Charlie-InSeason Football Speed etc.

Charlie, Thomas, Chris P. and others,

I am interested in your thoughts on the different areas of In-Season strength, speed and conditioning for football.

Can we start with Speed and Tempo work first. This is for the starters separated into Skill and OL-DLine.

College Ball scenario 1:

Mon - short practice
Tues - put in the O and D game plan
Wed - hard practice
Thurs - medium practice
Fri - Special teams
Sat - Game
Sun - OFF

College Ball scenario 2:

Mon - OFF
Tues - put in the O and D game plan
Wed - hard practice
Thurs - medium practice
Fri - Special teams
Sat - Game
Sun - Tempo

I would like to get more detailed but I have to get to a meeting just now.

Looking forward to your thoughts.

Football Coach

Hard to speculate without a lot more detail on the team sessions.

I had a lengthy response Football Coach and the power went off and I lost the whole thing. Let me start over.

In an ideal world, I would have a speed workout on Wednesday before practice and a tempo or recovery type run on Tuesday after practice.

Generally speaking, I make the sprints short 5-20 yds with a full recovery. The O and D lineman I like to start off with longer runs and as the season goes on make them shorter. The backs and skill athletes start off with shorter runs and go longer as the season goes.

What I’m trying to do here is make the early part of the season sprinting non-specific towards their postion so they have legs left towards the end of the season. Running too specific early on is too similiar to the movements in the game.

Three sets of 4 early on even going to 6 sets of 2 later in the season. Manipulate these over the course of the season depending on game schedule and how the athletes feel . Sometimes they may have heavy legs after a hard game and the volume will have to be adjusted.

Tempo or recovery runs 50-80 yds. A total of 6-10 broken into groups of 3 or 4 with a 20-40 sec. RI. 90 sec. RI between sets. Shorter runs for the O and D line. Longer for backers and skill players. Remember the punishment these guys go through on Saturdays and the physical and CNS demands they are already under.

Forget about trying to peak for a game. 35+ players get in the game. Impossible. It’s best just to maintain the speed you have.

Most practices are run at game speed or slower. Remember that game speed in football is not always 100% top speed. Most running is 80-85%. Practices are 70% of top speed. I prefer my athletes to go at game speed or faster.

I never throw in a willpower workout in-season. There is no need to. These can be done occasionly during the very end of GPP.

Never use running as punishment. Makes the athlete hate to run. Running is bad. It is very hard for an athlete to see the value of sprint work, tempo, willpower run if the majority of the running they’ve done was because they did something wrong.

Forget about extra agility drills as the athletes will get all of that during their positional work. Speed is what counts and they’ll get all the deceleration and change of direction from playing/practicing the game. Figure the length of time spent on actual football training, learning opponents offense and defense, warm-up and warm-down and you’ve got a nice in-season training program.

Is it possible to put some numbers to the play run-throughs in practice. I’ve seen a tremendous variability in numbers between teams and I think we need to start with this set of parameters to base the volumes of everything else on.


Sorry to hear about the power outage. I understand and sympathize. Nowadays, living in the East everytime we see a dark cloud we know the power is going out.

“Game speed at 80-85%. Practices less.”

Yes. My concern is with losing top speed as the season progresses. All things being equal injury wise etc. we don’t want our 4.5 receiver running 4.7 in November because he hasn’t worked top speed enough during the season.

“Never use running as punishment.”

Agreed. Some coaches are still cement-heads when it comes to this.

“Forget about extra agility drills as the athletes will get all of that during their positional work. Speed is what counts and they’ll get all the deceleration and change of direction from playing/practicing the game. Figure the length of time spent on actual football training, learning opponents offense and defense, warm-up and warm-down and you’ve got a nice in-season training program.”


What do you think of this plan? Particularly your thoughts on total distance.

Sun - Tempo Run for recovery from game

OL-DL 2 sets of 4 x 50 yds; RI 30 sec b/n reps; 90 sec. b/n sets; Total = 400 yds.
LB-Skill 2 sets of 4 x 80 yds; RI same; Total = 640 yds.

Mon – Film


(1) Practice: put in the O and D game plan

(2) Tempo

OL-DL 3 sets of 4 x 50 yds; RI 30 sec b/n reps; 90 sec. b/n sets; Total = 600 yds.
LB-Skill 1 set of 4 x 80 yds; 2 sets of 4 x 60 yds; RI same; Total = 800 yds.


(1) Speed

OL-DL (early) 2 sets of 4 x 30 yds; RI 2 min b/n reps; 4 min b/n sets; Total = 240 yds.
OL-DL (late) 4 sets of 3 x 20 yds; RI same; Total 240 yds.
LB-Skill (early) 2 sets of 4 x 50 yds; RI same; Total = 400 yds.
LB-Skill (late) 4 sets of 2 x 50 yds; RI same; Total 400 yds.

(2) Hard practice Thud (or for some coaches beat the crap out of each other)

Thurs - medium practice
Fri - Special teams
Sat - Game

Football Coach

Everything I’ve seen looks logical. Thoughts??

No question it is the best way to do it Charlie.

Many factors are involved.

Are you a passing team where your receivers and backs and subsequently DB’s and LB’s are running multiple routes and coverages during practices. Or are you a running team where your OL are running multiple traps, sweeps and toss plays forcing the DL to do alot of pursuit.

Are we playing in Canada with everybody including the waterboy in motion on every play or in the US with one player allowed in motion.

What is the situation with personnel? etc. etc.

I think it really is important to remember your quote which I have on my website and in my gym and everybody loves it. (applies to life as well) You said, “Designing a training program is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle and the pieces are always changing shape.”

The coaches need to be aware of whether there athletes are slowing down, getting weaker etc. And if they are good coaches they should be able to do this with their eyes.

Can we quantify it? Have patience with me here because I somewhat dread saying this. If we see a drop in performance in the player and he is not injured, not fatiqued, I think the only way we could quantify it is to test every few weeks through the season. ie: 40 and vertical. Then, taking into account the physical condition of the player we may need to prescribe remedial work.

Football Coach

I’ve seen a tremendous variability in numbers between teams and I think we need to start with this set of parameters to base the volumes of everything else on.

Agreed Charlie. The volume must be manipulated depending on number of plays, type of offense, mood of the coach… I was writing just in generalities.

Charlie, what is your opinion on my early non-specific position speed work progressing towards specific as the season endures?

Football Coach, with the speed work we’ve designed and the volume you’ve come up with I don’t see why you couldn’t maintain a 4.5 on your athlete understanding they stay injury-free. Empirically speaking, looking at my own athletes and watching a little of them on TV when I can, I don’t see any drop-off in speed. Now there are many factors involved here. Situations, assignments, play calling, etc…With the speed work, tempo and strength training, they stay fit the entire season. That is if they stay injury-free.
The big injuries will do it, but the small, cumulative bumps, brusies, sprains and shortened tissue is also a factor in speed lose.

Testing every few weeks may make you psychotic. How will you fit it into a training/game prep week? I think the idea in principle is a sound one but how to figure out what is causing it. A night out and a hangover will slow almost everyone down!

Re-think the tempo run on Sunday. Getting these guys out of bed might be exercise enough. Maybe consider a long walk (2 miles) instead. Nice work.

By early, non-specific runs, I assume you mean straight ahead speed, while more specific means pattern speed (?)
If so I agree and would go further for the more experienced guys, as they already know how to run patterns and the straigh ahead work is MUCH easier on the body, yet gets the job done. Thoughts?

Yes, straight ahead speed. With regards to specificity, is it productive to have lineman running longer, 20 yd, early in the season and work them down to shorter, 5 yd, as the season progresses or is this too position specific. This may be too general too answer without knowing what you’re working with.

Offensive lineman don’t move very far from the line (depending on the offense) and D line must sometimes pursue a ball carrier 20 + yds.


(1) Testing every few weeks may make a football coach psychotic? Thomas, all football coaches are psychotic or we wouldn’t have played the crazy game in the first place. Actually, I wasn’t very clear on the testing. I was thinking on an individual basis to determine whether an individual player may need extra work. ie: speed or power. I haven’t sold myself on the idea. I’m more or less thinking out loud here.

(2) I think 5 yd. sprints won’t be long enough for the O-Line. I would like to keep them in the 20-30 yd area. OL need to get downfield on all running plays. Also, they should get downfield on passing plays and “clean off the top of the pile”. There will be no DL, LB’s and particularly little DB’s getting a free jump on the pile with our receiver on the bottom. You see NFL linemen “clean the top of the pile”. Kinda fun to watch the defender think twice about taking that extra shot with a big OL bearing down on him.

(3) As for the rundown the day after the game, pro teams up here in Canada in the CFL do this and I know some college teams are doing that in the USA as well. As you know the theory is to run off some off the aches and pains from the game the day before. Although talking to coaching friends in the CFL some of the players aren’t moving too fast. CFL training camps start this weekend. I will get some data for you through the season and post it.

(4) For College Saturday game - if there isn’t a Sunday rundown day do we go with this schedule: 2x strength; 1x speed; 1x tempo

Monday: strength
Tuesday: tempo
Wednesday: speed
Thursday: strength

Charlie and Thomas. Thanks for your input. Very much appreciated. Always good to have extra ammunition when dealing with my fellow coaches.

Football Coach

P.S. There must be some other football/strength coaches reading this thread, so your thoughts would be much appreciated.

I’m not sure I go as low as 5 yds later on, because the no of repeats needed to maintain vol would get too high, increasing CNS stress. I’d start with 5s and 10s (to perfect starts), move to 20s as soon as practical, then move to a comb of 10s and 20s later on, letting the games take care of the need for any shorter stuff. This would allow them to focus on relaxation and keep the rep numbers way down.

Football coach,
Sorry I haven’t been able to chime in sooner, have been swamped with work all day. Excellent material on the thread, and I appreciate the info.

I can add to the post from my perspective, which is a private strength and speed coach working out of my own facility, not as a team coach or team S&C coach. Having said that, the work I do really depends on the knowledge of the team coach and the nature of the training they are doing. Hopefully my perspective can add some insight to the thread.

In regards to in-season training, the speed work I do is very short distance with most of the guys because they do so much medium distance work. Typically the stuff done during team practices is in the 76%-94% range, Charlie has spoke in great length about why it should be avoided. Gassers and that kind of garbage. Just as a side note (and bit of a rant) I had just recently consulted with a wide receiver going to a major big ten school (which shall remain nameless) and they had them running 2 miles for “conditioning”. Since that’s the kind of stuff I have to deal with, most of the work I focus on is acceleration and short distance agility/coordination skills.

If I was in a situation where the middle speed runs at long distances were not done, I would extend the speed work I do to something like 20yds. But that would also depend on the position and size of player. To get into all of that would be academic because I am not in that situation as I have to react to team training, I have no control over it. In my situation I don’t find it a productive use of time with the way most “speed” work is done at practice.

During the in-season I probably spend at least 1/4 of the training time performing ART. Obviously a great deal need is present for soft-tissue recovery and prevention work. I can get so much done with ART that it’s a vital part of my training, whether it’s a 1 min pass over the lower back or hitting every muscle in the shoulder.

I know this whole post is a bit general. We can get more specific; however I would have to speak from an individual player basis as opposed to a team perspective.

After reading this I saw immediatly how I can improve on my approach. In regards to the games taking care of short speed work, does that only apply to starters?


You commented that the layout I presented using Thomas’ guidelines for in-season speed and tempo looked logical. Thank-you for the advice.

Am I right in assuming all other factors being equal (no missed practices and games) that 12 speed sessions for a 3 month college season would be sufficient? Or should it be 5-6 per month or 15-18 for the season?

Do you think doing speed work 1 x week for a 6 month professional season would be sufficient? Or should a coach be looking at perhaps 5-6 per month or 30-36 for the season?

Football Coach

Much of the solution depends on the work out on the field, some of which falls into the speed catagory for backs (and a higher percentage for the line guys). The key is to judge the need in reference to the whole picture and not the needs of a speed program in isolation.

Thanks Charlie,

I suspected that would be your answer. Some of my fellow football coaches like harder numbers (what a surprise) and I essentially tell them what you said here. They know I have based my speed programs on CF principles for years and now I can add this quote.

I think you would like the coaches responses when they ask what I base my speed programs on and I say, “Charlie Francis”. It’s always the same, “Charlie Francis? Good enough for me.” And then I tell them about the website and your products you sell.

Hope things are going well for you.

Football Coach

Thanks. good luck.