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Coach knows importance of proper strength and conditioning

Isaiah Donald
Coach Brady Willard works with a student during Strength and Conditioning class.

Before he was a coach, Brady Willard was a high school athlete determined to get in the best shape he could. That’s when he discovered the importance of strength and conditioning.

Once I pieced together that I could train to become faster and jump higher. That’s when it all clicked for me,” said Coach Willard, who was on the football, basketball and track teams in high school.

He  became obsessed with the process of developing as an athlete himself.

“What I gained from performance training inspired me to give others the same experience I had as an athlete,” he said.

Coach Willard interned at IU and worked with the Liberty University football team before coming to Merrillville, where he is the head strength and conditioning coach.

Willard’s philosophy for developing young athletes is to sharpen their movement. 

“The better a younger athlete is able to move in a wide range of movement patterns, the more capable that athlete will become when they grow older. I like to think of movement as the required foundation prior to any strength training,” he said.

Senior Terrelle Elmore believes Coach Willard’s workouts have made him a better athlete.

“He does a good job with making sure that I really understand what he’s trying to put out there,” Elmore said. “In the past year, I’ve gotten faster and stronger mainly because we mix it up a lot. Were not always doing workouts in the weight room, and were not always in the fieldhouse either. If you mix the two together, it gives you a strong base.”

Sophomore Arvee’A Ford think that strength and conditioning is especially important for younger athletes.

 “You also don’t want to be unconditioned because then you won’t be able to succeed in your sport. It would be very hard to compete in your sport and achieve your full potential if you don’t have what you need,” Ford said.

Willard said specific exercises improve an athlete’s overall speed and strength and health.

 “There are three main things I believe help athletes reach their highest potential. Sprint as fast as you can 1-2 times a week. Squat with sound technique and progressively overload it week to week. And lastly, jump frequently and do many different types of jumps to challenge the body,” he said.

Strength and Conditioning class isn’t just for athletes. Anyone willing to put in the work can benefit from the class.

“I hold a high standard in the weight room for effort and energy. Sometimes that isn’t for everybody. However, anyone willing to meet those standards is more than welcome to take the class,” he said.


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