One of the biggest advantages Oregon football has over its opponents is its conditioning. Oregon’s athletes not only excel on the field, but they also dominate in the weight room and in the behind the scenes work.
It’s been observed over the past seasons that the Ducks have been able to run over teams with strong second half surges, using finesse to tire out their opponents early. The reasoning is simple… Oregon has the most conditioned athletes in college football.
A major part of the Ducks’ success is head strength and conditioning coach Jim Radcliffe, or “Coach Rad” as many of the players refer to him.
Radcliffe, a master of plyometrics and world-renowned conditioning coach, has brought the phrase “bullets over bowling balls” to the University of Oregon, building Oregon athletes into the blend of all the important physical traits. Pylometrics is a series of exercises that force muscles to exert maximum force in as short a time as possible with the objective of increasing both power and speed. Radcliffe believes that power comes from more than just a number in the weight room, but other aspects like agility and coordination.
He designs the year-round workout calendar for the football players, working with them during the season and making sure they have a plan in place to come back to camp ready to go. But it’s not just football. Radcliffe is also involved with athletes from nearly every Oregon athletics team.
At 54 years old, Radcliffe is still running strong and leading the charge. Back when practices were open to the public, “Coach Rad” could be seen running full speed with players in drills, most of the time outrunning them in conditioning drills. Radcliffe was particularly impressive in the 40-yard dash. Word is he keeps up with most of the receivers and running backs in speed drills, beating many of them in straight runs.
Radcliffe became the Ducks’ assistant strength coach in 1985 and has been with the school for the past 28 years. Two years after becoming an assistant he was promoted to head strength coach, the position he still holds.
He has been called the “father of plyometrics” and is an innovator in his field. Radcliffe played four seasons as a defensive back at Pacific University and earned a degree in physical education and health. Radcliffe then earned a Master’s degree in biomechanics from Oregon in 1992. His wife Janice is also involved with school. She teaches weight training and other athletic courses in the University’s department of physical education and recreation.