With the Florida football team shut down, the weight room and practice fields shuttered and most of the players now back home, the Gators and strength and conditioning coordinator Nick Savage are doing what so many others are across the country and around the world.
They are working remotely to get their job done.
In this case, it is to somehow, without much in the way of traditional weight equipment to work with, maintain the considerable gains that were made during the winter offseason strength and conditioning program.
It can be, and is being, done, Savage said Friday. And he and the players are coming up with creative ways to do it.
“One of the things we have to do is keep things fresh, keep things exciting,” Savage said. “So, I’ll send them a video with me working with two five-gallon buckets or something. And just trying to get them to create a spark in their brain about there’s things around the house they can use.
“Guys have done a good job finding things around the house that have some sort of weight to them and then getting them into a workout program. Obviously, it’s not the same as truly lifting weights, but we’ve got to make the most of what we’ve got.”
So, with very few players having access to traditional weights, what are some of the things they’re lifting at home?
“Typically, it’s family members or pets,” Savage said. “It’s been the best. We’ve had everything from buckets and hoses and pots you would put plants in. Family members, pets, we’ve had a whole bunch of things. It’s been refreshing.”
Savage and his staff sent the players home a few weeks ago with a “generic” workout plan. Additions are made to it daily and can vary for each position group and/or determined by what players have access to at home.
Savage has maintained daily contact with the players, mainly via Facetime and text.
“I send out one team text a day, whether it’s motivational or actually goal-oriented where they have to do something,” he said. “And I call one to two position groups a day, basically, so I hear and see their face. I’ll call them or I’ll Facetime them. I want to hear their voice or see their face at least once a week to make sure I’m not missing something through text message.
“Obviously we text daily and then I will have multiple calls to a percentage of the athletes every single day and by the end of the week I have hit everyone.”
Per NCAA rules, film review or instruction with teams is not permitted at this time, but coaches and strength coaches are allowed two hours of daily interaction with regard to team activities. They also have unlimited communication with student-athletes to check on their well-being.
The interaction does not allow for monitoring physical activities, such as remotely watching or directing workouts, so no virtual coaching.
The workouts sent to the players are based on what they have available to work with at home. With gyms shut down across the nation, many have very limited or no access to weights.
“Obviously, a lot of our guys have limited resources, so there’s a percentage of guys that are strictly doing workouts and exercises and movement patterns all with body weight,” Savage said. “So it’s challenging, but through communication and different things we had set in place before we left campus we were able to accommodate quite a bit with that.
“Then there’s a small percentage of guys that have some equipment such as a barbell and weights, maybe a couple bands. There’s also another small percentage of guys that have a full gym at their house. Everything is individual by individual case.
“Between me and my staff we set up a general take-home workout plan basically that is designed around no equipment. And they have that, but then also based on what they have at their house we’ve designed individual programs for each one of those people based on what resources they have at the house.”
The goal, through a variety of methods, tools and approaches, is for the players to maintain the gains they achieved in the winter and be physically ready to go when they eventually are called back to duty.
It’s calling for effort and creativity from all involved. But it certainly is possible, Savage said.
“You can do enough at home as long as intensity and volume are high enough to at least maintain what you did (in the winter),” he said. “Now one thing they got to do really a good job of that goes away pretty quickly is obviously their conditioning level. Things like that.
“If they sit on the couch the whole time and don’t do any exercises and don’t run, that’s not a really good recipe. Through communication I don’t foresee that being a problem at this point.
“I don’t know how much stronger they can be if they are not lifting weights, but they could maintain what they have as long as the intensity and volume remains at the level needed. So far, it has been engaging and interactive. And for the situation we’re in, the guys are making the best with what we’ve got.”