PDA

View Full Version : Woicik



DrP
08-26-2011, 01:06 PM
rabblerosur:

In mid-February, when Mike Woicik was hired to be Dallas' Strength and Conditioning Coach, Cowboys Nation was awash in reports outlining his impressive resume, which can be summarized in two words: six rings. As reported by our own O.C.C. as well as by NFL Films Woicik (aka "Mr. Six Blings") was an integral part of the last two NFL dynasties, winning three Lombardis in four years with both the Cowboys and Patriots.

In a contribution to the Maple Street Press Cowboys Annual, I took a closer look at one important secret to Woicik's success: plyometrics.

What makes Woicik so successful? Patriots tight end Kyle Brady, who came into the league with the Jaguars before signing with New England as a Free Agent, offers a useful comparison between the two teams’ strength and conditioning programs. They proved to be quite different; whereas the Jaguars focused more on traditional weightlifting, with smooth, controlled ups and downs, Woicik’s workouts emphasize the explosive movements associated with plyometrics, a training method developed in the 60s for Eastern Bloc Olympic athletes.

Plyometric exercises are specialized, high intensity training techniques designed to develop both speed and strength; they help athletes develop "speed power." To understand the distinction between plyometrics and traditional weightlifting, its important to distinguish between muscular power and muscular strength. Traditional weight training programs, like that employed by the Jaguars, ask players to develop strength, the measure of how much force can be applied. Plyometric exercises emphasize power, a combination of strength and speed or, more properly, strength at speed.

Consequently, plyometric drills are particularly useful as a training tool for sports that feature "explosive" moves. The most common lower-body plyometric exercises involve some measure of bounding (where oversized strides are used in the running action) or jumping and landing: standing jumps, jump squats, depth jumping (off a box or platform) or multiple jumps over a series of hurdles. Typical upper-body exercises include push-ups with a hand clap or catching and quickly tossing up a medicine ball to a partner from a prone position.

All of these movements create a very specific series of muscular contractions: a rapid muscle lengthening movement followed by a very brief resting phase, then an explosive muscle shortening movement. This invokes what is known as the myotatic reflex, a muscle contraction in response to stretching within the muscle. Because plyometric exercises stretch muscles before they contract them, the muscle’s nerve cells are trained to stimulate a specific pattern of muscle contraction so the muscle generates as strong a contraction as possible in the shortest amount of time. This helps develop "speed power."

The exercises that Woicik will ask his players to execute have a clear, direct correlation to what they will do on the field. In Management Secrets of the New England Patriots, James K. Lavin elucidates the connection between plyometrics and football:

Many football challenges require brief bursts of tremendous power. The key to plyometrics’ astonishing results on the football field (and in other sports requiring quick power bursts) is that muscles that rapidly contract-and-expand become optimized for power bursts….Clap push-ups prepare an offensive lineman to punch at a defensive lineman’s chest and knock him backwards…or a cornerback to shove a receiver trying to get off the line of scrimmage.

Lavin goes on to point out that plyometrics (clap push ups for example) better prepare players for short bursts of action—moments that require "speed power"—than similar resistance activities like regular push ups or bench presses can.

***

One would think that, for new head coach Jason Garrett, one of the greatest frustrations brought on by the NFL’s labor dispute had to be that Woicik didn't have access to these players and so they missed the opportunity to jumpstart his new program in the way that Woicik and Jimmy Johnson did in the early nineties.

Yet, we must hearken back 1993, the last time the NFL experienced (an admittedly brief) labor unrest and players were denied access to team facilities. That season, after the the Cowboys had captured a second straight Lombardi, people within the organization praised Woicik because, prior to the lockout, he had drafted individualized workout plans that each player could execute without a coach present.

That's why I am encouraged by whispers that Woicik did the same for his players this year. A while ago, I found further support that this might be the case. In an otherwise mundane video of Cowboys players working out, there is a shot (go to the 2:00 minute mark) of several players, two of whom are engaged in plyometric-style jumping exercises. Of course, this might have been a part of a regular (i.e., non-Woicik designed) workout program. But I'm choosing to take it as proof that Woicik found a space in which to work his particular magic.

inwittenitrust
08-26-2011, 01:22 PM
Awesome article. I'm pretty excited to have Woicik back and I hope he sticks around for a long time. Its really a shame he didn't get his time to shine this offseason, but he has plenty of time to get to know these guys and set up individual work outs for them next year.

Also, I love the plyometrics that Woicik likes to use. Juraszek was great at mixing up workouts and adding these types of things to. But, its really awesome to bring in another guy who knows how to mix things up. And Plyometrics isn't a joke either. I had been going to the gym for weightlifting and running for about 2 years straight before I bought P90X. That program did more for me in 3 months then hours in the gym over 2 years did. One of my favorite videos was the plyometrics video. I thought I was in shape before trying that stuff! In any case, enough with my rambling. My point is that Woicik is going to have these guys in tip-top shape and should help prevent injuries

DrP
08-26-2011, 01:31 PM
I think the article is good for several points

One is the types of exercises

Two INDIVIDUALIZED programs for each player for their position requirements and their own strengths and weaknesses

Three - MAYBE he got these programs to the players before the lockout
.
Four - his best work is LONG TERM not just this year. There will be a cumulative effect magnified in the out years.

Beers2you
08-26-2011, 06:20 PM
I never knew specifically what Woicik's plan was. I'm glad this explains it pretty well. All I knew was that he seemed like a wizard with what he could do.

jkyle1
08-26-2011, 06:43 PM
Next to not having OTA's learning the new Defense, not having the players participate fully in Woiciks workout program will prevent the team from reaching it's full potential this year. But next year should be our best shot at becoming one of the top NFC teams since we will have a full offseason. But, if we stay relatively healthy, we should be in the playoff discussion.

cowchips
08-27-2011, 03:48 AM
This article explains a lot. Plyometrics is a new word to me. It's interesting, though, in that it makes sense that developing speed and power in the game of football is obviously such a necessary objective. Having someone like Woicek around who's known and respected for his longtime successes in pro football is much to the Cowboys' advantage. I'm looking forward to seeing the longterm results come to fruition in the team's future. He's worked his magic at Valley Ranch in the past and it'll be great to return to that.

DrP
09-12-2012, 10:52 AM
The Hiring Of Mike Woicik Starting To Pay Off For Dallas Cowboys

by Tom Ryle on Sep 12, 2012 6:00 AM PDT in Dallas Cowboys General


I'm not a big fan of "I told you so." Well, unless I'm right, of course.

From the day Jason Garrett hired Mike Woicik to come back to the Dallas Cowboys as the strength and conditioning coach, I have supported the position that his contributions would pay big dividends for the team down the line, and after the ignomious end of the 2011 season, I put that into a post about what the team needed to do with its veterans in the offseason.

http://www.bloggingtheboys.com/2012/1/11/2697778/dallas-cowboys-veterans-offseason

If there is one prediction that I feel safe making, it is that the players are going to be stronger and have more endurance after Mike has a few months to work with them.

Just to review, in 2011 we saw a team that seemed to run out of gas as the clock ran down. There has been a good deal of argument as to how much difference Woicik could make. Without going over all that ground again, I will just reiterate that I thought a full offseason under his direction would lead to immediate improvement.

Against the New York Giants, I believe we have the evidence that it did. It looked to me that the Giants were clearly fading, while the Cowboys were keeping the pressure up, on both sides of the ball. And I was not the only one who saw that. In his video at NFL.com naming the top 5 NFL running backs, based on the first week, LaDainian Tomlinson not only picked a certain DeMarco Murray as his number 1, he mentioned how Murray and the Cowboys' offense wore the Giants down.

So how did Woicik do this?

This is not a topic that gets a great deal of coverage, but Rowan Kavner of DallasCowboys.com did an article on the program for Star Magazine. He points out that the program is about much more than just building muscle and improving endurance.

http://www.dallascowboys.com/news/article-RowanKavner/Star-Magazine-Strength-Coach%E2%80%99s-Awards-Help-Team-Camaraderie/7377b115-46cf-49a5-8be0-62c1fc293492

It's during that time in the offseason when players' self-discipline is the primary motivating factor that Woicik rewards those who go beyond the call of duty. With three Super Bowl rings from two different teams, he knows his approach works.

And with nearly 100 percent offseason attendance this year, the Cowboys players know it does, too.

Once upon a time, there were cash awards (up to $2,000) to the players who stood out in the program, but under all the new rules and salary cap stuff, that is no longer possible. Instead, the players have to settle for some recognition that probably sounds oddly familiar to many out there.

Sean Lee, DeMarcus Ware, Jason Witten, Gerald Sensabaugh, Tony Romo, Miles Austin, Jason Hatcher, Doug Free and Danny McCray, all winners of Woicik's program this year, received a parking spot at Valley Ranch, a poster in their honor and a weight room photo for demonstrating the best attendance, work ethic, leadership, improvement and performance in the offseason.

That is an interesting list. First off, if you notice towards the end of that quote, it mentions that word that stirs up so much passion when used concerning the Cowboys: Leadership.

If I haven't mentioned it, I am sick and tired of the old story that there are no leaders on the Dallas Cowboys. And I am holding out some faint hope that they may finally drive a stake through the heart of that myth this season.

And look again at those names. Remember, this is a voluntary program. No one was forced to attend. There were no penalties if you didn't. You went because you wanted to get better, and probably because you did not want to let down your teammates. Especially those leading the way.

So what does it say when many of the awards for best participants in the offseason conditioning program go to some of the biggest stars on the team?

Well, that may have something to do with the support this gets from one Jason Garrett. He has high expectations for everyone.

The award winners paced the drills. They arrived early to workouts. But more than anything, Garrett describes them as leaders.

"A lot of them are the marquee players that everybody knows," Garrett says. "Some of them are a little less established, but they're the guys that are doing things the right way. When you have that throughout your team, that's a pretty good thing."

Have you noticed that, no matter how you look at the Cowboys now, things like "right way" just keep coming up, especially when you start talking to Garrett?

A strength and conditioning program is an end unto itself in the NFL, but under Garrett, it also is part of a bigger picture. It has to do with building teamwork as well as muscle.

- It is about doing what you need to do all the time.
- About preparing constantly, not just showing up and expecting your contributions to be acceptable.
- It is about demanding just as much from the face of your franchise as from every rookie and backup free agent.

It started to pay off against the Giants. And in ways most would not have anticipated.

If nothing else, Woicik's offseason program provides a motivational benefit and incentive to

- bringing the right attitude,
- working hard and
- building companionship while
- preparing for a new season.

Woicik's award program worked prior to the Cowboys' most recent Super Bowl season 17 years ago. A new crop of Cowboys believe it can work again.

"We had a great offseason, and I give Coach Woicik and his staff a lot of credit," Witten says. "Hopefully, it'll pay off for us. I think it did."

Kool Aid. Tastes great.

DrP
09-12-2012, 11:00 AM
Star Magazine: Strength Coach’s Awards Help Team Camaraderie

Rowan Kavner
DallasCowboys.com


This story originally appeared in Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine. For subscription information, please click here.

Every championship run begins with offseason leaders. Before Troy Aikman and Tom Brady captured their Super Bowl victories, one man was pushing the two quarterbacks as well as their respective Cowboys and Patriots teams.

Winning was never an issue for strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik. Six total Super Bowl rings between Dallas and New England give credence to any football knowledge offered by Woicik.

His offseason program led to three titles with the Cowboys from 1990-96, including the team’s last championship in 1995, when current head coach Jason Garrett was still backup quarterback Jason Garrett.

Garrett knew how Woicik went about his business before the strength and conditioning coach rejoined the Cowboys last year, in a shortened season with no Organized Team Activities (OTAs) or minicamps. This year is the first since 1996 that Woicik could install his offseason awards program with the Cowboys.

“It adds a little motivation to the whole thing,” Woicik says. “Really, what we want is for guys to come in. When they play football games, they keep score. We want them to keep score in their training.”

It’s during that time in the offseason when players’ self-discipline is the primary motivating factor that Woicik rewards those who go beyond the call of duty. With three Super Bowl rings from two different teams, he knows his approach works.

And with nearly 100 percent offseason attendance this year, the Cowboys players know it does, too.

“It builds a lot of camaraderie, being able to work out together in the offseason,” says Sean Lee, one of the nine offseason award winners for 2012. “That’s something we had this year. We had a lot of guys there. The camaraderie was there. The hard work was there. And I think you’re seeing that on the field.”

All-Pro DeMarcus Ware, another recipient of the honor, says the season doesn’t start the first week of the regular season, when the Cowboys play the Giants on Sept. 5. It began last spring in the weight room and in drills prior to the first OTAs.

“You build that toolbox for the offseason when you have guys that are in there giving it 100 percent,” Ware says.

Woicik’s award system was simple.

- Separate the participants by position or strength,
- come up with several categories, and
- dole out awards and incentives for the top performers in each of those areas.

The Cowboys staff discussed the worthiness of those who put in the extra effort and decided to add more players to the awards list, if deserving.

The rewards varied in the past. Garrett says receiving suits, televisions or cash used to be the norm. Woicik recalls how former Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson would “sit and peel off $2,000” for the top offseason performer.

Those benefits aren’t allowed anymore with the salary cap, so Woicik had to get creative to find ways to reward the winners.

Lee, Ware, Jason Witten, Gerald Sensabaugh, Tony Romo, Miles Austin, Jason Hatcher, Doug Free and Danny McCray, all winners of Woicik’s program this year, received a parking spot at Valley Ranch, a poster in their honor and a weight room photo for demonstrating the best attendance, work ethic, leadership, improvement and performance in the offseason.

Woicik didn’t want players to just show up to the voluntary workouts. As Garrett says, this is the time when a squad builds its foundation by sharing a commitment to the team to improve collectively.

Handing out awards before games count can validate how seriously coaches view conditioning and preparation during the offseason.

Garrett says players could have easily and lazily claimed they couldn’t make it to workouts or that they’d return in a couple of weeks when mandatory training began. The recognized players chose not to do that. They not only were present every day, but set an example with their work ethic.

“We feel like it’s important to recognize them for that,” Garrett says. “Again, we’re in the salary cap era now, so you can’t give them straight up money or gifts or that kind of a thing, but at the same time, we want to recognize them. Parking spots are valuable over there at Valley Ranch. That’s where we’ll start.”

The award winners paced the drills. They arrived early to workouts. But more than anything, Garrett describes them as leaders.

“A lot of them are the marquee players that everybody knows,” Garrett says. “Some of them are a little less established, but they’re the guys that are doing things the right way. When you have that throughout your team, that’s a pretty good thing.”

Noticeable names and faces comprise the majority of the offseason winners. It shocks nobody that battle-tested stars and NFL veterans like Witten, Romo, Austin and Ware took home the honor.

But there were others.

Ask the Cowboys’ brass which players stepped up in the offseason, and

- Hatcher is always on the list. The defensive lineman, who finished last season third on the team with 4.5 sacks, arrived long before paid workouts began.

Woicik says Hatcher was a “presence all offseason,” putting himself in position this year to finish with more than his 20 total tackles from 2011.

“We had a lot of guys in before we could officially start the program,” Woicik says. “They were running workouts themselves, guys like Witten, guys like Romo, guys like Hatch. Nobody was surprised about Hatcher.”

Woicik was right. Nobody was surprised.

The athletes know which players put in the work. The awards provide a tangible piece of evidence that their effort is noticeable and respected.

As Lee says, leadership can “without a doubt” begin in the weight room, before the players ever step foot on the gridiron. The tone set during the offseason allows a player like Hatcher to stand out to Lee, the Cowboys’ leading tackler a year ago.

“To see him move the way he does, how big he is and the improvements he’s made, that was a guy I was really, really impressed with,” Lee says of Hatcher. “Physically and with his work ethic, I think he did a great job.”

McCray is the only other player on the list of award winners who wasn’t a full-time starter for the Cowboys, finishing with 15 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble, providing most of his value on special teams.

Visibility on the field is not what the award’s about, though.

- McCray isn’t the “rah-rah” type.
- While he may not be the most audible, he is one of the most accountable, and, as Woicik says,
- one of the most respected players on the squad.

McCray says he’s battled his whole career, from high school to college to the Cowboys, hoping his hard work, dependability and reliability, along with his athletic skill, would pay off.

If it seems recognition alone isn’t enough of an honor for a player fighting to remove a special teams tag and compete for a starting safety spot and in the dime and nickel packages, think again. For McCray, his offseason work has nothing to do with a parking spot perk.

“You’ve got Miles, D-Ware, Romo, you’ve got all these guys that have been in five, six years, been in Pro Bowls,” McCray says. “You hear these names and then you hear your name in there, it’s real big. And it’s real big to know that everybody in the organization knows you work hard and that’s the stamp that you’ve got on you.”

Whether or not McCray grabs playing time on defense isn’t the point. The players are watching, and he’s already won their admiration.

“When you’re just working out and building team camaraderie, you see which guys are big leaders and really took on that role when they didn’t have to,” Ware says. “You just know that it’s just a good thing when you see guys get rewarded for doing their offseason things and doing what they need to do.”

Other benefits Woicik created were as simple as providing

- a single room at camp,
- a stocked refrigerator or
- priority on tickets.

The coaches continue to conjure more ways to reward the new batch of Cowboys who are in their first year of Woicik’s offseason program.

Witten, a Humanitarian Award winner, says the perks are only an added benefit of the real gift, which is being noticed among peers and coaches. He’s one of the many proponents that offseason grit and perseverance should be worth something.

“More than the award, you appreciate being honored among your teammates,” Witten says. “That’s what it takes to be a good football team. You’ve got to work hard. For our offseason program to acknowledge that, I’m appreciative for it.”

If nothing else, Woicik’s offseason program provides a motivational benefit and incentive to

- bringing the right attitude,
- working hard and
- building companionship while
- preparing for a new season.

Woicik’s award program worked prior to the Cowboys’ most recent Super Bowl season 17 years ago. A new crop of Cowboys believe it can work again.

“We had a great offseason, and I give Coach Woicik and his staff a lot of credit,” Witten says. “Hopefully, it’ll pay off for us. I think it did.”

cowchips
09-12-2012, 11:08 AM
In the case of Sean Lee, the difference in muscle definition between when Woicik first got here and now is hard to miss. In fact, the team as a whole is noticeably stronger and displays greater stamina. Good to see.

DrP
09-12-2012, 11:10 AM
I think we expected to see some improvement in the trenches and maybe some conditioning improvement is lots of area.

I love the LEADERSHIP and TEAMWORK aspects of Woicik. This is where championships, not just champions, are made

DrP
09-13-2012, 04:15 PM
http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-super-bowl/09000d5d806670db/Sabol-s-shot-Mike-Woicik

Bushido
09-13-2012, 05:40 PM
The right guys.
The right staff.
The right way.
Our return to glory is right around the corner.

pheyevoh
09-13-2012, 10:21 PM
Is it just me, or does even Romo look lighter and stronger?

Bushido
09-13-2012, 11:24 PM
Is it just me, or does even Romo look lighter and stronger?

I don't know about being lighter but the strength of his focus has increased.

DrP
09-14-2012, 08:58 AM
The right guys.
The right staff.
The right way.
Our return to glory is right around the corner.
righteous stuff