THE new breed of Swindon Storm players began to learn their trade last night as they bid to take advantage of a ‘special’ route onto the club’s roster.
After an impressive first competitive season which saw Storm hold their own in National South, the American football club are once again on the recruitment drive and had 37 prospective players attend rookie trials last week.
Of those, 29 were identified to have the tools necessary to make the grade. They began their journey to the Storm roster at Isambard School last night with a classroom session followed by work on technique.
Head coach Steve Bennett plans to introduce the new players to the side via Storms’ special teams unit, which takes to the field for kick-offs, field goals and punt returns, as he believes the squad gives new players a taste of every side of the sport.
“We start with blocking because the technique we use is probably the most alien fundamental because the methods we used aren’t anywhere else in sport, it’s unique,” he said.
“After that we start with kick returns because we are doing something very different this year. We’re offering new players slots on special teams so there are going to be 21 rookies able to start for the team.
“Last year we found it was all a little too much, too soon for some players because they were having to learn the offensive, defensive and special teams playbooks so there was a lot on their minds. This year we have reduced it all down and will introduce things through special teams and that will help them learn what’s going on better.
“From there they can progress through to the offence and defence once they have learned the basics.”
Bennett is particularly keen on using his punt team as a way of integrating players into the game.
“The punt team in particular is a good place to start because you have to do it all,” he said.
“You have to huddle, call a play, break from the huddle, get to the right place on the field and sort your stance. After that you need to block, shed a block, pursue your man and then possibly make a tackle so there’s every part of the game in there.
“If a new player can master those skills then they are going in the right direction.
“After that they will help us by going onto the scout team where they will act as the opposition in training which will give them a chance to learn more and hopefully progress.
“Those who have what it takes will be integrated into the starting offence and defence.”
For those that don’t last the course and make it into Storm’s starting side there is still plenty of ways to stay involved with the club, including the newly formed development squad.
“The development team gives players access to our Saturday afternoon training sessions where they get to work with the coaches and learn football skills, as well as gym membership which gives them free access to nutritionists and physiotherapy,” Bennett said.
“We may not feel like they have enough to be on the roster this year but by staying involved they are able to come back and try again.”
For more information log on to www.swindonstorm.org.uk.