Football is defined by speed and power.
Today’s players are bigger and faster than ever. Even the quarterback position is evolving from a “hands-off” role into one requiring extensive contact.
The competitiveness of the game has steadily climbed over the years.
Just a generation ago, strength and conditioning routines were uncommon. Today, it’s considered an essential part of every football program.
And of course, football is the definition of a “contact sport”.
If athletes are not fully prepared for the “physicality” of the game, not only is it unlikely they will be involved at the varsity level, the likelihood of injury increases significantly.
During the 2018/19 school year, over a million boys participated in football. And even though girls represent only a tiny fraction of the total number of players, their participation has doubled over the last ten years.
Despite major improvements in equipment design and import changes to the safety rules, the injury rate in football remains at the top of all major sports.
All this means that adequate preparation is a must!
The football training program at Back In Motion Sport & Spine Physical Therapy is the “gold standard” for preparation and injury prevention.
With its emphasis on pure power and speed, football preseason training is one of the most studied and has the most highly evolved program design of any sport.
If you’re looking for a football training program in the Fort Myers area, here is what you need to look for…
Just like the rules of football and the task of each position, nothing about a football training session is random.
There are very distinct sections to each workout; each having a scientifically proven purpose.
For example, the program design for the safety position should vary quite a bit from that of an offensive lineman. If the programs are identical, this should be a red flag!
Here’s what you can expect from one of our sessions…
- A complete dynamic warm-up.
A proper warm-up is a signal to your body that it’s time to be active.
The warm-up has the following functions:
- Increase blood flow to the muscles
- Elevate core body temperature
- Increase the range of motion for the muscles
- Activate the nervous system
- Increase heart rate and breathing rates
All of these things combine to get you ready for what’s coming next.
Unfortunately, a proper warm-up is often ignored or watered down by even the most experienced athletes. This is a major mistake in many “generic” training routines.
Ignoring this section is the easiest way to get injured. This is especially true because of the intense physical demands of a football workout.
Immediately after the warm-up, athletes move on to that day’s skill. We do this at the beginning of the workout because the body is fresh and the nervous system is not fatigued from lifting weight or conditioning.
Typically activities here would include sprint technique drills or plyometric (jumping) work to refine the body’s ability to produce explosive power.
The skills section is a natural introduction to power work like Olympic lifting or some type of advanced power training, usually with weights.
Again, this is done early in the session because the demands on the nervous system are high.
This doesn’t mean “core” as in abdominals. We’re talking about the basic strength moves every athlete should be doing.
This includes exercises such as bench pressing, squatting, back work, etc.
In football, it is not unusual to have regular testing to track the progress in these lifts.
How do we determine which exercises are most beneficial to a specific athlete?
Here are the factors we look at:
- Athlete Age
- Athlete training experience
- Demands of the sport
- Physical maturity level
- Sport proficiency
- Testing results and goals
- Injury history
- Length of the training program
Yes, that’s a good bit of information every sports preparation coach MUST know about the athletes they’re working with…
That’s what we mean when we say that no sports training program is random!
Football places a premium on lower body size and power. The movements selected for the workout reflect this.
- Power cleans and snatches
- Back and front squats
- Bench press
The latter part of the core strength section of a football workout generally revolves around “auxiliary movements” intended to promote size and upper body strength. This includes added arm and back work.
As the saying goes, “It’s not rocket science, but it is science.”
- Sport-Specific Conditioning
You’d be surprised how many mistakes happen here.
NOTE: If a sports preparation program places conditioning at the beginning of the program, you know that the facility has not been keeping up with the science.
Fatiguing the muscles by doing conditioning immediately before you ask them to perform highly technical power work is an injury waiting to happen.
Conditioning should always be at the end of the session. Period.
The other consideration is the requirement of the sport…in this case, football.
In a typical football game, a play starts every 30-45 seconds and lasts anywhere from 3-10 seconds.
This short burst of speed and power is then repeated 50-60 times per game.
This is called “work capacity” and is the primary goal of any conditioning routine.
There is no long-distance conditioning requirement like you see in soccer. Therefore the conditioning needs to be highly specific to those needs.
For example, it is not uncommon for the conditioning test for an NFL level team to consist of twenty 40-yards sprints repeated with only 20-30 seconds of rest in between.
This aligns well with the physical demands of the sport.
As you may know, the 20 and 40-yeard dashes are fundamental tests for all players.
As you can see, a lot goes into the design of the ideal football training program.
“Cookie-cutter” programs will never work.
Your athlete is unique and the sports training program needs to match that.
- Flexibility and Cool-down
Finally, we end the session with targeted flexibility work and cool down.
This is when you send your body the signal that it’s time to relax and start the recovery process.
Making sure the shoulders have an ideal range of motion and maintain that subtle power is crucial.
It’s also time to slow the breathing, heart rate, and respiration.
Additionally, flexibility training has been proven to speed recovery and reduce injuries.