"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Physics Lab Experiments
Or, So That's What "Full Contact" Means!
Today's practice featured our first tackling drills. We started out by running at a big cylindrical pad held from the side by one of the coaches. Upon contact we were supposed to hug it, lift it slightly and fling it and ourselves to the ground. I found this to be immensely enjoyable. That pad never knew what hit it.
Then we practiced on a real person (taking turns so that we were both tackler and tacklee) standing in front of pads on the ground so that when you knock her backwards with you on top it is a nice soft landing. This also was fun, though just a tiny bit scarier than the first drill. We were supposed to wrap our arms around the back of the other player's legs and hug them all the way down, but the reflex to let go at the last minute and put your arms out to break the fall is hard to overcome. This drill was called the "De-cleating Drill." I liked that.
THEN we moved on to a drill called Window Tackling. One person is the runningback with a ball and the other person tries to tackle her when she runs through the "window" between two pads on the ground. There was a bit more rookie anxiety about this one. Another rookie teammate who typically acts / talks fairly tough was giggling nervously as we waited our turn, trying to figure out who we'd have to face off with. My first couple tries were OK, I had a sense of collision but no big deal.
Then my turn to tackle came up a second time and across the way from me was our Center. Now I thought it through...I thought, well, she's not all THAT big, we're close to the same height, even though she's been playing three years or so and I've observed that she goes all-out yelling at the top of her lungs for pretty much the entire practice, every practice, so I'll just...stay low...hug her legs...we'll be fine...OK, ready, HIT!
I ran forward. With a satisfyingly loud crash I basically bounced backward as if I'd been standing still and a light pickup truck or small SUV had given me a friendly tap at 20 miles per hour or so. I had a nice view of the sky lying on my back. The Center was nowhere to be seen, apparently she broke my tackle somehow. The coach was smiling as I jumped up and he said we should try it again. Ok...stay low...head up...ok...ready, HIT!
Another loud crash, more bouncing backward, rolling over a few times, and gazing at the sky, but so far the trauma was pretty much all psychological so I jumped up again. I'm not sure why but I think the coach told me to have another go. I couldn't remember later for sure whether I actually did this three times in a row or only two, but my teammates say it was three. Either way the last impact seemed harder than the others and it took me a few seconds to get up again. By now it hurt a little, mostly I felt shaky in the knees and my eyes watered up involuntarily, as if perhaps I'd just survived a 6+ magnitude earthquake, but everybody seemed pleased; people said good job!, slapped me on the shoulder pads and asked if I was OK. I apparently experienced my first minor "stinger"; and one of our veteran linebackers instructed me to keep moving my arm around to shake it out. Sure enough my arm stopped tingling after a minute or two. One of our QBs asked me if I'd ever seen the movie "Rudy," which as a matter of fact came in the mail from Netflix today. We watched it after I got home. QB said maybe they should start calling me Rudy for my willingness / ability to keep getting up from repeated flattenings. Now having seen the movie I feel like I'd have to work pretty hard to live up to that compliment but I feel like I earned some respect, in addition to the enormous respect I gained for our Center. I want to be like her when I grow up.
One of the assistant coaches likes to give people nicknames and he calls me "Judge" on account of my day job; that's another nickname I'll have to work hard to live up to but it might be the one that sticks, we'll have to wait and see. Football is very character-building so far.
While looking for a tackling-related graphic or maybe a picture of Rudy to include with this post, I found this link on the physics of tackling. Note the second bullet point in the article, describing what happens when the ball carrier has more momentum than the tackler. I think I may have had insufficient momentum. No worries though, on Tuesday I will probably get to try the experiment again.