Nittany Notes: Unconventional Tactics

Penn State shifted its off-season training routine this year to include some less conventional work. This approach is said to be "incredibly demanding" on the players. See what is up in another edition of our exclusive Nittany Notes.

A few weeks ago walked you through the winter training regimen for Penn State players.

Recently, that conditioning approach has seen some "unconventional" additions that take place in Holuba Hall. As one observer shared, "These stations are really used to work [the players] agility and reaction times. They also build endurance and I think they probably toughen up the guys. When they are running them I keep thinking it's like Marine boot camp."

Spring practice starts March 24. Though the Lions are on spring break this week, this is some of what they were doing to prepare of the drills.

Station One: Mini Obstacle
Duration: Four Minutes

In this station a series of agility bags are set up in "mini-obstacle course" fashion, in a line of several feet apart. Each player must run through the line over each bag, jump over a series of others while keeping their knees together, turn and run the course in reverse.

Bag Drill

At times cones will be placed out for the player to shift around or touch while in motion. "This one's all about footwork and agility. It works the players finesse and footwork and gets him up on his toes so he's more nimble. It's all about speed; it sounds easy but they have to get through the course fast and do it frequently. It's deceptively challenging. Some guys come in and see it and think it's going to be cake and then get knocked for a loop. Then they get an earful."

Station Two: Bear Crawls
Duration: Four Minutes

This station involves — you guessed it — bear crawls. A bear crawl is where the player gets on his hands and feet and has to move in this stance. Here the player first gets into a bear crawl position. The individual overseeing the station calls out directions for the player to move while in the stance.

Then the players will move to a two-point stance; from here they have to either jump up, drop into an up-down or a C-roll where they drop, roll over and pop back up. After several of these the players have to pop up and sprint 10 yards out and back.

"This works stamina and conditioning — try getting down into bear crawl position ... then try moving — but it really works their reactions since the commands are coming at them so quickly and they have to move," one observer told us.

Station Three: Jump Training
Duration: Four Minutes

This station is pretty straight forward. The players basically do squat-jumps for four minutes.

They may also incorporate some running where the players do a series of 20-yard sprints, starting from the push-up position, three-point stance, lying on their back or a straight power start.

According to one observer, "This is all stamina. J.T. is just working their endurance here."

Anthony Scirrotto

Station Four: Run Form
Duration: Four Minutes

This station focuses on the running form of the player. Here the players run a series of sprints, but "the emphasis is on form and efficiency" and "not wasting any movement."

Here the players may also participate in a series of hurdle runs to also work on the efficiency of their runs and "getting back into your form once you're forced to come out with a jump."

Station Five: Circle Sprint
Duration: Four Minutes

This station is also set up like an obstacle course which can change in general makeup. For example, the players will run and zig-zag through a series of cones, run around a 20-foot diameter circle, dive under bags stacked like "a fort," and then sprint through to the finish.

"This is pulling a lot of the elements together — directional shifts, speed, agility, reactions," one observer explained. This event is timed with two teams competing and the losing team having to do extra push-ups.

Station Six: Powerball
Duration: Four Minutes

This station is described as "Powerball on American Gladiators." The station is a "1v1" drill with two trash cans set up 10-yards apart and 10-yards away from the start. One player gets the ball and the other is on defense.

The offensive player's job is to simply get the ball in the trash can. The other player simply has to stop him. "This can get really physical," according to one observer.

This station works speed, reaction and the over physical play of the players.

The entire circuit takes about 30 minutes — six stations that are four minutes each with time for the players to jog to the next one.

After these stations the players hit 15 minutes or so of "indys" (individual position drills) and then finaly end with a series of runs.

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