GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Jeff Dillman is the man tasked with fixing what head coach Will Muschamp said was the Florida football team’s lack of physical and mental toughness.
Florida's new director of strength and conditioning believes the best way to do that is by using an Olympic-style program. It was what he used when he played and when he was coaching at Appalachian State, LSU and IMG Academies. It's a change from the philosophy that former coordinator Mickey Marotti used in his six seasons at Florida.
"We do more things that are functional to the sport that I feel have helped me in the past develop explosive, more powerful athletes," Dillman said Thursday during a tour of Florida’s weight room facilities. "That’s what I’m used to. This is what works for me. Mickey has a philosophy that’s worked for him and he’s been very successful at it."
Dillman described Olympic-style lifting as weighted plyometrics -- essentially exercises with fast, powerful movements while lifting weights. It’s designed to provide a total-body workout and a cardiovascular workout in a short period of time. It includes numerous variations based on three main lifts: the power clean, the snatch and the split jerk.
Because Olympic weightlifting movements are done quickly with heavier weight, and require significant coordination and muscle control, they can help athletes with such quick movements as sprinting, jumping or firing off the line of scrimmage. They also develop a strong core, better conditioning, and better balance.
It's an especially good fit for football, because the explosive exercises mimic what players face on the field. Most plays last between four and seven seconds -- over and over and over again.
The proof of the program’s effectiveness is this stat from Matt Delancey, UF’s assistant director of strength and conditioning for Olympic sports: The athletes at the Olympics with the best measured vertical leap are the power lifters.
"It improves your overall power," Delancey said. "Jumping is a display of our power capabilities, so if you get better at cleaning and snatching you get better at jumping. Snatching is the highest correlated exercise to jumping so it’s another reason why we Olympic lift."