If any NFL team knows about preparing for a Super Bowl, it's the Pittsburgh Steelers. Founded in 1933, the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC, and they have won more Super Bowl titles [six] and AFC Championships [eight] than any other NFL team.
So what is their formula for getting ready for the big game?
According to Pittsburgh assistant strength and conditioning coach Marcel Pastoor, the Steelers treat the week before like a "normal work week."
"We changed things up a little bit this year though," Pastoor said. "We were less about the primary movements, focusing more on secondary movements. Not big lifts but more smaller lifts that do not exhaust the muscles."
Another aspect of Pittsburgh's preparation is a unique type of stretching, which is a factor in practice throughout the year.
"It's really nothing ground-breaking or earth-shaking, but we focus a lot on dynamic movements," Pastoor said. "We have a 10-minute stretching before and after. We keep the body moving, and the stretches stimulate what the body will go through in the game. Dynamic stretching will increase the blood to the muscles."
Dynamic stretching will be especially important during halftime of Super Bowl XLV.
A normal game halftime is around 12 minutes, but the Super Bowl halftime lasts up to 45 minutes.
"This is a major factor. You can't allow your body to really rest. We keep hydrated and get energy in the body," Pastoor said. "Guys will get IVs for fluids, and we will have bite-sized sandwiches that aren't too heavy or filling, along with fruits. But mainly we'll stick to the normal routine."
While the Steelers may stick to their routine for practice, environmental factors do require some changes to their standard agenda.
"We're used to playing in below freezing weather, so during the game we will be playing in almost a 72-degree temperature increase," Pastoor said. "Because it will be drastically warmer, we increase the athletes' salt, water and Gatorade intake. This allows the athletes to keep their bodies up to peak performance."
Though Pastoor credits all these strategies as factors in the Steelers' success, remaining focused is still the most important element in preparing for a big game. He said, "You have to remember, it's business time and not allow outside distractions. This is not a vacation. Athletes still have to stick to their schedule of hitting the cold tub, healthy eating and acupuncture."
According to Pastoor, who is coaching in his third Super Bowl, athletes who incorporate these routines into their game preparation will find success.
Samantha Jones is a guest reporter from the University of Alabama. She is embedded with the Steelers as they look to take home their record-setting seventh Super Bowl championship.
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