Conditioning counts

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Brookhaven coaches and players agree. They both benefit from thesummer workouts. There is a level of camaraderie which developsbetween coaches and players alike.

Rising before the crack of dawn to arrive on time for a 6 a.m.practice builds character and discipline. In Mississippi summers,early morning is the most beautiful time of the day, also thecoolest.

Ole Brook head football coach Tucker Peavey said the normalroutine has his players in the weightlifting room for an hour. Thenthey perform 30 minutes of running and agility drills.

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Workouts are well-orchestrated. Players run a circuit ofagility, quickness and plyometric drills, changing stations everyfew minutes. Plyometrics are jumping and explosive drills.

“When your feet hit the surface, your body is reacting to getyou back up,” explained Peavey. “We try to keep it from getting oldor boring.

Plyometric hurdles are set up on the track, near the startingline of the 100-yard dash. Groups of players line up. They beginskipping and jumping over miniature plastic hurdles to help improveagility.

“Get your knees up to your chest,” barks Peavey.

Several players accidentally tip the top of the hurdles withtheir feet and the bright orange plastic barriers turn over. Theoffending player immediately goes to the side of the track and doesfive pushups. Then he rejoins the drill.

Peavey preaches the importance of summer workouts and he sayshis players respond. “There’s no doubt about it. They realize theimportance of getting in shape now. When we start practice inAugust, we don’t want to be concerned about conditioning. We wantto practice football.”

Preseason practice begin in earnest on Monday, July 31. ThePanthers will be ready to go full-speed, despite the heat.

“Running the stadium steps is a challenge, especially at the endof all those other workouts,” said Peavey.

Offseason drills started May 28. They conclude Wednesday.

“Then we give them a few days off before we get cranked up,”said Peavey.

In this day and time, most schools have an offseason program,plus a summer weight training and conditioning program.

“The kind of participation you get, makes the difference,” saidPeavey. “We’ve had a good turnout this summer.”

Peavey said attendance averages 55-60 players every day. Somehave excused absences. “We try to work with them when kids are onvacation or at church camps.”

Conditioning also reduces injuries. The Panthers didn’t have anymajor injuries when they won state in 2004.

Due to the workouts, “We have very few pulled muscles,” saidPeavey.

Peavey’s entire varsity staff oversees the workouts, taking aninterest in each player’s progress.

“All of our coaches are there for every workout,” said Peavey.”There are more eyes watching the players. We are able to monitorbetter on an individual basis.”

According to Peavey, there are health and safety benefits, too.”I think it’s impossible to be completely in shape for Augustfootball practice. But the better shape you’re in, the better offyou will be.”

When full equipment is donned, a player’s body temperaturequickly escalates. How well the individual copes with the heat,determines his ability on the football practice field as well as ingames.