Training Camp

How To Maintain Health Through Training Camp

Training camp is a very important time of the year for coaches and front offices to evaluate their teams, in preparation for the regular season. While you encourage high levels of competition to bring the best out of each player, it is key to balance that competition by monitoring levels of activity to keep as many people healthy as you can. 

 

Strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi spoke with The 33rd Team about his detailed approach to training camp activities. 

The Big Picture of Training Camp 

Everything that you do depends on everything else. The training period leading up to the practice period is very important as far as preventing injuries during camp. The volume and intensity when beginning practices must be indicative of the previous training period. 

 

Don’t Make These Mistakes in the Offseason

  1. It is very difficult in a five-week offseason training program to address the strength needs with minimal volume and intensity in terms of running. It takes about 3-4 weeks to establish “running power” in a training environment, and it takes 3-4 weeks to turn that running power into running capacity. You need to give guys proper rest time to achieve this running power and capacity. 
  2. Do not use a Monday-Thursday phase schedule. While it is a simple and easy structure and teams like to give players three-day weekends if you really want to maximize performance and player health, it is not the best approach. It is a really hard schedule to have four intensive days consecutively. It is much better to train hard for two, recover for one, then train hard for two again. 
  3. Having a virtual phase one to the offseason process is troubling for a training staff. Nowadays you have players going off to different cities to work with different trainers, but when the strength and conditioning coaches do not see their guys until phase two, everyone will be a step behind. 

 

How to Properly Manage a Week of Training

The biggest mistake you can make as a team is coming in on the first Monday of training camp, OTAs, or whatever phase you are in and going too fast. If you operate this way you will inevitably have a decrease in intensity as the week goes on because it will be impossible to replicate the intensity of that first day. 

 

The second problem with that practice schedule is that Sundays, which would be rest days and the least activity of any day, are followed by Mondays which are the highest intensity. This is not a good strategy because it creates fatigue for the next couple of practices. 

 

When you decrease activity as the weeks progress, by the end of the camp the speed of your players will exponentially decrease. 

 

What Does an Optimal Week of Training Look Like?

Monday should be primarily an install day with little intensity. Tuesday should be your second-biggest practice of the week. Wednesday would be a recovery and classroom day. Thursday is the big practice and then you give a recovery option on Friday, tapering the volume as the weekend approaches. 

 

It is important for coaches to implement these different levels of intensity throughout the week. This might look like having a lower intensity of routes on air, progressing to short and intermediate routes and red zone work, and then having long-yardage routes be your highest intensity level. 

 

The load or intensity on your skill position players depends on the distance that they accelerate. 

 

The Weight Room

Just as there needs to be a regimented schedule for activity on the football field, there also needs to be one for the weight room. Lineman and linebackers should be lifting in the mornings before meetings, and skill players should lift after practice. Training staffs should also balance the specific workouts that each player does based on their position. 

 

You must also prioritize regeneration days during the workout schedule. This does not mean simply throwing some guys on bikes while others watch. Have just as much attention to detail in regards to health regeneration and recovery as much as anything else that you do.