Chargers.com is chatting with every Bolts assistant coach this offseason. Up next? The Chargers Sports Performance Staff of Anthony Lomando (Director of Sports Performance), Jonathan Brooks (Head Strength and Conditioning coach) and Lucius Jordan (assistant strength and conditioning coach).
Your title is Director of Sports Performance. For fans that may not know, what all does your job encompass?
"Anything that has to do with the physiological development of our players for anything that impacts their performance on the field. That can include anything from general strength and conditioning activities to sport science data, health and wellness pieces … just making sure we're carefully coordinating and orchestrating every aspect of their development to make sure they can perform at their highest and perform optimally on the field in the season. It looks different at different points throughout the year. But we're always preparing them for what's ahead, and that's training camp and the season. It's all building on each other but we want them peaking at the right time."
A bit broad here, but what is the baseline philosophy you bring to work every day?
"Coach Staley talks a lot about relationships and competition and that's a huge piece to sports performance. Guys have to trust you to put their development in your hands and that starts with building relationships and the intention of why you're here. I like to develop men that impact lives and the weight room just happens to be my medium in how I do that. That's global, right? But if we talk the nitty gritty, we're a movement-based program that prioritizes efficient movements along with volume and intensity. We're going to train hard and train in the right movement patterns, restore movement and give them a good base of mobility and stability. If you think about it like a car, a lot of our guys come in with horsepower in the engine. Now it's making sure that we're getting that power to the tires, plus the transmission, alignment, if the lug nuts are screwed on right. Just making sure everything is fundamentally sound and that we can improve their efficiency so they can play football and now be power lifters."
How do you evaluate in on a player-by-player basis? Do you tailor your program based on each individual player?
"Definitely individual to a position approach. Guys come in for the spring and we'll do a movement assessment and jump them on the force plate, do a baseline strength test on the force frame to give us a pre-picture in April. But we'll also look at max acceleration, velocity. We take all those pieces and it tells us how that guy stacks up within his position group in the NFL. From there, we target their individual needs. A lineman is going to do different things than a defensive back because they do different things on the field, but the similarities are quality movement, restoring functions and moving weight efficiently and effectively."
You were a longtime assistant in Denver. What did it mean to you to get this job with the Chargers and take the next step in your career?
"Yeah, as any assistant coach or person will probably say, you want the chance to impact people on a bigger scale and be a leader in the department. You want to help a team win a Super Bowl and help each individual player achieve their goals on and off the field. Assistants can do that, but now in this role I have an opportunity to share your bigger philosophy. It's about impact, not power or control. It allows you to take your why and your purpose as a coach and create a program that you think will help your guys and help your organization."
You were in Jacksonville for three seasons before going to Denver for nine years. What's the biggest lesson you learned along the way?
"I think … well, I know … but players won't listen to what you say until they know how much you care. Listening is important. There's so many things out there in our space where guys are coming in with a lot more knowledge. It doesn't mean it's always the right knowledge based on fundamentals principles. So education is a huge piece, and a lot of that is what to do after 5 p.m. on how to eat, sleep, take care of their body. Just teaching them that everything we're doing is for their benefit."
How do you build that trust with players?
"Letting them know your purpose and then asking about their lives. What matters to them? What do they want? Do they want to play 10 years? Do they want to play six? Maybe they're not sure how long they want to play football but they know they want to play the best they can. Finding out their why and what's important to them is everything. Then it's getting them to feel and experience what you're coaching them on, and why it's working, is everything. If you can help a guy feel better, move better, get faster … and they see the numbers and they feel rejuvenated … that's huge."
You mentioned data above. How is that incorporated into your job?
"Well, it wasn't used much back in 2009. Started using the GPS tracking more back in 2013 or 2014. Since then, it's grown exponentially. Now there's so many things that are being heavily integrated and explored, so it's changed a lot from that standpoint. But even with all the tech, staying true to fundamental principles is huge. There can be a lot of noise with numbers and collecting numbers, but what are you actually doing with it? The tracking data is critical because you can help quantify and periodize their plan heading into the season. But I'll also say that athletes are coming back to us in better shape than they were 10 years ago. It's just making sure, again, that they're peaking at the right time."
You have a lot on your plate but certainly aren't a 1-man operation. How do Jonathan and Lucius help you out on a daily basis?
"Those are two excellent coaches and they help keep me grounded and focused. They are my eyes and ears on the floor if I have a 30,000-foot view and trying to get a program carried out. They give me perspective a lot of the time. And they each bring their own skillset. Lucius is very good with mobility work. He's a registered massage therapist so he has a really good understanding of tissue and mobility work. Jonathan and I share a lot of the same mindset with philosophy and training. Both are great because I don't have to worry about things being done or things being ready to go. The same things that matter to me are the same things that matter to them. Just serving. We're here to serve."
Thanks for taking the time to chat, JB. As the head strength and conditioning coach, what does your role entail?
"Our role definitely entails getting the players prepared for the demands of the season depending on the time of the year. With that being said, specific role is helping program design, designing the programs for the players, help execute the program and then help work with any specific players or position groups aside from the group in terms of what they need. Like quarterbacks or specialists or that return to play process, focusing on that area."
What's your favorite part about your job?
"Building the relationships with the guys, getting to know them on a personal level, seeing the development that the younger guys can make in every year they're playing the game has been something that's been very rewarding. Yeah, probably building the relationship with the players."
When I talked to Lomando, he mentioned the same thing. How do you go about building the trust with a player whether it's a new guy coming in or a guy you've known for a couple years?
"Trust does take time to build. The way I kind of go about it is getting to know the player outside of football. Asking questions that like are more impactful like, 'Tell me a little bit about your family, where are you from?' I always like to ask a question like, 'When you're not playing football, what are you going to do with your life?', kind of getting to know them on a personal level first. Of course, as you're going through a lot of that, you're helping clean up technique or help kind of educating them on training. Those things start building then you start building a rapport with each other. That's how relationships and trust starts to happen."
You played wide receiver at New Mexico. You only had one college catch but it went for a touchdown. Describe that moment.
"Yeah, it was a seam up the middle for about 15 yards. First catch and first touchdown catch. It was rewarding for me because I had put a lot of time into it. Walked on as a freshman and made a scholarship my junior year. Just kept working at it to get into the game and then made the best of it."
How about outside of football? What takes up your free time?
"I've got two boys and a wife, so my time is spent with the family. We love the beach, bike rides, hiking, just spending time together. We do go back home to Arizona and see my wife's family and my family, but we just love being together. Just good times."
You're the assistant strength and conditioning coach. In general, what all goes into that?
"In general it's coaching the guys, helping them with their sports performance needs. Specifically, I have a really extensive background in mobility exercises, I'm a licensed massaged therapist also, so really just helping guys with their mobility, their recovery aspects and things of that nature. Also just being like a utility person around the weight room, making sure our facility is clean, set up properly and situated. Just making sure the lifts are good for guys, making sure that breakdown and everything gets put back accordingly and just making sure our room is operational."
What do you love about your job?
"Working with athletes. That's why you've gotten into this, that's why I wanted to do this and just working with them, helping them, really teaching guys and being able to contribute to their performance and their career and things of that nature. All that stuff that goes under that umbrella that matches up with that, that's why I do this. I love that."
You were at a few Power 5 colleges, including at Northwestern with Rashawn Slater. What was Rashawn like in college and how cool has it been to see him progress to the NFL?
"In college, Rashawn was really a lot of what he is now. Quiet demeanor, not necessarily a loud guy. Humble, modest, extremely hard worker loves football. That's why you see him doing pass sets everywhere. He's the same dude. Just comes in, does what he has to do, very good head on his shoulders and everything, extremely respectable. All the good stuff you want in a man, that's Rashawn and he's been that since he was 18 at Northwestern when he walked in there Day 1 and I started working with him. That's Rashawn, he's grown up, he's matured but he's still the same guy at his core.
"Having to work with him here, it's crazy that we both ended up at the same spot. I got here Tuesday of draft week and Thursday we drafted him and he walked in the door two weeks later. I was like, 'Hey man, what's up?' At Northwestern, he walked in Day 1 of freshman year and he had me as his strength coach for the first year. Here we go four years down the line, he walks into the LA Chargers and I'm like, 'You got me again, let's go!' It's been awesome to continue to work alongside him still, help him, advise him, whatever he needs to help him in his career. That's my brother, we've been through the trenches together for years in college and now NFL. That's my guy."
What do you like to do away from work and football in terms of hobbies?
"Obviously, I love lifting weights. Outside of that and being in California, I love going to the beach. I love being on the water, going out there, being in the sunshine. I'm originally from down south so I love the heat, I love the sun, I love the warm weather. Love getting outside but I'm also a huge nerd, I love anime and video games and all that comic book stuff. That's right up my alley, like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings. I love nerding out about that stuff and being able to talk to the guys about that because we got quite a few of those nerds on the team, too. It's been pretty cool to connect with that, but that's what I like to do outside of here, just disconnect from it and recharge and refresh. Those are my avenues of relaxation."
You were probably a big fan of the Chargers anime schedule releases then!
"Oh man, I loved the one last year! When I saw it I was like, 'Oh man, it would be cool if they did another one." And then I saw the second one and was like 'Yes! They got another one!' You watch it and you see all the little easter eggs in there like the little messages and you say, 'Oh, I see what you guys are doing'. I loved it. I thought those were so unique and special and also connecting with people, connecting with the times. I thought on all aspects of pop culture I thought that was great. Nobody else has anything like that out there. It was so cool how the team of people that work on it upstairs took each of the teams and broke them down, gave them a little thing and our guys, too, how they made our players characters. It was really cool, I really liked it."
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