I recall watching a boxing documentary in which sports journalist and boxing commentator Larry Merchant referred to Joe Frazier as a “Truth Machine” because when in the ring with Joe, if you weren’t in shape, he was going to find out – Joe, by virtue of his tenacity, was going to get to the truth.
We have our own “Truth Machine” at Beast (actually we have two of them); they are called Prowlers and they reveal whether athletes are truly willing to do what it takes to get into awesome game shape – they reveal the Truth.
Almost every athlete says they want to win, but very few are willing to do the really hard work to win – the Prowler is a useful tool to differentiate between the athletes who only verbally express they want to win from those who are actually willing to make a commitment to becoming better. I will provide you with an example of each, but first, for those who aren’t aware, a little about the Prowler.
Winter Prowler Pushing
Here is some information from the EliteFTS web store (http://www.elitefts.com/):
The Prowler is one of the best ways to develop strength in your legs, hips, and arms. The Prowler can be used in team situations and competitions, and it can make for a great atmosphere. There is an added feature that allows for weight plates to be added for increased resistance.
It’s essentially a weighted sled that can be pushed and/or pulled on pavement or asphalt; it’s great for general conditioning and lower body strength and endurance and in my opinion, it definitely helps athletes become faster. When we trained our first group of football players, I knew the Beast was going to get them much stronger, I just didn’t know how much we were going to help them increase their speed. I now attribute much of their speed gains to the extensive sled and Prowler work we had included in our programming.
Training with the Prowler is brutal … brutal. It’s the first piece of equipment that put me in the hospital (overnight) – you can read about that here if you’d like – http://beastllc.com/?page_id=259
The Prowler Flu is infamous – simply type “Prowler Flu” into a YouTube search and you will see a myriad of selections and discussion of there being “no vaccination” for the flu. I’ve also heard it called the “Vomit Rocket.”
Sometimes at the onset of a Strength & Conditioning Session an athlete will ask, “Are we doing the Prowler today?” On most leg days, the answer invariably is “Yes – lots of Prowler.”
But I digress, back to the “athletes” and the “Truth.”
It’s a nice day in May; the sun is out, but there is a nice breeze too. Chris and I are working with about nine athletes on the asphalt “run” behind the gym. We’ve got two prowlers going and we’re having the athletes race head-to-head, trying to pick even matches that will get their competitive juices flowing like a keg at a frat party.
One of the athletes is a college QB visiting Beast for the first time; another athlete, a LB from his team, is training too, but this guy has been to Beast before and has a better sense of what we are about (i.e. he knows he has to show with game face on or he’ll end up a puddle of sweat and tears on the asphalt) – so we’re working with two college guys and seven high school guys.
Now when it comes to programming for the Prowler, we have a rough idea on the number of sets/distance we are hoping to have the athletes perform, but we’ve also become adept at reading the athlete’s level of exertion, and while we don’t want to drive over the cliff, we want to at least bring the athletes to the precipice and have them look over.
It comes down to the last push (30 yards down and 30 back without stopping); all of the high school athletes have gone and completed the session; the two college guys are up and the QB – the college QB – will not get off of his stool to answer the bell; he basically quits in his corner.
Chris and I look at each other in shock, but at least now we know the “Truth.” We know he doesn’t want it as bad as he suggests he does. When he goes back inside the facility, I turn to Chris and say, “Oh well, he won’t be back.” He’ll find an excuse to explain why he can’t participate in our pre-season football program and he’ll train on his own, in his comfort zone in some commercial facility.
Good riddance – don’t waste our time.
It’s a brutally hot day in August of 2010; Chris and I are working with a group of about six athletes, all high school football players, getting them ready for the final conditioning push before the season. We have organized relay races, where one athlete pushes a prowler and a second athlete drags a weighted sled backwards for 30 yards, then they switch implements and perform the 30 yard return; they are working against the stopwatch, trying to beat the time set by other “teams” of two.
The guys have performed four total runs and I can see they don’t have much (if anything) left in the tank. I’m just about to call it a day, when Athlete “B,” also a QB (and DB and, not surprisingly, a Team Captain) raises his hand and says, “One more race.”
The other athletes don’t question his call; they pick themselves up off the asphalt and ready for one final hellish push.
“That kid wants to win,” I said to Chris, as we we’re cleaning up for the day. “That kid gets it.”
I recall thinking I would roll into battle with this kid.
What will happen to Athlete “A?” I’m not positive, but I could give you a great educated guess, however I suspect you already know the answer.
What happened to Athlete “B?” – Selected First Team All Conference Defensive Back; led his team to a single loss regular season; led his team to the State Championship Game; will attend College on a full Academic Scholarship, and will continue to play football in college.
In closing, let me leave you with this quote:
Leadership is getting players to believe in you. If you tell a teammate you’re ready to play as tough as you’re able to, you’d better go out there and do it. Players will see right through a phony. And they can tell when you’re not giving it all you’ve got.
- Larry Bird