Balance also a priority

Strength and conditioning are obviously the main goals, but balance and body control are just as important. Along with lifting for raw power, the Tide athletes also utilize unique techniques to improve proprioception.

(Above left) Mark Anderson cleans the weight. Now weighing almost 240 pounds, the continued development of Anderson will be critical to Alabama's success this season. Anderson, Leslie Williams and Chris Harris will fill out the rotation at defensive end.

Proprioceptor. It's not a common word, but the best strength coaches understand it very well. The dictionary defines them as "A sensory receptor, found chiefly in muscles, tendons, joints, and the inner ear, that detects the motion or position of the body or a limb by responding to stimuli arising within the organism."

In layman's terms, improve their efficiency and you make a talented athlete even better.

Brodie Croyle performs dumbell presses while balancing with an exercise ball. Besides helping the major muscles normally worked by the bench press, this exercise strengthens the smaller balancing and stabilizing muscles and tendons, especially important in throwing the football.

It's not all hard work. Senior cornerback David Scott laughs at a teammate's joke. Scott had an excellent A-Day scrimmage and gives the Tide an experienced backup at cornerback.

Guard Justin Smiley lifts with Evan Mathis (left) and J.B. Closner (right) looking on. Lifting weights isn't just an individual activity. Coach Ben Pollard always teams athletes of similar ability together, using competition to spur the players on.

Improving balance while also warming up, defensive tackle Kyle Tatum works with a weighted medicine ball.

Middle linebacker Freddie Roach watches the action in the weight room. Working especially on his conditioning, Roach's goal is to lose almost 20 pounds this summer. He finished the 2002 season weighing more than 250 pounds, but to increase his footspeed he'd like to get down to 235 by the start of fall camp.

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