When I reported to my first college football training camp as a player in the 1980s, we had triple sessions. “Triples” equated to 40 practices in 2 weeks… Sunday mornings were the only respite. I’d like to tell you we spent the time in Church, but we were more likely praying for rain to cool the scorching August afternoons, or to hide cuts, scrapes, aches, and bruises from the coaches evaluating our performance.
Next week, we begin our 2-week training camp and by comparison, have only 15 practices scheduled. Gone are the days of double and triple sessions in the blistering heat. We have 2-a-days every other day and cannot begin them until day #3.
While I do recognize it is better for player health to minimize the number of practices and concurrently the number of exposures to contact, I do miss the solidarity formed through the shared privation of a team going through such a difficult training camp. As the saying goes, misery loves company… and with 3 practices each day for 2 weeks, there was a lot of misery to be shared.
In hindsight, it seems like the Team’s bonding happened organically during “the old days.” Nowadays coaches need to be very intentional about creating team building opportunities. With only one practice scheduled every other day, there are ample opportunities, and we reinforce the tenets of character, culture, and interdependence at every turn.
Just as we “formed, stormed, normed, and (finally) performed” more than 30 years ago, the team we’ll field in 2022 will have their own stories of “how hard it was…” and “remember the time we had to…” When they inevitably look back, I’m sure the obstacles will seem bigger, coaches louder, and challenges more daunting than they could have ever imagined. And just as we do today, I sincerely hope they find the struggles endured today better prepared them for the struggles yet to come, and the recognition they are stronger as a team than anyone could be alone.
Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss coaching philosophy, X’s & O’s, or teach his O-Line “techniques in the trenches.” Contact Coach at firstname.lastname@example.org and share http://www.olineskills.com with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for supporting this blog and joining our conversations, and as always, thanks for your time!