Nutrition & Football!

Although body types in football differ greatly from position-to-position nutritional needs remain basically the same. At the 49ers we have a Food First approach. We advocate a high-carbohydrate, moderate-protein, low-fat diet.

Although body types in football differ greatly from position-to-position nutritional needs remain basically the same. At the 49ers we have a Food First approach. We advocate a high-carbohydrate, moderate-protein, low-fat diet.


What Should My Diet Consist Of?

The cornerstone of the diet is carbohydrates coming from sources such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. In general, carbohydrates fuel the activities that are high intensity and short in duration. Even though a football game lasts approximately 3 hours the bursts of energy, and plays are actually short in duration.

Protein comes in high-grade sources and low-grade sources. What we recommend is to get the best possible sources of protein available whenever possible. Low-fat to non-fat milk products, chicken, fish and lean cuts of red meat are ideal.


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These sources have all of the essential and non-essential amino acids your body needs and are the most easily assimilated and digested. Depending on the source there will be a multitude of vitamins and minerals associated with these protein sources.

Fat is not an effective fuel source for football or athletic competition bearing ultra-marathons and ultra-endurance events. Once the body has to use fat as a fuel source the intensity of the exercise heads downhill rapidly. Ideally, I would like to see the percentage of fat in the diet to be 20 percent of less. The fat should come from vegetable sources such as canola and olive oil for cooking and possibly some associated with the fish and lean cuts of red meat. If there is a high fat content in the athlete's diet you can bet that they are wearing it as well.


What About Supplements?

The first thing that we say about supplements is, "that is what they are meant to do, supplement a rock solid diet." As far as I can see into the future supplements will not be able to replace food. Scientists still haven't identified many of the molecular components of food or been able to determine what there actions even are!

We recommend that players be well hydrated before, during and after training and competition. We also have carbohydrate replacement drinks available at all times. A high-carbohydrate drink is most effective if consumed immediately after training. The muscles act like a dry sponge ready to store available carbs. Physiologically speaking the enzymes that store carbohydrate are most active right after training and the window of opportunity closes within about 15 minutes. The sooner the carbs hit the digestive tract the better!

Creatine monohydrate has been scientifically proven to be effective with about 70 percent of the population responding to the supplement. At the professional level if a player wants to use creatine we suggest it be taken immediately after training, with a carbohydrate source and plenty of water.


Plyometrics

Plyometrics trains an athlete's neural system to be more effective and more explosive. I believe there are about 7 different plyo exercises that are most effective for football. Done twice a week, complimented with conditioning and agility twice a week is ideal.

Here are my favorites:

  1. Double Leg Bounds For Height & Distance: This exercise is the most basic and the most important.

  2. Double Leg Lateral Bounds: This adds a side-to-side component that is commonly found in football.

  3. Double Leg Bounds In A W-Pattern: This movement has a linear and a lateral component.

  4. Chest Tucks: Done for max height. Keep contact time with the ground minimal.

  5. Power Skips: Add an explosive knee drive with the lead leg and a max height component to a traditional skipping movement.

  6. Single Leg Bounds: Best suited for speed position. Keep the reps and the contact time with the ground low. The technique must be perfect!

  7. Box Hops: Choose a box that can be landed on in a football ready position. Violently jump off the floor and land as quietly as possible.


Mistakes

I see some of the biggest mistakes when individuals train for football. I get letters, emails and voice messages asking if they can have Jerry Rice's training routine. There is only one Jerry Rice, and he does the program that is best structured for him. He has years and years of training and if a high school or collegiate player were to train like JR they would be crushed by overtraining. Do a routine that is best suited for you.

One of the other mistakes that I see all the time (and this one really hacks me off) is players think that the only thing that they have to train for football is weights.

There is no bigger mistake. Sure weight training can make a football player better, but skill development with agility and conditioning is more important. Period! No arguments! I don't care what position they play on the field.

To expand on the subject of conditioning for football it is flat out wrong to only condition on a treadmill, step machine, stationary bike or only run in a straight line when conditioning. The game is accelerations, decelerations and changes of direction within a short period of time. Be sure to use agility drills with a ton of change in direction at least twice a week 8 weeks before practice starts. Think of sprint intervals or stationary conditioning as a supplement to on field agility training.

"The essence of football is fun and friendship."

Terry Donahue, Head Coach UCLA Bruins, NCAA Football Hall of Fame.


Sample Program

Monday AM: Monday PM:
Conditioning:
12x100 yard strides completed in 18 seconds with a 30 second rest interval
Weight Training:
Power Cleans - 4x5
Push Press - 4x5
Back Squats - 4x8
Bench Press - 4x8
Pull Ups - 4x8
Abdominal Training - 5 minutes

[ Printable Log ]

Tuesday AM:
Plyometrics:
3x8 - Double Leg Bound
3x8 - Lateral bound over a cone
3x8 - Chest Tucks

Agility:
4 Sets of W pattern Run
4 Sets of Hoops
4 Sets of Out 10 back 5

Wednesday AM:
Weight Training:
Power Snatch - 4x5
Hang Cleans - 4x5
Front Squats - 4x8
Dumbbell Incline Press - 4x8
Dumbbell Military Press* - 4x8
Dumbbell Rows - 4x8
Abdominal Training - 5 minutes

[ Printable Log ]

Thursday AM:
Conditioning:
4 x 100 yards
4 x 80 yards
4 x 60 yards
4 x 40 yards
4 x 20 yards (all distances completed with a 30 second rest interval)

Friday AM: Friday PM:
Plyometrics:
3x8 Box Hops
3x8 Double Leg Bounds in a W pattern
3x8 Power Skips

Agility:
4 Sets of Figure 8 Shuffle
4 Sets of W pattern

Weight Training:
Power Cleans - 4x5
Push Press - 4x5
Back Squats - 4x8
Bench Press - 4x8
Pull Ups - 4x8
Abdominal Training - 5 minutes

[ Printable Log ]

* Shown with barbell.