Two-a-days for college and high school football were some of the best and worst times. Now that the Division III level has eliminated the grueling double sessions, it's time to hold players and coaches more accountable across all levels of the sport.
I first saw the news when one of my old strength and conditioning coaches, IPF world champion Mike Hedlesky, shared it on his Facebook page and his views started to resonate with me.
More often than not, less is more. Yet in higher level athletics, the contrary seems to be apparent with scheduling. Players at the D-III level are being asked from before the sun rises the almost midnight every night to be a successful student-athlete. One factor is being disregarded: rest.
This is more prevalent during the pre-season practice schedule before classes begin. You wake up, get in a protein shake and practice. Then you eat, sleep, watch film and have practice. There might even be a lifting/conditioning session thrown in before another meeting. Then, you plant your face in the pillow.
Some coaches use this as a way to “trim the fat” or see who can survive. Two-a-days do provide an opportunity to test your mind and see what your body can handle. But when you're tired, what disappears? Technique.
Technique is everything. Poor technique gets guys hurt in contact sports. In football, it could lead to catastrophic effects immediately or later in life.
I can only relate to a Division III football player – I sat the bench for three years at Salisbury University. I can only imagine how much more maniacal it is for Division II and Division I athletes. Sure, some are lucky enough to get their education paid for but at what cost?
Eliminating two-a-days serves as a system of checks and balances on coaches and players especially since the student-athletes aren't receiving any financial assistance to participate.
The off-season programs have to get the players prepared for August. If the players come in out of shape, the program wasn't written properly or they didn't follow it.
This is also true for diet and nutrition programs. The temptations of being a college kid are always there. College kids should be allowed to do just that. But they also have a responsibility to the team. If their nutrition is bad, they will not perform at the highest level.
Less practices means more opportunities for players to bring it with limited chances. We had roughly 120 guys at Salisbury when I played. If you didn't perform when your number was called, you knew why you didn't make the field. Getting rid of two-a-days will further emphasize who belongs.
Eliminating the extra sessions also make the coaches’ jobs more difficult. Individual sessions become crucial in dialing in the technique work for the week. Sure, there are less reps but eliminating unnecessary drills in the routine will allow players to focus on weaknesses.
By eliminating two-a-days, players and coaches alike won't be tired after a few weeks of practicing on near an empty tank. Rest and recovery is how the body grows.
Training the mind will also be elevated. Sure, you can't replace game speed but knowing your assignment will always put you in the right spot. The film doesn't lie, players just have to take it more serious.
Finishing a two-a-day may prove you're mentally and physically tough. Toughness helps but it doesn't always win championships. Smart football teams do.
Coaches and players need more accountability when nobody is watching. You’ll see the true character and resolve of 20-somethings who are playing the sport purely based on love. Or, they won't be able to earn the ring everyone is striving for.