By Jourdan Rodrigue, Digital Communications Intern
Within the Verde Dickey Dome, dozens of players run drills and plays to the beat of whistles and air horns.
Shawn Griswold, head coach of sports performance at Arizona State University, could point to each one of these players in turn and break down their entire personalized strength and conditioning program.
“It’s very specifically designed to each player: what position do they play, are they on offense or defense, are they a freshman or have they been in the program for a number of years,” said Griswold. “And then even inside that, we get some [players] like Carl [Bradford]…so his needs are a lot different. There is a lot of individualized programming…things that we feel are important for each kid.”
Griswold is entering his second year with Sun Devil Football. Lauded by head coach Todd Graham as the “best strength coach in the country,” he’s building athletes a base that will keep them healthy and strong throughout the tough 2013 season.
“It’s not all me, though,” Griswold said. “The guys, they put in the work. I can tell them what to do but they’re the ones putting the work in.”
Maybe it’s the realization that the conditioning Griswold puts the players through is highly effective—Arizona State was tied for the third least number of starts lost to injury last season, according to Phil Steele’s 2013 College Football Preview—that keeps the players working to improve their physical gifts daily.
“[Griswold] probably the best in the nation,” said receiver Kyle Middlebrooks, who is rehabbing a knee he injured last season. “He really gets us right with everything from recovery to getting our strength and speed up.”
The average tackle of a 200-pound player running about a 4.56 40-yard dash can generate up to a half a ton of force upon the target, according to Popular Mechanics. And when the tackled player hits the dirt, it can produce a force of up to 150 g’s, which is 50 g’s more than it takes for the average human head to become concussed. Of course, the players are wearing protective gear--but the most important “protection” a player can have is a thick layer of flexible muscle surrounding ligaments and bone.
That’s where Griswold steps in.
“Overall, we have very few concussions and very few injuries,” he said. “We teach fundamentals…our kids’ work ethic and buying into what we do has a lot to do with that…I believe that because they work their tails off that’s helping keep them healthy.”
Added Middlebrooks, “[The training] will push us through. Now we’re a lot stronger-we’re a lot more mentally focused. We’re getting pushed to the limit out here in the desert, so when we go and play we’ll be ready.”