Have you ever wondered how NFL players get ready for games? These athletes need to be in great physical condition ahead of every game, and that means a lot of thought goes into getting them ready.
What are some of the key elements of training that they can’t afford to miss?
Basic Training During the Week
In the early part of the week, most teams will look at practicing the basic techniques needed in a football game. So that means blocking, tackling, and so on. However, even before this, Monday is usually for recovering from the last game and getting treatment for injuries if required. The coaches will often spend Monday reviewing videos of the last game before looking ahead to assess their next opponent.
As the week progresses, players need to practice their drills for the next game, getting ready to handle the specific challenges that the opponent presents. Coaches like to set a routine for the season, and that includes giving everyone a day off. This often falls on a Tuesday, which seems like the best day to let everyone take a rest and spend time with their families.
As Wednesday comes along, this is the day to get everyone practicing in their pads for a large number of plays. This will be split between the different groups, made up of offensive, defensive and special teams. Thursday is when they can maybe practice fewer plays but will really drill down on the specifics needed for the next game.
Friday has a stronger focus on getting things done exactly right, meaning fewer plays and shorter yardage situations. By now, everyone should be getting into the right mindset for the game, but burning out the players is one of the main worries. Thoughts now start turning to get mentally right for the big game.
Saturday has more relaxed sessions where the players go through all of the different plays and situations expected to come up. They need to rest well and be focused on the game. This means that they can hopefully reach their peak on Sunday and perform to the highest level. The latest football odds let us see which teams are favorites, but their preparation also has a huge effect on their chances of winning.
Food and Drink
The quality and quantity of food consumed by NFL players is a huge issue. As we’ve seen with Tom Brady, putting a healthy diet at the top of their priorities can help an athlete to carry on playing at the top level for longer. Every NFL team now has a full-time dietitian, and while each player has their own preferences, they’ll all be well advised on what they can and can’t eat.
This look at the different eating habits of Brady and Patrick Mahomes before the 2021 Super Bowl where they faced each other is fascinating. Brady puts a lot of emphasis on staying hydrated and eating vegetables with lean meat and little sugar. It clearly works for him, and his basic rules are similar to what we can see across the league, even if he is more extreme than others.
As for Mahomes, the fact that he’s about two decades younger than Brady means that he can enjoy more freedom in what he eats without it affecting his performance. The QB is said to have a fairly limited set of foods that he eats, but it’s been reported that he enjoys ketchup on his meals now and then. Getting the right combination of anti-inflammatory foods and proteins is important for NFL players, so finding the right balance is crucial.
The most important meal of the week comes on the day of the game. This is when players need to eat foods that contain less fat and fiber, since these are things that digest most slowly and can affect their performance. Most will eat something like chicken breast on the day of the game, together with rice or pasta. Easy digestion and a lot of energy are the key factors at this time.
The Mental Preparation
We’ve already briefly mentioned the mental aspect of the build-up to a football game, but this is also worth its own section. This look at how elite athletes prepare for massive events like the Super Bowl reveals how important it is to simplify things and concentrate on one factor at a time. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by the occasion and let fear cripple their natural ability.
Everyone has a different approach to getting ready on the day of the game. Some withdraw into their own personal sanctuary and lose themselves in thoughts, while others listen to music or talk to their team-mates about the game. Some players will take a shower before getting ready, while others wander across the field trying to imagine what is about to unfold.
All of these different approaches are valuable in football, but also in other aspects of life. Looking after our minds and bodies while preparing for challenges is always a smart move. The next time you see a football player performing well or scoring a touchdown, just think about how much work has gone into getting them ready for the moment of glory.