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When you consider all the things your coach tells you that you need to improve on, you may be overwhelmed. Even coaches struggle with where to fit it all in. Improving your athletic ability takes patience and persistence—two qualities successful athletes, coaches and programs hold in high regard.
Use the template below to help you develop your off-season, pre-season and in-season training program to maximize your time so you can improve all aspects of your game.
Foam rolling relaxes the fascia and musculature of the body. It releases tight spots (adhesions) that limit mobility and that cause muscle discomfort or soreness. Applying pressure with a foam roller helps eliminate soreness, thus increasing range of motion. (Learn more about foam rolling benefits.)
Before starting any workout, remember to warm up and stretch properly. Take five to ten minutes to get your heart rate and breathing rate up. This prepares your body to perform intense exercise at your max, while reducing the chance you will sustain an injury caused by overworking a cold muscle. (Try this dynamic warm-up.)
Ab/Low Back and Weak Link Program
Make time to work on areas that need improvement. After breaking a sweat, spend 10 to 15 minutes training what is commonly referred to as the "core," which includes the head, neck, upper back, rotator cuffs, hips, grip and ankles. (Do this neck workout.)
Agility and Jump/Landing
Focus on your ability to change body position or direction rapidly. Agility is influenced by balance, coordination, center of gravity, running speed and skill. It can be improved by practicing for a specific sport, but also by improving individual elements of speed, balance, power and coordination. Throughout an agility program, include both jumping and landing drills to enhance your athleticism.
The demands of running a series of sprints are different from running in a game situation. Running you do in the off-season is designed to get you in good enough shape to start practice. The only way to get into shape for games is to experience the demands on the body in game situations. The more closely your conditioning can simulate the demands of practices or games, the more likely it will transfer.
Begin with the largest muscles of the body and focus on quality versus quantity. The intensity of the muscular contraction is critical for success. Make continued progress and vary your workouts to offer a constant challenge for your muscles. (Try this football conditioning workout.)
The use of static stretching, stretch bands or a PNF program after a workout should not be taken lightly. (Learn more about stretching.) Stretching for fifteen minutes each day will increase the resting length of your muscles, restore normal range of movement, encourage proper blood flow and increase your power during strength exercises.
Exercise depletes the energy stored in your muscles. A high-carbohydrate diet will replenish your energy stores so you can perform at your best. After exercise, your body's ability to store glycogen is at its peak. (Follow these post-workout meal guidelines.)
Massage/Trigger Point Therapy
Immediately after practice—or even in front of the TV a bit later—spend 15 minutes massaging your muscles to keep them limber and ready for the next training session.
Get on a schedule. Make sure you are in bed early enough to get seven to 10 hours of sleep per night. And never underestimate the benefits of a "power nap." Take a nap whenever you can fit one in during the day.