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As players and coaches take their final breaks before training camp, The Redskins Blog will take a look back at the new faces from this offseason and what we've learned about them, football and otherwise, so far.
Today, we'll focus on head strength and conditioning coach Mike Clark.
1. He re-arranged the weight room:The first thing Clark did when he took over in the winter was maximize the space he had to train players. He pushed machines to the perimeters and added more lifting stations. He also put in some motivational quotes around the room.
"World class athletes train on their feet dynamically," Clark said. "So, we're going to train at least 80 percent of what we do will be done on our feet. As a football player you should look better going than coming. What that means is you have to really focus on that backside. People say that, but we will truly do that. We use the Olympic lifts to become more powerful and explosive. We'll bench press but I don't know if we'll do less or more I'll tell you that. But, we will do it. We will do a lot of pressing on our feet – overhead press, we'll do some kneeling, one arm dumbbell press."
2. He thinks Master Joe Kim has been a great addition to his team:Assistant strength and conditioning coach and martial arts specialist Joe Kim has been a welcome presence in the weight room, offering unique added skillsets for players. Clark has experience coaching with him before in Kansas City.
"He's very humble, very unassuming about these things," Clark said. "I think that is another thing that attracts players to him. I've been around several of these guys before, and there is none of them that come close to what Joe does that I've been around. Every place I've been, he's made a big difference, a positive difference. I'm looking forward to what he can do for us."
3. He hopes his methods help reduce injuries this season:This is something every strength and conditioning coach hopes for. Of course, Clark knows the results are mostly up to chance. His methods, however, if carried out correctly during personal time, can give players the best possibility of remaining healthy and strong.
"Certainly training is part of it and our new CBA is so short, we have such a limited time with them, convincing them to train and do it the right way when they're away from us is a big part of it," he said. "Most of these guys seem to have bought into that idea, our schedule and how you set things up for them is part of it, part of it is their maturity. There's so many factors but I am definitely a spoke in that wheel."
4. He used to be an Olympic power lifter:That's right. Clark has implemented and emphasized lifting during the offseason. It comes from his own personal background.
"I did some competitive lifting as a player, a little bit as a power lifter and moved on, became a competitive Olympic lifter a little bit later," he said. "I just always enjoyed the teaching aspect of it like you said. No one goal for a coach is to try and improve the lives of the young men or women you're coaching. That's a great area to do it."
5. Darrel Young appreciates the changes Clark's made to his routine:With any new coach, it takes a while for players to understand a new style, let alone buy into it immediately. With Clark, a new method and training process has opened some players' eyes and given them new direction into their workouts.
"Everyone is buying in, and that's what you need," Young said. "His philosophies, the kinds of lifts that we do as opposed to not using machines, it's more free weights. We're doing stuff to kind of benefit every position and not just cater to what you do." I thought I had the proper technique for squats down, but he's showing me something a little different, and I feel better," Young said. "[It's] just different teaching things and different stuff that he's been around."
6. He makes players train like world-class athletes, because that's what they are:"Champions Do Extra" is one of the banner quotes that's painted inside the weight room. It encapsulates Clark's drive to get the most our of his players and make sure they do the same for themselves.
"I give them not a lot of different messages but one of the main things I'll tell them is, 'You're in this room. You're a world-class athlete and you need to train like one," Clark said. "You need to train like one here. You need to eat like one. You need to sleep like one. You need to do everything in your life like you're a world-class athlete because it's going to be very, very competitive.' And their time playing this game is very short, to make the most of it. Don't leave anything to chance."
7. Clark is sensitive about how he gives critiques and compliments:The way a coach hands out criticism and praise can shape his relationship with players. Clark has harnessed an effective strategy from his years in the league.
"I try to sing their praises from the rooftops as loud as I can," Clark said. "But if I'm going to criticize, I'll always try to do it in a whisper."