How Can A Football Player Improve Performance In The Off-season?

How can a football player improve performance in the off-season? Our forum members put together some great off-season advice in addition to some great training routines for those who are truly dedicated!


TOPIC: How Can A Football Player Improve Performance In The Off-Season?

The Question:

The season ended and your body is slowly recovering from the pain. Now is the time to continue recovering and heal your body from the abuse it has taken from the last season. But wait, you don't want to let your body just slide into oblivion. Training must still continue ... if you are serious about the sport.

How can a football player improve performance in the off-season?

What is a good routine that will still let your body recover?

How much time would you take off, if any, before you hit the weights/training facility again?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:

    Prizes:
      1st place - 75 in store credit.

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1st Place - Blink41
View This Author's Profile Here.


Introduction

What the team and their players do in the off season can be the key to success for the upcoming seasons. The off-season is probably the most overlooked aspect of a team. Sure, whatever you do in the off-season does not count for any victories, but it definitely prepares you and might as well even motivate you to give your best performance in the upcoming seasons.

Whether or not you were successful or not in the previous seasons, the off-season should never be neglected for whatever reasons. Think of the off-season as a period of time where you have room to recover and improve. This off season can be the most important part in your career as a football player.


Improving Performance
How Can A Football Player Improve Performance In The Off-Season?

The key to success in being a successful football player is the amount of work a player puts in during the off-season. A combination of weight training, cardiovascular drills, plyometrics and proper nutrition would help you improve your performance on the field.

The main goal of weight training during the off season is to develop the ideal football physique. If you don't have the proper size and strength required for all football players, then you don't even have the basic requirements and it would be nearly impossible to be a successful player on the field, especially with a size and strength disadvantage. However, it is not as simple as putting on weight.

Not only do you need to gain muscle mass, but you also need to know the certain parts of the muscle groups that need to be worked on more than others. The legs, hips and shoulders are the three major muscle groups that need to be stressed the most. Of course, it becomes more complicated than that as well. Depending on which position you play, you need to adjust your workout routines accordingly.

-> Strength Training (By Position):

    Quarterbacks:

      Since quarterbacks spend a lot of time throwing the ball, one of the most important muscle group that needs to be stressed for quarterbacks is the shoulders. Building arm strength should be one of the top priorities. Other parts of the body that needs to be trained would be the abdomen and the back.

    Lineman:

      It is important for linemen to focus on strength. Training like powerlifters would be the best way to approach it. However, it is a common misunderstanding that linemen should just put on more mass, regardless of if it's fat mass or muscle mass.

      Fat mass will no doubt slow down the player's ability to run the field. You need to be strong, but you also need to stay somewhat lean.


    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Lineman Should Focus On Strength.

    Wide Receivers:

      Wide receivers are usually the players who do the most running on the field. Because of that, leg strength and endurance plays a heavy part in the player's performance. They should focus on high repetition workouts such as squats. They are also required to stay lean; otherwise it would cause the player to be sluggish and slow-moving on the field.

    Defensive Backs:

      Defensive backs should focus on all around strength. They should split their workout routines to three different workouts. One workout should work the shoulders, chest and arms. The second workout should work the legs and lower back and the final workout should work the back and abs.

      Their workouts should also be the most intense out of all the players given the fact that they have one of the more important positions on the field.

Cardiovascular Training:

    All the exercises listed above focuses on only the strength portion of the key to success during an off-season. The other half of the key to success during an off-season focuses on the cardiovascular portion. Every football player regardless of their position should focus on drills which consist of speed, agility and endurance.

    Having a good cardiovascular health would without doubt improve the player's performance in the field. But what can you do to improve your heart? And how do you know how much cardio do you need to do? It really depends on your body type. If you are an ectomorph, you are not expected to do as much as say the endomorphs.

    Depending on what you are, you need to adjust accordingly from low-intensity cardio to high-intensity cardio. It ranges from simply jogging and swimming to more intense exercises such as sprinting and interval training.

Plyometric Training:

    A good way to improve speed and agility would be to incorporate plyometric exercises during their workout. Plyometrics are exercises that use explosive movements to generate a large amount of force quickly. The players should start off with at a level where they are comfortable and as time goes on, they can gradually increase the intensity level.

    Here are some drills which uses plyometric training:

    • High Knees

    High Knee Run High Knee Run
    + Click To Enlarge.
    High Knee Runs.
    Video: WMV (114 KB) - MPEG (853 KB) - iPod Video (94 KB)

    • Squat Jumps

    jump squats jump squats
    + Click To Enlarge.
    Barbell Squat Jumps.
    Video: WMV (156 KB) - MPEG (1.1 MB) - iPod Video (126 KB)

    • Tuck Jumps

    tuck jumps tuck jumps
    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Tuck Jumps.
    Video: Windows Media (147 KB) - MPEG (431 KB)

    These exercises would work the fast-twitch muscles and would allow the player to be explosive when it comes to starting, stopping, pivoting and turning which are all movements that every football player are required to do when out on the field.

Nutrition:

    The importance of proper nutrition should still not be overlooked, even in the off season. You still need to maintain the diet that you were on during the on season as well. Just because it's the off-season, it doesn't mean that it's time to eat whatever you want whenever you want. Doing just that will not only make you unhealthier but it will also make it harder for you to get back in shape once the season starts.

    The last thing you want is to start the new season worse off than you ended the last season. You also don't want to have to do extra cardio to get back in shape as well. Save yourself the work you have to put in during the off season by just watching what you eat. Stay lean, stay healthy, and eat right.

    For those players who have a problem staying lean, it doesn't mean stop eating altogether. If you do that, then your body will be in shock and it will cause even more damage. It might deprive your body from the daily vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates and proteins that your body requires to operate.

    Your body might be used to attaining a certain amount of proteins and carbohydrates from your daily meals that if you suddenly cut down on eating, it will deprive your body of that amount. It's not as simple as preventing yourself from overeating.

    You need to prevent yourself from under-eating as well. This is exactly what people mean by eating a well-balanced diet. If you mess up here, you will have to make up for it later by going through more intense training. It's simply not worth it.


Routine
What Is A Good Routine That Will Still Let Your Body Recover?

Recovery is a very important part of proper training. You cannot think of training as, "The more you train the better your results." In fact, it can very well be the opposite. Overtraining is a very common problem among athletes. They often get the misconception that if they are to train very hard, they will get the optimum results.

In reality, everyone needs time to recover, athletes are no different. The Principle of Recuperation states that the body requires time to heal itself from previous workouts.

Muscle fibers are constantly being damaged and unless you give it enough time to recover, it will remain damaged. This is why having a good routine is so important to athletes. You want to work yourself as hard as possible but not over the limit where it will do more damage than good, so how can you approach this?

Football players require a combination of both strength training and cardio. Both affect the athletes differently. A good way to approach this would be to do alternate between strength training and cardio.

You can work your upper body today, and as you are doing cardio the next day, it will allow your muscle groups that were trained the previous day to recover and on the third day, you can concentrate on a different muscle group, and then back to cardio and so on. By the time the week is over, the first muscle group you worked on has recovered and is ready to be trained again.

On Monday - Work On Upper Body

On Tuesday - Do Cardio

On Wednesday - Work On Lower Body

On Thursday - Do Cardio

    Try to incorporate plyometric workouts into daily routine or warm-ups.

On Friday - Work on Back and Abs

On Weekend - Allow More Recovery Time

    You also have a choice of doing another cardio workout on the weekend. If you feel fatigue, use this time to recuperate. If not, another cardio workout won't hurt you.

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As you can see, the workouts are evenly spread among the week. Athletes tend to take the approach of alternating between strength training and doing cardio and I would have to agree with that approach.

When you are doing cardio, it is training a different part of your body compared to when you are strength training your upper body or lower body. This way, you will guarantee that all your different muscle groups in your body have a full week to recover before you put stress on it again.

If you follow this workout routine, overtraining will never be a problem for you. Of course, basic workout tips still hold true here. Do 3 sets with 12 repetitions and try to increase the weight as you complete each set.


Time Off
How Much Time Would You Take Off, If Any, Before You Hit The Weights/Training Facility Again?

I would not suggest taking too much time off after the season is over. Just allow enough time for the players to recuperate from all physical and mental fatigue. A player might still be feeling the after-effects from the previous season.

They might experience physical fatigue such as soreness, or they could simply be mentally drained for the previous season. But once the player can set aside from the past; it is time to move on. Think of what you did wrong last season as well as how you can improve.

Don't keep focusing on the things you did right, that will just give you the impression that you are perfect and have no room for improvements. This will ultimately lead to failure again in the next season.

Everything can be improved, whether it's a lot or a little, there is still space for improvements to be made. Take advantage of this, you know other people are. Perhaps your legs gave out on you one day. Or maybe your heart is not as healthy as it used to be. Or maybe your performance has simply been sluggish and lethargic recently.

Regardless of what it is, focus on it and think of ways you can improve. Remember to train appropriately. Train according to your body type as well as the muscle groups that need to be trained the most. Also bear in mind that you need to train according to the different positions you play. This way you aren't wasting time and effort by training the wrong parts of your body.


Conclusion

Remember, whatever you put in, you will get out of it later. Work yourself hard and it will without a doubt pay off in the future. Give yourself too much slack and it will come back and haunt you. It is important to remember that many aspects contribute to how well you are doing in the off-season.

Strength training needs to be done. You don't want your muscles to start losing their strength and size and in return gain fat mass. It is important to stay lean during the off season. Another important aspect, which is cardio, also cannot be overlooked. As much as you don't want your muscles giving up on you, you also certainly don't want your heart giving up on you as well.

Nutrition also needs to be properly maintained and last but not least, allowing your body the proper amount of time for recovery also cannot be neglected for any reason. Again, as mentioned before, the football off-season might be the most important part of each and every football player.


2nd Place - PolPow53
View This Author's Profile Here.

The season is finally over and your body is feeling the pain. Now is the time to recover and heal your body from the abuse it has taken for the last five-six months. But wait you don't want to let your body just slide into oblivion. Training must still continue ... if you are serious about the sport.


Improving Performance
How Can A Football Player Improve Performance In The Off-Season?

Ah, the football off-season, possibly the most advanced training period an athlete can experience. At the high school level, the off-season can last as long as 9 months. What a football player does during this time can really make or break his whole career. It is important to look into various facets of a football player to determine what needs to be done.

Some areas to focus on are:

  • Football Specific Skills
  • Body Weight
  • Body Composition
  • Speed
  • Agility
  • Strength
  • Power

Now, that's a hefty list, and it's only the beginning. A player must also look at his strengths and weaknesses in order to determine the best plan of attack. Generally, football players fall into 3 categories:

  1. Well Rounded - but needs improvement on everything
  2. Big & Strong - but too slow
  3. Quick & Fast - but too small and weak

Once we identify a problem, we need to develop a program to attack our shortcomings, while still maintaining our strengths. There should be a focus on everything, and this will make it much easier to attack the task at hand. We need to spend time in the squat rack, on the bench, the Olympic platform, the field, the track, the hills and also THE KITCHEN!

As the adage goes, you're only as strong as your weakest link, and ignoring any part of the equation will not pay off in the end. You will hear countless stories of players who took too blind of an approach in an off-season and paid the price later on. Think of someone like Lendale White, versus someone like Tiki Barber or Michael Strahan.

First thing that we do after seeing what we need is examining what we can do. If you live in upstate New York, it's going to be hard to find some place to run sprints in the winter. You must adapt to your circumstances. Ask your self a few questions?

What lifts can I perform where I train?

How much room do I have to perform agilities/sprints?

How much control do I have over my diet/supplementation?

Soon after this, we can start to put the pieces together. Formulating our schedule and overall plan, and maybe even seeking out some professional help.


Routine
What Is A Good Routine That Will Still Let Your Body Recover?

There is a little paradox that comes from a return to training after a layoff, especially after a football season. It stems from the fact that:

  1. We need a light routine to get our body back into it.
  2. We can make excellent progress due to muscle memory in the first few weeks after returning to training.

I feel that the best routine to accomplish this is a simple full body split that will provide enough recovery for the battered player, but one that will still provide the necessary stimulus to make those easy newbie gains.

For Example:

Monday:

Wednesday:

Friday:

On the off days the player can perform auxiliary work such as core, neck, calves, etc.

This is only a beginning weight room routine, the player should also incorporate various sprint and agility training programs as well as plyometrics if appropriate.

Diet:

    As far as an initial diet. The player should supplement his diet with extra protein to regain the countless pounds of muscle lost during the season. A balanced diet full of complex carbs, vegetables, good fats lean meats and extra protein should suffice. For protein supplements, check out this link.

    Other supplements more advanced athletes can look into to jump start their process are:

    All those combined with a proper diet and hard work in the weight room will pack on the pounds of muscle and speed up the strength gains for any player.


Time Off
How Much Time Would You Take Off, If Any, Before You Hit The Weights/Training Facility Again?

In my opinion, it is useless to take time off unless the player feels either really bogged down by the intensity of the season, or is injured. Other than that, I think the most dedicated players should be getting right into it. However, this does not need to be an incredibly taxing program right away.

I would recommend just sticking to weight training initially since the season undoubtedly took a heavy toll on the joints in the lower body. After a player has been running for 4 months straight, some rest is justified. I would estimate that 3 weeks is a good timeframe to get back into doing some more athletic type training whether that would be agilities, sprints or plyos.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Saul Patu, Football Enthusiast.

It is also really important to look at two things. The first being the players individual mental level. If the player is drained from the long season, then some rest might be necessary to get the player recharged. With others, however, the player may find himself recharged due to the final result of the season.

A big loss might fuel revenge, while a big win might be inspirational. With both it is key to capture and maintain the desire and motivation to continually get better in whatever we are trying to do.

Overall, the football off-season should not be taken lightly, giving all you've got will reward you later, while doing a sub par job will come back to haunt you. Don't let your quest for knowledge stop here. Do more research into training, nutrition and supplementation on Athletes.com!


3rd Place - Backa53
View This Author's Profile Here.

The season is finally over and your body is feeling the pain. Now is the time to recover and heal your body from the abuse it has taken for the last 5-6 months. But wait you don't want to let your body just slide into oblivion. Training must still continue ... if you are serious about the sport.

Football games are not won in the fall on the field. They are won in the weight room on cold winter days and on the track on hot summer days. Training is as much about what football is as the game itself.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Football Games Are Won In The Weight Room.

The more we train, lift, sprint in the off-season, the more we fill our potential as an athlete. Without pushing ourselves enough in the off-season, we will never reach the peaks we are capable of as football players.

It is much easier to make excuses than to push yourself to the point of maximum benefit. Avoiding the many social traps along the way to being the football player you dream to be is perhaps the most important aspect of becoming the player you dream of being. There really are no reasonable excuses to missing training sessions and not training the way you should.

There are so many people in the world that take training in as the focal point of their life. Athletic training can offer so many benefits other than improving you as a player. It brings all your motivation and centers it on one goal. Training can bring on many emotions. You should train because you love the game of football and everything that comes with it.

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Improving Performance
How Can A Football Player Improve Performance In The Off-Season?

A football player can improve their performance through the off-season by training the right way for themselves and not relenting in their pursuits. No two people are the same and will not benefit the same ways from the same training methods. All athletes should attempt to understand what their body is telling them and learn to train the way they will most benefit.

Rome was not built in a day and you should not expect to ever stop learning about your body and about training methods as you progress as an athlete. As far as finding the "perfect workout" that will be the key to your breakthrough as an athlete, you might as well stop looking because you will never find it. Your life is ever changing and will continue to change as you age. And so too your training methods should adapt to your body, mind and lifestyles.

Nutrition and supplementation also should play a role in your advancement as a player. Like anything in life, you will never find "The perfect diet" or the perfect supplement, but you should always be on the lookout for foods, products and information that will help you improve as a player.

You are going to find 1,000 opinions in every direction you look as to what's best for you and what will most help you improve. Essentially as a player you want to get faster, stronger and improve your stamina. You should become as informed as possible to the point where you are capable of legitimately making decisions on your own discretion.

In the mean time, read up on all the wonders of nutrition as it relates to this great game of ours!

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Routine
What Is A Good Routine That Will Still Let Your Body Recover?

Again, I believe I should not be here to steer you in any specific direction when there are so many paths that all can lead to success in our sport. Football off-season training is so much more about your attitude than your routine.

That being said, I am personally of the camp that believes when given the opportunity, a football player's off-season training should progress linearly. Meaning that the off-season should be divided at least somewhat, into different segments.

The thought is that you are best served at conclusion of the football season to begin your training with sub-maximal weights to let your body adapt to the hypertrophy it will endure for the next months and lessen the chances of aggravating an existing injury that may be present from football.

A competitive athlete shouldn't find themselves pussy-footing around with light weights for too long in the off-season. Let your body tell you when you are ready to really push yourself. Hopefully the season didn't beat you down too much.

Dabble among the archives of this site to give yourself an idea of what kind of training might suit you best.

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Time Off
How Much Time Would You Take Off, If Any, Before You Hit The Weights/Training Facility Again?

Any time completely off from training should only be time taken to rest the mind after football. The end of a season is an emotional time regardless of how the season went. Sometimes we just need a bit of time to step back and be a person only instead of an athlete for a certain amount of time.

If it is a physical soreness keeping you out of the gym, you can take that opportunity to employ recovery methods such as stretching and massage to help facilitate your move back into training.

I may have brought on more questions than answers with this piece of writing. I hope this helps boost you into the realm of football training that consumes the life of so many. The training you and your teammates have done in the off-season is what will help your team remain tight in the battle knowing what you have gone through to get there.

Good luck, we're all pulling for you.

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