GAFNEY, SC – Last year, the Gaffney Indians won the South Carolina 5A State Championship behind some outstanding senior leadership.
In 2022 the club needs a little more power, according to Strength and conditioning coach Tony Smith.
“We had great seniors,” said Smith. They “were great leaders for their teammates.”
With the state championship in hand, Smith knows teams are going to try to make things more challenging for the Indians this season. In order to rise to the challenges coming their way, Smith has come up with a great strength and conditioning program to prepare the Gaffney players.
The program is primarily focused on making its football players more powerful athletes.
“Football is played with power,” said Smith. “If you think about all the positions in football, they require the players to be explosive.”
For this reason, he has his team do a lot of Olympic lifts on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Olympic lifts are lifts the hang clean, the snatch, and the clean and jerk. Smith said Olympic lifts allow the players to put more force into the ground. The more force he can get them to produce, the more force they will have in their run, jumps, and other explosive movements.
“Strength training days are on Thursdays,” said Smith. That day involves strength movements like the squat and incline bench press. It also involves core exercises, shoulder exercises, tricep, and bicep exercises.
When his team is done in the gym; they go outside and run drills. “All the drills are designed to mimic how football is played,” Smith mentioned. “Plays last for five seconds and it takes 25 seconds to get ready for the next play.”
Plays are drilled on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Each player's position will have their own yard line where they run their plays.
“Skilled players are at 40 yards, combo players are at 35 yards, offensive linemen and defensive linemen are at 35 yards,” he added. “They all have five seconds to finish the plays and then to get back to the starting point for the next play.”
Wednesdays are speed training days and that is the day where the team focuses on its abilities to change directions on the field, because, as Smith mentioned, football involves a lot of direction changes.
Outside of training in the gym and doing drills on the field, some players get a chance to work on their conditioning in a fun and interesting way. Smith said the receivers, quarterbacks, defensive backs, snappers, and running backs are able to participate in a summer 7-on-7 tournaments.
With the new found success from last yearm and now this 7-on-7 tournament win, people may wonder how the team works together so well. Smith tells SBLive Sports, “Player lead teams are the best teams.”
At Gaffney, the coaching staff believes in allowing the players to step up and be the leaders they know they are capable of being.
All photos by Trevor Gary
Gaffney linebacker Nathan Johnson works on his upper body strength.
Running back Eddie Tate works on his power.
Offensive lineman Ashton Martin works on his agility in the Gaffney weight room.
Outdoor drills are also part of the summer strength and conditioning program at Gaffney.