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5 Takeaways: How Ben Herbert's Offseason Program Will Impact the Chargers


An enthusiastic Ben Herbert spoke to reporters for nearly 30 minutes Tuesday afternoon as the Bolts began their voluntary offseason program.

Here are five takeaways from the Chargers Executive Director of Player Performance:

1. He's fired up on Day 1

Herbert stepped to the podium Tuesday with a smile on his face and a gleam in his eye.

"To say I was excited for today would be an understatement," Herbert said.

The Chargers kicked off their voluntary offseason program Tuesday, which meant a Herbert's initial chance to meet players and begin his offseason training regiment.

Herbert spent the past six seasons at the University of Michigan, where he helped develop 22 NFL draft picks, including six first-round selections.

He was previously at the University of Arkansas (2013-17) and also spent 11 seasons at his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, from 2002-12.

But with Herbert now leading a program in the NFL for the first time, the moment wasn't lost of him.

"The cool part about it was that it was my first time — there were guys I had met up to this point — but it was my first time to meet the group," Herbert said. "For them to feel me and for me to feel their energy and start the dialogue of what we call training.

"There was no doubt about my excitement," Herbert added.

Check out some photos of the Chargers arriving for the off-season program at Hoag Performance Center.

2. Building a trust

Herbert said Tuesday that he didn't talk to players much during their weight room sessions, instead choosing to show them how he wanted things done.

The reasoning?

"What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say," Herbert said as he pulled out an often-used Harbaugh-ism.

With Day 1 underway for the Bolts, Herbert knows perhaps his biggest emphasis right now is developing a trust and bond with the roster.

The focus Tuesday was on a questionnaire that players filled out to help Herbert and his staff get a baseline understanding of where they are at in mid-April.

"I want to know what they know about their bodies and their capabilities," Herbert said.

Herbert likened the trust that will be forged to borrowing $10 from someone.

He noted that if he were to borrow that money and plan on paying it back by Friday at noon, that's what will happen.

"You're not going to have it at 12:01 or 12:07 and 30 seconds," Herbert said. "You're going to have it when I say."

That trust and relationships will take time to build. But Herbert said it's already better now than it was Tuesday morning.

And it will be better next week than it is today. And it will be better by training camp than when the Bolts wrap up their offseason program in mid-June.

"I told the offensive group at the end of their workout that, 'There will come a time where Coach Herb says…' And based on the relationship that we've established, you know that is in your best interest," Herbert said. "Today we started that process. I don't expect them to be there now but we'll get to that point."

He later added: "I'm here to impact them and this team in the most positive way."

3. A focused approach

Armed with an intense stare and a wealth of knowledge, Herbert dove deep into plenty of topics Tuesday.

That included outlining the key pillars of his training program, which include an importance on consistency and attention to detail.

"Consistency is incredibly valuable to me," said Herbert, who also relayed a story about why putting weight back correctly on the rack is important.

"It doesn't matter if it's the second plate of the 10th plate, it goes back precisely," Herbert said. "It's no different than a DB's eyes of his footwork. Or an offensive lineman's hand placement.

"We practice attention to detail," Herbert added. "We train a certain way but it's also how we keep the room."

Herbert used the phrase "harder to break" Tuesday in an effort to describe the goal of his program.

He doesn't want to break players down and then build them back up. Instead, he wants to make them sturdy and strong so they can withstand the rigors of playing in the NFL.

To do so, he focuses on five key areas of the body: neck, shoulders, hips, hamstrings and ankles.

Get those areas right, Herbert said, and he will sleep better knowing a player is ready for the grind.

"You have to be proactive at training those areas of the body," Herbert said.

Herbert said the Bolts focused on neck work Tuesday with an introduction to hip and ankle work.

And the final pillar of Herbert's program? That he is the same person with the same attitude and mindset each day.

"I don't change," Herbert said.

He later added: "I have a wife, two boys, two dogs and a car with four tires. If I get a flat tire, I'm not going to take it out on you. I don't change emotionally. When I walk into the facility, who you know me to be is who I am."

4. The Harbaugh connection

Herbert, of course, spent the past six seasons at Michigan with Chargers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh.

And he called it a "no brainer" to join Harbaugh in Southern California with the Bolts.

Herbert explained why he and Harbaugh have clicked when it comes to their football philosophies.

"The game of football, building a team, coaching a team is very important to him," Herbert said. "If you see it that same way and it's important to you … if you're willing to sacrifice and commit … you're going to have a great relationship and great rapport with Coach.

"If you're not that way, it's probably not going to go well," Herbert added.

Herbert also credited Harbaugh for helping him grow and develop as both a person and professional over the last six-plus years.

And when the time came for Herbert to decide whether or not he wanted to leave Michigan, it didn't take long for him to decide.

"You want to talk about support? Tremendous support. He put me in the situation I was in," Herbert said. "When Coach decided to come here … we had a conversation about what it would look like and be like.

"Then I looked at my wife and we talked through the details, which took probably five to seven minutes," Herbert added. "Then I called Coach back."

5. What's the timeline?

The Chargers don't play a regular-season game for five months, so there will be a process in place to get the roster ready for September and beyond.

But Herbert said Tuesday that every single day matters in terms of finding a peak performance.

"The time we spend together will have value. I'm confident they realize it after Day 1," Herbert said. "With each passing day, they will reap the rewards of what we do in that training environment."

He later added: "I got asked the question once by a recruit's mom … Coach Herb, has there ever been a guy you have worked with that hasn't changed? No.

"And I say that in a very humble way. I just know that if they give me their time and energy, we're going to figure out what they need."

Herbert said he will bring a "data driven" approach to the Bolts, along with a mentality that each day is the most important day on the calendar.

He noted players "wholeheartedly embraced" that approach on Day 1.

"Urgency, I know that's what Coach [Harbaugh] has and what I have," Herbert said. "The guys, do they have it? They didn't seem to lack it today."

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