When the Patriots opened their training camp today, Coach Bill Belichick reflected on how much training camps have changed over the years.
Belichick noted that when he first came to the league, training camps were much longer, more difficult, with more hits, more scrimmages against other teams, and twice as many pre-season games.
“Obviously we’ve seen a number of changes over the years in camp structure, how many practices you can have, what kind of practices, what you can do in practice, et cetera,” Belichick said. “My first year in the league we went to training camp on July 5th, and our first regular season game was on September 24th. We had six preseason games and three preseason scrimmages. So of course it’s different. With the Giants we had fifty practices before our first game. Lined practices. It’s what it is. Things have changed so we’re changing and we’re always looking at what we’re doing in everything, whether it’s training camp or schedules or everything, and we’re trying to evaluate, see if there’s a better way To do that. New ideas, and sometimes those things work really well, and sometimes we go back to what we did before. We try to be more efficient and productive and do our best in preparing players. Absolutely. Constant evaluation.”
Players have more advanced off-season exercise programs today, but Belichick said he still believes nothing can replace football in preparing players to play football.
“You can run around a track forever. That’s not really football conditioning. You need 21 other guys so you can simulate football and football reflexes,” Belichick said. “So you get 21 other guys in there it’s not the same thing. Conditioning is conditioning, but playing football is more.”
Belichick also noted how different the technology is, with players doing a lot of work on their tablets, where in the past they would write plays in notebooks that coaches put on the boards.
“When I started we had a lot of film projectors and a lot of paper and pencils,” he said. “Now the whole IT world is a lot different.”
The world of coaching is a lot different, but the 71-year-old Belichick continues to embrace it.
“Alcohol enthusiast. Twitter ninja. Tv lover. Falls down a lot. Hipster-friendly coffee geek.”