In football, kickers don¡¯t get much credit. Yet they often make the difference between winning and losing, with a clutch field-goal kicker worth his weight in gold. Reliable punters can also flip field position to either save a struggling offense or further enhance a dominating defense. These workouts will help kickers maximize their potential and earn a place of honor on any team.
Punters need to learn how to drop the ball straight during their approach to produce consistent, accurate punts. A simple workout to improve the skill begins with the punter standing along one of the yard lines. The punter then steps off his normal approach, stepping with his punting leg along the line, and drops the ball. Except in this drill, the punter allows the ball to drop to the ground. A proper drop, with the front nose of the ball slightly down and in, will result in the ball hitting the ground and bouncing backward slightly to the side of the line.
Position a tee along the back line of the end zone about 7 yards from the goalpost. To practice accuracy, the kicker strikes the ball in an attempt to hit the goalpost. To work on achieving height, the kicker attempts to drive the ball over the upright and downfield. Placing the ball 7 yards from the goalpost simulates kicking from behind the line, while any ball that hits the goalpost would achieve enough height to clear the line.
Place kickers require lethal accuracy to succeed. The horseshoe drill will help build a kicker¡¯s confidence when he¡¯s staring down the goalposts, regardless of where the ball is positioned. To begin, place 10 footballs in a horseshoe shape starting at the left side of the 10-yard line, extending out to and across the 30-yard line, and then ending back at the right side of the 10-yard line. Kickers get one shot from each distance, learning to line up kicks from various angles.
Punting along one of the yard lines helps develop proper ball placement, approach, leg swing and followthrough. The straight line serves as a guide, providing the punter with a simple reminder to keep his body and the ball in correct alignment. The punter begins with his kicking leg positioned on the line. He catches the snap and positions the ball in direct line with the kicking leg. Throughout his approach, the punter always steps on the line with his kicking leg. Practicing the drill also improves accuracy, with punts meant to travel along the line.
Pop Warner Football is a youth sports organization, founded in 1929 and named after legendary football coach Glenn ¡°Pop¡± Warner. More than 200,000 boys and girls, ages 5 through 16, participate in Pop Warner football each year. Most standard American football rules apply in Pop Warner leagues, but the organization makes a few adjustments.
Pop Warner¡¯s nine tackle football divisions have age and weight restrictions. The youngest, Tiny-Mite, is for players 5 to 7 years old who must weight between 35 and 75 pounds at the start of the season. The players can’t exceed 84 pounds during the season. In the oldest division, Bantam, 13- to 15-year-olds must weigh between 135 and 185 pounds to start the season and can never go over 194. Additionally, 16-year-olds may play Bantam if they weigh 135 to 165 pounds to start the year and no more than 174 by the end. The Unlimited division is the only category with no maximum weight limit.
Every member of a team has to play a minimum number of plays from scrimmage, and special teams plays don’t count. In the seven divisions for the oldest players, Junior Peewee through Bantam, members of teams with 31 to 35 players must participate in at least six plays. The minimum rises to eight plays for teams with 26 to 30 players and 10 for rosters totaling 16 to 25 players. In the Mitey Mite division, the minimums are eight, 10 and 12 plays, respectively for the three roster sizes. All Tiny Mites must be on the field for a minimum of 15 plays.
Most Pop Warner games are played on standard 100-yard fields, but the four youngest divisions may use 80-yard fields. The equipment is also fairly standard. Every player must wear a helmet certified by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment. Players must wear shoulder, hip, tailbone, thigh and knee pads, as well as mouth guards that attach to their face masks. Boys must wear either an athletic supporter or compression shorts. Shoes may have rubber cleats no more than 1/2-inch long. Metal cleats are not permitted.
Most Pop Warner rules for tackling and other game play follow the youth football regulations in the state. States typically follow rules set by the National Federation of State High School Associations. Pop Warner leagues don¡¯t allow butt or chop blocking, or using a helmet to make a tackle. Tiny-Mites play by different, simpler rules. For example, the games have no punts, kickoffs or extra point attempts. Offensive and defensive formations are limited and scores aren¡¯t kept.
The top three age divisions play 12-minute quarters. The younger divisions play 10 minute quarters except for the Tiny Mites, who play 22-minute halves. A running clock starts if a team takes a 28-point lead and doesn¡¯t stop except for an injury or at the referee¡¯s discretion. Additionally, teams with 28-point margins can’t throw passes and can only run between the tackles. The offensive restrictions stop if the lead dips below 28 points, but the running clock continues.
Frequently noted benefits of kids’ involvement in sports and physical education include improved fitness and lower risk of obesity. Although not mentioned as often, research increasingly points to academic benefits for kids who have some regular physical activity. Additionally, it’s important to note that this advantage is not limited to kids taking part in organized, competitive sports.
Howell Wechsler, director of the Division of Adolescent and School Health for the Centers for Disease Control, reviewed 50 studies that examined the effect of school-based physical activity on academic performance and discovered that half of the studies showed positive associations and virtually none of the research demonstrated any negative impact. Multiple studies demonstrated that even relatively short spans of physical activity helped increase the duration and intensity of concentration following such activities, including those in which the students never left the classroom.
A study by James Pivarnik and colleagues at the American College of Sports Medicine discovered that middle-school students who performed best on fitness tests — gauging aerobic capacity, strength, endurance and body composition — also performed better academically. The study, which included 317 students, showed that the fittest kids scored nearly 30 percent higher on standardized tests than the least-fit group. Moreover, the less-fit students received grades in their core subjects that were 13 percent to 20 percent lower than their fitter classmates.
Writing on the website Oregon Live.com, Wendy Owen observes that students who play on sports teams learn leadership skills, responsibility, discipline and time management skills that carry over into the classroom. She quotes high school football player Zack Hickman, who points out that his sport requires to him to use his head and demands that he’s always learning from his experiences on the field — feeding expectations and habits in school.
For some students, sports can provide motivation for improved academic performance. Tom Welter, executive director of the Oregon School Activities Association, concedes that not all athletes are natural students; however, the grade requirements to stay eligible and play the sport they love drives them to overcome obstacles in the classroom and improve performance, establishing a work ethic that can serve them well for as long as they remain in an academic setting.
The groin muscles are located on the inner thigh and act to pull the legs in toward each other and to flex the hip. A torn groin muscle most often occurs during an activity which requires sudden changes in direction and speed, such as soccer or football. Treatment of a torn groin muscle is determined by the severity of the injury.
According to the website Physio Advisor, implementing the R.I.C.E. routine during the first 72 hours following a groin tear will result in a speedier recovery. R.I.C.E. stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. The athlete should rest from the aggravating activity and perform only activities that are pain-free. Applying ice to the injured groin for 20 minutes, three to five times per day, will help control swelling and pain. The athlete should apply an elastic bandage to the groin and elevate his legs as often as possible. If the groin tear is severe, the athlete may need to use crutches to assist with walking.
Early rehabilitation is important for the successful recovery from a groin muscle tear. Physical therapists will use modalities to help control the initial inflammation, such as electric stimulation and ultrasound. A routine of gentle stretching and massage will ensure that the torn tissue heals with a minimal amount of scar tissue. Strengthening exercises and sport specific training will be initiated by the physical therapist as soon as the athlete is pain free. Most groin injuries will heal in six to eight weeks and the athlete can return to sports once she has full strength and range of motion.
According to American Family Physician, chronic groin tears that do not respond to conservative treatment after several months may require surgery to repair. Surgery may also be indicated if the groin tear is complete or if it involves an avulsion fracture, in which a small piece of bone is dislodged at the muscle attachment. Following surgery, a lengthy period of rehabilitation to restore full range of motion and strength will be initiated. Return to sports is determined on a case by case basis, once the athlete can complete a battery of sport-specific tests.
Being a quality pitcher is a lot much more than simply catching a pitched ball and returning it to the pitcher. You must also be strong enough and prepared for the physical demands of the sport. During the course of a game catchers squat and stand over 100 times, throw out base runners who try to steal second base, block wild pitches and block the plate from a base runner trying to score. A workout program designed to improve your strength and agility can help you play your position effectively.
Squats are an exercise that builds leg power, which catchers need during a game, and to endure a full season behind the plate. Squats can be performed while holding a barbell across your upper back, with dumbbells at your sides or with just your own body weight. To perform a squat, stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and bend your legs until your thighs are about parallel to the floor. Do a lower number of repetitions with heavier weight to build power and size, and higher reps with lower weight or your body weight for strength and endurance.
Side lunges will help strengthen the muscles a catcher needs for lateral movement. Pitches to either side in the dirt must be blocked, and quick lateral movement is the key to getting in front of a wild pitch. Stand with your hands on your hips, or a dumbbell in each hand, then step out to either side into a lunge. At this point, you can step back to the start with your lunging leg or step up with your straight leg and continue in that direction. Perform an equal number of reps on each side.
Footwork is an important aspect of being a catcher. Blocking pitches and pivoting to throw out base runners requires you to be quick on your feet. Incorporating rope jumping into your workout routine will help increase foot speed and coordination. Practice jumping with both feet on the ground at once and with different combinations of one foot.
Lower-body plyometrics refers to jump training, and it is an effective way to build explosive leg power. You can perform lower-body plyometrics by simply crouching down and jumping as high as you can over and over, or you can create specific exercises. Jumping up onto a bench and down is one effective move, as is performing a half-body turn each time you jump.
Upper-body plyometrics will strengthen your arms and shoulders, which helps keep your arm strong for all the throwing a catcher has to do. Using a medicine ball, perform explosive throwing movements with both hands, using your arms and legs to generate power. Throw the medicine ball overhead against a wall, to the side against a wall, up and over your head and slam it down into the ground. You can also perform plyometric push-ups by exploding up off the floor in the middle of each repetition.
Cleats have long given versatility and protection from muscle injuries to football players of all stripes. Their main function is to give a player’s footwear better grip on turf, especially in wet or muddy conditions. Advances in the development of the cleat have tracked the game of American football from its inception in the 1860s.
Cleats date back to the 16th century, when England¡¯s Henry the VIII ordered what may have been the first pair of specialized cleats for his “The Great Wardrobe.” Cleats first appeared on the opposite side of the Atlantic as footwear for soccer players in the early 19th century. American football followed with early models that had leather, metal or even wooden studs. That in turn led to multiple injuries.
As football evolved, some innovators saw the need for new and better cleats. In 1925, German brothers Rudolf and Adi Dassler, who would go to start Puma and Adidas, developed cleats with removable studs. Players were able to drill in their athletic shoes, then take off the studs and walk home. Rubber cleats, once considered too heavy for the game, came along in the 1920s as well thanks to the emergence of vulcanized rubber.
While coaching at Oregon Agriculture College, which became Oregon State, football innovator Joseph Pipal developed what came to be known as ¡°mud cleats.¡± These longer, sharper cleats were designed to improve performance in muddy conditions. They stand alongside the lateral pass as Pipal’s contributions to the game of football.
As cleats continued to evolve, most companies took a lighter is better approach. Adidas’ 2011 offering, the 6.9 ounce “5 star” was at the time the lightest football cleat ever invented. Nike topped it two years later with the 5.6 oz Vapor Laser Talon. The VLT was also the first football cleat produced using 3D printing technology.
Shooting long range in soccer is difficult, but regular practice can improve your skills. If you’re having trouble achieving proper form while shooting, consult your coach or watch professional soccer players during a match. Note the movements they make to achieve distance shots. Don’t worry if it takes a long time to get better. Just focus on completing your shots correctly and maintaining accuracy, and over time your ability to shoot at a distance will improve.
Perfect your form so that your shots are consistent and powerful. Plant your nonshooting foot a little more than 1 foot away from the ball and keep that leg slightly bent. Lift your shooting foot high behind you, then whip it forward while pointing your toes downward. The laces of your shoe should connect below the midline of the ball. Follow through with your leg. If the ball doesn’t go far or if your shot is inconsistent, practice kicking with correct form against a wall. This allows you to take shots repeatedly without having to chase after the ball each time.
Start off by shooting the ball from a location at which it is easy for you to hit the target consistently and accurately. Typically, this will be in the center of the field a few dozen feet away from the net. Shoot repeatedly from that location, each time aiming at a specific area of the net. For example, shoot several balls toward the top left corner, then top right, then bottom left and then bottom right. Once you can perform these shots accurately, move away from the net to a distance that makes it more difficult for you. Stay at that distance until you improve and then move farther away.
Once you have a decent range, it’s time to improve how you shoot on an angle. When you are directly facing the center of the net, you have maximum flexibility in choosing your shot location. But if you’re standing off to either side, the amount of open area that¡¯s available for targeting decreases, making it harder to score goals. Practice taking shots from a distance and at severe angles to the goal. For example, set up shots that are far away from the net and off to the side. If possible ask a friend to play goalkeeper to make your targeting opportunities more realistic. Visualize the open area of the goal and aim toward it. Move farther away as you improve.
Kicking the ball far is not easy, so you might be tempted to use the tip of your foot to add some distance to your shot. While kicking with the point of your cleats does make the ball go farther, it is impossible to maintain a consistent, accurate shot when you shoot this way. The best way to shoot long-range is to use proper form — the instep kick — to launch the ball toward the target. It might not be easy at first, but over time you will develop accuracy as well as distance.
Men can wear a bandanna in a variety of ways. The square piece of cloth can keep long hair off of your forehead or simply make a fashion statement. Wear one on your head, around the neck and on the wrist. An alternative to headbands and wristbands, a bandanna is useful during exercise, too.
Wrap the bandanna around the wrist during a workout. This turns the bandanna into a wristband or sweatband that can be used to wipe your forehead during exercise — or whenever you’re perspiring a lot. Wearing a bandanna on the wrist can also be a casual fashion statement. Adjust the width of the bandanna for different looks.
Tie a bandanna around your neck like a scarf to complement a T-shirt and leather jacket look. Bandannas can serve as a neck cooler or warmer, depending on how they are tied. As popularized by cowboys in old western films, bandannas give outfits an extra touch.
Wear a bandanna as a skull cap to keep your head cool and out of the sun in warm conditions. To create the style, simply fold the bandanna diagonally, place the long side along your forehead, pull the ends around the back and tie. Tuck in any extra fabric. Body builders wear bandannas in the skull cap style to the gym, as the material is good at soaking up sweat.
Wear a bandanna as a headband. Fold the bandana into a long rectangle, wrap it around the head and tie it around the back to collect sweat and keep hair off of the forehead and face. Bandannas are an easy-to-use gym accessory for athletes and a stylish way for men with longer hair to keep their bangs off of the forehead.
If your 10-year-old son wants to start lifting weights to improve his strength or boost his performance in sports, applaud him for wanting to get healthier. Kids who regularly strength train are more likely to build healthy muscles and bones and less likely to become injured, according to KidsHealth from Nemours. The notion of your child strength training may bring to your mind visions of him pumping iron at a gym, but rest assured that a strengthening program for kids is different than one for adults.
Strength training isn¡¯t bodybuilding or weightlifting. The later activities emphasize competition and progressively large muscle gains. Trying to lift heavier weights or gain muscle mass can strain your 10-year-old¡¯s tendons, muscles and growth plates. This is especially true if your child ends up trying to bypass safety rules and neglect his physical limitations in order to lift more weight.
Your child should be ready to learn some strength training exercises if he is developmentally prepared to participate in an organized sport such as gymnastics or school football. Your pediatrician should assess your child¡¯s physical readiness, emotional stability and mental preparedness to follow instructions before you sign your child up for any sport or strength training class.
Even the most prepared 10-year-old shouldn¡¯t participate in anything that is merely a scaled down version of an adult weight-training program, warns KidsHealth from Nemours. At age 10 your child is still likely to enjoy game play, which can be incorporated into his exercise sessions. For example, his instructor may assign a strengthening exercise to each number on a pair of dice, allow your child to roll the dice and then instruct him to do the exercise that corresponds with the number he rolls.
Your son¡¯s strength training coach should focus on gradually helping him gain strength and encourage him to pay close attention to safety and technique. Each session should start with at least a five to 10 minute warm up to reduce your child¡¯s risk of becoming injured, include exercises for all areas of the body and end with some gentle stretches. The coach will also start your child out with light weights as he learns to lift properly and increase the weight in small increments after he can easily perform about 15 repetitions of an exercise, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Another important aspect of strength training is giving muscles time to rest and build, so exercise sessions should occur no more than about three to four days a week.
Although your son may want to see physical gains as a result of his efforts, he won¡¯t gain muscle in the same way adults can until he goes through puberty, according to the Hospital for Special Surgery. Explain this to him in advance and emphasize that getting stronger and increasing his athletic performance are more important than having bigger muscle fibers.
Most pro football players spend at least three years playing college football to hone their skills as well as conform with a National Football League rule requiring the players be at least three years removed from their high school graduation before playing for the NFL. Given the short careers, big money and other issues that face young football players, a college education is one important type of education they should acquire. There are other types of education, aside from their time spent playing college football, that would benefit pro athletes immensely.
Because pro football players tend to make a lot more money than the average person and more than their parents made, knowing how to handle big paychecks and all the baggage that comes with a football career is crucial. For that reason, the NFL sponsors a symposium for rookies every year to cover financial issues. Much of the education seeks to warn players about family members and friends expecting a financial windfall from the player¡¯s success. Players are also advised to do learn about financial planning, investments, contracts, budgeting and various aspects of business, such as entrepreneurship.
The average NFL career lasts less than five years, which means most players are going to have to go out and get a second career when they are done playing. For many athletes, that means a job apart from football. Some players use the offseason to finish their degrees or work on obtaining advanced degrees, which the NFL supports with its Continuing Education Program. The idea is to encourage players to acquire the education and training that will help make their transition out of football a smooth one.
For many young pro football players, their new career means a lot of firsts, such as living on their own, handling big paychecks, buying a new wardrobe, traveling around the country, dealing with the full-time job and injuries that go along with pro football, meeting a lot of new people and dealing with fans and the media. They have more responsibilities and more temptations than they ever did in their lives, so a helpful education in how how stay out of trouble and deal with all these new situations with maturity can be invaluable. That’s one reason why the Life Skills session leads off the annual NFL Rookie symposium.
It’s one thing to play football for a living, working hard during the season and attending training and conditioning sessions during the off-season. And for those players who work on their bachelor’s degrees or advanced degrees, either through colleges near where they live or online, there is one important educational opportunity that could help them later in life. There’s nothing like learning a new career by actually spending some time on the job doing that career. Internships and part-time work can be available to players who use their contacts to learn first-hand about sales or any new job field. In 1991 the NFL launched its Career Internship Program for just such opportunities. Every year, players avail themselves of a chance to learn about other careers, either as a first step in that career or as a way of deciding what’s not right for them.