Ken Mannie: 'There won't be a single coach on the field'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Tuesday February 12, 2013

Posted by: Chris Vannini on February 12, 2013

Across the country, winter conditioning programs are getting underway.

At Michigan State, it's called the 4th Quarter Program.

That name fits, given the Spartans lost five games by four points or less and lost three on the final play from scrimmage. MSU strength and conditioning coach Ken Mannie explained that these workouts are as much about mental conditioning as they are physical.

"Come game time, there's not going to be one single coach on that football field," Mannie said. "When all hell is breaking loose all around, there are going to be 11 guys on that football field at any given time, making decisions, expressing different techniques, having to know their assignments, having to execute those assignments, and having to lean on each other. That really is one of the main purposes of the beginning of this program in the winter.

"As much as any of the physical stuff, to me, it's a lot of neck up components. Mental toughness, leadership, pulling together, chemistry - when do you think all of that is established? It starts getting established right now."

The MSU coaches added a new part to the program this year: the leadership circle. In this, various seniors are called upon to send the team through a specific drill.

"We're trying to develop a team mentality of toughness, chemistry, leadership," Mannie said. "Those seniors that we put in the leadership circle there, they're not the only ones. I want them looking out and holding everyone accountable for what was being done, but I want them holding the guy next to him accountable too, all the way throughout the entire circle. We'll get there with that. It will take time."



Chris Vannini is the lead writer for and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to

Recent Articles

Related Articles