In the Winning Edge Program, the Mizzou Tigers take part in the infamous mat drills.
Mat drills focus on quick bursts, speed and explosion. Each drill is approximately six seconds long, and perfection is demanded. If it isn’t achieved, the drill is repeated.
Although they are extremely grueling, there is method to the madness. And of course, like in everything Mizzou does, there are no excuses.
“There are no excuses, there are no substitutions, there is no reason why you can’t perform with excellence,” Defensive Line Coach Craig Kuligowski said. “If you do, you’re rewarded. If you do not, your whole group goes back, and we’ve got to repeat it again. This is about doing what you’re supposed to do, as fast as you can do it, for as long as you’re supposed to do it, better than you ever thought you could do it before.”
As much as they increase physical strength and stamina, mat drills, maybe more than anything, build mental toughness.
“I think the biggest things in the mat drills are toughness, finishing and maximum effort,” Defensive Coordinator Josh Henson said. “When you get tired, can you keep doing it? You’re just pushing yourself mentally where you haven’t been before.”
And when you’re mentally tough, you don’t lose focus and you don’t compromise form, no matter how exhausted you might be. At the end of the day, that can be the difference between a win and a loss.
“When you get tired, usually the first things that go are the details,” Henson said. “You miss doing the little things, and many times, it’s the little things that are going to make the difference in winning and losing a football game. Whether that’s technique, your assignment, whatever it is. How many plays do you see that are missed by an inch or two? That’s what the mat drills are all about: doing all the little things right.”