Sprinting was never this hard

Alabama's conditioning coaches have a variety of techniques which they use to work on the squad's overall speed. A few "favorites" can be exquisite torture.

(Above left) Defensive tackle Kyle Tatum takes off, dragging the weighted sled behind. After reporting last year weighing 260, Tatum had gotten his weight up over 280 pounds last spring. But athletes with long frames (like Tatum) sometimes take longer than shorter/broader players to add permanent weight, and Tatum must build himself gradually into a defensive tackle.

With lineman Justin Smiley "holding the reins" after letting go, quarterback Brandon Avalos begins his sprint. Resistance running forces the athlete to use proper technique, while obviously working to strengthen his muscles as well.

Junior Todd Bates strains forward, pulling his sled along behind. Athletes are forced to pay attention to their stride length to achieve proper acceleration. Just getting up to full speed requires that the runner stay low at the start.

Friends and fellow redshirt freshmen Kenneth Darby (front) and Ramzee Robinson (behind) work together on this repetition. The trailing player holds on for five yards, just long enough to get the benefit without tiring out the athlete. When his partner lets go of the "reins," the sprinter hits full speed almost immediately for the 40-yard run.

Wesley Britt runs with his sled. Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Ben Pollard has all types of "torture" exercises in his repertoire, but few tax the athletes as much as weighted sprints. The first several "sled sprints" are no real problem, but by the seventh and eighth repetitions even the best conditioned players are exhausted when they finish.

Tight ends Clint Johnston (front) and David Cavan (behind) are paired this time. Despite being held back the first five yards, the runner still drives his legs as fast as he can. The idea is to train the motor neurons to fire even faster, improving the athlete's top-end speed. This type "overspeed training" allows the player to momentarily run faster than he's normally capable of doing.

BamaMag Top Stories