Every off-seasonT.J. Duckett hits the beach running. For each of the past five years therunning back, whom Washington acquired from Atlanta last month, has gone to DelMar, Calif., to work out with personal trainer Doug Hix and spend many hours inthe sand (SI, Aug. 28). Hix, a former football and track star at Pittsburg(Kans.) State has trained more than 70 pros (including quarterbacks BenRoethlisberger and Joey Harrington) and says training on an unstable surfacesuch as sand forces a player to engage his core muscles and also improvesbalance.
"Myphilosophy is to take the essentials that you use in a game and make them moredifficult," says Hix. "I tell guys that if they can do these drills inthe sand, it will be that much easier when they get to the field."
Says Duckett ofthe beach's impact, "You're so off balance, it's the equivalent of someonepushing you from both sides while grabbing you from behind. You really have topick your knees up to get through the sand, even though it feels like your legsare not going anywhere."
The 6-foot,254-pound Duckett typically trains with a handful of other Hix clients, andafter the sand sessions he hits the gym for more soft-surface drills and weighttraining.
FIGURE EIGHT(left) DRILL Place four cones 15 feet apart, defining a square, and placeanother cone in the center. Start at center cone and sprint to one corner,circling the corner cone clockwise. Sprint back to center cone, completing afigure-eight pattern. Do this for all corners. Two sets clockwise, two setscounterclockwise. PURPOSE Strengthens legs and core. "Cutting around conesin the sand will stabilize every joint and make the core coordinate lower-bodymovements," says Hix. "When the sand gives and the leg slides, the corebalances the athlete."
STEP KICKS DRILLKick right leg up toward face, reaching left hand to toes. Alternate legs,stepping forward for 30 yards. PURPOSE Enhances flexibility, particularly inthe hamstrings.
LATERAL QUICKFEET 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. Startat first cone. Shuffle laterally to second cone, shuffle back to first; shuffleto third cone and back; shuffle to fourth and back. Do twice, then switch leadleg and do twice more. PURPOSE Improves ability to make a lateral change ofdirection. Ideally, do this facing, and racing, a partner.
BALL TOSS DRILLDuckett and another player stand beside each other, 10 yards from Hix, whotosses a ball straight up. Players sprint toward Hix, jostling each other totry to catch the ball. Do four times. PURPOSE Builds explosiveness whilesimulating on-field competition.
SPLIT THRUST WITHSTABILIZATION DRILL (after beach workout) Place two Bosu balls (inflatablehalf-dome apparatuses pictured below) beside each other. Start with right legon front ball, left on back ball. Jump and scissor-kick legs to land with feeton opposite balls. Three sets of 30 jumps. PURPOSE Works glutes and hamstrings.Core prevents swaying and falling off unstable surface.
RAFAEL SUANES/WIREIMAGE.COM (ACTION)
Photographs by Robert Beck