|South Jersey Training:
Getting to Know Mr. Gregory White
Friday, June 6, 2003
By Art Redd Jr.
Described by those who know him as a man that gets things done, I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk with the Graig White, Director of Performance Enhancement at Rutgers University at Camden and Founder of Team Conditioning Systems and find out what it's like to train, learn and just hang out with him.
Q: How would you describe your training philosophy?
Graig White: Our philosophy is to be as efficient and effective as possible, we want to get our athletes in the facility and out with minimal fuss. We also focus on training on all 3 dimensions; we don't really like to use machines at all if possible. Most people in our business look at the body as a group of separate body parts, we look at the body as one big kinetic unit, by that we know that a movement somewhere in the body is going to cause a movement somewhere else in the body. Machines tend to isolate body parts and in the grand scheme of athletics isolates body parts are rarely isolated on the field of play.
Q: How has your program evolved over the years?
Graig White: That's a great question! I am the product of talking with conditioning coaches from all over the world. Some of these guys have helped me greatly by showing me ways that have helped me help my athletes, some guys have helped my by showing me what not to do. This business is based on trust, athletes, parents, coaches have to trust you or you will never get them to give you their best effort. Guys like Al Miller of the Atlanta Falcons, Brian Bailey of the University of Nebraska, and Tom Scott of Rutgers University in New Brunswick are guys that I can count on when I have a question to steer me in the direction of the right answer. Knowing what I know now there are a few things that I would change if I could go back in time, but overall our program is time tested and has been proven to be effective.
Q: Have you noticed any change in athletes over the years; have they really gotten bigger and stronger?
Graig White: Yes! Some of the guys I work with in high school are running times in the forty that would have been unheard of 5 years ago. I think the biggest difference is the fact that athletes are coming to us better educated, before we would spend so much time on teaching technique that we could not really get into the strength building phase of our program. Now we have athletes as young as 13/14 years old that are well versed in a lot of the techniques we use to enhance performance. There have been guys that have just blown me away while we were testing them, people who appeared to be just your average everyday people. Take Teah Taylor for instance, one of my favorite female track athletes came in and set the record of 333 lbs at a body weight of around 140 lbs for the squat is a record that still stands. Patrick Thompson a football player at Rowan University routinely comes in and reps 225 lbs to the point where we both get bored. This guy is someone who, when given the chance, will do a lot of amazing things on the football field.
Q: Can you talk about specifics details of your training routine?
Graig White: First thing, we dont call it a routine, the word routine co notates boredom and I am really sensitive about my athletes getting bored with any thing we are doing. Secondly, it would be difficult to talk about specifics only because we work to treat all of our athletes as individuals. The main goal of what we do is to make sure that we minimize any weakness that an athlete may have so that the chance of injury is lessened. The thing that I will tell you is that we work on 6 week cycles and one out of every 6 weeks is used for rest. Our protocol is based on a 4 day workweek and so far it has been an effective way for us to meet the needs of our athletes.
Q: When it comes to designing a protocol what are some of the steps that go into it?
Graig White: The player first and foremost, they have an idea as to what it is they need to work on. We will not let a player dictate the total protocol because sometimes we get people who want to work on their Beach Bodies or their Show muscles these body parts are the parts that show under the uniform or will work well when it comes to lying on the beach. We sit down with the athlete and go over what we think could be and should be improved, and work from there. Sometimes we are on the same page as to what everyone feels needs to be done and sometimes we have some of the biggest fights but all in all we come to an understanding and the athlete will see the light and let us do what we were hired to do.
Q: How often do you measure the progress of the athletes?
Graig White: More often than not we will leave that up to the head coach, most football coaches will test before we leave school, once during the summer and when we go to camp. Since those occasions are spread out fairly well its gives us time to revamp things that might not be working for certain athletes. It also reinforces some of the concepts that we harp on, if any athlete sees improvement from test to test then the chances of us having to ever fight with that athlete over a protocol is diminished greatly. Basketball coaches on the other hand tend to leave the testing to us, once again we like to make sure that there is ample time between test dates to allow for some type of improvement. With our other athletes like tennis, baseball and the like sometimes we dont even test them. Depends on the individual.
Q: Talk to us about the relationships you have with coaches?
Graig White: The best coaches Ive ever worked with are the coaches who do not micro- manage, they let us come in and do what we were brought in to do. Coaches like Dave Lindenmuth of Salem High School Football, Tim Dunn Pennsauken High School Basketball. These guys trust me and my staff enough to understand that we have their teams best interest at heart and would not do anything that would create a negative situation for anyone involved. The worst type of coach is the coach that has to control every aspect of their players career, this type is generally a high school coach who wants their players to come to them for everything, and I dont think that is right, in my line of work I meet coaches from everywhere, Im always looking to help an athlete further their playing career, and if some coaches would just realize that we are not looking to undermine his or her authority we could double or even triple a kids chances at a scholarship just by the sheer numbers of schools looking at the athlete. Coaches like that a few and far between but let me tell you once you run into one of them life can become really interesting.
Q: Is there anything you would like to add to this interview?
Graig White: Id like to take this opportunity to thank you for this, giving me a chance to talk about what I do. Id like to thank all the people who have trusted me and helped me get to where I am and I look forward to doing this for another 30 to 40 years.
File Photos by Art Redd
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