Football Pre-season Prep for the Youth Football Player
We are in the middle of spring which means summer is fast approaching and also signifies football season is around the corner. For any young athlete, now is the time to prepare for the upcoming season and do what you can to contribute to a successful season. Here is a list of things a young football player should do in preparation for the season:
- Increase work capacity– to be successful in any sport, one needs to be able to handle the demands of the sport. In simpler terms, you need to get in shape. Waiting into the season starts to attack this often times is too late or takes away from other things more important. The less time coaches can spend on conditioning and more on the tactical side of football, it benefits all parties involved. The below equation sums up this point:
Increase work capacity = Increase probability of maximal on-field performance
- Selecting appropriate stimulus to increase aerobic conditioning– Part of improved work capacity is increasing the aerobic capacity (engine) in a young athlete. This does not mean having a young athlete running jogging around the track. For one, kids often find jogging boring therefore be less inclined to do it. Two, jogging is a poor representation of the sport of football. The sport of football is a combination of sprinting and walking. Any type of conditioning should mimic that combination.
- Master basic fundamental movement patterns– All young athletes should be masters of squatting, crawling, skipping, jumping and etc. These fundamental movement patterns are the foundation of athleticism. Increasing athleticism improves the ability for an athlete to complete game tasks such as a blocking a defender, running a route and catching a football.
Increased athleticism = Increased ability to execute game task
- Practice winning habits daily– Often times I challenge my young athletes to practice habits that professional athletes do. This includes eating clean foods, staying hydrated and getting adequate sleep. These “little” things make a big difference and how well an athlete performs. The younger an athlete starts to practice these habits on the daily, the easier it will be for them to do them when they enter high school.
- Get prescreen/assessed– This is one where I feel most people do not think about but I feel is truly important. Every young athlete should have their movement assessed by a trained professional such as a physical therapist or strength and conditioning coach. The coach should be looking for imbalances or dysfunction in movements such as running and squatting. Once identified, a coach can then discuss with the athlete what type of dysfunction they witnessed and what exercises than can do to alleviate these issues. Being pro active on this will minimize the risk of injury while at the same time maximizing performance.
Assessing athletes helps athletes = decrease risk of injury and maximize performance
The key thing in prepping for the football season is to make sure an athlete does everything they can that is in their control. I always tell athletes, you cannot control who the coach plays or how much he may play you. The only thing you can control is how you prepare all aspects of the game.