For the football fans in the U.S., our glut of football excitement is about to run out. The NCAA football season ended when Alabama beat LSU. The NFL playoffs are in full swing and soon the Super Bowl will be played and over. So as to not forget our neighbors to the north, the CFL offseason is well underway. Of course, just because the season is over doesn’t mean that things are any less hectic for the coaches, players, and support personnel. No matter what level you are at, this is the period to get better. Coaches are looking for better players through scouting and recruiting. Even high school coaches scour the hallways looking to encourage a “diamond in the rough” to play next year. As for players, they are all (or should be) working to get better. This is the time of year to improve strength, power, and athletic skills so that they can be a better player. This can be just in preparation for next season, or it can be to get ready for various combines and tryouts. It is a very busy time of year for all involved.
If you are a player, right now you should be on a solid program to develop you strength, power, speed, agility, flexibility, balance, and coordination. If you aren’t, you are going to miss out. You will miss out on the chance to excel on the field and possibly miss out on a scholarship or pro contract. Years ago most players didn’t train during the off-season. Nowadays, if you don’t train during the off-season, you probably won’t see the field during the season. If you ask the guys from Alabama, LSU, or any other major college football program, this is when they start to get ready for next year. It doesn’t start in August, it starts now. They lift weights, run agility drills, and do anything else that is necessary to get better. So what should you (or your players) be doing during January?
3 Keys During The Off-season
- Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate – Every player should be evaluated at this time of year. It is true that it helps to re-test them in their 40, vertical jump, clean, etc. In addition, it is a good time to eval individual players for lingering injury issues, strength and flexibility imbalances, etc. Whether you use a formal system like the Functional Movement Screen or do something different, you need to try to pinpoint any problems that each individual may need to work on. If you don’t do it while you have time to, you won’t do it at all. If these problems don’t get fixed, they will limit the development of the player.
- A solid program – Every player should be placed on a solid strength and conditioning program. It should be well thought out and should include phases that will develop hypertrophy, strength, and power in the weightroom. It should also include plenty of flexibility, speed, and agility work. Just lining up to run sprints isn’t really speed work. I mean form and technique work. It takes a lot of reps to make a change permanent. Get started now.
- Team bonding / competition work – This is also the time to begin to include some team bonding activities. They don’t have to be every day, but there is a long time from now until August. Start to include them now to help your team develop the chemistry that the need to succeed. As for competition, that can be worked into drills and other off-season activities. Some kids don’t have the competitive fire that they should. This can be developed but again, it should start now.