I cannot emphasize enough the importance of getting into sound aerobic and anaerobic shape. Don't buy the old adage that you "play your way into shape." Those who do this were too lazy to pay the price all summer! Camp is for football preparation and the more you have to condition the less time there is for football practice. Focus on interval work such as repeat 100's, 40's, etc. I will get into more detail on specific conditioning in future articles.
"The will to win is nothing when compared to the will to prepare"
TRAIN YOUR FLEXIBILITY – The beginning of fall camp is a terrible time to pull, strain, or tear a tight muscle. Many players are completely focused on "bulking-up" where they should be taking a few minutes each day to go through a light, dynamic stretch (high knees, butt-kickers, etc.) followed by slow, steady, static stretching of all major muscle groups. Don't forget the upper body!
STRENGTH TRAIN APPROPRIATELY – Put down that Muscle and Fitness mag and listen up! You are ATHLETES not bodybuilders…train like one. Too many players waste time training single joint, non-functional movements (bicep curls, leg extensions, and EVEN BENCH PRESS). Focus on total body movements such as power cleans, jerks, snatches, squats etc. Remember, football is a POWER sport that is played on your feet; this necessitates the inclusion of specific explosive training in your weight workouts.
Follow these 4 simple rules in the weight room:1) Use free weights
2) Train on your feet. 3) Train multi-joint movements (whole body)
4) Train explosively when possible
"Using Olympic-Style Lifts can improve power production"
WORK ON SPEED DEVELOPMENT – There are some basic things you can do to increase your speed. Work on your flexibility especially through your hip flexors, groin, hamstrings, and low back. Use the following word to help guide your speed training – "RAN". This stands for RESISTANCE (Uphill, parachutes, sleds, tow lines), ASSISTANCE (downhill, overspeed bungees), NORMAL (flat, regular sprints). When doing a little of each of these things 2-3 times per week (in this order) you will see your vertical speed improve. It is important to note that while vertical speed is important, football is a sport of multi-directional movement.
"Parachutes provide resistance for speed development"
PLYOMETRIC & POWER TRAINING – Incorporating simple, explosive exercises such as in-place jumps, bag hops, tuck jumps, box jumps, bounding, skipping, and medicine ball drills into your on-field training sessions 2 times per week will help increase your power production and benefit your condition.
"Don't forget to train your upper body explosively, too!"
AGILITY AND QUICKNESS TRAINING – I can't emphasize the importance of change of direction and footwork drills for ALL positions. I incorporate these drills into our warm-ups or stations during practice and our entire position groups do some type of agilities every day. Try doing some ladder drills or even incorporate some agility drills into your conditioning sessions…your body will thank you later!
"Agility ladders are a great tool for developing foot quickness"
MAKE THE MOST OF PRACTICE TIMES – Most schools practice 2-3 days per week during the summer, take advantage of this! Make the most of any drills, 7 on 7's, one-on-one's that your coaches take you through. This is your time to bridge any weight room and conditioning drills that you have done to the actual playing field…show your stuff.
TAKE YOUR POSITION-SPECIFIC DRILLS TO ANOTHER LEVEL – Just because your coach isn't there doesn't mean you can do his drills does it? Work on your routes, pulls, and steps etc. on your own or with a teammate. What's the worse thing that happens…you get better?
WORK ON YOUR MENTAL FOCUS – It's easy for players to say that they have the drive, determination, and skill to get to the next level; it's not so easy to have the focus to go out on your own and do something to get there everyday. Set goals and be mentally prepared to pay the price to reach them. Remember, talk is cheap!
HAVE FUN! – If you're not having fun then you shouldn't be playing the game, plain and simple. All of you will have the opportunity to go out on Saturdays and play the best game in the world…if that doesn't excite you, nothing will. You shouldn't be dreading camp; you should be itching to strap it on. Now THAT'S fun!
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