The Cleveland Browns are returning to a high-tech approach to their training with the reported hiring of Shaun Huls as director of high performance.
Huls held the same position with the Philadelphia Eagles for the past seven seasons. Browns general manager Andrew Berry spent last season with the Eagles as the team’s vice president of football operations, so Berry is familiar with Huls’ work.
Prior to joining the Eagles, Huls was the head strength and conditioning coach and combatives coordinator for Naval Special Warfare. In that role he coordinated the strength and conditioning program, along with the injury prevention program, for the Navy SEAL Teams. He has also trained professional football and baseball players, as well as worked with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA fighters, which means he should get along well with assistant offensive line coach Scott Peters.
Huls is also a partner/advisor with an organization called Applied Performance Sciences. What is Applied Performance Sciences, you ask? Well, according to its website:
Applied Performance Sciences is a team of combat veteran Navy SEALs who are obsessed with the idea of maximizing human performance in all endeavors. Having spent their active duty careers in training and deploying together, the APS team understands what it means to lead, follow and work together to execute a mission – especially when the stakes are high and the conditions adverse.
In an effort to answer the question of what sets elite performers apart from their competition, our team has worked in conjunction with experts from high-performing populations (NFL, NCAA, Olympic sport, Military Special Operations) to examine the factors that lead to peak performance. We use this information to develop customized training curriculum to drive optimum performance for individuals and organizations.
Being able to perform when the “stakes are high and the conditions adverse” sounds like something that should certainly benefit the Browns.
According to Mary Kay Cabot at cleveland.com, the Browns will be placing “a heavy emphasis this season on in-depth performance analytics, tracking players during practices and games to help determine peak performance and body composition.”
The team was actually doing that in 2016 when it hired Adam Beard as director of high performance, making him the first person in the NFL to hold that title. Beard was let go after the 2018 season, however, by then-general manager John Dorsey, a noted “football guy” who apparently did not have any tolerance for updated training methods.
There is also a question over how much influence Huls will have given that the Browns are still employing Joe Sheehan as senior vice president of player health & development. It was Sheehan’s training staff, after all, that handled wide receiver Odell Beckham’s injury so poorly last season that quarterback Baker Mayfield publicly called out the training staff.
Hopefully, given Berry’s mandate that everyone has to now be on the same, the Browns will fully benefit from Huls’ advanced training methods.