Nick Saban and Crimson Tide Players Adjusting to Changes in Everyday Life

Alabama Athletics

Tyler Martin

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, Americans and the entire world are getting use to a new normal for the foreseeable future. 

That includes University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban. 

He held a teleconference with various local and national media members on Thursday morning to discuss how he, his staff, and players are adapting to the ever-changing times

."A lot of uncertainty in the world right now," Saban said. "A lot to deal with and new realities at home and at work. Our primary responsibility is the health, safety, and well-being, of our players, staff, and families. At least in my lifetime, we have never had to deal with anything like this before." 

The Crimson Tide should have been in the middle of spring practice at this moment and not being able to teach players on a field, means Saban and his staff are now forced to operate through Zoom and other virtual, video-chat measures.

"We are trying to stay engaged with our team as much as we can," Saban said. "The technology we have now can help us monitor their well-being and school work. We are allowed to have two hours a week of football-related type stuff with our players." 

In those two-hour video sessions, the main emphasis has been on allowing players to watch certain techniques and allow them to understand how to do it, rather than installing it. 

"We are not in a real hurry with whatever installations we are doing with the players," Saban said. "There are three parts of teaching — what to do, how to do it, why it is important.

"Let's take inside zone for example, we can show video to the players of guys doing it correctly and let them evaluate if they are doing it right or now. There are a lot of benefits to that. It gives them the opportunity to be engaged and it is a slow learning process of how to understand concepts. So far, it has worked out really, really well." 

Coaching turnover has been at an usual minimum for the Crimson Tide this offseason compared to recent seasons, but Saban credited assistants David Ballou and Dr. Matt Rhea as being instrumental during this time. 

Players have had apps installed on their watches and phones to help with workouts and weight-traninig programs that coaches have access to. 

One issue that has come up is that some players have had issues finding gyms or fields to workout at due to the closure of local high schools and other facilities.

"I think the addition of the strength and conditioning coaches that we have now have been a huge positive for us," Saban said. "The new training programs we are doing, players have really liked. Hopefully, this will help with injury prevention and help us perform better when the time comes. They have done a good job managing it to this point and the players are doing good responding to it." 

Since the novel coronavirus has affected so many routines, and coaches in general are some fo the most disciplined people, Saban laid out his plan for day-to-day life. 

"There are three areas we are trying to focus on," Saban said. "I have a staff meeting each day at 7 a.m. through Zoom and we use that time to work on next year's opponents. We are also doing those sessions with our players. In the afternoon, we try to do as much as we can to stay in touch with recruits. That is pretty much what a day is like."

Saban noted that he was the only person allowed in the team facility because it was closed off to everyone else. 

"We are doing so many things differently," Saban said. "It is a very uncertain time for everyone. We just hope and pray that we can move to the other end of this in the very near future."

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