Purdue is in the midst of remaking its program under new head coach Jeff Brohm, which means the Boilermakers are in the midst of remaking their strength program under new strength coach Domenic Reno.
Reno started doing an MMA-infused training style at a gym in West Lafayette, where he started training former Boiler defensive tackle Matt Mitrione for a fight against Fedor Emelianenko. The fight was eventually postponed due to a last-minute Mitrione health issue, but over the course of training Reno picked up techniques that would translate to football.
“I WAS ABLE TO ADVANCE ALL OF HIS EXERCISES,” RENO SAID. “WE DID A TON OF HIP MOBILITY, STRETCHING IS HUGE. THERE IS A LOT OF FORCE FROM THE LEGS, SO YOU HAVE TO BE FLEXIBLE, HAVE STRONG HIPS AND BE ABLE TO ROTATE.”
OVER THE COURSE OF HIS WORK WITH MITRIONE, THE FIRST MMA FIGHTER HE HAD EVER TRAINED, RENO CAME TO FIND A NUMBER OF THINGS FROM MMA THAT WOULD TRANSLATE TO THE FOOTBALL FIELD AND THE STRENGTH & CONDITIONING PROGRAM
Reno's training has evolved to where every position group except quarterbacks do mitt work, which works on hand-eye coordination while not taxing players' legs.
“IF YOU’RE NOT FOCUSED ON THE (MMA) TRAINING WE DO ON WEDNESDAYS AND SATURDAYS; YOU’RE GOING TO BE ALL OVER THE PLACE.” RENO SAID. “IF YOU’RE IN THE OCTAGON AND YOU’RE RUSHING YOUR TECHNIQUE, YOU’RE GOING TO GET KNOCKED OUT. WITH OUR KIDS HERE, I TRY AND TEACH THEM TECHNIQUE AND FOCUS. CAN THEY ROTATE THEIR HIPS? CAN THEY SEE MITTS AND DO THE SAME COMBOS IF I CALL OUT A NUMBER SYSTEM? CAN THEY SIT IN A STANCE FOR A DURATION OF TIME? IT��S ABOUT SEEING HOW DISCIPLINED THEY CAN BE DOING THE MMA WORK.”
In addition to using a technique other programs can copy, Purdue told their story in a way others can, too, using Adobe Spark. The service is an interesting, free way to tell your program's stories.