In this article we will be talking to Buck Kinney, a member of our site and a professional athletic trainer. We will examine the importance of explosion and what athletes need to consider when training in order to achieve success as well as compare the training programs of a few of the recent Alabama coaches. Buck used to race dirt bikes competitively as well as compete in strong man competitions and power lifting up until 2004. He now trains all sorts of athletes, but focuses primarily on football. Clients of his have gone on to play sports for Alabama, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, and several others. At times he and Coach Eyer, of SPS Training work together even though Jack is based out of Alabama and Buck out of Georgia. Buck handles the kids from Georgia, Florida and Mississippi, while Jack works more with the kids from Alabama. Athletes turn to trainers like Buck to take their game to the next level.
Buck says there are two phases to his training, strength and functionality. The strength phase is all weight room work and percentage work designed around your one rep max. This doesn't mean that they are only doing one rep, but means that once they have established how much they can lift; it allows them to design a program based around percentages of their one rep max. This allows them to optimize their work outs. The object is simple, to build the strength that will last the entire game. Buck says when he is in the weight room he preaches lifting quick. While you want to use proper technique and control, you want to be able to accelerate through the lift. The object is to generate force, because force is what is needed in sports Buck explains. Force is mass times acceleration, so you have to be able to accelerate your mass as quickly as possible to generate as much force as possible. In sports you have to be able to explode. The person who exerts the most force at the point of contact wins, it's that simple. “We train them how to keep their center of gravity, change directions, and then accelerate. It’s not necessarily the point of contact between two people. If you are a receiver and you’re decelerating into your turn, you then have to explode or accelerate back out of it as quick as you can in order to create separation. “
Buck trains the athletes to work out specific muscles that they use in their particular sport. He then combines that weight training with functional training such as agility training. He utilizes everything from weights, boxes to jump off of, and tires to flip. Buck laughed as he discussed his training techniques saying his athletes think he just made these training exercises up, but they know, while they may seem unconventional, he is going to wear them out.
Everyone has heard the old saying, you can’t teach speed, but that isn’t necessarily true. Functional training is designed to slow your body down or to put your body in a specific position such as a wide receiver who is trying to make a cut. There is a particular way you need to land when you jump, stop when you’re running, all of this must be taught to maximize the amount of momentum you can harness from your body. If your center of gravity is off and you slow down to make the cut, it is going to mess up your speed of take off. If you’re a receiver you will not get proper separation, and if you are a defensive back you are going to lose coverage, a running back will likely get tackled easier from not being able to explode into the hole. Every position on the field is affected by the ability to explode including the quarterback who needs to be able to step into his throw. An athlete can make themselves better by obtaining professional training.
Buck also utilizes plyometric training, training where you are trying to minimize your ground contact. An example would be plyometric push-ups or jumping off of boxes and then exploding to minimize the amount of time they are in contact with the ground. Though Buck is currently working with mainly linebackers and skill players he has also worked with many lineman. While the training is similar it does vary by position. You obviously don't want a 300 lb. lineman jumping off too many boxes because they are going to get hurt, but in the weight room he is fanatical about explosion because that is a lineman’s whole ball game. He also works them on footwork drills until their tongues are dragging the ground. He wants all of his clients to be able to handle their body weight and that can be a challenge for a big lineman. Their strength to body weight ratio is important to their success. Doing dips is tough on lineman, but it makes them better and allows them to move quicker. If you take two athletes who are the same height, weight, build and everything, the stronger one will be the faster one every time. The one who can exert the most explosive force will win the war.
I asked Buck what his thoughts were on Coach Saban's workout programs. He was quick to point out that there are many different ways to do things and every coach does things a little different. He says that from what he has seen Coach Saban's emphasis has been on conditioning, not strength. That does not mean they are not weight training, they are and some good solid weight at that, but the emphasis is on conditioning and cardiovascular training. It will make sure a good athlete can play the full four quarters, but will not make a weak kid strong. He says Coach Saban appears to be big into the functional training.Coach Saban has the players taking karate just like when he was at LSU. Karate is all about center of gravity, balance and explosion. Saban’s technique reminds him of what Coach Stallings’ use to do for workouts. He says it is infinitely more intense than Mike Shula’s, but not as heavy into lifting as Dennis Franchione. It is more of a combination of a watered down version of Franchione and Stallings. Franchione pounded the players in the weight room. He wanted specific numbers, got weekly reports and wanted to know why they were not hitting the goal. He wanted pure nasty strength and did not focus as much on speed, agility and footwork. That type of program worked good for his style of football, but is not necessarily the best for other styles of football. As a comparison he says Coach Bryant was big into running and wrestling. Buck believes we will see a team take the field that will be strong, but able to play all four quarters. Won’t it be nice to know that come the fourth quarter, when our players raise four fingers into the air, we can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the fourth quarter will be dominated by our players?