Back-to-back playoff appearances have given fans of America’s team something to cheer about for the first time in quite awhile. The talented duo of Tony Romo and Jason Witten may form the nucleus of a dynasty. But the Dallas Cowboys will need more than talent to rival their legendary teams of the past-which is why Joe Juraszek, the team’s head strength and conditioning coach, stresses the importance of building a solid conditioning base. "You need to build the foundation and framework of your conditioning level first," he says. "If you don’t, anything else you try to do will be worthless."
Juraszek has the Cowboys do their base conditioning, which consists of 110s, 200- to 400-yard shuttles, gassers, half-gassers, two-mile runs and 100- to 300-meter sprints, on Mondays. Once the players establish a foundation, they move on to more position-specific conditioning, some of which is performed in the sandpit. "You can’t always condition in a straight line, because that’s not how you play the game," Juraszek says. "If you don’t condition the way you move in a game, your body won’t be ready for it, and you’ll be more susceptible to injuries."
Juraszek uses the sandpit once a week. To condition like the Cowboys, perform 4 sets with a 30- to 45-second rests between.
If you don’t have a sandpit this length, head to the beach and set up cones in the proper arrangement.
• Set 1: Attach heavy resistance cord around waist, with partner providing resistance from behind. Perform position-specific movement for length of pit.
• Set 2: Attach lighter resistance cord around waist, with partner providing resistance from behind. Perform position-specific movement for length of pit.
• Set 3: Perform position-specific movement length of pit.
• Set 4: Perform position-specific movement on grass, same length as pit
Perform movements in continuous motion for length of pit, staying within boundaries
Running Backs: Sprint four yards, then cut right at 30-degree angle. Sprint four yards, then cut left at 30-degree angle.
Wide Receivers: Sprint seven yards, then cut right at 30-degree angle. Sprint seven yards, then cut left at 30-degree angle.
Defensive Lineman: Sprint three yards, then shuffle right. Sprint three yards, then shuffle left.
Offensive Lineman: Take three-step drop, then shuffle right. Take three-step drop, then shuffle left.
Defensive Backs: Backpedal five yards, then open right. Backpedal five yards, then open left.
Linebackers: Pass drop four yards, then open right. Pass drop four yards, then open left.
Begin each movement in your position stance // Move through the sandpit explosively, but don’t sacrifice technique for speed // Don’t stop after performing a movement; go through the entire sandpit in continuous motion