Yep, that was me back in High School...In my prime playing days, full of youth, talent, and hard work!
By now, if you know me and have been following me, you know that I started training back in Junior High (2001-2002ish) and I have never looked back. I did train hard, at least way harder than most high school athletes did, I'd like to think. Not only did I do team workouts but I did do more training on my own time, as well as did Jump Stretch (training with bands). I'm proud of my efforts back then, but I'm not always so proud of how I did things knowing what I know now.
There were people along the way who helped me tremendously and who had a huge impact of me wanting to go down this path of becoming a Physical Prep Coach. So this isn't to discredit any of those individuals because I put in a lot of good work because of all of their efforts. These are my thoughts on what I would change, zero blame is being placed on anyone else. But in this Lifestyle Blog, this is simply how I would do things differently if I could go back in time knowing what I know now.
1.) I would focus more on implementing more low intensity workouts in the week.
I used to think that they best way to train, was to train hard as possible as much as possible. I would end up pushing hard for 5 days straight. For example, I would lift hard 3 times/week. Do jump stretch another 3 days a week (usually on my off days of lifting). And I would also do ten 40 yards sprints a couple nights a week at the track as well. Sure I got stronger and faster with all of the work that I was putting in, but eventually it cost me heading into the summer of my Senior year where I pulled my hamstring.
I knew that going into summer college recruiting camps, that I would run a good 40 time to attract eyes of the scouts, but instead I couldn't even run the 40 because I was hurt. So they had no times on me and coaches don't like looking at hurt athletes. It's like looking at a hurt race horse that they can't use.
So instead, I would have reduced some of the over all weekly volume and placed my hard sessions on one day, and do lighter workouts the other days. So I would've done sprints and weights on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and used Tuesday and Thursday to work on some light conditioning, ab training, mobility/flexibility work, and football technique work to fill in the gaps of my hard exhaustive workouts. This would allow me to not just work hard, but work smarter too!
2.) I would have focus more on Squatting and Deadlifting and less on Power Cleans.
So, since I did Jump Stretch on my off days from lifting, I tried to avoid doing as much leg work as I could in the gym. I liked squatting, but to be honest, Jump Stretch roasted your legs so bad that I would look at just trying to survive the next day at Jump Stretch. And Jump Stretch workouts, in my opinion have no where near the amount of training effect when looking to add real lower body strength when compared to squats and deadlifting. It made you tired more than actually making you stronger and faster...
So every gym workout, I would basically Bench Press, and then Power Cleaned right after Bench. I would then just do Body Building lifts or sometimes I would add in the the Jammer Press Machine too. I would depend on Jump Stretch to handle my lower body work which now looking back, wasn't my best decision I've ever made...
I really wish I would've learned how to Squat and Deadlift the right way back then and chilled out on Power Cleans. I had a perception that Power Cleans were more important than they really were. If I felt that way about Squats and Deadlifts back then, it would've made me a stronger and faster athlete without a doubt!
3.) I wish I would've ran track, well kind of.
My one my football coach always wanted me to go out for track. He was the head track coach and said it would help me for football. I did believe him, but I remember I would rather just trained instead of being a part of the team. So I ran A LOT of 40 yard sprints and spent a lot of the time at the track. But I wished I would've at least spent more time doing speed drills and learning how to run like a sprinter. Instead of just relying on running my fastest to get faster. It worked, until it didn't and it only worked so well...I became a faster athlete, but I truly believe I could've been a lot faster than I was!
4.) I ate good, but not good enough.
I think my nutrition was good, but could've been way better! My breakfast was usually pop tarts and coffee on the way to school. I do not recommend this breakfast today to my clients haha...I packed a lunch to avoid cafeteria food and to make sure I could eat enough so my mom always hooked up the lunch. I was more obsessed with protein shakes back then sampling every flavor of Muscle Milk had to offer than learning about the foods I was eating. I sweat a lot, so I drank tons of water and gatorade to hydrate for games, but I've never been a big salt fan and never added salt like I should have either. I was probably too often loaded up on water which is not going to help performance either if your electrolytes are not balanced.
I guess all in all, I would've focus more on educating myself on nutrition earlier on, improving my breakfast, not placing so much emphasis on protein shakes, and staying hydrated during the week better while also adding salt to my diet too.
5.) I would've focused more on recovery methods, especially during the season.
My form of recovery after a brutal Friday Night Game was to chill out on the couch watching college football and eating some pizza. I wish I would've known now about Hot and Cold Water Therapy and how to use them. I would've gotten more massage work done too. And I probably would've spent more time stretching the next 2 days after my games, or at least focused more on light cardio Saturday morning to help jump start my recovery time.
I could probably go on and on and really do a deep dive on how I could improve. But these are just surface things that I would FIRST change if I could go back in time. These are for sure things that I know could've made life not just easier, but made me a more efficient athlete and could've kept me healthier over the long haul. Again, this is not throwing shade at any individuals during my Junior High & High School athletics. I had a lot of great influences at that time and people doing their best to help me then. This is just me telling me what I would tell myself now, I place no blame on anyone for anything. I appreciated all of the help I ever got a long the way!
I did work my butt off and trained so hard for so long doing things that weren't always right (or smartest) and it eventually caught up to me. I wasn't able to make it through my entire college football career without a career ending back injury that stiff affects me to this day. And sometimes it can still ruin my days with the pain I deal with. So when I do give advice to my young athletes and clients, it does come from a legit genuine place of, "I know what it takes and I also know what not to do as well."
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Physical Prep Coach & Owner of Joel Younkins Training.