Every football program, regardless of the level, has someone in place to oversee the physical development of their roster through either strength and conditioning or nutrition, or in some cases both. Kentucky isn't stopping there and plans to take training and development to the next level.
A few weeks back, we posted a video that took a look inside the high performance off season system that was very popular, and Jennifer Smith of KentuckySports.com recently took a closer look at the system and the people behind it.
When Mark Stoops was named head coach at Kentucky, he brought Erik Korem with him and gave him the title of High Performance Coordinator with the idea of putting Kentucky on the leading edge of player training and development. Not only does Korem and his staff oversee strength and conditioning for the Wildcats, but they're also taking a look at their players mental state, practice plans, sleep patterns and food intake as well as when to push them, and when to lay off.
What Stoops and Korem are trying to do at Kentucky is being described as the first of it's kind in college football, bringing "physical, mental, tactical and technical training and putting it all under one umbrella," Smith points out in her article, which delves deeper into the details of Korem's job and everything (and everyone) surrounding it.
"You have to do everything you can to get that competitive edge and to help these players. These players deserve it. They deserve an opportunity to win. They deserve an opportunity to have the best people around them to help them be successful in all ways." Stoops explains. In fact, Stoops views Korem's approach is so vital to the program that he is paid more than all but one of Kentucky's assistant coaches (coordinators obviously are not included in that count).
Here's another note that we found interesting. Korem actually got the "high performance" idea while visiting an Australian Rules football team a few years ago while working at Florida State. He came back from the trip and pitched a few ideas to Jimbo Fisher. Fisher gave him the green light, and what they found was every coaches dream. Injuries went down and players were playing faster and more explosive than the year before. While in Australia, Korem observed a system that was specifically designed to track each athlete's performance and then that performance can be individually analyzed.
"We just want to know where the ceiling is, when to push, when to back off and when we can raise the ceiling strategically," Korem explained.
As the article points out, Korem is helping to develop players "from the inside out", inviting world renowned psychologists on campus to teach the staff how to coach better, as well as how to use meditation and relaxation techniques to get players to sleep and behave better.
There is too much quality information in the original article to summarize any further here, so take 10-15 minutes out of your day today and make yourself a better coach by reading the whole thing, which can be found here.