June 19, 2003
"Finish the drill" was the motto of the 2002 Southeastern Conference champion Georgia Bulldog football team.
The origin of that phrase comes from the Bulldogs winter condition workout known as "mat drills".
The creator of the infamous mat drills is Georgia strength and conditioning coach Dave Van Halanger.
Van Halanger, keynote speaker of the annual Sports Medicine Clinic in Tifton, says that mat drills are nothing more than agility drills.
The drills run only two weeks but all Georgia football players and coaches are required to attend the sessions that start at 5:40 a.m.
Coach Van Halanger says the drills are designed to not only improve the physical conditioning of the Bulldog football team but also to bring unity among all of the players.
Van Halanger believes teamwork created by the mat drills is a big reason why Georgia has had so many fourth quarter wins the last two seasons under head coach Mark Richt.
Coach Van Halanger said "When you are together and you are family and you have got each other, you can do the things like finish the drill because you are depending on each other. It is not an individual thing. It is team thing. We care about each and we love each other. And, when you do that you can play with a greater prowess and a greater power than you have before.
Van Halanger says other Georgia coaches are starting to incorporate mat drills into their training regimen for their sports.
Dave Van Halanger has been a strength and conditioning coach since 1978 and spent 18 seasons in that capacity at Florida State and was the only member to leave Bobby Bowden's staff when Mark Richt became Georgia's head coach in 2001.