Mar 3, 2017
Pushed to the Limit

At Marshall University, offseason football workouts are grueling. An especially tough day is when the coaching staff sets up their version of a matt drill.

According to an article on, coaches set up six stations before players arrive. Specific strength or assistant coaches are then assigned to each one. The workouts at each stop vary, but the coaches all have one requirement — they keep the players working hard.

When the players come in, they are split up by position group and assigned to different stations. They begin their assigned exercise, which usually lasts about six minutes. The coaches watch the athletes closely, making sure that they are giving their all and doing the drill correctly, then give them the green light to move on to the next station.

The pace is fast and they are pushed to sprint from one station to the next. If even one player does not complete the exercise to the coaches’ standards, they have to do it all over again.

At a recent workout:

“One player was transitioning stations when he slowed from a jog to a walk at the 27-yard line. His station began at 40, which meant he had 13 leisurely yards before he was spotted. The player and his entire position group had to return to the previous station and sprint to the new station.”

This drill has become crucial in creating an atmosphere where one player’s mistake has an affect on the entire team. It helps teach and reinforce qualities of accountability and teamwork. Establishing and strengthening these attributes in practice helps decrease the amount of mistakes made during game time.

“It’s kind of how it is in the game,” said rising senior tight end Ryan Yurachek. “If we’re running power and the guard doesn’t pull and block the linebacker, the play is over. That’s how it is in the mat drills. If someone screws up, if one out of 12 screws up, you have to start over.”

After each squad has finished the entire mat drill, coaches often add 1-on-1 match-ups.

“1-on-1 match-ups are set at midfield pitting players of similar weights. The players are a long way from the eager pounding of the roll-up door, so their energy and enthusiasm is tested in the 1-on-1 situations. Players are forced to dig deep, which is what the coaches want to see.”

One of the main purposes of this exercise is to push players past what they think is their breaking point. Just like in a game, they have to use their mental strength when they feel their physical strength waning. Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Luke Day explains it this way:

“We’re all competitive until we’re tired. Stuff matters a whole lot to me until I get fatigued and then I’m no longer as passionate about what I said I liked or how much I want to win. You do that and you do that more consistently you start to learn to push past your brain saying ‘Hey, this is uncomfortable, we should stop doing this.’ Overriding that is a big deal. It’s why you win or lose.”

Shop see all »

75 Applewood Drive, Suite A
P.O. Box 128
Sparta, MI 49345
website development by deyo designs
Interested in receiving the print or digital edition of Training & Conditioning?

Subscribe Today »

Be sure to check out our sister sites: