, timing the snap to hit him close to full speed and trying to get to the edge.  We use OZ blocking with the OL, and we use the FB and RB to kick out force and lead up for the Jet WR.
The first 2 clips below show our regular motion jet sweep.  The final clip shows a no motion jet sweep, where we experimented with a quick touch pass to the WR (no risk of fumble, technically a pass).  Up front I am fine with a little bit of penetration as long as we can get our hips around to seal off the box.  We need to improve how we coach our FB and RB to kick out force and lead through, but we felt we got a lot of bang for our buck, in terms of production vs practice time invested.
In the WR sweep, I wanted another way to get our WR the ball, that didn’t use motion.  As we started having success using jet sweeps, defenses started attacking the motion hard.  We used a Wing position to bring our WR closer to the ball.  You could accomplish this by using a slow motion or orbit motion as well.
The WR sweep differs from the Jet in a few ways
  1. We block it using pin and pull
  2. We fake to our RB  first and he blocks backside like traditional bucksweep
  3. Because of the blocking scheme, and the time it takes for the mesh, the play will typically get cut up into the alley, rather than attack the perimeter fast like jet
A great way to pair this if you wanted to keep the motion, would be to use a motion crack and run the ball, then motion, snap the ball with same timing, fake the run to the crack side, and have motion man bend around QB to get the WR sweep.
Using these WR sweeps is a great way to get your playmakers the ball.

Power Pass!

One of the best ways to help protect Power is to use the POWER PASS

or as Coach Gruden calls it, “Spider 2 Y Banana”

 spider2ybanana
This is a great answer as teams load the box, or crash down hard in an attempt to take away Power.  This play gets better and better with the more players the defense aligns on the LOS.  More guys on LOS, less guys who can cover. We even got some teams into an alignment where their end man had to take on FB as well as cover him man to man… that is like stealing, if he can stuff our FB he can’t cover him, if he can cover him, we are getting easy kick outs.  Either way we win.
Power pass
The route concept is a standard flood play.  WR clearing out.  a TE (or slot to twins side) running the medium route in the flood, and the FB chipping the DE on his way to the flat.
You can read this deep to short, or short to deep.  I have done it, and seen it done both ways successfully.
In my opinion what really makes it work is making it look identical to power.  So we block it the same as Power.  Playside down blocks, BSG pulls.  BST protects b gap.
The only difference is our pulling BSG needs to attack the C gap, rather than work up to a LB.  I need to do a better job coaching this up next season.
Our biggest problems came from back side pressure, usually frontside pressure meant the TE or FB was wide open and we hit it quickly.
One adjustment I have seen and will use int he future is to have the Rb cut back immediately after the mesh, to pick up the backside C gap.
You can use backside WRs to run backside drags, or attach another TE to help secure the backside.
I can’t stress enough how helpful the OL play is on selling play action.  We do not pretend to block power, we full on block power, we just don’t drive anyone past 2 yards down field.
Below are 2 clips of power pass, one hitting the TE, one hitting the FB.

This is just our base power pass that we install in spring ball.  We can run a variety of concepts off of power action.  The play stays consistent for the players in the box.
Power pass action works great to throw double posts, post/dig, verticals, or whatever dropback you hang your hat on.  We would release our TE/FB into routes as well as keep them in for max protection on certain concepts.
Power pass is a the perfect constraint when defenses start cheating.  I should have called it more times last season and it will continue to grow into bigger weapon in our arsenal.