Florida State

Bobby Bowden-era mat drills made a difference in those Florida State teams

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden
courtesy of florida state athletics

A phrase that still causes me to shudder was, “Send that group back!” That meant you had to go back to the line and do the drill after the other groups were done but you still were in the same row. So, if you were in group one but were sent back, you now are the last group to go but you’re also group one, so you immediately have to go back to the front.

Group 1: Running Station (aka ‘Rest Station’)

Station 1: Technique and form running
Imagine that: I called the running station a rest station. Essentially, it’s nine minutes of 40-yard dashes. And you must sprint. If the coaches don’t think you’re competing or you lose to someone you shouldn’t, you can get a zero – and as I’ve said, you don’t want a zero. You might as well not show up.
Station 2: Speed ladders
You do nine minutes of various speed ladder drills, where you sprint 5 yards to the drill and 5 yards after the drill. Pull up before the cone and you get sent back. If up the ladder, you’ll get a zero. And you don’t want a zero.

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Group 2: Andrews (named after Mickey Andrews aka ‘purgatory’)

Station 1: The pins
You do speed and availing drills under a 5-foot metal pin bridge contraption with rows. There are bags that you run over, around, through and touch for six minutes. This is supposed to help you stay low (or, if you prefer, not get too high) when you play. You learn a valuable lesson if you get too high. You also learn things by seeing others make mistakes.

Station 2: Cones
The best way to describe this is six minutes of sprinting in short 5- to 10-yard bursts on a slick basketball court. The problem: As soon as you catch your breath, it’s time to go again. Luckily, assistant John Lilly oversaw this drill and he was one of the more sane coaches on the staff.

Station 3: Andrews
This is where you had Andrews, one of the meanest and baddest dudes in college football, taking you through hand recognition and mirror drills, all while he is cursing at you. His presence alone made this drill so hard; you’d do anything to just get him to stop yelling at you. He’s also already identified which one of you is weak and he’s ready to exploit it to see if he can get them to crack. Writing this is making me have painful flashbacks.

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