Weather makes football practice tough

Published 9:53 am Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Ever-present elements that add to the strenuous nature of preseason football training are the heat and humidity. But it’s all part of the warm-up to the area’s most popular fall sport.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy Head Coach Lew Johnston summed up what the coaches thought about this summer’s temperatures.

“I was really concerned in July, as hot as it was, but I wouldn’t call it overly hot,” he said. “It’s August in Tidewater. There’s going to be heat and humidity.”

Schools have strict rules for coaches to help keep the athletes in good health, despite the temperature. Nevertheless, the rules are not so inflexible that coaches can’t run their practices in different ways.

Lakeland head coach Glenwood Ferebee front-loads his two-a-day practices with conditioning.

“We try to get out here early in the morning, when it’s not as hot,” he said. “Second practice of the day is pretty much reviewing some things for the next day of practice. So we put all the hard work in the morning, and then in the afternoon, we put in work, but it’s more mental. It’s more mental preparation than anything (else).”

NSA’s practice schedule has been very different due to conflicting work schedules among the coaches.

“We don’t have morning practices,” Johnston said. “Our two-a-days were last week, and we went from 3 to 5:30, took an hour break, went inside, got a snack, changed some clothes, and came back up from 6:30 to 8:30. So, we did our two-a-day kind of back-to-back with the break in there.”

The trainer is the one who enforces the rules the coach and team must follow in terms of different things such as the heat.

“We’ve got a trainer,” Johnston said. “She contacts me immediately if there’s issues with that. Either we can’t go out in full pads or we have to curtail the activity, that type of thing. Yeah, they’re very strenuous rules that we follow.”

Nansemond River Head Coach Tracey Parker sees enduring the heat as a natural part of the sport.

“I think if you follow the proper protocol, even on the hot days, you’re going to be OK, the kids are going to be OK, because that’s a part of playing football,” he said. “You have to acclimate them to the heat.”

Parker describes the typical ways that they deal with the temperature while breaking down different elements of football skill according to individual stations on the field.

“We have water bottles at each station so kids can get water when they want to get it, and then we have water breaks every 20 or so minutes, depending on how hot it is,” he said.

For the Warriors, conditioning may come at any given time.

“We kind of get our conditioning in every chance we get, whether it’s in the morning or whether we go light in the morning and you get the conditioning in in the evening,” Parker said.

Parker affirmed that the trainer dictates when things can be done.

“If she tells us we can go, we go,” he said. “If she tells us we can’t go, we wait until she (tells) us we can go.”

Lakeland standout running back Raekwon Johnson and wide receiver Antonio Jefferson deal with the heat by coming to the two-a-day practices prepared.

“We’ve been doing this since the summer,” Johnson said. “So we figure if we get it done in the summer, we don’t have to worry about it when it’s two-a-days.”

“It’s like, we don’t even see a football, (we) just get conditioned,” Jefferson said. “So, when two-a-days come, we’re already ready for it. We’re really in shape for it. As long as we stay hydrated with water, we’ll be good.”