Just because there are no classes to attend doesn’t mean the Bradley Central football team will not be doing a bit of learning this summer, on the football field anyway.
The Bears have been hard at work and will continue to work hard with weights and conditioning for another few days before a mandatory TSSAA break takes effect. After the “dead period,” coach Damon Floyd will begin to get serious with the technical learning process of installing offensive and defenses.
“Right now we are spending an hour in the weight room and an hour of conditioning out on the field. We will do that until the dead period and after the dead period, that’s when we can get a ball out and start putting in the offense and defense and special teams,” Floyd said after a recent conditioning session.
At the moment, teams are not allowed to have a ball on the field during time spent with coaches, but it doesn’t stop teammates from getting together on their own and working on self improvement and team camaraderie to break up the monotony.
“Coaches can’t be out there (right now),” Floyd said of the no organized practice rule. “Hopefully, our guys are organizing some things. Our seniors should be getting together and they should be throwing at least a couple of times a week. We’re trying to run them as much as we can. We have to be creative because going out there and running in 95 degree temperatures is not very fun for them. We do some competitions and different things. We also do a lot of agility drills where we don’t need a ball. It is kind of frustrating not being able to have a ball out there.”
The good news is, TSSAA has made a move to help athletes become a little better acclimated to the heat and humidity by moving the date teams can get into helmets and shoulder pads up by one week. Beginning July 22, all teams will be allowed to wear hats and pads. After three sessions with helmets and pads, teams can go to full pads.
With the heat reaching into the mid to upper 90s, Floyd said outside activities will hopefully play a part in getting the Bears ready for the late summer heat they will face on the football field when the season gets underway.
“They go out there every day so they can get acclimated to it. I will say today (Thursday) was a little rough on them. It was heating up a little bit. But, they are doing well in the heat,” he stated.
Floyd, as well as coaches of every sport, understand offseason motivation can be tough to maintain, particularly with summer distractions. Gains in the weight room and signs of personal progress are what Floyd hopes will help keep the Bears motivated during the preseason build up.
“They are doing well in the weight room. We never really end in the weight room so they see their strength gains and it motivates them. It changes their appearance a little bit. I think the weight room really helps,” Floyd said. “Now running? I don’t think they like it too much. But, they know there is a light at the end of the tunnel and they are doing it with a purpose.”
The one sure thing Floyd and his assistant coaches will notice during the workouts is who really wants to line up for the Bears on Friday nights during the season. The summer workouts are a perfect place, according to the coach, to see who he and the staff will be able to rely on when kickoff time comes.
“Obviously, you find out the work ethic. Not only the coaches, but their teammates find out about each other. As coaches we find out who we can depend on, who is on time every day and who shows up every day and when they get here, are they working hard? I tell them if I can’t depend on them now, don’t expect me to depend on them on Friday nights,” said Floyd. “This goes a long way toward getting playing time on Friday night. It makes a difference whether you are here or not. “The workouts are not mandatory, but they know they need to be here. If they’re not here, they know there is going to be a consequence.”
So far the daily head count has been satisfying for Floyd although he knows everyone can’t make it every day with vacations and family time. But he has been happy to see those who need to be there taking as much time as they can to make it for every session.
“There are days that some people don’t show up and we understand that because it is summer,” admitted Floyd. “But, for the most part we have been having about 80 guys work out a day, give or take five or so. For the most part, the ones who need to show up are showing up.”
The Bears will continue to work out in the weight room and conditioning field right up until it is time for the obligatory interruption. The break is a good-news, bad-news situation, at least for coaches who worry about losing any momentum gained over the summer workouts.
“We go like this right up to the last week of June then we have to take two weeks off. We do all this conditioning and we have to give them two weeks off. Some of the guys need that break,” Floyd confessed. “I don’t know if they need two weeks, but every day they are getting something accomplished. A lot of them are trying to get their strength up in the weight room. We are really stressing that for the linemen. Skill guys are working on footwork.”
During the dead time, Floyd can only hope the Bears will continue to stay in shape and make gains on their own without the coaches, who are not allowed to have contact during the 14-day span.
“We can’t have any contact with them. I’m going to be in Florida,” Floyd said with an anticipatory grin. “I think our older guys know what it takes to play. I would hope they would do something on their own. A lot of them, I think, need a break, but I hope they do something at least a couple days a week. I think they will do something.”