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Football & Rubber Bands: How Can They Help You?

As a strength coach, I am always looking at new methods of training to improve the conditioning of my athletes. I have recently incorporated rubber bands. The great thing about the bands is that they can expand on the basic lifts.

As a strength coach, I am always looking at new methods of training to improve the conditioning of my athletes. In my own training as a powerlifter, I recently incorporated rubber bands. I have used them all, from the mini-bands to the heavy bands. The great thing about the bands is that they can expand on basic lifts.

Why Use Bands?

Take the bench press in the traditional lift: when you load the bar with 225 pounds, this is the carrying-weight throughout the whole movement. When you attach a rubber band to each side, the carrying changes as you go through the press. As stated before, with 225 pounds on the bar that is the base carrying-weight.

You increase the load by 75 pounds when you put on an average size band. So what this means is that as you have the bar extended over your chest, you have a load of 300 pounds. As you lower the bar, the load decreases and becomes 225 pounds when it lands on your chest. As you start the ascent of the bar, you begin to pick up the resistance of the bands throughout the lift, bringing you back to the 300-pound load at the end of the lift. The bands also work with gravity by constantly pulling down on the bar, making this one hell of an exercise. This is just one example of how these bands can and should be used in all your lifting.

Flexibility & Strengthening

Flexibility and strengthening of the ankles can also be addressed. I am able to stretch all the muscles of the body using the mini-bands. By placing the band around the foot, I can stretch the hamstring, groin, Achilles tendon, quad and hip-flexor.

By repositioning the band, I can do glute/hamstring strengthening. With the band secure around the ankle, I can do inversion and eversion of the ankle: by pulling the band in the opposite direction of ankle flexions. This will strengthen the ankle to help prevent ankle sprains. Remember: the goal is to keep the athlete on the field of play.


Speed can also be developed with the use of these bands. I like to perform the partner drills: tie two medium bands together and have your athletes partner and then step into a band and place it around his/her waist and face each other. Have each take turns running backward with the other athlete applying the resistance. This can also be performed with lateral runs and forward sprints. These drills are only performed for the first three steps.

Pay close attention to the explosion of the athlete in the positive phase of the drill and make sure they are under control in the negative phase of the drill. In the positive phase you want 100% effort. I like to do four sets of 10 repetitions, three days a week.

Two other great drills I find useful are the receiver's station and running back's station. The receiver's station can also be used with your quarterbacks to help improve the center QB exchange. What we have here are three mini-bands attached to one another with a football attacked to the bands by a harness, holding the tip of the football that is farthest away from you. Pull it to your hips, release it and catch it before the band pulls the ball completely away.

This develops great hand and fingertip strength. The running back's station is set up the same way but with heavy bands. The back positions the ball in his arms and takes off in a full run. The bands' resistance will try to pull the ball out of his hands as he reaches the top end, so he will have to fight to hold on to the ball.

These are some of the new and exciting training methods I have added to my team training this year. So far it has had a positive effect on our conditioning. Give it a try. I'm sure it will help you too!

Any questions e-mail me at

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