So the team has hired a new strength and conditioning coach. Not Bill Romanowski, as was widely rumored, but Ray Wright, who held the same position last year with the Houston Texans.
Wright’s ascension to the head strength and conditioning position in Houston was something of a big deal, as he replaced the justifiably-legendary Dan Riley in the position.
Riley is best known in these parts for establishing the weight-training program for Joe Gibbs, in Gibbs’ first go-round. He helped strengthen John Riggins, the Hogs, all those Redskins legends, before following Charley Casserly to Houston. And Wright learned under him for seven years as an assistant.
And Wright tried to make the most of those seven years. In an interview with Texans TV last March, Wright said, “I was fortunate to have worked under Dan for seven to eight years. I looked at it as a graduate opportunity, almost a like a graduate school opportunity for me. I would say the most important thing I learned from Dan was how to treat people and how to work with our players. I think that would be the lesson that sticks with me the longest.”
In the same interview, Wright also explained what the differences would be between his methods and his predecessors’. “There will be some differences in some of the movements,” he said. “But for the most part, we are going to focus on how we do things and not necessarily how much weight or how many reps we can get. We want to focus on being very specific on what we want from them in their movement patterns.”
As the offseason progressed, the players seemed to respond well to Wright; in April, Houston Texans Examiner writer Alan Burge this summary of the changes that Wright made in the Texans’ workouts after taking over:
• A focus on muscle isolation instead of just gaining strength to stay healthy
• A concept called muscle confusion
• A re-designed weight room with more free weight stations and fewer machines
• A focus on football movements
• Yoga and Jiu Jitsu classes to increase flexibility
• A change in warm up routines
Assuming Wright imports a similar philosophy this year, there’s a lot to like there. The idea of yoga and Jiu Jitsu classes intrigue me on two levels: first, I’m a big believer in the importance of overall flexibility, and I think the willingness to go with these sorts of slightly unconventional methods is a good sign. Second, of course, is that the idea of, say, Albert Haynesworth doing Jiu Jitsu is blogging gold.
By May, according to the Texans’ website, the players were saying, “There’s nothing like a Ray Wright workout.” And apparently they were saying it enough that Texans writer Brooke Bentley decided to experience one of these workouts for their website — something I devoutly appreciate, since it saves me from any possibility of having to do it myself. (And, given how winded I got just walking in the snow yesterday, trying something like this might kill me.)
Here’s the Redskins press release on the hiring:
For Immediate Release
February 12, 2010
LOUDOUN COUNTY, VA – The Washington Redskins today named Ray Wright as their head strength and conditioning coach.
Wright joins the Redskins after spending eight seasons with the Houston Texans. He was named the Texans’ head strength and conditioning coach in 2009 after serving the previous seven seasons as the team’s assistant strength and conditioning coach. Wright will oversee all aspects of the Redskins’ workout program, getting the team in peak condition for training camp and throughout the upcoming season.
“The position of strength and conditioning coach demands a combination of youth and experience, and Ray delivers on both of those,” Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan said. “He has had learned from some of the best in the business, and he has incorporated their teachings into his own philosophies. We expect him to bring out the most from our players, starting with their offseason conditioning and continuing through the entire season.”
Before coming to Houston, Wright spent one season as the assistant strength and conditioning coach at the University of Maryland in 2001, helping the Terrapins capture the Atlantic Coast Conference title and a berth in the Orange Bowl.
Prior to his stint in College Park, Wright spent six months with the Chicago Bears as a college and pro personnel assistant. He spent the 2000 season as the recruiting coordinator at Cornell University.
This marks Wright’s second stint with the Redskins as he originally entered the NFL in 1997 as a scouting intern with Washington. He was promoted to college/pro scouting administrator in 1998, then to the club’s director of player programs in 1999.
Wright played football at Duke from 1990-95 before working as a personal trainer for one year in Durham, N.C.
A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Wright is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and has his United States of America Weightlifting Coaching Certification.
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