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When you build your strength training program an athlete should not want or need to do any extra lifting. The program should be complete.

“Gentlemen, it is better to have died a small boy than to fumble this football”, John Heisman said.

John Heisman played football while a law student at University of Pennsylvania in 1890, he became one of the nation’s most successful and innovative coaches. The Downtown Athletic Club in New York awards the Heisman trophy for the best college football player of the year in his honor. Heisman understood you must not fumble the football.

ChartThe number of fumbles in the National Football League has decreased over the last 45 years. Even though the size and power of the athletes has increased. Obviously you get what you emphasize.

When holding a football many coaches  teach the five pressure points of contact—fingertips, palm, forearm, bicep, and chest. Athletes use various grips all making sure the fingers are over the tip of the ball. Some swear by the eagle claw grip. The claw grip in theory is much stronger yet requires finger dexterity.

Grip MachineAs a former strength coach, if a player fumbled I would blame it on their grip strength. The errant player would be assigned extra grip work in their strength training program. I say extra grip work, because as a coach I never neglected the hands.  I have never believed in extra stuff. If something was needed in an athletes program it was there.

What I was really doing was getting the athlete to constantly think about holding on to the football. The additional exercises had zero to do with grip strength development. As a matter of fact the extra was too much as we already regularly trained the hands. The additional exercise was to train the brain.

A big part of not fumbling is decision making. John Heisman decided he would have rather died an early death than drop the ball. This is a big time decision and certainly helped him hold on to the football!

When you design a program and your athletes seem to feel they need to do extra…redesign your program.



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