Nittany Notes: Off-Season

With Penn State in the thick of the off-season, many fans have been asking what exactly the team does during the summer months, prior to pre-season practice in August, to prepare for the upcoming campaign. Get an overview of the Nittany Lions' preparations.

Run, Run, Run

One of the areas the team has been particularly focused on coming out of spring practice is overall endurance and conditioning. To prepare for this the players have been running more than their fair share since April.

Aside from the standard jog around the practice field, most morning sessions involve the players running "110" and "300" sets. Besides your standard 40-yard dash, the players regularly run 110-yard and 300-yard dashes. These are sprints where the players have to "beat the clock" across the finish line.

In some cases the entire unit will run and share a countdown for several sets. In other runs the players will break up into groups by position like the following:

Group A: WR, DB, RB
Group B: LB, FB, QB, DE, TE
Group C: OL, DL

These group breakups are similar to what is used for the Lift For Life competition, coming this July.

In this case Group A, typically the faster of the three groups, will have approximately 54 seconds to sprint the 300-yard distance. Group B will have 56 seconds and Group C will have 65 seconds.

As one practice observer said, "Obviously [the players] will never run 300 yards in one shot during a game; but if their bodies can handle 300 consistently, it's a good bet they can handle 20 or 40 easily."

1, 2, 3...Lift

A major focal point of the off-season summer months is weight room conditioning. Players have a set schedule where they work various parts of their upper and lower bodies, focusing various sessions on arms, shoulders, torso (chest and back), midsection, upper and lower legs.

The players have set stations and exercises for each section of the body. For instance, when working the legs they will focus on exercises like leg curls and leg presses.

Much of the conditioning, aside from preparing the players for the coming season, is also used to get them in peak physical shape for the Lift For Life competition coming July 14. Stay tuned to FightOnState.com, the official interactive media partner of Lift for Life for the team and event updates.

Drilling

During particular afternoon sessions the players are focused on a standard set of drills, which include:

Drill 6: Drill 6 allows the skill players to practice passing schemes in a 7-on-7 format. It allows the quarterbacks, wideouts and tight ends to work in a variety of offensive looks while matching up against defensive secondary assignments. These drills are typicaly "focused on fundamentals like clean breaks off the line, route-running, creating separation, and working the timing of passes."

1v1: The 1v1 drills are basically one-on-one sets where lineman are matched up with assignments and are tested on their ability to engage, shift, roll or pull on the defensive lineman. These drills focus on the offensive linemen's skills around engaging, setting and holding their blocks and on the defensive linemen's ability to "break the block" and create leverage.

Read-React: The read-react drills test a player's instincts and "the second nature of their reactions." There are a variety of drills of this nature that various positions can use. One of the sets involves a player surrounded by six to eight of his teammates and he has a "contact pad" (a pad which resembles a shield). The players in the circle randomly "attack" the player in the center, charging him. The player has to anticipate the hit by shifting positions, setting his base and taking the blow.

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