IU football began its first week of structured training Monday since the Big Ten announced the postponement of all 2020 fall sports. The team will meet four times a week to lift, condition and work on speed development under strength and conditioning coach Aaron Wellman.
This is Wellman’s first year as a coach at IU, and while he and the players are disappointed with a delayed start to the season, he said they understand the importance of using this time to improve physically.
“I think we’ve got a resilient group of guys,” Wellman said on a Zoom call Wednesday. “We’ve got a great group of guys, and whenever adversity hits, opportunity arises.”
Much of spring and summer training was taken away from the program as a precaution due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, Wellman is trying to create a training program without knowing when the team will play again.
He said the performance staff tries to monitor every yard a player runs on the field along with the volume and intensity of lifting sessions on an individual basis. Without a start date to strive for, like a scheduled game to build up to, that becomes tougher to do.
Wellman said he doesn’t want to overexert his athletes too early, which could lead to soft tissue injuries and compromise an individual’s development before the start of the season. After only two days of workouts, he said it’s too early to tell how the players are currently responding to the training.
“Right now we’re kind of in this period where we don’t know what’s looming,” Wellman said. “But what we do know is the focus right now is let’s see how strong we can get, let’s see how fast we can get, let’s make improvements on all these physical qualities for no better reason other than they weren’t able to.”
Before joining the IU football coaching staff, Wellman spent four years as the strength and conditioning coach for the New York Giants. He said he’s leaning on that experience to guide his decisions.
In the NFL, Wellman was responsible for making quick decisions about a player’s physical condition and developing the conditioning program for that athlete. Now at IU and deploying a similar strategy, he said the team is showing up on time and bringing tremendous energy to its workouts.
“To kick off the fall season in an unconventional way with just training only, I’ve been very pleased this week with the attitude and the effort they’ve shown so far,” Wellman said.
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