Fall victories built on summer workouts
Charles Prince, Hartselle Enquirer
On Oct. 8, 2004, the Hartselle High football team whipped Athens, 31-20, thanks to a dominating second half of play by the Tigers' offensive line. Hartselle scored on nine and 11-play drives in the second half, during which not a single pass was thrown. Head coach Bob Godsey explained the win was a result of work his team had put in months earlier.
"This is why you do all the work in the summer," Godsey told reporters. "So you can take the ball and just grind out it out and grab a big region win like this one."
The annual summer workouts got under way this year June 6. According to Godsey, they're the groundwork of Tiger victories in the fall.
"There's no doubt these workouts are the foundation of everything we do in the fall," Godsey said. "The workouts led to our team being in great condition last season. We played much better late in games last season than the year before and it has to be due to the level of conditioning achieved in the summer. Summer workouts get a team ready for a long season."
The Tigers assemble at the school's field house on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 a.m. The workouts are divided up into weight training, footwork exercises and speed and agility drills.
Each day, one hour is devoted to weight lifting. However, the amount of weight lifted is not as important as the way it's raised.
"We're not concerned with the amount of weight," Godsey said. "We want to lift a good amount of weight at a high rate of speed. Explosive lifts are what we're looking for."
The explosive lifts help to mirror the explosive actions taken by players at the snap of the ball. But weights are only part of the routine.
Two days a week, one hour of each workout is devoted to speed and agility work, which is designed to increase a player's lateral, backward and straight ahead quickness. Once a week, an hour is devoted to position-specific footwork drills, supervised by the team's individual position coaches.
The pace of the workouts is as important to the team's fall success as the work itself.
"We don't stand around," Godsey said. "We get the guys working at a quick pace and it improves the player's conditioning. Working quickly helps to get them in game shape."
By July, seven-on-seven passing drills will be added and the Tiger's air attack as well as the pass defense will receive plenty of practice.
Godsey feels the off-season workouts benefit his team in yet another way once the fall schedule begins.
"I believe the workouts cuts down on injuries," Godsey added.
"We had very few injuries last season. I believe our conditioning played a major factor."
Just as leadership is important on the practice and playing fields, it also takes on a significant role during the summer.
"The older guys know what the summer takes," Godsey pointed out. "They've been through it. If they're out front doing what needs to be done, it's easier for the younger players to follow through. Our older players are doing a good job of passing onto the younger guys what the off-season takes."
Godsey said the coaching staff has a motto for the team, which states the Tigers need to outwork everyone on their schedule to have a chance at success. Last season's second round playoff appearance and nine victories have helped the players understand the benefits of off-season training.
"Guys coming back from last year know the success we had. They bought into the program and they saw the results of the workouts out on the field," Godsey said. "
"In the come from behind win over Austin, our players knew they dominated the fourth quarter. They realized being able to do that went back to the work they did over the summer."
According to the coach, the staff attempts to make the workouts enjoyable. Part of the enjoyment comes from the individual players seeing improvement in their athletic abilities.
"We try to make the workouts fun," Godsey said. "But we push the players and they push each other. When they see the results they start pushing themselves. When they learn they can do more than they thought they could, or when they exert themselves more than they realized they could, it becomes a motivating factor for them."
The rest of the enjoyment comes later in the year.
"We let the players know how important it is to get this work done," Godsey said. "Then we let them know the fun part comes from getting those Friday night wins."