Mobile, Agile, Hostile…

So, quite possibly the coldest evening of the year preceded training this week. That meant one thing – frozen mud.

Needless to say the prospect of rolling around on hard icy ground was enough to put off a few people from training, but the hardcore members of Matt Roberts’ Barmy Army still continued to attend. And in fact, the frozen mud quickly turned to thick, wet mud as the morning, and the training session progressed.

So, as ever, the warm up was followed by the agility – 6 stations, each more devious than the last, where we push ourselves for a couple of minutes each.

So, firstly, “The wobbly cones of doom” – fairly straightforward this one, side shuffle around the cones, through Coach Wilkinson’s little maze, keeping head up, bum down, and avoiding knocking any cones over, on fear of death – well, that’s a touch exaggerated, but some people dread 10 press ups as much as they do death…

Next comes the first of the ladders. This requires two feet between each rung, keeping knees high, and powering forwards. Not too hard, but inevitably someone will trip, tangling the ladder in their feet, and dragging you down with them! We tend to spend most of this drill working on untying knots, usually consisting of mangled ladder and twisted ankles!

Thirdly is Coach Bourke’s drill. easy to understand, straightforward to execute, but the tempo and the repetition are what kills you! Basically this consists of a hurdle, and a cone. Vertical leap over the hurdle, bringing knees to chest, and then sprint to the cone as you land. Perhaps the most underrated, and the station where the most benefit can be gained, but after a leap, sprint and jog back, it’s already your turn to go again. It’s one quick circuit that is repeated over and over – no recovery time on this one! Tends to wear out even the guys with most stamina (and no, i don’t mean Adam Burrows and Tommy Clarke, although their late night sessions do emphasise remarkable stamina…)

Next comes the second ladder drill. Similar to the first, where you put two feet between each rung, but this time you go side to side rather than forward. You tend to see a lot of skipping linemen at this one, gently bouncing from side to side. Good tests for foot speed and balance, so you tend to see a lot of the Defensive line falling over on this one…

Then you’re confronted by the hurdles – bunny hop hell! 5 hurdles, two feet between each hurdle, so high kneed bunny hops are the order of the day. This is where the springy heeled DBs come into their own, but us lineman are left unimpressed at the prospect of picking up the hurdles we’ve inevitably knocked down.

And finally, Rick Rotondo’s Gauntlet run! Well, actually it’s not that exciting – all it consists of are a number of tackle bags laid on the floor, which you have to run through, stepping high over them. Firstly with long strides, then with shorter strides as you put two feet between each bag, and then with longer strides again. Always whilst Rick is yelling something aggressively and loudly, and inevitably followed by “Yeah baby, whoo!”.

So, each week we’re confronted by the 6 stages of hell, so, rest assured, if we ever find ourselves confronted by a hurdle or a tacklebag on the field this season, we’ll know exactly how to deal with it!

As ever training was well constructed, and allowed us to practice all facets of the game, rounded off nicely by a scrimmage. This week the scrimmage was recorded by Coach O’Hare, supposedly for training purposes, but the way he zoomed in on certain people left us a touch concerned… Either way, he managed to get my best side…my back.

So, aside from training, great strides have been made on the social front, and watch this space for details of our Gladiators Quiz night – or, more specifically, details of what clangers Mark can come out with in front of a new audience…

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