Offseason workouts key to player development

LOS ANGELES -- With no postseason bowl to prepare for and finals just about over, the USC players can take a deep breath and relax as they physically and mentally recover from a long season. However, with spring ball just months away, the Trojans will soon have to mentally shift from holiday season to the offseason.

During the season, players play for each other and the overall good of their team. When the offseason and winter workouts come around, the mentality of each player switches a little from a team approach to more of an individual one.

Because of different class schedules during the day, players are allowed to work out at different times during the day. With the different workout times, players will sometimes not see each other for days or even weeks and the team dynamic is lost for those couple of months.

With no job being safe, players understand that the best way to get the starting job going into fall camp is to perform well in the spring. The only way to do that is in the weight room.

During the season, players work out two to three times a week. With the long season and the physical beating that the players’ bodies take during this time, their workouts are designed more for maintaining what they’ve worked toward during the winter and summer rather than gaining. With no meetings or games to think about in the offseason, the only thing on a player’s mind is getting bigger, stronger and faster.

Every player is at a different level when it comes to how much they can lift. At the beginning of the offseason, individual goals are set so the players have something to shoot for. Because of the quality of coaches Lane Kiffin has hired, players are able to maximize their potential in the weight room.

However, this individual mentality during the offseason benefits the team going into the next season. The competition with one another in the weight room directly carries on to the football field, thus making the team better. This has been the Trojans mentality for the past 10 years. With the teams USC has put out during that time, it’s easy to see that path to the Rose Bowl starts not with the first game, but with the first workout.