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Friday, 27 October 2017 04:35

Football players benefit from donation of remote control tackling dummy

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A Colts player makes a tackle on the fast-moving Mobile Virtual Player during practice, Oct. 19. A Colts player makes a tackle on the fast-moving Mobile Virtual Player during practice, Oct. 19.

Technology is helping high school and minor football players in Swift Current to practice tackling techniques in a safe manner through the use of a remote control tackling dummy.


Players from the Colts football team at Swift Current Comprehensive High School and  bantam players from the Swift Current Steelers held their first practice sessions with the Mobile Virtual Player (MVP) on Oct. 19.
“You can just see the energy already day one,” Colts Head Coach Derek Murdoch said. “It’s something that all these guys have never even seen before.”
The Colts football program has followed the trend in recent years to reduce player on player contact during practice, which required some changes to teaching the fundamentals of tackling and blocking.
“Obviously with the way the game is changing in terms of coaching, we spend a lot more time talking about how to tackle and not going 100 per cent, banging heads every day,” he said. “We’ve changed the way we’ve practiced over the last few years and it’s made a big difference in terms of concussions and things like that, but this gives the guys something to go after. ... It's a little more interesting than hitting another bag and obviously we can move it around and we can do some different things with it.”
He added that it will take some effort by the coaching staff to work out the best way to integrate the use of the MVP in the team's training routine, but the benefits of the tackling dummy was already obvious on the first day.
“You can see this today, just straight pursuit,” he noted. “The guys are getting a kick out of trying to run it down. It moves pretty well. So it’s a good challenge for our guys.”
Murdoch used the hand-held remote control to steer the MVP while players lined up to take turns to tackle the dummy.
“I probably got as big a grin on as anybody else out here,” he laughed. “It is crazy that it is just like driving a remote control car. ... So it’s pretty wild to see this thing ripping around.”
The MVP is a mobile, self-righting tackling dummy that is equipped with a motorized, remote control system. Its movements can therefore be controlled to regulate the movement and speed of players during a game.
“The big thing is the game speed piece of it,” he said. “When we’re trying to do the safe contact stuff in practice it is hard to simulate good form and speed at the same time without having a collision. ... This gives us an opportunity to bring back something that’s really valuable, chasing a guy down. Obviously in a game situation you will have this violent kind of collision every once in a while, and it gives the guys a chance to prepare for it a little bit before dealing with it in real life.”
Swift Current Minor Football President Elden Moberg said player-on-player contacts during minor football practice have been reduced a lot during the last two seasons.
“We’ve really moved more to fundamental skill-type training on tackling technique with bags usually,” he explained. “Obviously the only way that those bags are mobile is if you’ve got a person with them to carry them various places.”
The MVP will give an additional dimension to those practice sessions by minor football players because it simulates a moving player.
“It can move at various speeds,” he said. “You can set it how you want to. You can you use it from our oldest players in the bantam age group down to our youngest players in the atom age group and give them the opportunity to tackle the MVP without having to tackle other players.”
The logistics of sharing the MVP between the Colts and minor football programs still need to be worked out. Murdoch said it makes sense to use the MVP for both programs, because the Colts will not use it every day during training.
The MVP was donated to the two football programs by AGI Swift Current, the local division of a manufacturer of grain, feed and fertilizer handling, storage and conditioning equipment. The retail value of a MVP unit is about US$8.600.
“We got the offer, which was outstanding,” Moberg said. “You don’t get that very often where you have a local business who is really looking to support minor football in the community and has some dollars that they’re willing to spend on that. ... So we’re pretty excited that we got this support and very appreciative of Tom Firth and his crew in being able to give us the opportunity to have this on an go forward basis.”

 

Read 203 times Last modified on Thursday, 26 October 2017 14:44
Matthew Liebenberg

Reporter/Photographer