What Are the Health Benefits of Being a Football Player?
Football is a dangerous game because of the high speed and collisions. Players regularly suffer knee, shoulder and ankle injuries and the possibility of catastrophic injury is one that players and their families must consider. Players prepare to play football by getting in excellent physical condition. Despite the dangers, football players enjoy greater strength and cardiovascular health, not only during the regular playing season, but during the off-season when in training.
Football players work on improving their cardiovascular condition throughout the season. One of the ways this is done is with interval sprint training. Coaches line their players up at the goal line and sprint to the 10-yard line and back, the 20-yard line and back, the 30-yard line and back and then the 40-yard line and back. After completing these sprints, players get a one-minute break and repeat the sprints.
All football players lift weights and do exercises to get stronger. This is especially essential for linemen and linebackers. Lifting free weights helps players build explosive strength, and some of the top strength-building exercises include the bench press, arm curls, dead lifts and lunges. Players also do pushups, burpees and bear crawls to build strength that can be used in games. When players increase their strength and power levels, they can make explosive movements on the field that can increase the likelihood of big plays.
The most effective players are the ones who have the most speed and quickness. This is especially true of running backs, wide receivers and defensive backs. Increasing speed can be done by running hills, running with resistance and plyometric training. Hill running will build strength and power when you run uphill and balance and technique when running downhill. Resistance training can be provided by running with a parachute attached to your back. Box jumping will give you a significant plyometric workout and build up the key speed-building muscles in your calves, hamstrings and glutes.
Whether a player is a starter or a bench-warmer in football, going through the process of training to get ready for a full season is a confidence builder. You will go through strenuous workouts that not everyone can finish successfully. The work you do will help you get bigger, stronger and faster and this will pay off in confidence in everyday life. Walking through your daily activities with confidence can improve your mental outlook and help make you happier and healthier.
Things to Avoid
No matter how much you improve your condition, football remains a dangerous game. This is especially true of players who play at the high school level and above. Players at those levels are fast, strong and powerful, making collisions more violent. Never lead with your helmet when tackling, don't take anabolic steroids to build strength and don't over-train. If you are lifting weights three times per week, you won't get twice as strong by lifting six times per week. That will overwork your muscles and lead to injuries and cause your muscle fibers to breakdown.
- NFL.com: Play 60
- Tony Dungy Seminar; Mundelein, Ill., August, 2010
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.