Friday, 14 August 2015

Winning The Bye Week

The Bye Week in a CFL schedule often brings a much needed hiatus from the rigours of the pro athlete grind, however in order to be successful moving into the following week of competition prep, a football player needs to ensure that he covers some of the basics during his time off.  Now a lot of this may seem obvious to many, but you’d be surprised by the number of athletes that don’t put themselves into a position to be successful following a scheduled week off…

Yes folks, for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, there was actually a way that the team could WIN the Bye Week and return to their routines refreshed and Re-focused.

For players and coaches, there are two types of Bye Week approaches.

1)      Get Away:  Many players probably went their separate ways immediately following the Toronto loss.  Pearson International is the perfect airport to jettison one off to all corners of North America.  At 0-7, this is the perfect time to surround oneself with their Day 1 Supporters.  Family and friends don’t care about team records and the business of sport; they’re just glad to have their boy in town, and to be able to spend some time with them.  Life isn’t all about football and they’ll have people in their corner no matter what.  It’s good to get outside the walls of Ridernation in order to get that perspective.  When teams aren’t performing well, and players are getting anxious as to what the future may hold, one’s family and friends keep the anxiety at bay.  Talking/ FaceTiming on the phone in season is cool, but nothing beats physical interaction.

2)      Return to Regina:  Ultimately, getting out of the province is the way to go for a few days at least. However, if one remains in Regina, that player needs to make sure that they’re not just sitting around in the dark by themselves.  Get out and about!  I’ve checked out some of the social media posts that the Riders have sent out regarding players making appearances in hospitals, donating blood, and doing autograph signings.  That stuff is perfect.  Spend time building into others, because despite their record, the majority of this province supports their professional athletes through thick and thin.  The perspective from a community standpoint really helps an athlete redefine their approach to the year.  #PassItOn

Regardless of ones Bye Week strategy the next couple of things are key to having a positive Bye…

First things first; forget about the Toronto game.  There are some players that absolutely have to see the film from the recent game in order to move on, regardless of how they played.  For those players that chose to get away from the Queen City for a bit, one can’t let concerns about how they graded out affect their time away; otherwise they may as well have just stayed in Regina.  One has to clear their mind, and worrying about the film isn’t helping anyone.  I once had a teammate call me every ½ hour from their home in the U.S asking me how the film looked (from our pre-bye week game) and whether or not he was making the right reads etc on certain plays.  He even wanted to know if I had talked to any of the coaches about the game and what their impressions were.  One can’t be stressed out during a week of relaxation.

For those athletes that stayed in Regina, the order of the day would be to bury the film as quickly as possible.  Many of the guys (that stayed) should have had the film reviewed by Sunday of last week.  Going into the Bye with a clear head is an absolute must.

The second thing that will help the players in the Green and White WIN the Bye Week is by taking advantage of the time they have off the field, and putting in some extra weight room work.  During the grueling in-season practise and game schedule that a player has to endure, one often resorts to doing “maintenance” lifts a couple of times a week (after or before practise) in order to prevent any significant strength losses.  A CFL bye week is the perfect opportunity for guys that aren’t trying to heal up (especially O and D linemen) to get into the weight room and really push themselves.  Just because there is a week off doesn’t mean that one can’t work to get better.  Having the opportunity to get in a few training sessions that loosely resemble ones off-season program keeps the body primed and ready to return after the hiatus and hit the ground rolling hard.  Sitting around all week doing absolutely nothing means that one will spend the new practise week fighting to get back into game-shape, as opposed to being ready and preparing to beat Calgary.

Next up:  This is not Spring Break!!  Players can’t go back home spending the majority of their time partying and drinking.  One may think this is obvious, but I’ve had the pleasure of laughing at a few ex-teammates who mistook the bye-week and went waaay too hard.  Like I mentioned above, one can’t be rounding into game shape during Day 3 of Calgary prep.

While we’re on this topic…eat properly!  This was a major mistake I made one year.  I did spend some time working out, but didn’t invest enough into my diet, and by the time the Labour Day Classic rolled around, I felt like I have gained 10-11 lbs.  This is just another comparison between being ready to prepare, and getting ready to be able to play.  They’re two different things.

The last order of business that will create a successful Bye Week for a player is to come back a few days early.  Day 1 of Calgary week starts on Tuesday, and the team may do some sort of practise before that just to get the guys moving again after a long period off.  Players will do themselves a favour by getting back early and getting settled and into a routine before the grind starts all over again.  Being able to get a workout in with the boys or getting an early start on the Stampeder week won’t create the feeling of rushing back into YQR, dropping ones bags and being whisked away into practise.  One needs to feel as relaxed and refreshed as possible.  Going through minor jet-lag, and having "travel-legs" on the first day back is annoying.  One wants to attack the week with momentum.

Having the Bye Week now couldn’t have come at a better time for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.  Taking a step back and reviewing the process up to this point is something that the players and coaches needed to take advantage of.  The next 5 games in the Riders schedule is very interesting.  The Green and White start with a very ordinary looking Stampeder team, a beatable Ottawa RedBlack squad that everyone is waiting on to come back to earth, and a Winnipeg team that is on a free-fall.  If you’ve had a chance to hear segments of our Offsides Podcast with Coach Etch, we’ve talked a lot about this league being very average, and there still being a lot to pay for.  All the team needs is some momentum heading into the final 1/3 of the year, and they could still make things interesting…

Hopefully the Green and White approached the Bye Week with the right attitude, and are feeling RE-FRESHED and READY to turn this thing around. 

Winning the week was still as important as ever.





  1. Hi Luc - I started to regularly read your blog. I have marked it a fav so I really like it. It will become very popular in due course so please hang in there. Coach Etch is a treasure so please hang on to him if you can. His insights are incomparable to a lot of the junk you read and hear elsewhere. Certainly not a yes man..LOL. It's funny but with the new rules which require more blitzing from everywhere (like Hamilton does), a man like Etcheverry should be running a defence somewhere. Blitzing is what he does better than anyone else. I would love to see him back in some capacity like DC. 2008 and 2009 were not flukes. Best of luck.

  2. Very often other teams have their best rushing games against us, and that goes back through 2014. Can you explain why this is?