Ready To Meet The Challenge

Ready To Meet The Challenge

FOOTBALL - Exercises and Health

Tips for Athletes to get in shape and stay in shape.
"The Off-Season Makes the Athlete's In-Season."




SPORTS BUILD CHARACTER. This may sound like a coach’s old cliché, but for anyone who has been there and worked to meet and/or exceed the challenge, it is no cliché – it’s life. And where better to start out on your sports journey than in high school interscholastic athletic competition.

Sure, towns offer recreational sports for children, and there are travel programs for those kids of more ambitious parents. But the real life lessons of sports and the winning and losing really do not start to take hold of the psyche until the early teens. Except perhaps for the Little League World Series, everything prior to high school is simply kid's play. And in high school sports is where you really have the most fun playing and competing.

And as the old saying goes about getting only one chance to make a first impression, we tell our children they will only get one chance to play high school sports, so make the most of it and be the best that they can be. (Did the Army trademark that? It certainly works for us here.) We are very fortunate that our children have more than lived up to any expectations we could have had with their level of effort, team commitment, and success.

But in order to be a successful athlete, off-season conditioning is a must. Great athletes are made in the off-season. Larry Bird (Boston Celtics basketball great) would shoot 100 foul shots daily, in season and out. Roger Clemens (currently Houston Astros pitcher) attributes his strength and longevity to a rigorous off-season weight lifting program. He is still in the pitcher starting rotation as a 44-year-old.

So what will be emphasized here is conditioning, especially in the off-season, primarily exercises in the weight room to build muscle mass. Other conditioning is required to ensure speed, quickness, coordination, and cardiovascular development, which need to be maintained to improve the overall performance of the athlete during competiton. And the more rigorous the competition, the greater the effort in the off-season to gain and maintain the winning edge. Giving your all in competition is when you have the most fun participating.

Although the main weight training program will be geared primarily toward football, variations for other sports and training techniques will be mixed into the discussion where appropriate. There certainly are many theories of training techniques and different programs one could employ to be successful. And of course the most successful part of any program is showing up at the gym on a regular basis.

But hard work, a positive attitude, clean living, and dedication will pay off for the person who strives to be a great athlete. And remember:

"If You Think You Can't, You're Right!"

So be confident in your abilities and your desire to improve yourself. Learn from yesterday's mistakes, enjoy today's successes, and work to improve yourself for tomorrow's challenges. And don't allow any negative thoughts to interfere with your plans!

BLANK FORM 2005-2006 Weight Training Program Download this blank form to keep track of progress in your weight training program. The amount of weight you use should increase slowly, and the number of reps should also vary almost weekly, if not daily. This chart will measure your progress. Keep the numbers diligently so you can track your success. It is important to see your progress and meet personal goals.

1. GOOD WEIGHT TRAINING HABITS: The best way to start off a weight training program is to do it correctly from the beginning. Learn good habits at the start and get the most from your gym time.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: The author is providing this information based upon his more than 40 years of experience in sports and weight lifting. Starting a weight training program in the 1960s to improve performance on the athletic field, he continues a training program today to maintain particular musculoskeletal structures to prevent deterioration. His only claim to expertise is the many hours spent in a weight room, running on the track, jogging miles on the road for training (incuding many, many miles with a 40-pound weight vest to increase stamina), and going up and down hills and stadium steps to improve himself as an athlete.

It was hard work that allowed him to go from the number 11 quarterback on the high school depth chart (big schools have that luxury) as a sophomore to the starting quarterback as a junior. Being considered too small and too slow to play major college football did not prevent him from succeeding as a walk-on at Georgia Tech, earning an NCAA scholarship as a wide receiver. After very successful red-shirt and sophomore years, and moving into an alternating starting spot, he unfortunately suffered a career-ending injury Spring of his junior year. For the love of the sport, and the true joy and pleasure to compete at such a level, he continued to participate to the full extent the injury would allow, and remained on full scholarship to graduation.

Isometrics, isotonics, dumbbells and free-weights, Nautilus and Universal Gym equipment, circuit training, powerlifting, etc., are all techniques and equipment used and tested over the years to improve his athletic prowess. Through memberships in many health clubs, exercise gyms, school gyms, 12 years a member of the Georgia Tech Barbell Club, and several YMCAs, he was always seeking a venue to move iron and steel. He was the epitome of a gym rat in every sense of the word, always studying and trying the latest techniques to improve his performance, and NEVER EVER going the foolish route of illegal enhancers.

Anyone who lifted weights in many of the old YMCA settings can certainly appreciate the graphic description of the true gym rat. Primarily free-weights and dumbbells, the workout room would be fifteen feet wide at the entrance door, then twenty feet away it angled down to three feet wide - just wide enough to fit in a dip exercise rack on the narrow wall. It was cold and drafty in the winter, hot and stuffy in the summer, and of course there were no windows. On a good week, there would be two light bulbs working to illuminate the room. This was well before the workout craze of the late 1970s with glass and mirror enclosed workout areas, air conditioning and real heat!

To emphasize the quality of the exercise program, and put into perspective the success of the workout routine, pound for pound the author was considered the strongest player and one of the quickest on the Georgia Tech football team, bench pressing twice his weight and running an unofficial 4.4 seconds in the 40 yard dash. (This was 1970, and the coach claimed no one could run that fast, so it couldn't be correct! Yet the author ran against the starting safety in the same heat who ran 4.6 seconds, and beat him by at least two yards.)

Further, in 1979 while the author was in graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, a scout from the former Baltimore Colts showed enough interest in the still fleet-footed wide receiver, then working out with the Penn football players, to offer a free agent contract to try out. Here speed, quickness, and the skills of a seasoned wide receiver were the incentive for the offer, but questionable durability from the old injury was the dominating factor for declining the offer.

Therefore any athlete who considers using the suggestions in this program does so at his own risk of success by increasing his athleticism, learning how to better himself in the off-season, how to make himself a better competitor during the season, and learning to appreciate the real joys of competing at a higher level of competition. Good Luck!

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