Don't Make This Football In-Season Training Mistake

STACK Expert Rick Scarpulla focuses on the most common and biggest mistake made by high school football players and coaches.

Off-season strength training has become part of the normal routine for high school football players, and most coaches push their athletes hard to get in the weight room, providing them with the best programs they can find. Many players go to training facilities like mine (Ultimate Advantage) or hire coaches such as myself to help their teams increase their athleticism and get faster and stronger.

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Yet, I see it over and over each summer: once the pre-season starts with two-a-days in early August, many teams make a critical mistake. They simply abandon the weight room. Many athletes take the field in August looking fast and strong, but as the season rolls on, they get weaker and slower. Instead of going into the stretch of the season gaining momentum, they do the total opposite.

All the gains the players made in the off-season are long gone by playoff time in November. Let's look at it like this: In July, you woke up at 9:00 a.m., ate a good breakfast, went to the gym and trained for two hours. You ate a big lunch, had a protein shake and then hung out and rested by the pool with your girlfriend until dinner time, when you ate a nice dinner your mom made. Then you went out and shot hoops or went to the field and ran. You were in bed by 11:30 p.m. and got a great night's sleep. Sounds like a nice day for an athlete.

That, my friends, is how you make maximum gains.

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Now that you're back to school, you're up at 6:00 a.m. You eat little or no breakfast because you're running late. You get to school—where there's no food until 11:30, when you eat a cheap school lunch. After classes, you go to practice and don't get home until 6:00 p.m., when you finally get to eat a real meal. Next is homework, and you're on the computer until 11.

You now have inadequate food and protein intake. You are sleep-deprived and  you don't even think about the weight room. Compound that with the fact that you are burning more calories each day. Do this for a few months, and bingo! You are the epitome of the shrinking athlete.

Think of it like this: You lay out in the sun all summer and got a great tan. Then you stopped going in the sun, and by Halloween, your tan is long gone. Try not eating. What happens? Obviously, you will lose weight and become sickly real quick. Nice hair cut. But if you don't go to the barber for a few months, that nice edged fresh cut becomes a mop. So what makes you think if you stop training and lower your calorie and protein intake, that you can perform well?

RELATED: Leave These Exercises Out of Your In-Season Football Workout

Do you really think for one second that if you don't train and adjust your sleep and food intake while racking your brain in classrooms all day that you will gain momentum?

What's the answer? Get back in the weight room and do a two-day-a-week 45-45 program. You must keep training your strength and speed. Every pro and college program keeps training and so must you. If you don't, you will not only get slower and weaker as the season moves along, your chance of injury will increase. As much as weight training helps you with speed and strength, it's also the best way to prevent injuries. Coaches, make sure to make time for your athletes to lift and do some footwork. It will pay off in the long run for sure.

Save the excuses for someone else. I am not interested in them. You can find a way to work out 45 minutes twice weekly. This is by far the most common and biggest mistake made by high school football players and coaches. Coaches wonder why their teams aren't where they were at the beginning of the season. Now they know.

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