Powerball is not a game of chance at Daniel Boone.
The Lady Trailblazers softball team has been working hard in the weight room, gaining yet another edge on its opponents.
And it’s not just a typical workout, it’s a science-based approach that could become more commonplace for area athletes.
“The supervision has been unbelievable,” said Boone head coach Rick Wagner. “(Brad Anderson) treats weightlifting like we treat coaching. You don’t hear people talking that serious about weightlifting.”
It all started when Wagner was attending a coaching clinic held by the Center of Excellence at ETSU. Wagner was looking for someone to work with his son, and Daniel began the program in August. When Wagner saw the results, he asked if someone could work with his softball team.
It just so happened that Anderson, a graduate student, needed to do an internship and didn’t want to leave the area. So Anderson began working with Boone’s girls in December.
“It was a rare opportunity that Rick called at the same time I needed an opportunity,” said Anderson.
Some would call what Anderson does “old school.” And he said he’s not reinventing the wheel.
It’s based on “periodization,” which is basically an approach to training that involves progressive cycling of a program during a specific period. For example, in Anderson’s work with the Lady Trailblazers, they would do 80 percent of their one-repetition maximum in Week 1 and then 85 percent in Week 2, followed by 90 percent in Week 3.
However, in Week 4, they drop back to 75 percent.
“It’s a deload week,” said Anderson. “It allows the body to recover. Scientific fact says you can only increase for three-to-four weeks at a time.”
The science approach is at the heart of Anderson’s work.
“It’s not what I think or what I did when I was an athlete or what a professional athlete is doing,” said Anderson, who has worked with the University of Montana football team and ETSU’s baseball team. “The weightlifting and conditioning program is based off of scientific fact. The way it differs from commercialized fitness that tries to sell to athletes is the scientific fact — and I am not selling a product. My return on my time and effort investment is seeing my athletes get stronger, more powerful, and succeed in their sport.”
One example of success is Daniel Boone’s 20-0 start heading into Saturday night’s game in the Kingsport Eastman Invitational. A more specific example is Jennine Duncan’s strength and speed improvements. Duncan improved her squat 65 pounds to 225, and took .15 seconds off her 40-yard dash time.
“There’s the translation,” said Anderson. “You put on muscle weight for somebody who is already fast. Getting .15 seconds faster translates into any sport.”
Anderson acknowledged the program won’t turn a bad team into a good one overnight.
“The No. 1 detail in sports success is genetics,” said Anderson. “If you have good genetics, you will be good. But I’m pushing them closer to their genetic limit.”
Wagner agreed with Anderson’s assessment.
“It’s going to make a good softball player better, but it still goes back to the talent part,” said Wagner. “I don’t think you can put a below-average softball player in the weight room and make them a great player. But it can’t hurt. If nothing else it teaches discipline.”
And, said Wagner, it appears the Lady Trailblazers have gotten endurance benefits from it.
“Sometimes in the past when we played that fourth game in one day, we would wear down,” said Wagner. “But I can tell this year we look stronger. In that fourth game this year we didn’t look tired. They were ready to play.”
Dedication has been a big part of the story, said Wagner.
“We started in mid-December and we’ve not missed a lift since,” he said. “We do the Olympic weightlifting: push press, snatch and clean. The old-fashioned way is the best.
“And the girls don’t miss. We came back from Cookeville, and they were back in there the next day.”
Anderson said he wants coaches to learn the approach, so they can pass it on to their kids.
“We don’t have the manpower to go to all the high schools,” said Anderson. “We want to educate the coaches so they can train the kids in the weight room.
“We want to make them educated enough for two things: so they aren’t afraid to do it, and so they aren’t doing more harm than good. You can really hurt someone if you’re not doing strength and conditioning correctly.”