From the gridiron to the boxing ring. Well, sort of.
Football coaches are always looking for that new way to train and help their players gain a competitive edge.
Lawrence County head coach Rich Dutton has found his.
The Red Devils have been undergoing boxing training in the past week.
No, they aren’t getting in the ring or actually punching each other. However, they are going through several traditional boxing drills designed to help improve various techniques.
“We’re trying each year to find something that can break the monotony,” Dutton said. “These guys have been working out since the end of the season.”
Heading up the training is former professional boxer Richard Salazar. Salazar nows runs the Bible Boxing based out of Huntsville and agreed to come and train the Red Devils at Lawrence County high school.
“We were fortunate enough to have Mr. Salazar offer up this opportunity to come and visit,” he said. “I got really excited and he got really excited because it’s something different, it’s something outside of sand, weight room and track.”
Salazar moves the kids through various boxing drills that include working on the punching bag and the punching mitts. These drills help with skills such as hand speed, quickness, footwork and endurance, all of which are vital to the sport of football.
“Most importantly they’re learning a skill. The footwork and the handwork and overall the confidence that they gain from it,” said Dutton. “On top of that, Mr. Salazar leads Bible Boxing so he’s a good mentor to have around the kids in addition to learning a new skill.”
Offseason’s can get quite long and when you’re a high school player, they seem even longer. Having something fresh is Dutton’s way of keeping his team energized, especially right before spring training starts.
“When you take the sport of fighting, the training is so good. You just don’t see a lot of successful people that aren’t in shape,” Dutton said. “On top of that the sap is rising and kids have a lot of distractions this time of year so being able to marry those into a concept that benefits performance is a no brainer.”
The players enjoy the extra training and see it as a benefit just as their coach does.
“I think it helps with our footwork and fundamentals and it also gives us something to do after school so we don’t go off and be stupid,” said rising Junior Gage Dutton.
Boxing drills bring a whole new level of workout that the Red Devils have never seen before. Gage feels it will make the team that much better.
“Not only the footwork and conditioning but it also helps with your mental strength as well,” he said. “You’re going to get frustrated and tired but it helps you to learn to calm down and breath. I love it and the fact that we’re doing something different.”
Salazar told the Devils that everyone thinks they’re in shape until they try boxing. Gage Dutton agrees 100%.
“That’s very true,” he laughed, “very.”