December 22, 2011

Q&A with Strength Coach, Brett Gerch

Brett Gerch will be entering his forth season as the Black Knights' Head Football Strength Coach as Army begins their preparation for the 2012 football season.

Gerch's capacity as strength coach, along with seasoned S&C partner Scott Swanson and Assistant S&C Coach, Kevin Schadt, provide Coach Ellerson with a quality staff who's training mechanics fit well into the head coach's football & academy philosophy.

The Appalachian State graduate is also extremely popular with current and former players, and that's no surprise given how much time they spend with him.

GoBlackKnights.com caught up with Gerch on Wednesday for a brief Q&A session:

GBK: First & foremost, when does winter conditioning start for the football program?

Gerch Winter Conditioning will begin January 9th, but we will begin testing on January 3rd.  We will test vertical jump, broad jump, and 225 rep test for bench. Later in the month, once they are used to running and therefore have less chance of injury, we will test pro agility and the flying 20.

GBK: Can you breakout what the winter sessions will consist of and what is your ultimate goal?

Gerch Winter sessions will be focused on getting more explosive and faster.  Of course, we are focusing on strength as well, but the main goal is to get more explosive and to be able to have some "game breakers" in the open field.

The ultimate goal is to prepare these guys to win.  We need to be physically,
and just as important, mentally ready.  The preparation for winning will begin
January 9th and as long as we come ready to work every day, we will be much
stronger and faster and therefore we will be in a prime position to stack Ws.

GBK: How much does weight-room performance translate into on-field performance?

Gerch It definitely helps everyone, but it helps some more than others.  It is different for everyone.  Some guys, it makes a huge difference.  First, it depends on your God given ability and then we will only improve upon that ability.  What we do is get these guys stronger, yet we are able to also increase their speed with the added body weight.

GBK: I realize this is a big question, but how would you summarize your
philosophy as it relates to Army football?

Gerch Coach Ellerson is wanting a quick, fast and explosive player.  He is not looking for a big, slow football player, but one who can move well in space
and who can explode quickly off of the line.  Our training correlates with his style of coaching.  Our efforts in the weight room are not designed to increase body weights to 290 pounds.  We want strong guys; who are lean, muscular and fast.  Most of the exercises we incorporate are explosive in nature.  For example, plyometrics (upper and lower); Power and Hang Cleans; Power and Hang Snatch; Push Jerks; Clean Pulls; Box and Chain Squats and of course, hamstring strengthening exercises which are key in speed development. But, our main focus is to continue to keep the overall mission of West Point in our crosshairs and develop leaders of character.

GBK: It seems like coach Rich Ellerson is very good at finding guys in
recruiting who aren't top prospects and turning them into quality players --
6-foot-2 offensive linemen who only weight 240-250 pounds as high school
seniors. As his strength and conditioning guy, is that something you
specialize in?

Gerch I don't really specialize in it...he recruits guys who he envisions as being great military officers and great football players.  He just entrusts Kevin
Schadt and myself to be able to improve their physical tools and balance it with their military requirements.  In my 3 years here at West Point, we have definitely been able to improve each player's speed and strength.  We only aid in their transformation, but Coach Ellerson and his staff are able to teach these guys on the field to make them in to great players and allow us to have
a successful team.

GBK: How do you motivate guys who aren't big fans of conditioning? Are you a carrot or stick kind of guy?

Gerch It isn't too difficult because we only teach speed development.  We don't really 'condition.'  Everything Kevin and I do is speed based.  In the off
season, we really never run more than 40 yards.  It is very much based on the
correct mechanics and being efficient runners.  For instance, when coaching
change of direction drills, we coach them on how to 1) accelerate 2) decelerate 3) change direction 4) re-accelerate.  We make sure this is done correctly and efficiently so that they are not forming bad habits.  We want their running habits to be so engrained in their muscle memory, that when it is a fall Saturday, they can run correctly as a second nature.

GBK: Who is another one of your hardest workers and what player has shown the most progress since their freshman year at Army?

Gerch Malcolm Brown has showed the most progress since his freshman year.  He is in the weight room every day...he does some exercise every day to improve speed and explosion.

GBK: Since your time here, do you have an all-time workout warrior?

Gerch The guys who come to mind: Steve Erzinger, Malcolm Brown, Trent Steelman, Nate Combs, Jason Johnson, Mike Gann and Jarrett Mackey.

GBK:     Are there any lessons you learned since your arrival at West Point that have helped you during your tenure with the Black Knights?

Gerch Being at West Point, I have learned my job encompasses a lot more that just football. Other schools I have worked, it is strictly football and not adjusting your program for anything else. Here, I have had to adjust my program, taking in to consideration their academic and military requirements. Because of their physical requirements throughout the year, I have to adjust the workout based on what the cadets have or will have in the near future. For example, during the summer, we adjust all of their workouts based on what they are doing during the summer. There is a fine line between preparing them for football and just total fatigue of their legs. We need to be well aware of all that they do so that we can adjust and make sure they get better during a lift, not just fatigue. If we feel they are better off resting because of the previous days military requirements, we will allow them to rest. We do this quite often at Camp Buckner, as some days we are scheduled to lift, yet believe it is better to have a day of rest.

GBK: From year to year and from team to team, the measurements may change. What are your goals for this 2012 Army football team?

Gerch The goals for this year are simple: Just Win!!


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