Suspend lifting for practice? No way!

Spring practice is well underway, but don't think for a minute that the athletes' work in the weight room has stopped. Quite the contrary. <br><br>"One of the reasons I like lifting during spring ball is I want the athlete to learn that he can lift during the fall and help himself," said Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Ben Pollard.

Junior strongside linebacker Cornelius Wortham works on the incline bench press.

The theory is simple. There is no such thing as standing still on a football field. And that's especially true of a squad seeking to increase its strength levels. "The hardest time to lift is in the fall," Pollard said. "There's no doubt, because guys get so beat up. It takes so much intensity to play in a game. But if they realize that if they're consistent in their lifting, then they'll maintain a much better strength level.

"I know it will help them."

Senior defensive lineman Kenny King shows off the results of his recent hard work.

Following through with the philosophy, Pollard and his athletes get their lifts in during the week---practice or no practice. "There's no doubt that you're using energy during spring practice," he acknowledged. "But because we do official max testing at the end of the spring semester we have to stay at a pretty high intensity level of weight training to maintain and increase our strength levels."

Sophomore defensive end Todd Bates works on the incline bench press.

Though most fans would assume that football players tired out from practice would be wasting their time lifting weights, actually the opposite is true. "The athlete has got to keep working at a high level, and I do think lifting helps them recover from practice," Pollard explained. "We hit three days in a row last week, and that was tough. They were very physical practices in terms of running and moving and getting a lot of work in.

"So lifting this week will be good, just to get them back into that mode."

Senior middle linebacker Marvin Brown tries to explain a point to an unimpressed Coach Pollard.

Yes, he arrived on campus in excellent weight-lifting shape. But redshirt freshman tight end Clint Johnston has benefitted from the last year's work like everyone else.

And beyond the obvious gains in overall strength levels, Pollard knows that a consistent, monitored weight-lifting regimen actually prevents injuries from happening. In sports lingo it's known as "prehab activity."

Pollard explained, "I'm convinced that it's helpful in preventing injuries. Research shows that practice gives you some laxity, especially in the knee joint. And weight lifting helps overcome some of that."

Sophomore Thurman Ward jumps easily to the 32" platform. Note, by the way, the distance between his feet and the top of the platform. That's a 36" vertical jump without really trying.

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