Part 2 of this series will focus on in season physical preparation, which is crucial because it helps you to perform at an optimal level on game day. This includes: practice, strength training, cardio, mobility routines, injury treatment/prevention, nutrition and hydration. A lot to balance isn't it? While it is difficult to focus on all of these things every day, it is much easier to build a routine that addresses all of these components. Your routine should be custom fit to your priorities and what works well for YOU.
Practice is repeating an action multiple times before performing it. Whether it be a throw, catch, cut or a play. In football we want to build muscle memory, so that we can perform these actions effectively and effortlessly. Depending on your position and skill set, you will to carry a ‘toolbox’ around with you throughout your career that consists of different skills. As you go through your journey and continue to master your craft you will always add to your toolbox. In the off season, practice means working on your craft, whatever it might be. During the season, practice usually takes care of itself.
Working out can be tough during the season, but it can also pay huge dividends later in the season. Everyone is strong at the beginning of the season, but you can differentiate yourself by following a workout routine throughout the season so that you are still strong in the later parts of the season. What works for me is to designate 2-3 days per week to workout, this allows me to hit each muscle group at least once per week as well as knock out my mobility work.
Former Pittsburgh Steeler James Harrison spent $350,000/year on “bodywork” (massage, acupuncture, cupping etc.) while he was playing. Now, spending this much money on bodywork is not realistic for the vast majority of us, however it does shed light on how important treatment is for him. And considering he played linebacker in the NFL at a high level, until he was almost 40, his opinion is valuable in the conversation of longevity. Bodywork includes anything from foam rolling to acupuncture to massage therapy. Bodywork increases mobility, relaxes muscles, treats/prevents injuries etc. If you cannot afford to have someone do this for you, which can get quite expensive, take matters into your own hands. You can purchase a lacrosse ball, foam roller, and massage cups for under $20. These all can be effective forms of bodywork, and you can find many guides and exercises on the internet if you are not familiar with how to use them.
It is easy to let nutrition and hydration slip by the wayside during a season, but it is still important to perform at your best level. Habits are key here, as it is unrealistic to expect to have these things at the forefront of your mind throughout a busy day. If you make your own meals, have a few go to meals that you know are healthy and easy to make. Do your own research on what you want to include in your diet and take control of what you put in your body. For more on why it is important to hydrate and how to properly hydrate, click here.
- ROBERT WOODSON
RAW SPORTS CO-FOUNDER & DEFENSIVE BACK FOR THE TORONTO ARGONAUTS