“There is NO off-season” is a common quote heard in the football community. Players who are serious about their sport need to keep up with training throughout the year.
Dusting off the cleats at the start of August training camp is not a safe way to start a season. Training begins again after the season ends and should be a gradual progression to build strength, flexibility and power. Here are some helpful tips to help enhance your game and put your best foot forward:
- Develop explosive power and strength. Have a structured, detailed strength and power routine to help you meet your goals before the start of the season.
- Establish your goals early on. If you’re trying to get stronger during the season, you’re too late.
- Begin to taper off from traditional strength and power routines into sports-specific movements as the preseason comes to a close.
- Develop core strength to help keep your postural alignment correct when running and cutting.
- Have a stable core to help transfer the power from your lower body to your upper body, preventing you from wasting energy when transferring power.
- Maintain or improve flexibility to keep proper joint alignment while playing. This will allow your movement patterns to be more efficient and help prevent injury.
Hydration and Prevention of Heat Illness
- Protective equipment (shoulder pads and helmet) make it difficult for the body to remain cool. Sweat isn’t absorbed as efficiently as it normally is, and core temperature rises which can lead to heat illness.
- You should have unlimited access to water and sports drinks (6% carbohydrate) throughout the session. Consumption of fluids: 14-24oz two hours prior to training, 5-12oz every 15 minutes during training and 24oz per 1lb lost after training. Waiting until you are thirsty is too late!
- Practicing twice a day during pre-season can be very draining. Make sure you’re ready for round two by taking the weight off before and after practice.
Positive Attitude and Motivation
- For each season, stay motivated from the beginning, set goals, identify individual and team weaknesses and strengths, and develop a process in which the team can grow!
- Helmets, shoulder pads and mouth guards are all necessary to keep you safe. Ask your coach or athletic trainer to make sure your equipment fits appropriately. Studies have shown that properly fitting helmets can decrease the risk of loss of consciousness caused by concussions. Helmets must be reconditioned at least every two years.
Nutrition for Sport
- Pre-game meals should be high in carbohydrates and eaten 3-4 hours before the game. Have a pre-game snack 1-2 hours before competition and refuel starting 30 minutes afterwards.
- Remember to eat breakfast daily, stay hydrated and eat a meal or snack every 3-4 hours to keep blood sugar levels optimal.
Consult with a physician before starting an exercise regimen.
Jessica Hettler is a board certified clinical specialist in Sports Physical Therapy and certified athletic trainer.
Jamie Osmak is a certified strength and conditioning specialist at the Tisch Performance Center. Jamie is a USA Track and Field Level 1 coach and corrective exercise specialist with a degree in Exercise Science from Rutgers University.