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Winning Ways:
Bringing the Heat

Wednesday, August 18, 1999

By Gregory "Graig" White
SJSports Physical Fitness Advisor

Meet Charles Emanuel, he currently plays safety for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Before that, he played in the NFL Europe for the Rhein Fire, where he was seventh on his team in tackles. Before that, he spent 10 weeks with me getting ready.


If you asked Charles what his secret to success is, he would tell you "there is no secret, just work hard." While working with Charles, I was somewhat amazed at his work capacity. Coming off an injury, I thought there would be a slight drop in his willingness to work at a level I needed him to, so that he could be where he needed to be to compete. This guy was bringing the heat and he brought it every day! He never just went through the motions, he knew that everything he was going to get he was going to have to earn.

The first thing we focused on was creating more muscle, the type of muscle that would help get his performance to a level Charles would be had he not been injured. Our protocol consisted of five days and two days off. First thing we did was warm up and stretch before each session. We did a dynamic warm. That consisted of Charles going through movements he would make on the field but under very controlled conditions. We would start by doing a movement at half speed, then go three-quarter speed and then at full speed. By doing this he would work on the skills he would need to compete and also warm the muscle in preparation to lift.


We didn't have to do a lot of lifts, but the lifts we did were intense. I'm not talking about lifting explosively, we'll save that for some other time. I'm talking about lifting with an intensity that will create a little soreness but nothing that would cause him to re-injure himself or miss his next session. Between sets, we worked to keep the intervals short, no more than 60 seconds. This way the body "learns" to recover in the allotted time.


We lifted four days a week. Wednesday is devoted to cardio work and flexibility. Charles thought it was an off day until he had to endure it. In our protocol Wednesday is "fun day". We don't set foot in the weight room, we run hills, do intervals, row on the rowing machine, anything that is going to get your heart rate up. The key though is to be consistent, that way you can keep track of your progress week to week. One thing we didn't do was form running. As a former running back, when I got the ball, I wasn't thinking about my form, I just wanted to move the ball as far as I could as fast as I could. This doesn't work for everyone, I just thought that our time could be put to better use.

We did this for about five weeks, the sixth week was our active rest period. These components allow Charles to work on activities that would enhance other aspects of his game. Those activities were left up to him. Please understand, our philosophy is to include the athlete in as many of the decisions that have to be made. Charles was playing in the league because of his ability. When he starts playing again, it will be for that same reason. There is no secret formula. My job/goal was to make sure that things he needed to do got done. Nothing more, nothing less.


Weeks seven through ten were the weeks I had the most fun. We were still lifting, running, stretching and generally having a wonderful time. Then it happened. The time came to find out whether Charles could still "make a play". Understand, by that I mean could he still break on the ball, get more interceptions, make more tackles, cause fumbles and most importantly could he help his team win more games? To me, having the ability to make plays is the sum total of an athlete's character, athletic ability and effort. We had the luxury of having Tyrone Seabrooks, another gentleman working his way back into the league training with us. Playing the receiver spot was a big help, Charles now had someone who could push him like no other athlete in our facility could and let me tell you, both these guys were going at it. Charles didn't want Ty to catch the ball. Ty not only wanted to catch the ball but also would run up the field further after a catch so Charles would have to chase him. After watching these two guys go at it, I think both are going to be excellent football players in the NFL.


People think that it's tough to play professional football, and they're right. But after talking to Charles, he let me know something that I've suspected all along. "Getting ready to play in the league is probably tougher than people think", said Charles. "You don't wake up one morning and decide that you want to run with the big dogs, it's a process that takes time."

We have spent a lot of time talking about the physical aspects of preparing to compete in the league. Understand this, football is a thinking man's game. You are only as good as your last play. While the game is going on, there are so many mental battles going on that it's scary. You have to be able to put the past victories and defeats behind you and move on. In a game where an all-out effort is demanded of you, the ability to think on your feet puts you ahead of the game.

As athletes, at one point of our "careers" we would like to be able to say that we could bring the heat. There are few feelings that are better than watching opponents wilt because their desire isn't as great as yours. Watching Charles and Tyrone work made me realize something. One was that neither would be out-worked by anyone. Secondly, they both loved what they were doing, and lastly that these guys were prepared to test the will of everybody they are going to compete against. If you have the misfortune of lining up against these guys, I hope you can withstand the heat.

Photos by Art Redd

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For previous Winning Ways, visit Graig's Archives.

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