“The more effective conditioning drills are the ones your players dislike the most” – Pete Newell
Coaches love quotes like these as it give us that feeling that we are in the business of building toughness. To make our players will need to will to win and preserver, but it makes no difference if we cannot keep them healthy. We indeed need to create demanding drills but ensure that we are not pushing them beyond their limits to the point where they are getting injured.
This thought of the dangers of intense training hit home for me after I injured myself from a very difficult crossfit workout. My workout consisted of high intensity rowing, box jumps, hyperextensions, and deadlift at tons of volume (total reps: 225 reps + 1500 meters of rowing). I have worked very hard on my deadlift form but with all the high volume of work and the strain on my low back from hyperextensions, my deadlift form was sloppy and a day latter horrific back issues. It was an amazing workout, but it cost me a week of training as I needed the time to recover. As a NASM CPT, I would never do high rep hyper’s and then go into a technical movement like deadlifts, which I would also never do for reps. I am a huge fan of crossfit but workouts like these are dangerous.
I also was reviewing some notes from a Hubie Brown clinic DVD (Hubie Brown: Special Situations, Part I & II.) and Hubie was talking about a conditioning drill that he uses because of his fear of suicides and sprints. Coach Brown had lost his best player won year to a severe knee injury doing sprints. It was this injury that forced him to re-evaluate his conditioning program with player safety as a priority.
The non-PC named suicide is a staple of the toughness conditioning drills. It calls for the athlete to sprint from the free throw line and back, the mid court line and back, the opposite full court line and back, and the opposite end line and back. This is a tremendously demanding drill but I also think pretty dangerous drill – a high school court is generally about 84 feet, which means the athlete can get fairly close to full speed and then have to make an immediate change of direction. The 3/4 court sprint is 69 feet. Generally teams are looking to complete a cycle under 60 seconds and you might see 10 or more suicides in a conditioning session. It is brutal and I just threw up in my mouth recalling those brutal practices.
In Part II I will break down the demands of the drill and discuss whether it is an appropriate drill for your practices.