All gas, no brakes.
On Monday at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadiums, the Texas Longhorns went through the first offseason workout of the Steve Sarkisian era under Director of Football Performance Torre Becton.
“I think our philosophies are very aligned when it comes to the type of training and regiment that we want our kids to be in during the offseason as well as in season to prevent injury, but also to prepare them to play at the highest level,” Sarkisian said of Becton on Friday.
A former defensive lineman at North Carolina AT&T State, Becton first connected with Sarkisian when he became the assistant strength and conditioning coach at Washington in 2011 after a year at South Carolina State and a year as an assistant with the Houston Texans.
Becton remained on Chris Petersen’s staff in Seattle until joining Clay Helton at USC in 2016 and then former Sarkisian assistant Justin Wilcox at Cal in 2017.
Essentially the head strength and conditioning coach for the football program, Becton will spend more time with the team than Sarkisian over the coming weeks as the Longhorns go through offseason conditioning.
“The fact that you have somebody there that I’ve worked with before that I know can really support our messaging and reiterate our messaging from a weight room standpoint was really big to me,” Sarkisian said.
But that’s only one component — the other component is switching Texas to a velocity-based training program. Instead of focusing on how much weight the players can move, the emphasis from Becton will be on how quickly they can move the weight in order to design workouts.
“The game of football is about explosiveness, it’s about movement, and that’s where we’re shifting our focus to,” Sarkisian said. “Tori’s aligned with those core values and that’s what he’s been doing now for the past four years at Cal. So I think it was just a really good marriage — our previous history together I knew the personality that he would bring into the weight room — and then the fact that he is involved in velocity training, which is something that I want to make sure we were on the cutting edge with and doing as well, so it was just a good marriage both ways.”
Here’s a technical explanation of why velocity-based training is replacing one-repetition maximum training, long the gold standard in the industry. Rather than training at a percentage of the one-rep maximum with modifications to frequency and volume, velocity-based training determines optimal loading based on velocity.
One important component of velocity-based training is more effectively identifying proper training loads when stressors, whether from training or life in general, cause fluctuations in muscle performance. By more precisely designing training loads, athletes can reduce injuries and avoid regressions in muscle strength and power that set back development.