The bane of my youth – stadium trips, line drills and gassers

People who have participated in high school sports will likely know these terms, even if they referenced them differently. While my children are more artistic and musical than me, I spent my youth on some ball field or gym floor. So, I became well acquainted with training tools known as “stadium trips,” “line drills” and “gassers.”

Stadium trips required concentration, as you did not want to fall (which I did), especially coming down. At the end of practice for cross-country or before a football season might start, we would be required to run up and down the bleachers of the stadium. If you think about most high school fields, the stadiums are fifty or sixty rows high. So, a stadium trip would constitute one run up and one run down. A coach might say do 30 stadium trips and then hit the showers, e.g. This would be a phrase you would learn to love and hate. The hate part is obvious. The love part is you knew practice would be over.

The same could be said for line drills. They usually were done at the end of basketball practice, so you knew it would soon be over. Line drills are, in essence, a series of growing sprints from the baseline (end of the court) to the closest foul line and back, then to half court and back, then to the other foul line and back and finally to the other baseline and back. The key to making good time is to slide into the line and using your hands to set yourself back up and return. It was not uncommon for the coach to make it a contest, where the winner of each line drill would get to leave the court sooner. So, the key would be to win early.

But, nothing was as bad as something we called gassers. I mentioned these before, but when training for cross-country, after running a three-mile practice run, we would rest and then end practice with gassers designed to make you faster. For my foreign readers who are on the metric system, please forgive the reference to yards. We would start with two 880s (twice around the track), then do four 440s, and finish with eight 220s. The 220s would be killers as you would round the turn and feel like someone slapped you as you finished each race. Living in Florida, I vividly recall awakening in the middle of the night to cramps in my legs, with my parents running into the room to see what was all the fuss.

So, remember these survival tips. Pay attention on the downward half of a stadium trip, slide into the lines on line drills, and drink water before and after gassers.

11 thoughts on “The bane of my youth – stadium trips, line drills and gassers

  1. Note to Readers: I was thinking about how much running my basketball coach made us do. It seemed it paid off, as we had success in taking over games in the second half, in part because we were in better shape. It was mostly due to playing defense, which is less exciting in basketball as every one wants to score. As my coach would say, “Offense can have an off night, but we always must play good defense.” True words.

    One of the things I took pride in is not letting the person I was guarding get the ball. When I became sixth man for the team, it was a blow to my ego, but it allowed me to guard the first team players in practice and made me better. So, I still was able to contribute in games as well as pushing the better players.

    The great Bill Walton who played at UCLA and in the NBA was asked who the hardest person he had to play against in college. He did not bat an eye and said “Sven Nater, who guards me in practice everyday.” Nater went on to have a nice pro career as well. Unfortunately, the guys I was guarding were not Bill Walton and I certainly was no Sven Nater.

    • I had a good friend who recently died of cancer. He had the privilege of playing against Bill Russell in college. Some of the best stories are the sports stories. Unfortunately, the ones we hear most often are about the slugs who also play sports — usually for huge salaries!

      • Playing against Bill Russell. Wow. That is a tribute. Russell’s teams just won. Two NCAA championships and 11 NBA championships. Here is a guy who downplayed his own scoring to do all the other things to win – blocking shots, defense, rebounding and passing. Wilt Chamberlain had more talent and got all the accolades, but won only two championships during Russell’s era.

      • We could have fun arguing whether Chamberlain was better than Russell who gave away about 6″ when they played and still looked like the better player!

      • It would be a short argument as I am a Russell fan. Note I used the word talented not better. Russell was the better team player and blocked shots towards his teammates. Chamberlain had his best team year when he played like Russell for the Lakers in 1971-72 when they won 69 games.

      • To me, Wilt did not use his immense talent to win games. When the Celtics upset the Lakers with Wilt, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West in 1969, the coach was visibly ticked off that Wilt took himself out of the game in the middle of the 4th quarter of Game 7.

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