5 Off Season Training Tips For High School Football Players

If you’re reading this, I assume you are a high school football player, the parent of a high school football player or the Coach of high school football players.  There’s nothing like getting bigger, faster and stronger from year to year in high school.  If you want to maximize your off season, here is what I recommend that you do.

1) Rest

Take a week or two to rest and recover from the last football season.  Get in the spirit of the Holidays, family activities, go see Star Wars, hang out and catch up with friends.  Get 8+ hours of sleep a day.  Let your body heal and your mind refresh.  Ask for a rumble roller for Christmas and use it at least 1 x day.  You’ll be 5 steps ahead of everyone else.  Injury prevention, muscle relief, instant massage.  You’ll feel better and perform better.

2) Set goals

After a week or two of rest, if you’re a competitive athlete who wants to excel, it’s time to set goals.  Big ones.  Last year, one of my clients was named 1st team all district linebacker in 5a high school football.  Once I found out, I texted him to congratulate him and he immediately texted me back with “Thanks!  Defensive MVP next year.”

That’s goal setting.

And guess who won 2017 Defensive MVP?  He did.  I recently asked Keegan how he has benefited the most from my strength and performance program.  His answer was “mindset”.  We train hard and heavy and we fill in the gaps with lots of mindset talk.

Photo by Keith Johnston on Unsplash

3) Have a plan to achieve those goals (benchmarks)

Set short term and long term goals.  An example of a short term goal would be a “consistency challenge”.  My high school athletes and I currently have a two week challenge of hitting the gym 7 days during the Holiday break.  I drew up a calendar on my garage gym dry erase board and circled the 7 days that we all agreed would work.  My athletes need to be 90% consistent with their nutrition log over these 2 weeks in addition to getting in those 7 days.  That means they must log their food 13 days out of 15 in order to be eligible to win.  Win what?  A $20 gift card to their favorite restaurant.

A long term goal would be to increase bench press by 30lbs in 2 months.  Or increase body weight by 10lbs in 6 weeks.  Or win a State Championship. 

4) Eat

Eat like you want to win. I figure out each of my athletes individual daily calorie needs and then add more calories to that number.  I encourage them to eat at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.  If they weigh 170lbs, then they need to be making sure they get 170 grams of protein or more each day.  No excuses.  Eat like you want to win.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Let’s face it.  Most of us know what constitutes healthy food and not healthy food.  Make sure to eat more healthy food than non healthy food.  Eat your protein first when possible.  Chew your food, take your time to encourage efficient digestion.  Eat lots of vegetables, salads and fruit.  Keep your sugar intake to 125 grams a day or less.  Except around the holidays.  Then you can do whatever you want (within reason).

I can tell when my athletes are not following nutrition protocol.  Their weights stall, they don’t continue to gain weight or maintain their current weight.  Their motivation goes South.  They can’t fool me.  I know.  Like Santa Claus, I always know.

“If a person is not willing to do all that is necessary to win then I cannot relate to him or her. And let’s just all face the facts – having a few extra meals a day is hardly a sacrifice in life. It requires very little effort. Raising a family, having a full time job AND going to school – that’s effort. Shoving some food down your mouth isn’t a big deal.”

5) Don’t do slow drawn out cardio

“One of the major drawbacks of slow aerobic training is it may compromise speed at the cellular level.  The adaptation of the muscle to aerobic training is in direct opposition to the primary needs of most athletes.  Charlie Francis, in his book Training For Speed, makes a number of thought-provoking points regarding the training of the sprinter, and it’s my contention all team sport athletes are really sprinters.

He wrote, “Enough power-related work must be done during the early years, ages 13 – 17, to maintain genetically determined levels of white or power-related muscle fiber and promote the shift of transitional or intermediate fiber to white, power related muscle fiber.”

Francis further states, “Endurance work must be carefully limited to light or light to medium volumes to prevent the conversion of transitional or intermediate muscle fiber to red endurance muscle fiber.”

This may be one of the most important statements about the training of an athlete you will ever read.

These concepts have formed the essence of my cardiovascular philosophy for the last 15 years, and are key to the long-term development of athletes both young and old.  For many players, particularly young developing players, any emphasis on aerobic conditioning through steady-state exercise is counterproductive.

Finally, here’s the key to making a kid lousy at sports; early endurance training.  If you want a child to be slow, start endurance training as soon as you finish reading this.”  (1)

Examples of long drawn out cardio would be running mile after mile, cross country, long drawn out bootcamp types of workouts.

There you go.  There are my 5 tips for kickstarting your high school football off season training.


(1) Advances In Functional Training, Michael Boyle, page 129



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