Afternoon Program Spotlight: Strength and Conditioning

Posted by River Turnbull '22


Before the addition of the Strength and Conditioning program, run by Craig Leaman and Ross Young, out of season athletes lacked an official structure to train for their primary sport while out of season. However, with the renovation to the Farrell Field House in 2019 and construction of a new fitness center and functional turf strip in the gym, opportunities abound for out of season athletes to hone their skills specific to their sport. Due to COVID-19, NEPSAC rules have allowed for increased contact with out of season athletes and coaches this fall. Proctor's focus has been on twice weekly strength and conditioning sessions for winter sport athletes in addition to twice weekly practices.

Fitness Center

For those who don’t know what Strength and Conditioning is: “It’s very simple and a lot of fun,” began Craig. “Ross is in charge of working on strength and conditioning, specifically the use of weights. I’ve been dealing with primarily speed, agility, and power. We work on different movement patterns in order to help them become more coordinated with their brain and body.” 

Craig and Ross work with athletes from a number of different sports such as boys’ and girls’ hockey, basketball, baseball, and lacrosse, and the athletes spend their evenings doing functional training: physical training which trains their body to perform tasks specific to their sport more efficiently. “What we really try to focus on is working on a different skill each week. So one week will be agility, bounding plyometrics, testing each athlete’s awareness. The next week we’ll focus on speed, such as cutting speeds, changing speeds, a lot of cone work." As Craig explained, tailoring each workout to serve the team with which they’re working allows for extremely productive and effective training sessions.

Regardless of the experience of the athletes with whom Craig works, he emphasized the importance of pushing them not only physically, but mentally. “Each kid comes in with a pretty good foundation, so what we try to do is build up their confidence as much as their athletic capabilities. With that, we can challenge them with coordination, footwork, and speed which helps them to develop better skills going forward.” Within the program, it is clear to see that unity between athletes is just as important as the physical rewards they get each and every day. 

However, just as important to the program as unity and dedication is the facility in which they get to spend every afternoon. Proctor’s fitness center, opened in the winter of 2019, plays a crucial role in the way these athletes train. “Having the turf strip and the weight room is fantastic; it has everything we need. It’s great to be able to have this spot because it opens up the availability of being able to do sled pushes, team-speed drills, and other forms of training as well. It has really morphed our program and what we’re doing.” In the afternoons, Proctor’s fitness center and gym are filled with students with a wide variety of purposes and, when walking through the space, the versatility is obvious. Every day, teams such as basketball, soccer, field hockey, and football can practice simultaneously without conflict over a lack of space. 

From a student’s perspective, it is important to consider the benefits of this program to athletes, not only in the present, as they spend time each day being physically active, but also going forward as a member of a team. “The kids that participate in our program consistently tend to have much more awareness as to what they’re doing,” Craig told me. “They gain confidence, push themselves past the point of comfort, and as they start their season, for example, on the hockey team, they’re going to have that lateral power, as well as that mental edge of knowing that they’ve worked hard to gain that strength in more than one way.”

Click here to read more Team Spotlights! 


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