T.J. Duckett hits the beach running. For each of the past five years the
running back, whom Washington acquired from Atlanta last month, has gone to Del
Mar, Calif., to work out with personal trainer Doug Hix and spend many hours in
the sand (SI, Aug. 28). Hix, a former football and track star at Pittsburg
( Kans.) State has trained more than 70 pros (including quarterbacks Ben
Roethlisberger and Joey Harrington) and says training on an unstable surface
such as sand forces a player to engage his core muscles and also improves
philosophy is to take the essentials that you use in a game and make them more
difficult," says Hix. "I tell guys that if they can do these drills in
the sand, it will be that much easier when they get to the field."
Says Duckett of
the beach's impact, "You're so off balance, it's the equivalent of someone
pushing you from both sides while grabbing you from behind. You really have to
pick your knees up to get through the sand, even though it feels like your legs
are not going anywhere."
254-pound Duckett typically trains with a handful of other Hix clients, and
after the sand sessions he hits the gym for more soft-surface drills and weight
(left) DRILL Place four cones 15 feet apart, defining a square, and place
another cone in the center. Start at center cone and sprint to one corner,
circling the corner cone clockwise. Sprint back to center cone, completing a
figure-eight pattern. Do this for all corners. Two sets clockwise, two sets
counterclockwise. PURPOSE Strengthens legs and core. "Cutting around cones
in the sand will stabilize every joint and make the core coordinate lower-body
movements," says Hix. "When the sand gives and the leg slides, the core
balances the athlete."
STEP KICKS DRILL
Kick right leg up toward face, reaching left hand to toes. Alternate legs,
stepping forward for 30 yards. PURPOSE Enhances flexibility, particularly in
FEET DRILL Set up four cones in a line, one yard between first and second;
three yards between first and third; five yards between first and fourth. Start
at first cone. Shuffle laterally to second cone, shuffle back to first; shuffle
to third cone and back; shuffle to fourth and back. Do twice, then switch lead
leg and do twice more. PURPOSE Improves ability to make a lateral change of
direction. Ideally, do this facing, and racing, a partner.
BALL TOSS DRILL
Duckett and another player stand beside each other, 10 yards from Hix, who
tosses a ball straight up. Players sprint toward Hix, jostling each other to
try to catch the ball. Do four times. PURPOSE Builds explosiveness while
simulating on-field competition.
SPLIT THRUST WITH
STABILIZATION DRILL (after beach workout) Place two Bosu balls (inflatable
half-dome apparatuses pictured below) beside each other. Start with right leg
on front ball, left on back ball. Jump and scissor-kick legs to land with feet
on opposite balls. Three sets of 30 jumps. PURPOSE Works glutes and hamstrings.
Core prevents swaying and falling off unstable surface.