NFL Training Camps: How Supplements, Workouts & Drills Bring Results

The National Football League (NFL) is one of the most brutal competitions around, with players required to put their bodies through the mill throughout the season.

Preparation is undoubtedly the to success in American Football, and NFL franchises generally leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of glory.

NFL training camps are famed for their toughness, providing players with the tools they need to perform at peak levels during the campaign.

Cutting corners is not an option during the NFL off-season, and the teams who fail to put in the hard yards are always found out when the action gets underway.

Read on as we take a closer look at some of the critical elements of NFL training camps and assess how they help to deliver better long-term results.

Workouts

Most NFL players engage in fitness activities before training camps get underway, to ensure that they are not caught out by their intensive nature.

There is generally an introductory meeting on the first day designed to highlight team expectations, the camp schedule and aspirations for the season as a whole.

Team-bonding is a feature of the early stages of the camp, although early morning starts once the camps begin soon focus the mind.

Most teams run two practices per day averaging around two hours each. The first concentrates on getting players familiar with the playbook, while the second is more physically taxing.

The latter sessions are often viewed as ‘old school’, with coaches using exercises like the bench press, Romanian deadlifts and ladder drills to boost core fitness.

For speed and agility, cable-resisted physio-ball crunches and workouts in sand have been proven to deliver results during the NFL season.

The beach or sand dunes are ideal for providing resistance, helping players develop quick feet and that all-important change-of-direction ability.

Squats are used to build strength while also improving balance and stability, although it is essential to perform these properly to avoid suffering knee damage.

Former NFL linebacker, Ryan Riddle, previously gave an in-depth insight into the rigours of preparing for a new season. Although the camps were tough, he looks back on them with fondness.

“Each year the fight to survive another season begins under the sweltering summer sun,” he said. “The days are long, the pain is real, and the pressure is incredible,

“The training camp in general may have been difficult, and I may have dreaded the thought of it, but I will still forever cherish those days out in the sun, smelling the freshly cut grass and looking up at the sky through my face mask.

“Even then, I knew the view through those bars would one day be a distant memory – gone forever.”

Supplementation

In a sport where muscle mass can be beneficial, it is little wonder that many of its athletes boast a strong-looking physique.

Training, exercise, nutrition and recovery are amongst the elements that make up an NFL training regime, but supplementation has also become increasingly prominent over the past few years.

Many NFL stars take supplements to meet their dietary needs and performance requirements to give themselves the best opportunity of reaching peak physical condition.

Protein, amino acids, creatine and nitric oxide boosters are just some of the supplementation products used by players in the NFL.

Six-time Pro-Bowler, Brandon Marshall, is an advocate of the benefits of supplementation used correctly when used to support a healthy lifestyle.

He recently launched the ‘House of Athlete’ brand dedicated to support and enhance physical and mental health for athletes.

Their range includes a premium range of all-natural supplements – mental fitness, immunity, rest, whey protein and vegan protein – that are set in the brand’s core values.

“There’s five things that we hang our hat on, our pillars,” he told CBS. “If everyone adopts these five things, they will be their best selves. Train, fuel correctly — and that’s macronutrients and supplementation — be mentally fit, recover and tribe.

“No-one has ever made it to the top by themselves, so we believe those are the five things we have to educate the athlete on. There’s an athlete in everyone, and if they can build that into their routine it becomes a lifestyle.

“We’re just taking that professional athlete — or the athlete in general — and putting this into this entire program, giving it to the everyday athlete.”

Drills

Much like during the NFL Draft, many teams use a series of drills to determine the progress of their players during the gruelling training camps.

These will be largely based around core fitness elements such as running, jumping, shuttles, directional and bench press.

Cross-sport training drills are also popular, with many teams using facets of combat sports and gymnastics to improve player performance.

Two-minute drills – where teams simulate the last 120 seconds of the game – are also an integral part of NFL training camps.

However, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick takes a different approach, providing one-on-one instruction to his roster during training camps.

He was once famously spotted firing a blocking pad at quarterback Tom Brady, testing his ability to feel the pass rush without looking at it.

Whereas the Draft process is heavily reliant on set fitness drills to determine a player’s worth, Belichick believes it does not prepare them for the demands of the NFL.

“I think that’s a huge mistake that a lot of those players make, but I’m sure they have their reasons for doing it,” Belichick said.

“We’re training our players to play football, not to go through a bunch of those February drills. Yeah, our training is football intensive. We train them to get ready to play and ultimately that’s what they’re going to do.

“Maybe for some of those guys another activity in between or a pro day or whatever it is, but in the end, they’re going to make their career playing football.

“We already know that with our guys, and we don’t have to deal with any of that other stuff. We just train them for football. I think it’s huge.”

AFI
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