“I will not be denied. I will not fail. I will not allow myself to succumb to the pressure or the demons that are trying to get me to quit right now.”
It’s obvious that his legs and shoulders are painfully heavy as he continues to punish the 420-pound truck tire with full-body, explosive swings of a sledgehammer. As he gasps for air, I know that every muscle in his body instinctively and desperately begs to end the agony.
But once again, Drew Brees‘ mind overrules his body.
Later in the day, as other amazingly conditioned, hard-working NFL players walk to their cars, satisfied after 90 minutes of rigorous training and 60 minutes of on-field football work, Drew lines up at the goal line for some self-prescribed extra conditioning. Flexing his mind’s superiority once again. “My body can only go as far as my mind can take it,” he tells us. And the 2008 NFL Offensive Player of the Year makes his living by taking his body a little bit further each day—a beautiful thing to witness.
Check Out Drew Brees’ Extra Conditioning Run
Brees runs 300-Yard Shuttles after every other player has left the field
As the music is turned up at Fitness Quest 10 [San Diego], Drew readies himself for the workout, taking his place next to some of his NFL brethren, including LaDainian Tomlinson, Aaron Rodgers and Kyle Boller.
Then something happens. The wide smile that had adorned Drew’s face all morning disappears. Drew instantaneously morphs from the nice guy we were just talking with into a workout beast; and the most impressive and inspiring training session we’ve ever seen gets underway. Not a single rep or movement is taken for granted, and not a word is uttered, until the workout is complete.
Watch Drew Brees Start His Workout With Intensity
Brees’ smile is nowhere to be found now that it’s time to go to work
Beyond the direct benefits of taking his body to new levels, Drew recognizes that his commitment positively affects those around him. “At my position, I have to be a leader,” he says. “And leadership is all about the ability to inspire. You have to ask yourself how you can inspire your teammates, coaches and those people around you. If guys see you doing whatever you can to be the best you can be, and help the team win by making sacrifices, and always doing the right thing, that speaks a lot louder than anything you can say.”
Watching him attack each exhausting exercise certainly inspired this observer, but Drew’s work ethic and intense preparation need no audience. Just ask New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, who stumbled upon Drew working out at the team’s training facility on Sunday afternoon of the Saint’s 2008 bye week. As Payton was leaving the building [and other players were relaxing at various locations around the country], he saw Drew alone on the practice field, ball in hand, moving an imaginary offense up and down the field to simulate a game—just to keep his rhythm sharp and body conditioned.
Todd Durkin, owner of Fitness Quest 10 and the man in charge of getting Drew into peak physical condition every off-season for the past six years, says, “Drew Brees, first and foremost, is a special person. I will probably not have the opportunity to work with a guy like that in the next 20 years. His concentration and focus are amazing, and he works extremely hard. He’s not the biggest guy or the fastest guy, but he’s going to beat you with his athleticism, his smarts and because he’s such a competitor. I don’t care what it is, the dude wants to win at anything. He’s always restless and never satisfied. Last season, he threw for over 5,000 yards. That’s crazy! He’s only the second quarterback to ever do that, and he came back here with a new purpose. He’s not finished; he’s as hungry as ever.”
Beyond his statistically historic and prolific 2008 season, Drew looks elsewhere to gauge his success and set goals. “Those things happen when you play to win,” Drew says. “You look up at the stat sheet at the end of the game, and you’re like, ‘Wow, I didn’t realize that was happening,’ because I was just focused on one play at a time and what I could do to help us win. That’s my focus as a quarterback in this league and as a guy on a team that has a legitimate shot. It’s all about finding a way to win one game at a time and finding a way to win a championship.”
When you consider Drew’s football achievements [the most significant of which, he says, are yet to come], do not for a second think of him as an overachiever. That label implies that he’s somehow overextended himself with what he’s accomplished. In reality, every bit of Drew’s success, including his record-setting numbers, is directly in line with his level of intelligence, athleticism, competitive nature and work ethic. Despite the fact that he’s slightly undersized for his position, nothing is surprising about how he routinely dominates and dismantles less-prepared athletes. That is possible when someone is willing to outwork his opponents every single day of his life. Unless you are willing to match that, find a new label.
The Building and Rebuilding of a Champion
Behind Drew’s current successes and devotion lie a series of crucial struggles, which have strengthened him mentally, physically and spiritually to make him the warrior he is today. They were struggles for which he had to embolden himself with his vow—I will not be denied; I will not fail—to keep going.
Perhaps the earliest test of Drew’s commitment came late in his high school career, after he had led his team to a 16-0 season and the Texas State Championship. Despite these achievements, Drew’s home state gave him a collective cold shoulder during his recruiting process. “Basically Texas, Texas A&M, TCU, Baylor and Texas Tech all kind of said, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’” he recalls.
Drew’s backup plan was either to attend an Ivy League college or to pursue another passion of his, baseball. But he finally got a break late in his senior year, when two new coaching staffs were scrambling to make up for lost time. “I recall Joe Tiller getting the job at Purdue and Hal Mumme getting the job at Kentucky,” Drew says. “This was in December of my senior year. Up until that point, I hadn’t gotten any offers, but when [those] new coaching staffs came in, they sent guys down immediately, because they were trying to throw together a recruiting class. They came knocking on my door, and I took official visits and then decided on Purdue.”
Drew’s well-documented success at Purdue led to his NFL opportunity, but he can’t help smiling when looking back on those who passed him over. “I get a kick out of the stories when people come up to me and say, ‘I talked to so and so on that coaching staff at one of those Texas schools when they turned you down, and they’re just kicking themselves,’” he says. “Everything happens for a reason, and I belonged at Purdue.”
Drew’s recruiting experience, rough as it was, pales in comparison to what followed the events of Dec. 31, 2005.
During the final game of his 2005 season, Drew dove for a loose ball, and was driven into the ground by a questionable hit by a 325-pound defensive lineman. His throwing shoulder was severely dislocated, with considerable collateral damage—a virtual death sentence for an NFL QB. [It’s important to note that despite his throbbing shoulder and the car waiting for him outside, Drew refused to leave the game after his x-rays. He was determined to shake his teammates’ hands after the game and let them know their leader would be back.]
“I was not under contract after that,” Drew recalls. “So you want to talk about the worst timing you could imagine for a quarterback to have a right shoulder dislocation”—an injury so severe that it brought with it a 360-degree torn labrum, a partially torn rotator cuff and capsule damage. Basically, every piece of tissue that went into Drew’s crisp, powerful passes was damaged to some extent.
His 51 TD passes over the past two seasons became irrelevant, as the San Diego Chargers, and almost everyone else involved in the situation, had little hope that Drew would return to form. “I had 11 anchors put in my shoulder,” Drew recalls. “[I had] people telling me that I had a 25 percent chance of ever coming back and playing again. That’s some serious stuff.”
“Drew had his shoulder ripped out of the socket,” Durkin says bluntly. “And it took months of baby steps, where for nine hours a day, that dude was determined he was going to come back. And even though the doc was telling him he probably wasn’t going to throw again, he had no question. His focus was on being the Comeback Player of the Year and the MVP that season.”
Durkin recalls the Sundays when Drew would show up at his house, and the two of them would play catch in the front yard. “It was five yards, nice and easy,” Durkin says. “Like I said, it was baby steps. Even in July he didn’t have the arm he has now. He has completely rebuilt and retooled the system.”
The rebuilding process required 100 percent of Drew’s focus, which inspired him to set goals beyond those previously set. “I put myself into another world and eliminated distractions,” Drew says. “It was all about what I had to do to come back—to not where I was, but better than I was before. It’s one of those funny things where now I look back and think it’s one of the best things that could’ve happened to me.”
Despite Drew’s almost miraculous success in his fight to return, things did not work out in San Diego. The Chargers and many other NFL teams, frightened by the extent of the damage to his shoulder, made the mistake of focusing on Drew’s body, not his mind. Fortunately, Drew found believers in the Saints and made his new home in New Orleans, which was in the midst of its own rebuilding process. Many Saints fans, however, were confused by the signing a QB with a bum arm.
During the 2006 season, Drew led the league with 4,418 yards, threw 26 TDs and brought the Saints from 3 13 to 10-6. He finished a close second to former teammate LaDainian Tomlinson in the MVP balloting. Vindication was abundant, and Drew could happily remove the large chip atop his powerful, repaired right shoulder. “I don’t necessarily try to be successful to prove people wrong,” he says. “But there is gratification when it does happen. Every professional athlete, at some point along the line, has been told by someone that they weren’t going to make it…and that definitely drives you a bit as you go through it all.”
And Then Some…
“Today, you got to see the inside makings of a champion,” Durkin informs us at the end of Drew’s workout. “We’re always looking for the edge,” he adds. “We always talk about trying to get one percent better today, taking the little extra effort—and then some.”
Finding that edge is a direct benefit of Todd’s progressive training methods. “Training at Fitness Quest 10 with Todd Durkin has been fantastic,” Drew says. “This is actually my sixth year, and each year, it gets better. Whenever I come back for the summertime to get in the best shape of my life for training camp, he’s always got something new or a few new things that make me feel like we’re way ahead of everybody else.”
The training at Fitness Quest 10 is vastly different from what Drew was exposed to in college. Aspirations of joining the 1,000-Pound Club at Purdue—with massive Cleans, Squats and Bench Presses—have been replaced by goals of improving the efficiency and functional aspects of training. “I think maybe those [exercises] served the purpose at the time.” Drew says. “But now I’ve wised up to the things that I need to do in a position-specific and functional fitness kind of way to benefit me as a quarterback.”
Heading into the season, Drew was definitely feeling the positive affects of this functional focus. “I feel as athletic now as I ever have,” he says. “This will be my ninth year in the NFL, and I know as you get older, people talk about how your skills diminish. But for me, I’m still at the point where physically I feel great, and I give 100 percent of the credit to Todd and all of the things we do to prepare.”
We were lucky enough to watch Drew and Todd team up for some of the most grueling work of the year during Drew’s last week of hardcore training before the season. “We always warm up with speed, agility and quickness intertwined,” Durkin explains. “Then there is always a portion that trains movement, because I have to make sure he isn’t just strong, but he can move. Today was high volume on the lower body and a lot of strength, a lot of power, a lot of fast-twitch and a lot of power endurance. We minimize the rest periods, because when game time comes, you’ve got 30 seconds to get in and out of the huddle.”
In Drew’s words: “We’re just busting it out.”
Watch Drew Attack His Metabolic Conditioning Circuit
As Durkin mentioned, the intense work with short rest periods helps Drew prepare for the fast-paced nature of an NFL game.
Before beginning this training, perform Drew’s thorough five- to 10-minute General Warm-Up and 15- to 25-minute Dynamic Warm-Up.
Perform one of the light activities below continuously for five to 10 minutes.
Treadmill: Alternate between light jog, shuffling each direction, backpedaling
Skipping Rope: Use various foot patterns
Durkin: We are using these activities to get the general heart rate up before moving on
Perform each drill below for two sets of 15-20 reps unless otherwise noted.
A-Skips: 2×10-15 yards
Lateral Skips: 2×10-15 yards
High Knees: 2×10-15 yards
Buttkicks: 2×10-15 yards
Lunges: 2×10-15 yards
Straight-Leg March: 2×10-15 yards
Gate Swings: Hop, land and drop hips into low squat with feet wide. Push outward on inside of knees with elbows; repeat
Pogo Hops: Rapidly bounce on balls of feet with minimal knee bend
Seal Jacks: Perform Jumping Jack but swing arms horizontally—hands together in front of chest to arms as far back as possible
Flings: Same as Seal Jacks, but cross arms in front as you cross feet. Alternate top arm and front foot each rep
Speed Ladder: Perform 5-10 drills down and back with football in hand
Durkin: This elevates tissue temperature, lengthens fascia and warms up the nervous system. This is a little more performance based than the general warm-up. The hopping drills and speed ladder help strengthen the lower shank (calves, ankles, shins and feet). That needs to be strong to get faster. They’re paid to play football, so any time I can have a football in their hands, the better. Sometimes I swipe at it to prevent laziness and complacency.
Lateral Band Walk
• Assume wider-than-hip-width stance with light resistance band around feet; hold band excess with hands in front
• Keeping hips low, step right with right foot
• Step right with left foot so feet are at same width as starting position
• Repeat for specified reps
• Perform to left
• Superset with Band Splitters
Sets/Reps: 2×10-20 each direction
Durkin: A lot of times, the glutes and the groins aren’t strong enough because of an over-emphasis on linear aspects and not a lot on the outside. Lead with your heel when you step with a slightly pigeon-toed position. This will help you use more of the glute.
• Hold light band in front at shoulder level with tension in it
• Keeping arms straight and at shoulder level, drive arms out and back as far as possible
• Return arms to start position; repeat for specified reps
• Superset with Lateral Band Walk
Durkin: We do these because the backside shoulder can never get enough work for our quarterbacks. This superset is all about joint integrity, flexibility, mobility and strength in the hips and shoulders. We superset hips and shoulders, because the two work hand in hand—if your hips are weak, you can’t get maximum power to your shoulders. Make sure to keep your shoulder blades pinched together.
Bosu Foot Taps
• Holding football in position-specific manner, place one foot on top of Bosu dome
• Continuously switch position of feet, tapping dome with top foot, as you rotate clockwise around Bosu
• Change rotation direction each time coach calls “switch”
Sets/Duration: 2×15-20 seconds
Durkin: This is great for foot quickness and coordination. I love to get those feet moving fast. Before we hit the power and strength stuff, I want him sweating, I want him warm, and I want that system activated. I want him holding the ball shoulder pad to shoulder pad, with his head up and tapping the dome with the balls of his feet.
Bosu Lateral Switches
• Hold football in position-specific manner with right foot to right of Bosu and left foot on dome
• Push off right foot to drive body left
• Land with left foot to left of Bosu and right foot on dome
• Continue hopping side-to-side, and switching feet for specified duration
Sets/Duration: 2×15-20 seconds
Durkin: This isn’t a high intensity movement; it’s just warming up the feet and hips and working on pushing off laterally. Always have one foot on the dome and focus on foot speed—go as fast you can, not as fast as you can’t. Lateral foot speed, baby!
Bosu Bulgarian Lunge Hop
• Assume split-stance with ball of back foot on top of Bosu dome
• Lower into lunge until front knee is bent 90 degrees
• Explode straight up for maximum height
• Land softly in start position; repeat for specified reps
• Perform set with other foot forward
Sets/Reps: 2×10-15 each side
Durkin: We’re warmed up at this point, so we’re ready to focus on some fast-twitch power movements of the lower body. There’s a balance component with the Bosu, and we’re now working on single-leg explosive power.
Metabolic Conditioning Circuits – “Hurricanes”
Fear the hurricane! Durkin has created several circuits, appropriately called “hurricanes,” which consist of downright hellish exercises that repeatedly challenge Drew’s strength, power, conditioning and will all at once. Of course, Drew passes the test.
“We’ve already focused on power [at this point in the year],” Durkin says, “So I want to make sure we have some good power endurance so that he can maintain power for four quarters of football. This is a gut check, where we really see how good they are.”
With a partner, Drew performs the following circuits for five minutes each, then rests for two minutes before attacking the next hurricane.
Perform one of the following variations; rest while partner goes; then perform next variation.
A. Forward TRX Sled Drag
• Face away from sled, holding TRX handles behind back at waist level with tension in straps
• Explode forward into sprint for specified distance
B. Overhead TRX Sled Drag
• Face away from sled holding TRX handles overhead with straight arms
• Explode forward into sprint for specified distance
C. Reverse TRX Sled Drag
• Face sled holding TRX handles in front with tension in straps
• Explosively backpedal for specified distance
Reps/Distance: 1×50 yards each variation [25 yards down and back]?
Durkin: This is great for acceleration, strength and power. The Overhead really activates the trunk, shoulder stability and body lean. The Reverse is like a functional leg press. You are on your feet and pulling the sled, so your quads, hammies and calves are going to be on fire.
Perform exercises immediately after each other in circuit fashion three times.
A. Sledgehammer Hits
• Grasping eight- to 10-pound sledgehammer, squat slightly and cock sledgehammer over right shoulder
• Explosively slam sledgehammer into tire
• Repeat continuously for specified reps
• Switch hands; perform hits from left side
Sets/Reps: 3×10 each side
Durkin: We’re after the core power now. The whole body is working, and it’s tremendous conditioning. That’s a 420-pound tire; it’s a beast. When the hands come down, you want to generate some speed of movement. Stay tight in the core so that your lower back does not get hurt. Fatigue is good; pain is not good. Make sure to hit with the sledgehammer squared up.
B. Med Ball Clean & Press
• Squat down and grab med ball on ground between legs
• Explode upward with hips, knees and ankles and shrug to bring med ball to chest level
• Drop hips, bring elbows underneath ball and explosively press ball overhead for maximum height
• When ball lands on ground, repeat for specified reps
Durkin: These are heavy balls—anywhere from 35 to 60 pounds. This gets a lot of shoulders involved. This is just like using a barbell, but it makes you have to squeeze the ball, and when you squeeze the ball there’s core activation and grip strength involved. This gets the entire body!
• Assume athletic stance holding heavy ropes in front
• Using entire body, explosively drive ropes up, then slam them into ground for specified duration
Variation: Move arms in alternating fashion [up and down] to work each rope independently
Sets/Duration: 3×60 seconds
Durkin: This helps with upper-body and shoulder conditioning, core strength and metabolic conditioning.
D. Jump Rope
• Jump rope for specified duration, alternating foot patterns [one foot, two feet, double hops]
Sets/Duration: 3×60 seconds
Durkin: This works on conditioning and feet. If you want to improve your foot quickness, jump rope!
Perform Sled Pushes three times, resting while partner goes.
A. Sled Pushes
• Hold handles of low sled and walk feet back into powerful position
• Keeping back flat and hips low, explode forward into sprint for specified distance
Sets/Distance: 3×50 yards [25 yards down and back]
Durkin: They’re down low and pushing the sled on this one, which is great, because it gets their entire lower body—their high glutes, hamstrings, quads—and they’re driving. This is a great drill for acceleration.
Perform the following exercises immediately after each other in circuit fashion once.
Hover Plank to Standing Plank
• Assume Plank position with toes and forearms on ground and hold for specified duration
• Without changing body position, drive body up by extending arms until palms are flat on ground
• Lower to start position and repeat as many times as possible over specified duration
Sets/Duration/Reps: 1×60 seconds (30 seconds of holding and 30 seconds of as many extensions as possible)
Durkin: We start everyone with the regular plank and then advance. This is great for core as well as triceps and shoulders. Keep a straight line from your heels to neck and keep the core engaged.
Bicycle and Rotate
• Lie on back with hands behind head and heels just off floor
• Bring right elbow and left knee together at midline of body
• Extend left leg, and bring left elbow and right elbow together
• Repeat continuously in alternating fashion for specified reps
Sets/Duration: 1×45 seconds
Durkin: Studies show that this movement is one of the best exercises for activating the rectus abdominis and obliques. Keep your elbows back and head up, don’t get into “neck crunching.”
• Lie on side with elbow underneath body
• Keeping body straight, raise onto elbow and outside edge of foot; hold for specified time
• Perform on opposite side
Sets/Duration: 1×45 seconds each side
Durkin: This is working the obliques, which protect our lower back. Also, as a quarterback, when you’re pulling through to throw, the obliques play a pivotal role in developing speed and power.
After the power endurance session, Drew, exhausted and sweaty, moves on to Durkin’s strength work. The training consists of four circuits or stations, where Drew partners up with LT to superset various exercises.
Perform the following exercises in circuit fashion twice.
A. TRX Atomic Push-Up
• Assume Push-Up position with back flat and feet in TRX foot cradles
• Perform Push-Up, then bring knees to chest at top of movement
• Straighten legs; repeat for specified reps
Durkin: Drew is a beast on the TRX! The fact that he’s suspended in the TRX activates the trunk that much more. I don’t want to see any dip downs, which I call “canoeing.” If you’re canoeing, go down to your knees and take a break for 10 to 15 seconds.
B. TRX Pendulum Swings W/ Knee Tuck
• Assume Push-Up position with back flat and feet in TRX foot cradles
• Rotate hips right and bring knees toward chest and outside of right shoulder (Drew raises his right arm because he’s a beast)
• Return to start; repeat to opposite side
• Continue alternating for specified reps
Sets/Reps: 2×10 each side
Durkin: A lot of the time, we focus on the upper body rotating, but now we’re focusing on the lower body rotating. As a quarterback, that’s important, because you’re trying to get your hips involved. Drew was lifting his arm up—that’s hard. Let’s save that for the NFL—don’t try that at home. That’s about as advanced as you can get.
C. TRX Knee Tucks W/ Plank
• Assume Push-Up position with back flat and feet in TRX foot cradles
• Bring knees to chest for specified reps
• Hold Plank for 30 seconds
Sets/Reps: 2×10-15 tucks followed by plank hold
Durkin: You do the knee tucks, then just plank it on out. This plank works the back, obliques, rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis—the entire core region. Drew will hold the hover plank at the end a little extra until every little fiber is on fire.
D. Kettlebell Single-Leg RDL
• Balance on one leg holding Kettlebells at sides
• With balancing leg slightly bent and back flat, bend forward at waist until Kettlebells are just above floor
• Return to start; repeat for specified reps
• Perform set on opposite side
Sets/Reps: 2×8-10 each leg
Durkin: This focuses on the hamstring, glute and lower back—posterior chain stuff. If you want to build a better athlete, you have to get the backside strong. Pivot from the hip, keep the back straight and sit your butt back.
Perform the following exercises in circuit format.
A. Multidirectional Ab Wheel Rollouts
• Kneel and hold handles of Ab Wheel in front
• Roll wheel forward and 45 degrees left
• Roll back to start, then repeat to right
• Continue in alternating fashion for specified reps
Durkin: They can go linear or they can go rotational. They mix up the angles and how far they come back. If you only come back halfway, you’re keeping constant tension on the abdominal region. If there is any pain in the back, I stop them. It’s really important to keep good posture on these.
B. Bosu Side-Ups
• Lie on side with hip on Bosu dome and top leg behind bottom leg
• As partner holds legs down, raise and slightly rotate upper body open
• Lower with control; repeat for specified reps
• Repeat on opposite side
Set/Reps: 2×20-25 each side
Durkin: This is getting the obliques once again. You come straight up and rotate slightly to get the rectus abdominis involved. You can mix the feet up—sometimes the top leg is back to open up the hip and allow the athlete to get a nice rotation as well. I like them to hold it on the last rep and really find that spot, and just pulse on that puppy and call it a day.
C. Slideboard W/ Catches
• Perform lateral slides on slideboard continuously
• As partner throws two tennis balls simultaneously, catch one in each hand
• Throw balls back to partner and continue for specified catches
Durkin: This is a great tool to work on the groins, hips and pushing laterally, with hand-eye coordination added. I’ll mix up depth perception as well throwing the balls at different heights and different times. It’s very challenging, and we saw Drew today get 44 in a row. We did 44 because Super Bowl XLIV is coming up.
A. Keiser Core Rotations
• With Keiser Machine [or Cable Machine] to right and handle attached at middle position, assume athletic stance holding handle just outside right shoulder with both hands
• Explosively rotate hips and core to drive handle left until it is outside left shoulder
• Return to start position with control; repeat for specified reps
• Perform on opposite side
Sets/Reps: 2×15 per side
Durkin: We’ll also work on chops down-to-up and up-to-down. QBs are rotational athletes, and this mimics the lower body and core when you’re throwing. You get your hips involved and activate the glutes, the backside hip, and the legs as well as the trunk.
B. Back Hypers W/ Med Ball Throws
• Assume position in Back Hyper machine holding very light med ball in each hand
• Keeping arms in “Flex T” position [elbows at shoulders and bent at 90 degrees], perform Back Extension
• Pause at top of movement, rotate right and throw med ball with right hand into rebounder 10 feet in front
• Catch ball in right hand, lower to start and repeat with throw from left arm
• Continue alternating arms for specified reps
Durkin: We’re working on throwing and the backside of the body—hamstrings, glutes and lower back. They’re using the rebounder to really focus on extending with rotation. The balls definitely help work the backside and frontside shoulders.
Durkin’s final strength station focuses on balance and joint integrity. He says, “Any time you can be barefoot in your training, it’s better. When you are barefoot, all the small muscles on the bottom of your feet, the ankles and calves are more active. This improves balance, strength and joint integrity of the lower body, which results in a better athlete.”
Perform the following exercises in circuit fashion.
A. Barefoot Balance Towel Drill
• Balance on one leg with bare foot on Airex pad and towel in opposite hand
• Stabilize with leg and explosively slap towel down into pad held by partner
• Repeat for specified reps
• Repeat with opposite leg and arm
Sets/Reps: 2×10-15 each leg
Durkin: This is a lot of stability on the lower body and a lot of dynamic activity on the upper body. If a quarterback is on the run or in the pocket, he’s got to be stable on the lower body, but has be able to generate a lot of strength and power with his upper body and core. We’re looking for good mechanics as he comes through with the towel.
B. Three-Way Balance Touch W/ Football
• Balance on right leg in quarter squat with bare foot on Airex pad; hold football in front
• Without changing body position, bring left leg as far forward as possible and touch foot to ground
• Bring left foot back to start, then touch it to ground as far out to left as possible
• Bring left foot back to start, then touch it to ground as far back as possible
• Repeat at each position for specified reps
• Perform set on opposite leg
Sets/Reps: 2×10 round trips each leg [30 touches]
Durkin: This is a great balance exercise and really activates the quad, hamstring and glute. It’s the stabilizing leg that’s working, and it’s on fire.
C. WOW Shoulder Resistance
• Hold ends of WOW in each hand in front of body
• Pump hands in and out in rhythmic fashion against resistance
• Alternate hand positions [one in front, one behind head] throughout duration
Sets/Duration: 1×60 seconds
Durkin: This is a rhythmic resistance piece of equipment, which helps joint integrity for the backside shoulder and also coordination, because they have to keep a rhythm going. A fast release isn’t just about how fast you get the ball going forward, it’s also about how quickly you get it back. This helps on getting the ball back.
Reaction and Quickness
• Assume athletic stance facing partner who is holding deck of cards
• As partner flings card into the air, react with feet and hands to grab card with one hand
• Continue for specified reps
Sets/Reps: 1×10 each hand
Durkin: This is all concentration. I flip these cards from a deck that I’ve crinkled up and folded up. The fans are going which creates some turbulence in the air, so the cards are taking unusual trajectories. Sometimes, I will ask them random questions about their game preparation, what passes they like to throw on third and 11, or different coverages to see if they can they think about something while they’re also performing the drill.
Reaction Ball Rebounder Game
• Partner up in area about 6×6 yards with rebounder in front
• Throw reaction ball into rebounder to begin game
• Each person must catch ball with one hand, and throw it with same hand
• Continue alternating throws until someone scores (when partner lets ball hit ground)
• Play up to five in Round Robin format
Durkin: We like competition at the end of the day, and this has become the 2009 game of the year. It’s working on quickness, reaction, coordination and conditioning. The reaction ball is irregularly shaped, so when you throw it into the rebounder, it takes crazy bounces. We get pretty competitive and like to have some fun with it.
• Begin with short passes to warm up
• Move on to intermediate passes and combo routes
• Finish with deep balls
Duration: 60 minutes
Durkin: We are out there three days per week right now, working on the route trees. We wanted to get a good amount of short routes, middle routes and deep routes. We had some combo routes with two guys going at the same time, just to get these guys in the flow of dropping back and throwing the ball. They’re tired after a heavy leg day and then have to go out and throw for an hour. But camp isn’t going to be any easier.
• Begin at goal line and sprint to 50-yard line
• Plant at 50, pivot and sprint back to goal line
• Continue down-and-back pattern for two more passes
Sets/Reps/Recovery: 1×3 with 2 minutes rest
Durkin: He’s a beast! It was a long day—an hour and a half in the weight room and an hour on the field. You notice some of the other guys were leaving, and he wanted a little extra. That’s what makes him special. He does that all the time, a little bit extra. Three of those bad boys are challenging. Under a minute is good—52 seconds is our goal. He got 52 seconds the first two, the third one you’d think he’d get slower. He actually got faster on the third one. It’s truly a test of will power and mental toughness at that point. You’re tired, your legs are heavy. The quarterback should always be out there in front, leading the team, and when he’s back in New Orleans, and they’re running gassers, I can promise you he’s going to be leading them.
As you can see, Drew has an unbelievable work ethic, and he gets everyone around him better. I always challenge him and all the other quarterbacks with new drills, exercises and challenges, and he always responds. He is a special person, and you can see by his workout today, with the other elite quarterbacks he was working with, he takes his craft extremely serious. That’s why he’s a champion!
Watch an exclusive interview with Drew Brees discussing his NFL dreams.