The human body and mind are capable of extraordinary feats. In sports, you can always push yourself further than you've ever been and never feel like you've reached your full potential. Sports like football offer us a way to channel this personal growth in a tangible and positive way.
Here are the Top 10 ways to become a better football player:
1. Practice Makes Perfect
Despite all the training methods, YouTube tutorials, blogs and books available, actually playing your sport is what makes the greatest impact.
A rule that can be applied directly to any sport is the "10,000-Hour Rule". Made famous by author Malcolm Gladwell, the rule came to be known after spending years researching the common denominators among some of the world's most successful people. In fact, according to Gladwell, becoming a top level athlete is the result of practicing a specific task or sport for a total of approximately 10,000 hours.
By utilizing this rule, spending enough time on the football field and never missing a team practice, you can increase your skill level and become a phenonimone in your league.
An easy way to gain an advantage over your teammates and the competition is to show up early to team trainings and put in extra work. Not only will this extra practice give you a competitive edge, but will also open up more opportunities in your athletic career because it shows the coaches that you're committed to the team and to becoming the best player you can be. In addition, practicing your skills like: passing, blocking, catching, covering and tackeling with a fellow teammate or alone outside of scheduled practice time, are elements that can help your overall performance. Linemen can work on their footwork and hands. Receivers can work their routes and their release off the line. Defensive backs can work on the backpedaling. Quarterbacks can work on their drop, scrambling and footwork... and there's much more.
Becoming better all depends on your mentality and how committed you are to getting to the next level and putting in the work needed to get there.
2. Endurance Training
If you're still at peak performance near the end of the game, you're playing on an entirely different level than everyone else on the field. In fact, by maintaining your performance at 100% capacity for the entire length of the game, you'll have a significant advantage in crunch time since most football players are performing at about 85-90% of their normal capacity. By performing better, your coaches are more inclined to call plays that allow you to become the hero, which will garner the confidence of your team mates when the game is near the end.
Endurance trainings don't need to be complicated. By practicing at game speed in the off-season and in training sessions, your body will be more prepared for the rigors of the game. Make sure you're ready to go on game day by taking more snaps, runing 40's and routes more often.
3. Hit The Gym
You're training for football, not a bikini competition. By putting time in at the gym and focusing on strength and mass, and less about the looks you'll get bigger, faster and dominate the competition.
To track your progress and feel a sense of accomplishment every time you hit a personal best, make sure you keep a workout log of all your workouts. To accomplish these goals, make sure you establish a solid and realistic workout plan. We recommend to check out the book called the "4-Hour Body" by Tim Ferris.
4. Get Feedback
Asking your coaches for feedback is crucial in learning about the strengths and weaknesses of your game. An objective opinion will not only enable you to see things you may not and areas to focus on, but will also allow your coaches to see that your focused on becoming a next level player.
You are what you eat. If you don't watch what you put into your body, you're unlikely to get the results you want. Protein is vital to muscle growth and many nutritionists have estimated that what you eat accounts for 80% of muscle growth, while the actual training aspect only accounts for 20%. Chances are, you're not getting enough protein in your diet.
Depending on the level of athlete you are, there are different amounts of recommended protein you should consume. To understand and calculate what protein consumption is best for you, please click here.
Furthermore, it's important you understand that not all protein sources provide the same amount of protein per calorie. Lean meats and poultry such as bison and chicken provide more protein with less calorie intake, while fatty meats such as beef and pork have a much higher calorie content. Generally, a good rule of thumb is to always stay away from processed foods, caffeine, and sugars.
If your position demands quick footwork, such as receivers, defensive back, running backs and quarterbacks, you should focus on building lean mass by consuming lean meats. However, always staying away from unhealthy foods, positions such as linemen and linebackers should focus on adding bulk by eating a high protein and high calorie diet. We recommend to check out "The 4-Hour Body" by Tim Ferris for interesting meal ideas.
6. Watch Film
Watching film allows you to learn from your mistakes and see your game from another perspective. An example of a great athlete that doesn't have any particular higher than average talent is Peyton Manning.
In fact, Peyton has below average arm strength for a NFL quarterback and, is not particularly accurate when compared to guys like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Peyton's knowledge and preparation of the game is achieved through hours and hours of studying film. By studying his own game film, practice film and his upcoming opponents game film, he is more confident, focused and mentally superior to almost anyone on the field come game day.
As Malcolm Gladwell states, “Achievement is talent plus preparation.” It is important you ask your coaches for a copy of the practice or game film to evaluate yourself and if your team hasn't established a viable filming strategy, be part of the solution and help them establish a plan to start documenting field time.
7. Learn the Rules
Knowing the rules better than your opponent can be the difference between winning and loosing. Even some NFL players are unaware of some of the rules of the game, and it's their job. It happens every time a field goal or punt is deflected, players simply don't know what to do and can be seen confused and committing an error.
Make sure you study the rules of the game to avoid any gaps in knowledge and committing unecessary errors. All the rules can be found in the updated NCAA Rule Book.
8. Position Specific Training
Depending on your position, different skill sets are utilized.
Whether you're training in the gym or at home, you should always make sure you identify the specific skills needed for your position and center your trainings around those skill sets.
If you're a defensive back, speed and short term memory are most important. If you're an offensive lineman, strength, size and team first mentality, are essential values.
By focusing on your positions most important skill set, you'll be extremely efficient with your time and effort and be able to focus at being the best you can be at your position.
9. Play Against Better Competition
Practicing with players that are bigger, faster, and stronger is one of the best ways to improve your game. There are all sorts of ways to elevate your game by competing with better competition.
You can consider playing for a team in a higher division within your own country, or even in another country. If you're a junior athlete, consider asking your Head Coach about attending Senior practices.
In all scenarios, the more you challenge yourself by playing against the best, the better you will be.
10. Get Your Sleep
The most important aspect of your sporting career. Getting a proper sleep is crucial for building muscle, energy and mental stamina and should be a staple in all athletic routines.
While you sleep, your body is estimated to do 90% of its healing. By keeping a regular sleeping pattern, your body will be able to recover and create the energy it needs to perform come game day.