There are countless ways to make yourself a better football player, and some work better for certain people rather than others. These, however, are a few ways, seven to be exact, that will help any football player at the high school level as well as college football players. These tips are not all directly related to on the field play, but you will benefit in the long run and in other ways. A lot more goes into being a better football player, or athlete in general, than just stepping on the field for practice and playing each week. But if you work harder than everyone else you will be the best at your position. My name is Jaelin Alburg, and I am a Yale Football Player and these are some strategies that I have used to get me to where I am today.
Tip 1: First tip is to be a student of the game. Sure this is something that has probably been repeated countless times, but it is imperative, especially at the collegiate level. The mental side of the sport becomes more and more critical as you can not merely rely on athleticism or natural talent like you did in high school. Watching film, and knowing as much as possible about your opponent as well as studying yourself can give you the edge on the field. Do not just know your assignment, but know everyone around you as well.
Fun Fact: In games, sometimes we get triggered by unexpected events that cause us to get tense and frustrated or moments that cause us to lose control of our emotions, so what can we do? What you can do is figure out a new response and once you have done that you can certainly retrain your brain to react differently to the same challenge.
Tip 2: Secondly, take care of your body. It is an essential part when it comes to playing college football. Without a healthy body, nothing is possible on the field. This means not only rehabbing existing injuries but to be proactive about injury prevention. Doing things like foam rolling, stretching, and body weight or band resistance/lightweight exercises is essential. Different methods of doing so are widely available on the internet if you do not have a very well put together training staff to assist in such training.
Fun Fact: After training for football it is important to cool the body down. You need to incorporate exercises that gently work the muscles for around ten minutes. You do this to circulate the blood and to help eliminate lactic acid, which is a waste product that your body gives off during intense training. Some cool down exercises might include stationary bike, light jog or a swim.
Tip 3: The next tip is to communicate with your coaches, specifically your position coach. You need to be on the same page as them, and you have to understand what it is that they want out of you. Knowing what a coach is looking for instead of guessing what they want is key. When a coach is giving a speech to the team listen carefully to what it is they are asking from you. If you understand what it is that they are looking for it will heighten the chances of gaining playing time or keeping playing time that is already being received. When in doubt talk to your position coach.
Tip 4: Next up is something that not all people will suggest, but the majority of college players, in fact, will tell you to do this. You need to cross-train, you should play other sports during high school. You will strengthen different muscle groups, become more agile, faster, stronger, which intern will help you on the football field. Coaches generally believe that playing basketball helps the bigger guys with their footwork and being able to move and bend well. Skill position players typically will run track which can help with timed running, endurance and sprinting. Soccer can help with your footwork, and many other sports can generate a skill set that will benefit you on the football field.
Fun Fact: Playing another sport or cross training will strengthen other body parts. This is great because when you only train for a specific sport you only develop those muscles and ligaments for that sport. When you employ other sports or exercises you will improve your performance on the football field.
Tip 5: Proper nutrition is extremely important to athletes — it provides the energy and stamina needed to play sports such as high school or college football. Watching your calorie or fat intake can play a huge role in how your body responds to everything that you will put it through. Recovery from practices and games, weight gain from lifting, so on and so forth. This does not mean that you are on a strict diet all of the time and to not eat anything that tastes good. However, it does mean to make sure that you are getting enough carbs, protein, fat, vegetables and fruits, but the right about is key. The night before a game you should eat a healthy meal a few hours before going to sleep and please make sure you give yourself enough time for an 8 to 10 hour night’s rest. Before a game you should avoid sugary carbohydrates found in soda drinks or candy, the reason for this is these will cause you to run out of energy before practice/game is over. What you need to do is consume foods that are rich in carbohydrates before football practice. Some things you can eat are fruits, vegetables, and whole grain products such as oatmeal, brown rice or whole wheat bread.
Fun Fact: Did you know that muscle glycogen will fuel the muscles for about 125 minutes of working out.
Tip 6: This tip will not necessarily make you a better football player but will help you have the best opportunity to make yourself better and to further your athletic career. This has to do with selecting the school which you choose to attend. Simply pick a school that is the best fit for you and you only, your parents are not going to school and playing for four years, and neither are your high school coaches, the head football coaches and assistant coaches constantly leave, and a program will thrive with or without you. Decide what the best fit on and off the field. By doing this, it will remove many potential obstacles and open the way to focus on football in a place that is conducive for you.
Advice: When you visit colleges ask yourself, can i see myself at this college/university without playing football?
Tip 7: Lastly, having passion for playing football is key. You should being putting in over 100% of yourself into this great sport, both mentally and physically. You should be doing this not only to achieve positive results but also to better yourself as a person. Keep in mind that once playing football is no longer fun, challenging or your passion then playing football will no longer receive all of the effort and attention that it deserves.
Advice: Football athletes should stay competitive, think positive but most importantly you should accept failures.You need to work hard mentally and physically and the end result will make it all worthwhile.
* Originally published on October 15, 2018, by Jaelin Alburg