Alabama’s Cool Addition For Helping Players

Part of the therapy for Alabama football players, particularly in the heat of fall camp, is the cool down period following practice. That has ordinarily involved players submerging themselves in a tub of ice and water.

These days Alabama players have an alternative – a cryotherapy chamber that does the job in a matter of minutes. But it’s not for everyone.

Alabama center Ryan Kelly is a fan of the process, but linebacker Denzel Devall said he prefers the “old school” method of the ice tub.

When the two players discussed the cool down process following the Monday morning full gear practice on the last of two-a-day workouts, a follow-up, change-up question to Devall asked how his fellow linebacker, Tim Williams, was doing.

There was a momentary, “What?!” by some observers, who heard “Ted Williams.” The all-time baseball great for the Boston Red Sox died in 2002 at age 83. A much-discussed post-mortem centered on his remains being frozen cryonically on the chance of him returning in the future.

That is not what Alabama is doing.

Earlier this year, Alabama Coach Nick Saban was discussing the control of weight in Crimson Tide players and said, “We do everything we can to make the guy the most efficient at his position.”

Bama came in for national attention a couple of years ago when it was revealed the training room area adjoining the practice field included a waterfall. That area includes all sorts of the most modern equipment, including a device in which players can have the gravity level set for rehabilitation running with a reduction on stress.

When Saban was asked about an emphasis on players being at the right weight, he said, “There’s always been an emphasis on that; we’ve just never gotten the players to respond to it like I think this group has. I think all the players have responded to it except two.

“We have nutritionists here, we do body fat-muscle mass-hydration tests, check Vitamin D.

“Everybody has the right combination of all those things to be able to develop at his position. Then you look at a guy’s performance relative to how much he weighs, and a guy who weighs 307 pounds and he can move and sustain and rush the passer and all those things, and when he weighs 318 pounds he can’t do it…It’s not rocket science. Now, the player may not want to weight 307 pounds, but he wants to be a good player, he wants to be successful, that’s the best choice he can make. We’ve always done that. I just think this group has responded to it better.

“Way back when Cody (Terrance Cody) was here. He was 410 and our goal was 360 and our goal was really 345. We never got past 360, so we never reached our goal. But he would have been a better player at 345. He was a good player at 360, and we loved him.”

Tide center Ryan Kelly is a fan of cryotherapy for the cool-down process.

“We’re just testing it out,” he said. “We do it on two-a-days when you practice in the morning and then again that night. It’s a great way to get your legs back, that and the cold tub. Coach Jeff Allen (Bama’s head trainer) and those guys have done a great job of supplying us with everything we can to be the best that we can on the field.”

As for the process, Kelly said, “You get real cold. You have to put gloves on. You have to put socks on, foot warmers, stuff like that. Can’t touch the sides and you’ve got to be completely dry, otherwise I guess the water gets so cold in there, I don’t know. It’s cold.”

It’s not for everyone, he said.

“Some guys go in there for, like, 45 seconds. You’re supposed to go in there for a minute and a half, or three minutes, whatever. And some guys couldn’t last 30 seconds.”

He said he lasted “like two minutes.

“You get pretty cold and one of the side-effects is you start getting light-headed. So as soon as I started getting light-headed I walked out.”

As for linebacker Devall, he said, “I tried it one time. I’m just old-fashioned. Put me in the ice tub and I’m good to go.”

Devall gave it a chance. “I did the whole process,” he said. “But me, I’d rather just go and get in the cold tub.”

Alabama practices today, then begins classes Wednesday, which changes the schedule. The Crimson Tide has its final scrimmage of fall camp Saturday and will open the season Sept. 5 against Wisconsin in the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.


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