Strength and conditioning coach focuses on movement
After overcoming a 23-0 deficit in the first quarter to lose by six at Alabama in front of 92,138 screaming fans last year, senior tight end Tate Stewart said fatigue was not a factor in the game.
"We’re Jackson-made," he said.
Stewart was referring to head strength and conditioning coach Larry Jackson, now entering his third year at UH. Jackson helps football players perfect the skills learned on the field, in the gym.
"We train movements, not muscles," Jackson said. "A lot of health clubs you go to, you’ll see a lot of machines you get into and you work individual muscles.
"Athletes need to train movements because they have to take their training and then make it sports-specific, football-specific, position-specific."
In addition to being on the field for all team practices and scrimmages, Jackson also supervises the players’ workouts during the week.
He said the type of workout the players do varies depending on what position they play and the time of year.
"In-season they’ll work out maybe two or three times a week, depending on which group they’re in," he said.
"During the fall, we cover the big lifts because we’re doing so much running and playing so much football. You don’t want to tax the small muscles, you just want to make sure they hold their strength."
Jackson said the focus of his exercises is not just to build strength, but also to work muscles and skills players need for their specific positions and tasks.
"What we try to do is focus on making sure that we get football-only work in. I’m not trying to create some great athlete. I’m just trying to create football players."
Jackson’s laboratory for such creation is the Elmer Redd Strength ‘ Conditioning Center located in the Athletic/Alumni Center. Named after former assistant coach Elmer Redd, who spent 17 seasons at UH. The 16,500 square foot facility houses over 50,000 pounds of equipment.
Technically, football off-season lasts through spring and summer, but there is no rest in Jackson’s camp. Players train for an hour and a half to two hours, four days a week during off-season, and no-one is exempt from the grueling schedule.
"To us, we’ve got to try to make all of the guys be stars," Jackson said. "Some of the guys that aren’t starters work harder than some of the guys who are starters so they can try to become starters."
UH head coach Kevin Sumlin has known Jackson since 2001 and said his role is crucial to the team’s success.
"Your strength and your ability to compete without being tired is important. When you get tired, you can’t do things or you can’t think as well, so you’ve got all kinds of problems," said Sumlin.
"Strength and conditioning is a huge part of football. It creates mental toughness, which eventually, no matter what happens in any game, it comes down to that."