PUNCH AND JAB

Tom­sula pushes ‘ag­gres­sive ac­tion’ through box­ing, con­di­tion­ing drills

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY NORA PRINCIOTTI

RICH­MOND | Af­ter two hours of prac­tice un­der the blaz­ing sun, when their bod­ies are most ex­hausted. is when Red­skins de­fen­sive line coach Jim Tom­sula chooses to ask for a lit­tle some­thing ex­tra. He and his charges head over to a small field next to the main prac­tice field at the team’s train­ing camp fa­cil­ity for some box­ing work.

While team­mates shed lay­ers of gear and head back in­side, the line­men chase Tom­sula and strength and con­di­tion­ing coach Chad En­gel­hart up and down the field prac­tic­ing up­per­cuts and jabs.

“Ter­ri­ble,” de­fen­sive line­man A.J. Fran­cis said, chuck­ling. “I would say the box­ing has been ter­ri­ble.”

“It’s one of those things that sucks but you’ve got to do it for the con­cept for what he’s try­ing to put on us,” Fran­cis went on. “It helps to stay low in our pads, be used to stay­ing low. Our legs are dy­ing when we’re do­ing the box­ing but when you’re low on the field it doesn’t re­ally af­fect us be­cause we’re used to do­ing it for so long.”

Fran­cis echoed what Tom­sula and other de­fen­sive line­men said about do­ing ex­tra con­di­tion­ing work af­ter prac­tice. They’re pushed to the point where they feel like they’re go­ing to pass out or throw up, then asked to do more. The next time they feel sim­i­larly ex­hausted, they’re stronger men­tally be­cause they know they can push through it.

“No. 1, it’s an ag­gres­sive ac­tion,” Tom­sula said Thurs­day. “OK? And you need to be ag­gres­sive with your hands and your move­ments. No. 2, your eye speed, see­ing [what] things [are] coming from where. No. 3, your own hand speed. No. 4, throw­ing those up­per­cuts, those are coming up humps that’ve got to come out of your hips.

As far as the tech­ni­cal ben­e­fits, de­fen­sive line­man Ziggy Hood said that, even in a 3-4 de­fense, Tom­sula has been stress­ing drills us­ing lad­ders or other tools that force play­ers to keep a nar­row base and to move with­out pick­ing their feet up high. Box­ing has sim­i­lar ef­fects.

“In box­ing you’ve al­ways got to be in a bal­anced po­si­tion,” Tom­sula said. “And the last thing that you get is when you go three rounds in three min­utes you get some con­di­tion­ing and it’s in a com­pet­i­tive, fun way.”

Tom­sula said he’s used box­ing as a teach­ing method since he be­came a coach. Tom­sula is en­thu­si­as­tic about

most things, this teach­ing tech­nique cer­tainly among them.

“You’ll have to ask Coach Tom­sula if you have about an hour of interview time,” coach Jay Gru­den joked. “If you can get him out here, he’ll talk about box­ing.

“I was all for it. They brought it to my at­ten­tion and said it would be good for them — good for their stamina, good for us­ing their legs and coming out with their hips. A lot of the box­ing moves are very sim­i­lar for what you have to use as a foot­ball player and the play­ers re­ally en­joy it. We did it in the OTAs and the group did a great job teach­ing them, and I think they had fun with it. Re­ally it’s a lot of the same move­ments and like I said, good for their con­di­tion­ing and good for their strength.”

The box­ing has ap­par­ently paid off. Red­skins left tackle Trent Wil­liams said that he has no­ticed the dif­fer­ence in the de­fen­sive line­men he spends his af­ter­noons block­ing.

“I mean, you can just tell Coach Tom­sula has put his mark on all the guys. [They’re] so much more ac­tive with their hands and they’re get­ting off the ball, they’re press­ing the point,” Wil­liams said. “They’re very strong. He’s teach­ing them how to use your mo­men­tum against you. A lot of things he taught Justin Smith back in San Fran, a lot of things he did well, it’s kind of shed­ding on the de­fen­sive line over here.”

Of­ten play­ers who do ex­tra con­di­tion­ing work will ven­ture over to some cor­ner of the field with a trainer. Tom­sula doesn’t have to pull on the box­ing pads and ab­sorb blows from Jonathan Allen or Phil Tay­lor him­self. Stay­ing away from the ac­tion, though, isn’t Tom­sula’s style and if the train­ers are go­ing to do it, so will he.

“I feel like I bet­ter go get beat up a lit­tle bit with them,” Tom­sula said.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

Wash­ing­ton Red­skins de­fen­sive line coach Jim Tom­sula (right) watches his line­man as they run through drills on a sled dur­ing a train­ing camp prac­tice in Rich­mond this week. Tom­sula has been stress­ing drills us­ing lad­ders or other tools that force play­ers to keep a nar­row base and to move with­out pick­ing their feet up high.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Wash­ing­ton Red­skins de­fen­sive line coach Jim Tom­sula (left) is teach­ing his line­men how to use their mo­men­tum against op­po­nents and re­sults are show­ing in prac­tice.

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