Football players on every level, amateur and professional, stay in shape during the offseason. Aside from the traditional workout settings, including the weight room and practice field, many teams take to sand pits and hills to conduct their conditioning drills, developing the strength, speed and agility that translate to on-the-field success.
Warm up before engaging in any physical activity. Football warmups typically consist of half-speed drills like the carioca for footwork, the high-knee skip, lateral shuffle and stride-outs. Most teams incorporate static and ballistic stretching into their warmup routines and generally do the same during the cool-down period following their workouts. Aside from preventing injuries, proper stretching allows a football player to develop greater flexibility and greater agility on the field.
Football conditioning places an equal emphasis on endurance and explosiveness. An average football play lasts about eight seconds, during which time players are expected to go all out. Players must have the endurance to do this over the span of an entire game. Conditioning drills include gassers and timed 110s, in which players run from the end of one end zone to the other goal line within an allotted time. Another exercise is the shuttle, where players, lined up along one goal line, must sprint to the 5-yard line and back, then sprint to the 10 and back, and so on. This drill works on explosiveness and change of direction.
Weight training is important on every level of competition and at every position. Most teams employ explosive, Olympic-style lifts, including squats and cleans, to develop lower-body strength, while exercises like the bench and shoulder presses and the hammer curl build upper-body strength. Some strength coaches advocate the use of dumbbells over barbells to isolate muscle groups during the bench press. The use of resistance bands is an alternative because the bands place less strain on the joints. Other useful exercises include the Romanian deadlift, plyometric jumps, shoulder shrug and seated row.
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