Tips to Prepare and Train for Football Season

Football practice

“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:

Strength Training

  • 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.

Core Strength

  • 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!

Protective equipment

  • 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, physical therapist, and Jamie Osmak, certified strength and conditioning specialist, are members of the Sports Rehabilitation and Performance Center team at Hospital for Special Surgery. Jessica is a board certified clinical specialist in Sports Physical Therapy and certified athletic trainer. Jamie is a certified personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist with a degree in Exercise Science from Rutgers University.



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.

Topics: Performance
The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.


  1. I am 44 years old and I have knock knees since I was born. I am not overweight, I do exercise and yoga on a daily basis but my back, knees and hips and lately my neck are constant pain. I know my pain is related to my genu valgum deformity. Am i a good candidate for corrective knee surgery?

    1. Hi Carolina, thank you for reaching out. Dr. Austin Fragomen, Orthopedic Surgeon, says: “Knock knee or genu valgum deformity often causes pain in multiple joints. It is also associated with rotational deformity and leg length discrepancy in many cases, which further complicates the joint stresses. Corrective surgery alleviates these problems provided they are stemming from the valgus knees. The good news is that all of these deformities can be corrected in what has become a safe and routine surgery. Corrective surgery alleviates these problems provided they are stemming from the valgus knees. A comprehensive exam needs to be done to identify the sources of your pain and the existence of all deformities.” It is best for you to seek consultation with a physician so that they can determine the best course of treatment. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  2. I’m an aspiring football player, and your post really helped me a lot. Looking forward to read more of your nice article. Thanks 🙂

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