To compete at the highest level on the football field, you don’t just need to be strong, fast and powerful — you’ve got to have top-notch cardiovascular fitness, too. But getting fitter for football isn’t just a case of running laps. This type of cardio won’t make you a better player. In fact, it could even decrease your performance levels, so learn how to do cardio correctly to enhance your performance on the football field.
Traditionally, many football coaches recommended steady state cardio as a method of conditioning. This inevitably involved jogging around the field, warming up with a team run or spending hours on the treadmill. But distance running places a lot of stress on your joints, notes strength coach Chad Wesley Smith of Juggernaut Training Systems. Additionally, it’s rare that you’ll ever have to jog long distance at a moderate pace during a game, so this form of cardio is ineffective and doesn’t develop the energy systems needed for optimal performance in football.
Fartlek is a Swedish word and translates as “speed play.” It is very similar to interval training, in that it combines high-intensity bursts of cardio with lower and moderate intensity aerobic work. This is extremely beneficial for football players, claims personal trainer Z Altug on the “STACK” magazine website. It mimics the varying intensities of game situations, reduces the risk of overuse injuries and prevents boredom. Altug recommends varying your sprints from anywhere between 10 and 60 seconds. The longer your sprint, the longer your walk or jog in between should be.
On average, each play in a game lasts around 5.5 seconds and they rarely go above 10 to 11 seconds, according to strength coach and NFL Combine trainer Joe DeFranco. This means in training, you should concentrate on developing two energy systems. Your adenosine triphosphate phosphocreatine system, or ATP-PC system for short, is dominant for between four and 10 seconds, while the anaerobic glycolysis system takes over between 11 and 20 seconds. To train both of these, DeFranco advises performing tire flips, tire pushes or resisted sprints for four to 10 seconds, then going straight into a sprint or shuttle run for up to 20 seconds.
When you’re serious about your football fitness, you need to hit the prowler. The prowler is a triangular frame made from iron that sits close to the ground, with vertical poles on each corner. You can put plates on these poles to increase the weight, then either push the prowler across the ground, or attach a harness to it and pull it along behind you while you sprint. Philadelphia-based football conditioning coach Steven Morris recommends making prowler drills part of your preseason cardio. Try pushing the prowler in a low position for 15 to 20 yards, then switching to a higher position for the same distance. Alternatively, attach a handle to the prowler and drag it backward for 10 yards, then let go and sprint back to the start.
Most of us remember cringing as children when our mothers gave us that look — the look that meant we were in deep trouble. She didn’t have to say a word. And even if she did say a word — even if it was kind — you could probably still tell you were in trouble because the brain processes both verbal and nonverbal communication at the same time and notices when someone’s words don’t match their body language. A wealth of emotions can be conveyed with a look, a sigh, a smile or a tilt of the head. Nonverbal communication is not just something we do to show how we are feeling, but we also depend on our interpretations of it when we interact with each other.
Nonverbal communication includes body language, tone of voice and facial expressions, all of which can be misinterpreted. When nonverbal cues are misinterpreted, it can create conflict in a relationship. For example, if you share a deep secret with your best friend, and she frowns at you, you might interpret that as disapproval — even though she may have been frowning in concentration. If you cross your arms while talking to your boss, you might just be cold — but your boss might see that as a sign that you disagree with him. If you speak to your lover in a sarcastic tone, he might become defensive — even if the actual words spoken were not accusatory.
Nonverbal communication can also cause you to feel uncomfortable around another person, even if the communication is not misinterpreted. For example, if your friend stands very close to you to hear you talk, you might feel as if he is invading your personal space. If your partner’s tone of voice seems sarcastic, but his words aren’t, you still might feel like he is making fun of you. The important thing to remember is that most of the time, it isn’t intentional. Much of our nonverbal communication is unconscious. In some cases, we don’t meant to do it, but we can’t really communicate effectively without it.
Nonverbal communication can be incredibly reassuring. A warm smile thrown your way when you are trying to apologize for something, a light touch on your arm when you are sharing something difficult, a soft tone of voice or even a step toward you are all ways that nonverbal communication can increase closeness between two people in a relationship. This type of nonverbal communication complements the message the speaker is trying to convey.
When nonverbal communication is used to accent a message, it can enhance understanding. If you are in a negotiation with a coworker, and you see him nodding, this is a clue that you are probably on the right track. If your boss is telling you about something he feels strongly about, and he pounds the desk for emphasis, this is an indication that you should take what he’s talking about seriously. If your significant other tells you he is fine with you going away for the weekend, but his voice is shaky and he is frowning, you might want to probe a bit further because these things tell you that there is something else going on with his feelings about your trip. In most cases, nonverbal communication is not something that is easy to fake, according to HelpGuide.org, so it’s important to pay attention to what the body, tone of voice and facial expressions are telling you.
A stent is a wire mesh tube that holds an artery open when there is a blockage affecting blood flow. A blockage is caused by a fatty deposit, and a piece of the deposit can break off and cause a heart attack or stroke. Stent placement is an invasive procedure that requires close monitoring immediately after it is performed. Your doctor can tell you when it is safe to exercise after stent placement.
During an angioplasty or stent procedure, your doctor inserts a small, flexible tube called a catheter through an artery in your groin, leg or arm. A dye is injected so blood flow through the artery can be monitored by the doctor performing the procedure. A balloon catheter and then a stent are moved to the blockage location. The balloon is inflated to open the artery containing the blockage, then deflated and removed with the stent left in place.
After a stent is placed, you are normally prescribed an anti-clotting medication for a period to avoid life-threatening blood clots. Any injury received during exercise can be dangerous when you are on this type of medication, so you want to discuss appropriate physical activity with your doctor. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute indicates that you should avoid vigorous exercise and heavy lifting for a short time after a stent procedure. Your doctor can tell you when physical activity is safe.
Engaging in exercise after having a stent placed may cause some anxiety. The extent of exercise varies depending on your current physical shape and medical condition. If you have been active in the past, there is probably no reason you can’t resume your normal level of activity following stent placement. Slowly beginning a moderate exercise regimen may be advisable as it promotes heart health. Always consult your doctor before doing any type of exercise.
For the past several years, runners who have benefited from medical technology have been selected to run in the Medtronic Global Heroes Program as part of the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. In 2009, the program’s captain — Alberto Salazar, who was a heart patient himself — encouraged runners who had stents to apply. Salazar confirmed with Medtronic that people with coronary stents were eligible to apply if there was no current untreated heart disease.
Football is a hard-hitting sport at times, where brute force is often needed to obtain goals on the field. However, when it comes to throwing or kicking the ball downfield, pure strength will not always give you the best results. The flight angle of the ball can greatly affect how far it travels through the air, so understanding what flight path is best for a given situation will help you hit your mark more consistently as a quarterback or kicker.
You can measure the best launch angle for horizontal distance with a football throw or kick by finding out how far it travels over fixed time intervals. According to the physics department of the University of Illinois, the football will always travel the same horizontal distance over a fixed time interval regardless of the flight angle as long as the forward velocity of the ball, or its speed in a specific direction, remains constant.
The vertical distance, or height, of the ball when thrown or kicked increases when you launch it at a greater angle. As the ball travels upward on its parabolic flight path, the vertical distance it travels decreases because the vertical velocity is decreasing against the push of gravity. At the peak of the ball arc, the vertical velocity reaches zero and the ball no longer gains distance. As gravity then pulls the ball back to earth, the vertical distance over a set time period increases until the ball hits the earth. The higher the launch angle of the ball, the more vertical velocity and the less horizontal velocity it has.
All football quarterbacks strive to throw the football with a perfect spiral through the air because it minimizes air resistance. However, a 2007 study by physics researchers at California State University Fullerton notes that there will always be a slight torque produced on the ball along its rotational axis because of the quarterback¡¯s fingers pulling it down to begin the spiral. Even the slightest wobble in the spiral can reduce horizontal velocity, which in turn can reduce the overall horizontal distance of a throw launched at the perfect angle.
Associate professor of physics at Brooklyn College, Peter J. Brancazio, states in the ¡°The Physics of Sports, Volume 1¡± that when comparing net yardage gained in a kick, the best launch angle for a kickoff is 45 degrees and the best angle for a punt is 60 degrees. This is because a 45-degree angle produces optimal horizontal distance, while a 60-degree angle gives the best combination of horizontal distance and vertical distance, or hang time. Similarly, the University of Tennessee states that the best throwing angle for maximum horizontal distance is 45 degrees.
From 1996 through 2012, Ray Lewis was one of the best and most feared linebackers in the National Football League. He was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice, a first team All-Pro selection seven times and was chosen for 13 Pro Bowl games. Lewis attributed his success, in part, to his work ethic and intense workout routine, which combined old-school exercises with his own innovations.
Lewis¡¯s workouts are intense, but not purely scientific. One of his training methods — which he began as a boy but was still following as a pro — was to pick cards out of a deck and perform pushups in accordance with each card. If he drew a 7, for example, he¡¯d do seven pushups. A face card was worth 10 pushups, an ace 25 and a joker 50. He¡¯d proceed through the entire deck, shuffle the cards and then do the same workout, but with situps. In his NFL days, he went through three decks of cards for each exercise.
Lewis preferred functional exercises with athletic applications to working on machines. One of his staple workouts involved running on sand while wearing a 45-pound weight vest. The warmup included 100 jumping jacks plus 100 squats, while wearing the vest. He¡¯d then space three cones 10 yards from each other along the sand and perform a variety of sprints. For example, he¡¯d line up 10 yards in front of the first cone and sprint to the cone, back to his starting line and then return to the cone. After repeating the exercise four times, he¡¯d perform five 20-yard sprints and five 30-yard sprints.
When Lewis left the beach and hit the gym he preferred dumbbell and body-weight exercises. A sample workout may include four sets each of incline and flat-bench presses, shrugs and rows, three sets of lying triceps extensions plus two sets each of front and lateral raises, biceps and cross-body curls, hanging leg raises and hanging oblique crunches. Lewis performed each set to failure.
Lewis performed 60-minute workouts at least three times per day, five days per week during the offseasons when he played in the NFL. He put in about 90 minutes of rest between sessions. He performed abdominal and core workouts each day — for example, he did between 2,500 and 3,000 ab rollouts per week, using a steel ab wheel. He also performed plyometric bounds.
Warming up before a game or practice helps prepare you physically and mentally for exercise and competition. Before running hard, throwing deep passes and tackling opponents on the football field, you should be warmed up and loose to avoid injury and increase physical ability. It also allows for quicker muscle contraction and relaxation, increased force production, better reaction time, improved muscular power and strength, increased blood flow to muscles and enhanced metabolic reactions.
Football players need to loosen up their hips, backs, shoulders and leg muscles before engaging in practice or playing a game. The NSCA recommends dynamic stretching prior to any physical activity. It actively prepares the muscles, warms up the body and takes the muscles through their full range of motion. Dynamic stretching is a functionally based exercise that uses sport-specific movements to prepare the body for activity. While players are lined up, have them perform: walking knee hugs to stretch the hips and glutes, walking leg pulls behind the back to stretch the quads, pump stretches for the calves and low back, the Spiderman stretch for the groin and hips and the inchworm stretch for the hamstrings.
After dynamic stretching, proceed to the warm-up. Warm-up motions can involve stretching, too, but are designed to gradually increase heart rate more so. Start with simple motions as jogs, lateral bounds, high-knees, backwards pedal and butt kicks between five and 15 yards, instructs Mike Gentry, author of “A Chance to Win: A Complete Guide to Physical Training for Football.” Have players increase the dynamics of the warm-up by incorporating different motions into one — have them backpedal until they hear the coach’s whistle, signifying that they must quickly turn and run the rest of the distance forward.
Move to specific warm-ups, or, in this case, position drills. This can be a good transition into the practice itself. It will also bring players together for specific questions and last-minute tweaks with their position coaches before the game. During this warm-up time, for example, running backs practice their steps and hand-offs, defensive lineman practice engaging and releasing from blocks, and quarterback and receivers go over passing routes.
Static stretching before practice or a game is traditional habit for sport, but may not be beneficial — or even detrimental — to athletic performance. The NSCA reports that static stretching before activity can compromise muscle performance. Static stretching prior to activity has been shown to decrease force production, power output, running speed, movement time and muscular endurance — all integral components of performing well, physically and skillfully, in the game of football. Static stretching after activity is more practical, and will allow the muscles to cool down and relax after engaging in exercise.
Feeling your muscles cramp is like painful knots that just won’t relax. Determining the cause of the muscle cramp, though, may be a bit more elusive. Several causes may be at the root of the problem, such as trauma, disease, fatigue, over-stretching, dehydration and possible mineral imbalances. Prior to taking vitamins or mineral supplements to alleviate the discomfort, get approval from your doctor first.
In a 1974 study, 42 men and 83 women received daily doses of 400 IU of vitamin E for moderate to severe, nocturnal leg cramps. After just one week, of all the recipients of vitamin E, only two did not experience any appreciable change, noted the article by Dr. Samuel Ayres Jr. and Dr. Richard Mihan in the “Southern Medical Journal.” The study explained that along with the antioxidant effect, vitamin E also facilitates oxygen uptake in metabolism which may be the reason of such positive results. The recommended dietary allowance, RDA, for adults taking vitamin E is 22.5 IU, although the tolerable upper intake level, UL, is 1,500 IU.
Of the 25 g of magnesium in your body, 27 percent is in your muscles, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Magnesium deficiency may be more common than realized, which may present in muscle cramping, states a 1996 article by D. L. Bilbey and V. M. Prabhakaran in journal “Canadian Family Physician.” Magnesium is necessary for over 300 metabolic functions, including the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, protein synthesis and the moving of calcium and potassium in and out of cells. The RDA for adults for magnesium is 310 to 420 mg per day.
The 1 percent of calcium found in your blood and tissues must be kept at a very tight tolerance to maintain blood and fluid levels around the cells. This is necessary for the relaxing and constricting of blood vessels, transmission of nerve impulses and muslce contraction. Muscles and nerves contain electrical-dependent channels necessary for quick changes in calcium concentrations, that control muscle contractions. The RDA for adults for calcium is 1,000 to 1,200 mg per day.
During a two day training camp for college football players, evidence shows that there is greater sodium loss in players prone to cramping, as opposed to players who are not, according to a 2005 study by J.R. Stofan and colleagues in the “International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.” Sodium is tightly regulated by your body. It is essential in numerous processes necessary for your survival and is crucial for the transmission of nerve impulses and muscle contractions. The RDA for an adult for sodium is 1.3 g per day. The RDA for sodium chloride, or salt, is 3.3 g per day.
On a pain scale of one to 10, new shoe blisters probably rank somewhere around a 12. You know when buying any new pair of shoes, it¡¯s important to break them in before taking them on the road. But beyond the simple fact of pain, synthetic cleats in particular need to be broken in to prevent the likelihood of injury on the playing field, as well as to establish a good fit. If you play any sport in which you require precise footwork, which covers just about everything but water polo, a pair of well broken-in cleats can help to keep you from muscle pain, blisters and movement restraint.
Covering any part of your foot that frequently blisters in new shoes — usually, toes and the back of the heel — with petroleum jelly will help keep your feet from creating friction with the shoe. This friction is what causes blisters. Also, wear two pairs of socks, preferably cotton. The double layer of cotton will help to absorb the petroleum jelly, while also loosening the material of the cleats
Bringing both new cleats and old cleats to practice is a wise strategy. Wear the new cleats at the beginning, and switch gears with the old cleats if you notice a change in your level of comfort during the game. Don¡¯t jump into the deep end here — it¡¯s important to move slowly as you get used to the new cleats. You also want to twist and turn the cleats on the practice field a few times in order to help soften the material, which will allow your foot to move with better dexterity than you would otherwise be able to in a stiff shoe.
Many pros use use a warm-water technique that allows the synthetic material to expand, giving you some room in the shoe. Put your feet, shoes included, into warm water and wait for about half an hour, letting the shoes dry naturally as you wear them. You can also rub your cleats with petroleum as soon as dry. This will keep the material from splintering down the line, and will keep the exterior of your shoes moisturized.
After you wear them, try not to leave your cleats in your bag. Instead, fill the inside of the shoe with balled-up newspaper and place them in a room that has a moderate temperature — not too hot and not too cold. The newspaper will allow your shoe to keep the shape of your foot, even when your foot is not inside it, and will help to keep the shoe¡¯s interior dry.
With so many sports statistics available online these days, it’s not uncommon to see an abbreviation you don’t recognize. One such statistic in football is PRK, sometimes abbreviated as RK, which can mean player rank or position rank. This statistic is very significant, because it can tell you a lot about a player in relation to the rest of the league.
PRK can tell you how a particular player is performing against the other players in the league. This ranking is usually based around one key statistic; for example, a quarterback’s PRK might be based on quarterback rating, whereas a running back’s PRK is usually based on rushing yards. Most websites will allow you to filter by a specific stat so the PRK will be based on the stat you want to analyze.
The more useful purpose of PRK is to break down which players are the best at their respective positions. Some sites use an overall rank to show which players are the league’s best, then a position rank to indicate the top performers at that position. This is especially useful if you’re looking at a list of an entire player pool, but just want to see who the elite players are at a specific position.
The main use of PRK is in fantasy football, where players must draft and sign real-life players for their fantasy teams. Usually, the player selections are done from a main screen that shows all of the available players to select. PRK can help players to find the best players at the position they want to fill. Because different positions have different levels of value in fantasy football, this stat is essential to having a winning team.
While PRK tends to be a fantasy-centric stat, it does have its purpose in other types of football, such as non-fantasy pro football. For instance, PRK can tell you if your team’s star receiver is one of the league’s best. PRK can also help you to see a player’s contributions outside of his usual skill area, such as a quarterback’s rushing yards or a running back’s receiving statistics.
Getting hit below the belt can go from a euphemism to a hospital stay for male athletes who refuse to wear a protective cup. Whether you’re riding a skateboard, playing a pickup game of basketball or riding a BMX bike, no matter how young or old, you should protect the tender groin area. While the dangers of not wearing a protective cup and jockstrap in some sports may seem obvious, some players still fail to wear them.
Protective cups and jockstraps are two separate entities, although those who wear cups also wear a jockstrap to keep the cup in place. Protective cups consist of a hard outer shell lined with padding that protects a male athlete¡¯s groin area. Jockstraps, also called athletic supporters, are similar to underwear — at least in the front. The supporter has an open back with straps and a snug-fitting front pouch that keeps everything in place.
Protective cups should be the norm for hard-hitting sports with speedy objects, such as hockey pucks. Cups are also necessary in hockey, football, baseball, rugby, lacrosse, soccer, mixed martial arts and other contact sports. Jockstraps are best for sports that involve running and jostling but not necessarily contact with a projectile or other players. They apply in basketball, inline skating and even bicycling over uneven terrain.
Even professional athletes can be stubborn when it comes to wearing a cup, and at least two ended up in the hospital in 2010 because they eschewed the protective gear. Hockey player Sami Salo of the Vancouver Canucks took a puck in the groin while blocking a shot during a game against the Chicago Blackhawks, NHL Fanhouse reports. There was no official diagnosis although there were murmurings of a ruptured testicle. Tampa Bay Rays baseball player Carl Crawford was leaning off first base when a ball bounced up and smacked him between the legs, according to the Associated Press. His hospital diagnosis was a testicular contusion.
Despite his injury, Crawford said he has never worn a protective cup and was not planning to change his ways, AP reported. He said a cup is too restrictive. Other professional athletes also shun the cup, Slate reports. Some pro football players say the protective cup restricts their playing ability and speed. While adjusting to wearing a protective cup takes a little time, the majority of athletes are able to maintain a high level of play despite its supposed shortcomings. A serious injury to the groin, with the possibility of becoming sterile as a result, isn’t worth the risk of not wearing proper protective gear like a cup and jock strap.