Most of us can remember lining up at the end of a long, hard practice shoulder to shoulder with your teammates and running 50-100 yard sprints to “get in shape” to play on game day. I know some coaches still use that approach to this day.

But in reality, how often are guys – especially on the offensive and defensive lines – running that distance?

That brings me to this article by The Ringer on Bill Belichick and the team’s approach to conditioning. It’s not just that they condition, it’s that they might be conditioning smarter than anyone else, and when you look at the success they’ve had late in games, including last year’s epic Super Bowl comeback, there’s definitely a correlation.

All the conditioning that the Patriots do throughout the year is geared toward real game experiences, because football requires an energy system that other sports simply don’t have.

“Football has a very unique energy system. Look at hockey. You’ve got shifts that are about 45 seconds. In football the average length of a play is five to seven seconds then 40 seconds to recover. What other sports do that? None of them,” strength and conditioning coach Moses Cabrera explains, adding that they don’t just want to make it through the conditioning, they want to hone a mental edge that allows them to thrive when it’s late in the game and they’re tired.

For more specific examples on precisely what makes the Patriots approach unique, head to the full article.