1963 San Diego Chargers

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This is a link to an article from the ESPN and the Outside the Lines report on ESPN. It is a good introduction to the beginnings of the drug culture that we have today in sport and serves a poignant reminder that those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it.

The focus is on two people Sid Gillman, the head coach of the San Diego Chargers and Alvin Roy, the first strength coach in pro football and a person many acknowledge to be the first strength coach in football at LSU in 1958. Both were progressive thinkers and innovators. Unfortunately some of their innovation was centered on giving the players Dianabol to supplement their weight training, a practice I do not condone. Anabolic steroids were legal at that time. They were very prevalent in the power lifting community and just getting into track & field with the throwers.

I think it is shame that the ESPN reporters did not balance out the story with the innovative training they were doing. Lifting weights was still considered taboo for athletes at the time, but they were lifting in training camp and in season. They had a systematic off season strength training program that would rival many of today’s programs. As football player in the sixties I tried to get my hands on anything Alvin Roy wrote. The lifting methods and his training methodology made sense to me. I certainly was naive about the drug aspect of the training until I began training and competing for the decathlon in 1969. If you have access to a copy of Gilman and Roys book- “The San Diego Chargers Strength Program In and Out of Season” it is worth reading. (It is out of print) I religiously followed one of the programs in the book that helped a player gain 50 pounds of muscle and I lost five pounds! I was missing one ingredient 15 mg a day of Dianabol. None the less as a young athlete interested in going into coaching the non drug lessons of the methodology were a big influence on my training ideas.
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Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta

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Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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