At this point, most if not all football programs from high school to NFL are in full swing. It’s the best time of the year as hope springs eternal for every player and team as they work through their drills and conditioning preparing for a championship season.
The summer months in the weight room have helped to make athletes stronger, faster, and more agile all in preparation for the upcoming season. But a few things that even in this day and age are hard for young men to realize is the importance of preparing the body through proper nutrition, hydration, and rest. You can’t just wait until football camp starts to start eating right, sleeping at least 8 hours a night, and properly hydrating. All of these things take time to developing these good habits.
Let’s take a look at some tips that I have learned as a coach to help with not only the physical rigors of camp, but also surviving the heat that goes along with this time of year (in no particular order):
1.) Properly hydrate; general rule is one bottle of water for every 20 pounds you weigh/per day.
2.) Develop a set bedtime to allow for at least 8-10 hours of sleep a night.
3.) After a workout your body needs protein, make a peanut butter sandwich and drink a glass of
chocolate milk (works just as good as the expensive alternatives).
4.) If your urine is bright yellow or dark yellow, your dehydrated.
5.) When thirsty, drink water first, then a Gatorade.
6.) Stay away from carbonated drinks.
7.) Stay away from drinks high in sugar (Even most fruit drinks have a lot of unnecessary sugars)
8.) Make sure your body gets potassium, bananas are a very good source of this.
9.) During camp eat fruits and vegetables that can help hydrate you like watermelon, grapefruit, oranges, tomatoes, etc. All of these examples have water in them.
10.) If you find you are starting to cramp, or have been sweating a bunch, eat a pickle.
11.) Pickle juice has been proven to help also, just don’t overdo it. Too much salt is not a good thing.
12.) Some coaches will take a 5 to 10-minute break during a strenuous practice to allow players to have a snack, like watermelon, banana, etc. this helps to replenish valuable nutrients that have been lost during physical activity in the heat.
13.) For a coach, wearing a hat and long sleeves to help keep the sun off goes a long way.
14.) Having a shaded spot that players can go to when they do get overheated is a good idea.
15.) Make sure players drink the water, not dump it on them. “Put the water in you, not on you”.
16.) In preparation for a football season, don’t spend all day in the air conditioning. Start getting your body acclimated to the heat by spending time outside.
17.) Give yourself time to wind down in the evening, stay off of electronic devices, this will help to “quiet” your mind an allow for quicker and healthier sleep.
18.) When you start cramping, you are probably dehydrated.
19.) When you should be sweating but aren’t, you are in trouble and need to rest, rehydrate, and seek medical care asap.
20.) As a coach, consider structuring your practice so that you have some full speed drills, followed by walk-through type drills. This will allow for some brief rest in between strenuous drills.
21.) Consider conducting practices early in the day or later in the evening to avoid the hottest times of the day.
22.) If fortunate enough to have an athletic training staff, ice baths after a practice help to cool and help the muscles to recover faster under their direction.
23.) Wearing lighter colored clothes help to reduce the heat.
24.) Stretching before AND after practice help to work the lactic acid (the soreness you feel in a muscle after serious use) out of the muscles faster.
25.) Don’t skip a meal in camp. You are using 2 to 3 times more calories in fall practices than the average person needs in a day. The bottom line is that if you have prepared your body by eating right, hydrating, getting enough sleep, and physically conditioning your body over the summer months, football camp should be easy. Good luck and best wishes to all the coaches, players, and support staff for a healthy and productive fall camp and season!
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