The Return to Football Post-Covid

The Disciplined Pursuit of Speed and Power

I’ve had dozens of inquiries from football coaches wanting advice on how to return after twelve weeks of lockdown.

Obviously, my answer will be a Feed the Cats approach.

Primum non nocere. (First, do no harm.)

Never let today ruin tomorrow.

Any fool can get another fool tired.

Happy and healthy kids who love what they are doing will accomplish amazing things.

Record, Rank, and Publish

Endurance work interferes with speed and power. As Vince Anderson says, “It’s a 14-point turnaround. You made your players slower AND you missed an opportunity to get faster.”


Do you know why they prune apple trees? Pruning encourages new growth and produces a better quality apple.

The same applies to the start of football workouts. Cut back to encourage new growth and a better quality athlete.

Working Within The Guidelines

This is my understanding from the IHSA and NFHS: groups of 10, individuals distanced by six feet, groups distanced by 30 feet. Individuals, including coaches, must stay in their group, no intermixing. No sport specific play. No footballs.

Do a 5-7 minute CNS wake up. (I don’t like the concept of “warming up”, not intense enough.) (If you know RPR, this is were you do it. A quick reset can be done in just a few minutes.)

Divide your team up into groups. Assign a coach.

Let’s say you have five groups.

Pick five activities that involve speed and power. Make sure you include enough recovery to repeat exercises at full speed, full intensity.

Performance > Effort

Fast > Tired

The best activities can be measured (record, rank, publish). Measurement changes performance. If measurement is not possible, competition is the next best thing.

My five stations for day-one:

♦ Max Speed: Time with Freelap if you have it. 10 yard flys with 25 yard run-in would be perfect. If you don’t have Freelap, use a stopwatch, run 40’s from the goal line to the 40. Record, Rank, Publish. (If you are too lazy to do this, at least yell out the times for the world to hear them.) TWO timed runs is enough. Do less, achieve more.

♦ NFL Combine Shuttle Run: Time with a stopwatch. See above.

♦ Competition wickets: Use mini hurdles if you have them. Otherwise use cheap yardsticks or firring strips from the lumber yard. Tell kids to run over them like 6″ mini-hurdles. 15 yard run in. FAST, go over 8 of them spaced at two yards each (use field markings or step them off like an official stepping off a penalty). Two guys go at a time. When everyone is done, repeat going the other direction.

♦ Two-footed jumps (measured): Start at goal line and jump as far as you can, six consecutive jumps. Record, Rank, Publish. (Once again, at least yell out the distance.)

♦ Med ball throws: Start at goal line and measure distance. Record, Rank, Publish.

There you have it. All speed and power. All quality. All fun. (And, harder than you think.)

If you can get into the weight room, you can split your team into two groups. One lifts while the other goes through speed and power stations.

Can you change it up? Of course, as long as it fits the overarching principles. As long as you can measure it or compete with it. As long as it resembles high performance. As long as recovery is long enough to repeat with intensity.

But When Will They Get into Shape?

This will get them in shape. They won’t be in cross country shape but cross country athletes lack speed and power. You want football players.

But, how will you know if you did enough? This is simple. Ask your players if they could have done more. If they say “yes”, you know you did enough. You want your players feeling STRONG, not weak.

You can eventually work into two of these cycles with a seven minute half time in-between. The second cycle can be the same, similar, or completely different.

The speed and power approach is important because athletes can get into shape fast. Speed grows like a tree. You have no time to waste.

As an added benefit, kids will look forward to practice. Fewer kids will quit. Maybe a couple of basketball players who are considering playing football will hear about the new approach and come out for the team.

The “do less, achieve more” approach, will also energize your coaching staff. Not only will coaches have more energy, but energy is infectious.

When you are allowed to return to football without restrictions, your team will be football-ready. Isn’t that what you want.?

♦ Sprint-Based Football ♦

For those of you who missed it, the Sprint Based Football webinar was pretty damn good. Four guys (me, Brad Dixon, Kurt Hester, and Dan Casey) presented and answered questions for 4 hours and 20 minutes. It can be purchased here:



Tony Holler



Most recent podcast, almost two hours with a football coach from New York…

♦ Mahoney Advanced Training Podcast

The 2019 Three-Part Football Series

♦ Big Cats (Not Hogs)

♦ Football Coaches: Too Many Priorities

♦ Football Coaches: Stop Doing Mindless Conditioning

Feed the Cats:

♦ Feed the Cats
(75 minutes with live demos, best seller for Championship Productions)

♦ Origin and Philosophical Basis of Feed the Cats

The Football Articles:

♦ New Ideas for Old School Football Coaches

♦ Football Dosage and Approach ⇒ FAQ

♦ Football: Differentiating Sprint Practice and Non-Sprint Practice

♦ A Football Coach’s Guide to Feeding the Cats

♦ Speed Kills: The Sequel

Football Podcast

♦ Run the Power with Tony Holler

Brad Dixon:

They Just Want the Damn Recipe

How to Cook

Run The Power Podcast with Brad Dixon