Specific Ext. Tempo Options (James Smith)

This is something that I’ve been knocking around in my head for quite sometime and recently saw James mention it in his DVD.

Basically the intention is to touch on some more specific aspects regarding the dynamics of being a wide receiver, ie. cutting, deceleration, etc, in an extensive fashion. Obviously you could touch on this by simply performing full speed route running on a HI day, and occasionally I will do this and cut my speed volumes in half typically, but I would also like to be able to get some of this work done in an extensive fashion that promotes recovery and learning concurrently.

The problem I have found is designating appropriate exercises to do so. One option would be running routes at 70% intensity or so but I’m not too keen on disrupting the rhythm and timing that I have at full speed. I suppose another option is to do multi-directional tempo work with zig-zag runs around cones down the field.

The plan would be to have this as half of the ext. tempo volume for the day with the rest done as standard 100 yd. linear work.


I have had my players perform what you are referencing since I began coaching at the high school level and I firmly believe in the efficacy of this form of exercise.

There are many options.

In addition to the known benefits of ‘tempo’, per what I reference in the DVD, are the development of the oxidative properties of the musculature involved in the competition exercise; particularly via the performance of the competition exercise as sub-max intensity. This is a principle that has long since been proven by Charlie and Bondarchuk, to name only two.

So not only are you limited, regarding receivers, to running complete routes at sub-max intensities; but also the repeated performance of segments of routes in a fashion that satisfies the intensity and work:rest intervals consistent with extensive or intensive tempo (depending on how the programming is structured) and even more specifically the varied heart rate intensity ranges of the anaerobic threshold.

Don’t be concerned about the difference in the rhythm/feel of the routes due to the sub-max speeds. The sub-max speeds are no more detrimental to the performance of the full speed version as linear tempo is to the sprinter. In fact, I view the sub-max intensities to further support the development of the competition exercise from the standpoint of indirect transfer.

I played WR in college and found I would work on half routes a lot, lots of footwork for the routes, worked on double moves at half speed, as well as ball drills on recovery type days.

Summers included 7 on 7s in the evening (3rd workout of the day) so those were my regular HI route options.

James (and others)

While I have using full speed routes fo WR’s (well, all positions actually) on high intensity days, I have only used linear tempo on the low intensity days. The idea of the sub-max route/pattern running is interesting…Now for quantifiying it. Do you simply time a full speed route (perhaps via game film) and figure the %'s from there?
I ask because this might work well for a 9 cut (or post pattern)/longer route, what about the routes that take only 2-3 seconds to complete? Do you ever worry that the players just can’t do it slow enough to qualify as tempo work?

It works well for all the routes (curls, slants, comebacks, wheel, and so on). As far as quantifying the intensity, it never took long for my guys to get it down after they internalized the feel of the linear tempo. From there it was just a matter of attaining the same smooth sub-max feel of a shorter multi-directional pattern. Same goes for all my other skill guys as well as the down linemen respective to their positional biodynamic structure. I explain all of this in the DVD that twhite03 referenced.

Devils, also, it’s important to remember that the adaptations associated with tempo based activities are not limited to the work:rest intervals the sprint community is familiar with respective to 100m, 200m, distances and so on.

The adaptations come as a result of the intensity of the effort related to the recovery intervals, specifically a function of heart rate relative to anaerobic threshold and the active musculature involved in the training exercise as it relates to the competition exercise.

Thinking more in terms of the physiology of the exercise opens up a much broader range of possibilities in terms of application.

I think another thing to consider is not just speed of movement, but how aggressive the breaks (i.e. changes of direction) are. It’s not easy to quantitfy breaks of routes but I would say on my experiences they should be easy.

Agreed. In order to quantify the intensity of the breaks themselves a force plate would need to be used. When performed properly; however, the sub-max nature of the extensive activity will be carried out in full- breaks included. This tends to come automatically given the fact that the players approach and depart all changes of direction with sub-max effort.

Thanks guys. Maybe I’ll buy that DVD James:) Available through your web site?

I have lots of HR monitors for our athletes…perhaps I’ll use some with football this summer - I have not done so in the past…

Yes it is and I just made available a lecture covering training concepts during skills camps and the competition calendar as well.

Definitely recommend it, at least in order to see at what HR intensity level your players have been performing at during tempo related activity and any alactic drills; relative to what you may or may not have ‘thought’.