On August 10, 2017 the Long Island community lost a young man and student athlete by the name of Joshua Mileto. He was taking part in an offseason football-training camp, where they were performing a training exercise. The details of the tragedy are very graphic but if you have seen the news you know how devastating it was.
The specific exercise Joshua was performing consisted of him and his teammates holding a 400-pound log above their heads. This particular conditioning exercise is commonly used during Navy Seal training, where five or more men carry a 200-pound log.
Dean Maddalone is the Director of fitness and wellness for the Professional Athletic Performance Center. He Is also a certified strength and conditioning specialist/coach, a physical therapist assistant, and a USA weightlifting coach. Maddalone like many other strength and conditioning coaches who have spoke on this case has not heard of this drill being used by high school football players.
“I’ve heard of it through the Navy Seals, I don’t know to many of the local high schools that utilize, they might use different methods of it, but I haven’t really heard of using the log drill for strength and conditioning,” said Maddalone.
Although Maddalone has heard of Colleges bringing in Navy Seals to assist in training and team building drills but not many schools do the drills themselves. With teams staying away from this type of drill in the future, Maddalone has some great drills and exercise for teams to consider.
“Depending on the sport that they play you have to look at the specific position they play. Conditioning wise for wide recievers they’ll have to do long distance runs where-as a lineman have to do short explosive runs,” said Maddalone. “Sprints really help build up the stamina and it will transfer over onto the field. For strength training I know a lot of people do the tire flips, the firemans carry, and relay races, stuff to keep it competitive for the guys.”
Maddalone and his colleagues have been asked by coaches/teams to come to their schools to assist or help run a training exercise for their athletes. But he feels it is important for coaches to know their player’s tendencies before training begins.
“Depemding on what coaches are looking for out of their players if it is strength we can help develop strength inside our clinic if it’s on the field we’ll work on their footwork, agility training and speed training,” said Maddalone. “What you have to do is you have to look at your team as a whole, when you’re developing a program for them you need to know what will be ideal for the stronger kids to challenge them without injuring them, and for the weaker athletes what can you do that can help get them stronger without defeating them.”
Just like athletic trainers, strength and conditioning coaches are not required to be on the field for practices or games. Maddalone believes strength coaches should be around and has some colleagues who work closely with schools or players specifically.
“We work with kids as young as seven years old all the way to the professional level, we work with groups as well. We have a couple of our strength coaches that work in the weight room in some of our local high schools,” said Maddalone. “Strength coaches are not required but I think it would be a good idea, I know some coaches build a relationship with some of the teams and some athletes so they’ll go and check on their practices or games to see how they perform in regards to do they look sluggish or not quick off their step.”
Maddalone feels strength coaches work great with athletic trainers where if a player gets hurt or looks sluggish they can share info on what players are doing in the weight room and training sessions. He thinks they can also be a great help for athletes who might not come forward about injuries to their coach but feel comfortable enough to talk with their strength coach.
“I think it’s important that high schools look at consulting or bringing on certified strength and conditioning coaches to help in the weight room as well as working with the teams,” said Maddalone. “Having a strength coach in the school will help teach kids how to properly lift and help reduce chances of injuries, as competitions get more and more fierce having that edge knowing how to lift, maintaining strength and proper nutrition goes a long way.”
Long Island’s unfortunate tragedy has become an opportunity for schools across the country to learn from. Hopefully strength-training exercise will be looked at with much more caution and with safety-first mindset.