Trainers, coaches help players beat heat

July 16, 2009

Danny P Smith -


STARKVILLE -- Athletic trainers and strength coaches at Mississippi State aren''t only concerned in the summer with managing the football players'' weightlifting and conditioning sessions. 


They also plan trips to the local grocery stores. 


The Bulldogs appreciate their coaches and trainers care enough not only to tell them how to take care of their bodies, but also to show them. 


"They take us to Wal-Mart and teach us how to shop," tight end Brandon Henderson said. "They said it''s important to eat the right meats and drink all day." 


MSU strength coach Matt Balis said he tries to help the Bulldogs identify the right foods and drinks and to find what''s economical, but he doesn''t want to compromise finding the most healthy products containing carbohydrates. 


The coaches and trainers also look for foods and drinks that are easy to make so they can teach the players how to make them. 


"At their age, they really don''t know and have probably never grocery shopped before," Balis said. 


Henderson said the players have a mandatory lunch they must eat every day, and there''s a checklist to make them accountable. 


Balis said addresses the importance of eating and drinking the right things and being in the best shape possible to the players every day. 


"In any sport, especially at this high level, you have to be trained at a high level and as hard as you can," Balis said. "So much goes into that, but if you don''t know how to take care of your body, understand the recovery and the importance of it and the importance of nutrition, you are not going to get the full benefit of the actual training." 


The heat index often eclipses the 100-degree mark in the summer in Mississippi, which makes working outside dangerous. 


MSU head athletic trainer Paul Mock said there his staff hasn''t faced any problems this summer and everything has "gone pretty smooth." 


Mock watches to make sure the heat doesn''t overcome the Bulldogs. He hopes the players will let someone know if heat becomes a factor. 


"Usually by now if they start feeling bad they usually let us know," Mock said. 


Henderson said all of the players feel the heat, but dealing with it is a matter of mental discipline and focus. 


MSU sophomore center D.J. Looney believes drinking enough fluid will keep a body going. 


Looney said players have to drink fluids even when they don''t want to and can''t wait until a trainer gives them advice. 


"It''s common knowledge because you''ve been told so many times," Looney said. "Your body will tell you. I drink, drink, and drink. I''ll drink two 64 ounces of Gatorade or Powerade and I''m still drinking because I still feel thirsty. Your body will tell you a lot of things that you need to know." 


Looney said it''s also important to eat correctly and not to put anything bad in your body. Fried foods, alcohol or cigarettes are off limits. 


"You need to take care of your body because your body is your business," Looney said. 


The Bulldogs are in the second session of summer workouts, and Balis is satisfied with what he has seen. 


After getting much accomplished in spring practice and committing to summer workouts, Balis believes something special could be building. 


"It''s been awesome, and I love our players," Balis said. "They are all about the work and are a serious group." 


MSU football coach Dan Mullen also likes the way summer conditioning has progressed. He said the hard work will help prepare the players for what''s to come during two-a-day practices. 


"There are going to be some changed bodies when we get started again," Mullen said. "(You will notice) a difference in the ones who have gone through two cycles of summer training."