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In December 1997 Riverside High School, TN had had a dismal record of 2-8 and only 1 player lifting at the BFS Varsity Level. Now, the numbers are incredible and last season the Panthers earned a pla
By Robert Brown, C.S.C.S
Published: Summer 1999

The first step toward winning is a huge one - recruit good athletes with good character, good study habits, and a willingness to suppress their own personal ambitions for the good of the team. Within many educational settings, these factors must be developed.
There is a magic formula for success: The formula is to find a need and fill it. The need at Riverside High School is to teach the principles of mentally and physically preparing for success. This was the challenge before us.
Upon arriving in May 1997, we began surveying and breaking ground. The footing for our building program was demonstrating to the players that we, as coaches, cared about them. They were young men, not just football players. Each of them was a son to me. Our first spring practice went well in that we learned something about each other as well as some football.
With summer approaching, the block-laying process began with the introduction of BFS speed and strength training. Few players attended, reflecting the lack of concern players had for each other and for the coaches. Losing habits are truly difficult to overcome.
August soon arrived and we went to our first annual Panther team camp. Players were now under our total control. More than football was being taught. Our second critical building block was laid - the introduction of mental BFS - BELIEVE, FAIRNESS, SUCCESS.
We began with BELIEVE. Napoleon Hill once said, “ Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, he can achieve.” It is vitally important for every young man to understand that we are equipped not only with the ability to imagine future accomplishments and conditions, we are also correspondingly equipped with the ability to turn those imagining into reality. We constantly stress that one must dream great dreams and work to make them come true. “Build castles in the air, put foundations under them and your work will not be lost,” as the philosopher Henry David Thoreau once said, “The gap between what a man believes he can achieve and what is actually possible to him is very, very small.”
Next, we taught FAIRNESS by asking our young men to do a self-examination. We wanted them to answer the question, “Have I been FAIR to the coaches, teammates, and myself?” To be able to answer this, they had to examine the concepts of trust, commitment to excellence and caring, as these applied to their coaches, teammates, and themselves. Can I trust him? Is he committed to excellence? Does he care about people? If we could not answer yes to all three questions, FAIRNESS did not exist. It was important for our young men to understand that we are interdependent. It is impossible to succeed without others, and it is our attitude toward others which will determine their attitude toward us. Do unto others as though YOU WERE the others.
Our last component of mental BFS was SUCCESS. We felt the need existed to teach young men not to fashion their success to the specifications of the outside world. Success consists of specifications drawn up in our own hearts. Success is a journey, not a destination. It is composed of learning personal values which stem from a mature philosophy.

The Program

The 1997 regular season began and we were playing hard, not quitting, and being somewhat competitive. However, there were no wins. Game 5 was the wake-up call. We were playing a formidable opponent and getting physically whipped. We came in at half-time and we told them that no adjustments could be made. We were giving a total effort. Two simple words were written on the board - WEIGHT ROOM. This game demonstrated one team living in the weight room and one who was not. They were asked about their effort during in-season lifting.
The next week saw a different attitude. We continued to utilize BFS 3 times per week but this time BELIEVING. We finished the year winning 2 of the last 3 games.
On November 21, 1997, our first BFS off-season began. We maxed out and the results are listed in Table 1. We asked our young men to give things a chance to happen. Give success a chance to happen. Believe you can, and you'll find that you can. TRY! You'll be surprised at how many good things can happen. You must believe and commit yourself to it.
Our lower body lifts consist of the Squat (front, back, overhead, one-legged), Bench (flat, incline, dumbbell incline, towel, close-grip press), Clean (power, split, hang, clean pull), Hex (Trap) Bar (deadlift, shrugs). We did the following auxiliary lifts: Snatch (power, snatch pull), leg curl, leg extension, glute ham, straight-leg-deadlift, behind the neck press, push press, and lunges (front, side). We also did a lot of dot drills, flexibility work, plyometrics (primarily box jumps), and speed training. As you can see, we continually shocked the muscles through variety. We carefully monitored training loads, volume, order, tempo, and character of exercise. In short, we had a plan. Notice our test results for March 1998 (Table 2).
The 1998 season showed our young men what the BFS system - physical and mental - could produce. We finished third in a tough 3A region and made the state playoffs for the first time in 17 years. Two of our losses were by 1 point and 2 points. We were tied with the region champ with less than four minutes in the game before eventually losing. This year we will graduate 6 seniors. We have completed our second off-season and notice the results (Table 3).
Junior fullback and linebacker Brian Derrington says, “Before Coach Brown arrived, I never really lifted weights or wanted to. But since he put us through weight training, I have experienced and learned how important it is and how it can help me.”
Junior tackle Brian Brasher states, “My attitude has changed a lot toward strength training. I now know what it takes to be successful.”
Junior guard Jamey Fisher: “Strength training has become more important since Coach Brown arrived. It matters a whole lot more now. It takes on a whole new meaning.”
Sophomore guard Ray Wyatt: “My thinking about training has changed. Coach Brown has encouraged us and showed us what we are able to do. For example, last year we made the playoffs.”
Sophomore halfback and cornerback Anthony Webster: “Everyone now thinks about what he has to do as an individual to make the program successful.”
Sophomore defensive end Tony Butler: “Before Coach Brown arrived I never stepped into a weight room. Now, since I've started lifting and getting stronger, I realize how much it helps.”
Sophomore tackle Adam McClain: “At first I just wanted to lift once in a while. Now, I know that it will help me in the long run. I enjoy it.”
What can the BFS system, both physically and mentally, do for your program? There are no limits!


We teach these five values related to success:

Purpose: One must know that whatever he does, he is moving forward toward a goal.

Batting average: Upturns in success are separated by valleys of failure. Every effort cannot be crowned with glory.

Price of success: There is no success for free. The joy of success should be balanced by the effort to achieve it.

Satisfaction: Success should create a warm feeling inside of us and be enjoyed. Satisfaction, stemming from an attitude, is available to all.

Spirituality: It is difficult to comprehend anyone feeling successful without also feeling related to God and His greater purpose for our lives.


Table 1 December 1997

Weight Lift # of players to accomplish lift
200 lb+ Bench 1
300 lb+ Squat 2
175 lb+ Clean 4
400 lb+ Deadlift 1

Table 2 March 1998
200 lb+ Bench 18
300 lb+ Squat 16 (2 over 400)
175 lb+ Clean 16
400 lb+ Deadlift 6

Table 3 March 1999
200 lb+ Bench 30 (3 over 300)
300 lb+ Squat 34 (8 over 400 and 8 over 500)

The Riverside Team
Working on Squats, Coach Brown spots Jr. Clint Morris
“We love the Push Press for power development.” Jamey Fisher spots Clint Morris.
Sophomores Brent Douris and David Willis doing Plyometric Box Jumping.
Junior Matthew Tucker Spotting teammate Jamey Fisher on the Push Press.
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