Elder off-season workouts

A special look into what Coach Rankin’s strength program does for Elder athletes.



Elder weight room

As the winter sports are in action, many people wonder what the Panthers are doing in the off-season stage of their sports. I decided to get a good understanding of the lifting and conditioning that Elder athletes endure by meeting with head strength coach Adam Rankin.

I was interested in what the goals were for the kids he trains and how different sports compare in their off-season agenda. The purpose was to give the people of Elder a better understanding of the work that goes on behind the scenes for Elder’s sports programs.

Elder was blessed to receive a new weight room a few years ago thanks to the generous alumni. This

The site of it all: The Panther Fitness Center (Mason Berger; previous Quill article)

weight room is called the PFC, which stands for Panther Fitness Center. The multi-million dollar facility makes it much easier for the Elder athletes to train all off-season.

I first asked coach Rankin what the most important thing is for people training in the off Season. He said, “The top priority is safety.” He made it clear that it is very important to be able to structure the lifts to where they are comfortable for the athletes. This comfort is found by balancing the lifts for different parts of the body so not one part is under too much stress at one time. Coach Rankin said that doing this will cause less injuries to take place in the weight room. He said you can’t 100% prevent injuries from occurring on the field/court, but strength training can act as a body armor and lessen the severity and if one happens, then the recovery time may be lesser than it would have been had the the athlete not strength trained.

After we discussed the safety and well-being of the players in the weight room, the conversation then focused on how athletes can improve in their off-season lifts so that they can be better for the next upcoming season. I asked coach Rankin how athletes should go about doing their off-season lifts. He responded by saying, “Proper load, form, and technique come first.” He said the athletes can focus on adding more weight to their lifts once the form and technique are perfect.

Coach Rankin was also telling me how he records the weight numbers for different lifts that the players preform while in the PFC. He likes to have the numbers of the athletes’ maxes on different exercises so that he can recommend weights for them to accomplish in the future. This system seems to be very effective because it helps players see where their goals are and what they need to do to get them.

Pullquote Photo

All the training helps athletes produce results.

— Coach Adam Rankin

Overall, the training in general has one main purpose for the athletes of Elder. Coach Rankin said, “All the training helps athletes produce results.” He wants to be able to enhance the raw material (Strength, Power, Speed, Quickness, ext) of the athlete’s body to help give them success when game time comes.

After our extensive conversation about the strength part of the off-season workouts, I asked Mr. Rankin about the speed and conditioning side of things. He said changing direction, agility, and power/explosiveness are the most important things for off-season conditioning. He proceeded to give me some of the more popular drills he uses to work the different categories I listed above. The drills consist of L drills, team tag drills, reaction drills, medicine ball throws, and sled pulls and pushes.

Another way Coach Rankin likes to test his athletes is by timing their 40’s, 30’s, 20’s, and 10’s. This is the best way to see how fast you are and how you compare to the rest of the team. Coach Rankin said, “Your not really sprinting unless your timed.” He also said that testing jump heights are very important in seeing the power and explosiveness that the athlete has.

But is there any difference between different sports and their offseason lifts? We agreed on comparing baseball’s off-season to football. He then explained that baseball is considered an overhead sport and football is a heavy contact sport. Because of that, Coach Rankin said that he tries to limit the amount of stress on the shoulders of baseball players because they use them so much for their sport. However, he did say that overall, he likes to keep all the sports the same with possibly some minor changes because it makes it much easier for multi-sport athletes to have a consistent program from one sport to another.

I then wrapped up the conversation with some of the fun stuff that Mr. Rankin likes to do to keep his players intrigued in the off-season workouts. He said he likes to do a lot of competitive one on one exercises and he tries to add fun running drills for his athletes. Coach Rankin said, “Building team camaraderie is important.” By giving his athletes the chance to get better every day and have a good time, Coach Rankin hopes that his guys will be looking forward to coming into the weight room every day.

From doing this interview with Mr. Rankin, I was able to see how passionate he is about Elder and the athletes he trains. He cares about everyone, and he truly wants the best for his guys.