About an hour before practice was supposed to end, the Pitman High football players were slowly making their way home. Their backpacks were slung over their shoulders, while some of them were holding onto their workout shoes. All of them appeared in good spirits.
That was a recent scenario for the Pride, who were wrapping up a week's worth of summer workouts at their football field. They were scheduled to end their week at 9:30 a.m. Thursday — after three hours of sweating in the weight room, running passing routes and perfecting their footwork — but coach Brandon Harris was so pleased with his players' effort that he ended practice early.
Fine with the Pride.
It's another long, scorching summer for them. Even though they finished up their 2009 run with a playoff appearance, this upcoming season's Pitman players believe there's a lot more work to do and a lot more wins to capture. That's why the seniors agreed to meet for their summer conditioning at 6:30 in the morning, wrecking any high school kid's privilege of sleeping in.
Are the summer workouts worth it?
“Afterwards,” senior David Gianesin said, “not during. You get that good feeling afterwards.”
The Pride are doing more than the standard summer conditioning and 7-on-7 football. They're implementing sledgehammers, giant monster-truck tires and a device called the slosh pipe into their summer workouts.
“Bench-pressing, squats, dead lifting — we're doing none of that,” said Harris. “We're developing athletes, not weight-lifters.”
It's the first summer the Pitman coach is using a training regiment called General Physical Preparedness, also known as GPP. It is similar to Strongman training, providing the athlete various exercises to build endurance and strength.
In Pitman's case, a summer workout may include flipping a giant tire over, taking a sledgehammer and slamming it against said tire and holding a long plastic tube called a slosh pipe — which is filled with water and sand — and holding it above the head to build strength and balance, for example. This type of workout, Harris said, has been used at powerhouse college football programs such as Texas, Boise State and the University of Southern California.
“We're (some) of the most athletic kids on campus,” said junior A.J. Derr, considered Pitman's quarterback for the 2010 season. “We're getting mentality focused and getting better at everything.”
It might explain why the Pride were allowed to leave early during a recent practice. They're looking to improve from last season's postseason run, though the Pride return only a handful of starters. Running back Dominick Walker is one of them, as he undoubtedly falls into a leadership role.
“I've been on varsity for three years,” he said. “I'm used to a lot of things. I'm not a stranger to a lot of things.”
He was one of the many varsity players who strolled off campus on Thursday morning feeling a sense of accomplishment.
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