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Articles > Other Resources > Improve your Football Fitness
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Many people like to call football a game of inches. However, I believe that in order to turn these inches into touchdowns, many aspects are necessary in order for this to take place. This article is an in-depth guide to improving your abilities as a football player. You are going to learn how to increase your speed, acceleration, agility, balance, and the most important, strength.

There are three ways in which to practice increasing your speed:

Improving running mechanics, improving technique, and strengthening your legs. Most players don`t have great running mechanics and if they would just improve their technique, they would run alot faster. Leg strength is important because the more force applied to the ground, the faster you will run. You simply cannot reach your full speed potential by just running sprints. A number of elements must coincide with each other if you want to reach your maximum speed potential. From a scientific standpoint, speed is the by product of two elements: Stride length and stride frequency. Stride length is the distance you cover during each step of your run. Stride frequency is basically the number of steps you take per socond. By using the following training methods, you can increase your stride length and frequency; hence, increase of speed.

*Shuttle sprints- Start in your preferred position, run 10-15 yards, run backwards to starting postion, and then repeat.

*Pylometric circuit- Use this drill no more than once a week and not on days before the big game, since this circuit may take a couple of days to recover from.

Speed and acceleration go hand-in-hand. To improve your acceleration, repeated sprints of more than ten seconds, performed with a standing start will be most useful. This will help the neuromuscular and metabolic qualities of the muscles involved. Another way of improving acceleration is to practice accelerating as fast as possible during practice. A slow acceleration topped with a quick burst is another good method that can be used. One of the best utilities you can train with to increase acceleration is using the PowerBlast gauntlet. Practice with this equipment and you`re well on your way to increasing your acceleration.

Ladder drills are best performed in increasing your agility. In sports competition, the body is constantly asked to perform movements from unusual angles. The main purpose of the agility ladder program is to promote a wide range of different foot and movement patterns. These movements become second nature, and the body is able to quickly respond to the various angles required. You can improve your agility by practicing the movements in training and the agility ladder is a useful tool in a good agility program. The common ladder is roughly ten yards long with eighteen inch squares, but you can make your own ladder just using tape or even sticks. When you start the agility ladder program, introduce your body to two to four different movements. Once you get good at these movements, introduce yourself to new patterns to keep your body guessing.

Many of today`s athletes are using balance training as a crucial part of their overall training program. Balance is needed by runners in wooded areas, soccer players need balance when taking the ball on a volley from just behind themselves, and even tennis players need balance when reaching for a drop shot. Each of these situations requires the exercise of just the right amount of flexibility at the right time. With balance training, the idea is to recreate and manipulate what you would do in a game situation. Maintaining balance means having the center of your mass within the middle of your base for support. In the past, people believed that perfect balance was best illustrated by standing on one leg and staying as still as possible for as long as possible. This method still works but there are also other methods in which are useful. Exercises such as the one-leg punch and jump steps are both perfect for improving your balance.

Another point to remember is that maximal strength training should be a progression from general strength training with maximal loads. Heavy maximal exercise is only used for advanced strength trainees. Good abdominal and lower back strength is crucial if heavy lifting exercises are going to be used. Pylometric exercises are classified into bounding, hopping, and jumping movements. These exercises demand a high force of contraction in response to a rapid loading of lengthening the muscles. For this reason, they should be renamed rebound or reversible action exercises. The training effort increases the force production in the muscles, but the movements are performed at faster speeds than that of weight-training exercises. Rebounding exercises are more common to the sprinting and jumping reps on each leg, with at least one minute of rest between sets. Endurance should not be a factor. Running with weighted jackets and sprinting uphill are also useful exercises because it adds resistance to the sprint movement, which places greater load on the muscles.

Football is not an easy sport by any mean, but being physically prepared of its tough demands is half of the battle. The other half is using what you know and a little of bit of luck as well. You have learned the five most important areas of physical fitness needed to be a good football player. Make sure you pay me a visit after you win your first Super Bowl ring. Until next time, later.

Zach Bashore
April 16, 2006


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