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The previous NFL season brought us yet another Super Bowl trophy lifting by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. It is safe to say that their franchise is one of the most successful in the League’s history, but they’re far from unbeatable. The biggest allure of the NFL is the fact that each new season is hard to predict. The Cincinnati Bengals, for instance, had a single victory in two whole seasons before 2018, but they were real competitors last year. The 2019 season will, therefore, be super interesting to watch as athletes are preparing as we speak for it. But what exactly do these preparations consist of in terms of fitness?
A diet rich in calories
During the offseason, most players are on their own in terms of diet. However, this doesn’t mean that they can eat whatever they please. There will be a medical check-up and weighing when the roster assembles before the new season. The team cafeteria is always open for those players who wish to remind themselves of the types of food they ought to consume. The typical breakfast time is between six AM and nine AM, and the walls of the mess hall feature food charts that show them the caloric intake of each food.
Calories are something that NFL players gorge, and no wonder why. They waste up to 3,500 calories per game, so they need good quality food, and plenty of it. Apart from eating enough, their diet needs to be full of protein, which is the building block of muscles. When you see a safety wrestle the ball out of the arms of a wide receiver, it might be because he ate better food than his opponent.
The weightlifting session
After breakfast, it is time for lifting some heavy weights. This can be done in the afternoon as well, but players are so motivated that they rarely skip the morning weightlifting session. Since they earn huge sums of money, most dedicated players have home gyms that are often better equipped than community ones. Here they can stay in shape during the offseason, although the team gym is always readily available for them. Most exercises concern the buildup of muscle mass, stamina, and endurance.
Task No. 1: Building endurance
The biggest trait of the offseason period is the irregularity of practice, which leads to a severe drop in stamina and endurance. In order to shape up for the coming season, players use treadmills to “run” long distances. However, skilled players don’t miss out on the opportunity to literally step outside. Running through the local park is much more exhilarating than a droning treadmill, or laps around the stadium. One of the best tips to build endurance an NFL player can give you is to step outside and run freely. These running sessions should not be about running fast, but running long distances. You have to run several hundred kilometers before you are capable of gaining that one precious yard before the end zone.
What went wrong last season
Perhaps the only players that don’t have to meticulously perform this step of the preparation for the coming season are the Pats. Other teams, however, wish to know what went wrong last season. There are special sessions in which individual coaches replay videos, and work through all that was bad in the past. Players are not forbidden to carry out this research on their own, so the truly top-notch players watch a game or two in the postseason. By realizing what segment of their game performance was missing, they are able to improve it.
Another important aspect of gameplay are, well, the plays themselves. Since they change from season to season, before the penning game day, coaches of the offense, defense, and special teams all have a word or two to discuss with the players they are in charge of.
It's majesty, the training camp
Since the offseason period is quite long in the NFL, clubs keep their players occupied by organizing training camps. These typically start mi-March, and last up until mid-June. The day at one of these training camps starts at six AM, and the camp runs from Monday to Sunday. After that period, most players fly out to spend the weekend with their families. In order to prevent injuries, most practice sessions have a “zero contact” policy. A preseason injury is the worst-case scenario for any team, so they try to run practice sessions only with light touches. Of course, players sometimes step over the line, and get rough with their teammates.
From a fan’s point of view, an NFL season is too short, but from a player’s perspective, it is way too long. This is because players have to stay active throughout offseason as well. Their bodies are their tools, so they mustn’t allow them to fall into disrepair. The fast-approaching 2019 season will be no different as players are lifting weights, power eating, and reviewing last year’s games as we speak.