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Revamped BYU Player Conditioning Stands Out On First Day Of Fall Camp

BYU TE Matt Bushman (Courtesy of BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)

PROVO, Utah – It wasn’t easy for the BYU football program to quickly pivot from a normal spring football to an off-season nobody could have prepared for, but the Cougars were quick to adapt and after the first day of fall camp, it’s paying dividends.

Head Coach Kalani Sitake has been so impressed that he’s looking into modifying future winter and spring off-season programs, he told the media after the first practice of fall camp.

“The truth is the proof is in what I see,” said Sitake. “I see a lot of guys who made a lot of change whether it’s their body type or their body fat or strength, they’ve all improved a lot more in their own specialized training and seeking that out individually then they did in the cover-all program.”

Many players have echoed a similar sentiment, including senior tight end Matt Bushman.

“Once you get older you are kind of self-motivated,”  said Bushman, “During the quarantine, we weren’t allowed to be at BYU. It was more just finding places to get better. There were a couple of spots where I was allowed to train and work hard in the off-season. I just feel really good.”

Players were allowed back on campus June 1 for small group workouts, but a lot of work was put in prior to the return to the facility.

“These guys have worked extremely hard during the quarantine,” said Sitake. “It’s given them some new life. I think maybe players are a little bit overtrained. We were forced to kind of separate and guys are able to go on their own and find their own specialized training. It creates this intrinsic motivation.”

That doesn’t mean the players were completely on their own, but rather, they had the freedom and ability to work out how they best saw fit.

“When you’re running a conditioning program it pretty much covers all, but during this time of being away, the guys are left on their own, ‘this is what I need to improve on’ and then they’re asking questions,” explained Sitake. “It gives you some thought on how you should it from now on. I think maybe keep it a little more personalized might be the new way of doing things.”

Individual training sessions have never been more accessible than they have in the past couple of years. Zach Wilson has worked with John Beck at 3DQB in the past, and several other players have sought individual training from various former players.

Coach Sitake believes this personalized approach is the most effective off-season training approach.

“I have guys on the team that are different from other places,” said Sitake. “They’re more mature and grown. I wasn’t worried about some of the things they were doing in the quarantine.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed sports as we know it, but for the BYU football program, not all changes have been negative.

“I think there’s a lot of things we can take from this experience and see if we can modify our offseason a little bit more,” said Sitake.

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