Football presents a wide variety of athletes that require different demands all fit into one sport. They are generally broken down into the lineman, skilled positions (DB’s, WR’s, RB’s), and the lonesome quarterback. Do we need to be specific in our approach by position? Certainly. Does it have to be drastically different? I do not think so. Everyone needs to train to get stronger, faster, more powerful, all while making sure we do the best job at preventing injuries. Most lineman like strength training but dislike the speed aspect while skill players may prefer speed training compared to getting stronger. Athletes usually fall back on what they are good at. BEST OPTION = let’s get everyone strong and fast, and less likely to get injured! Some considerations…
Skill position guys (DB’s, WR’s, Safeties, RB’s TE’s)- These guys usually have plenty of strength potential with all those fast twitch fibers. Take Vernon Davis for example, he is built like a Greek god. All those global muscles (the muscles that are producing the movement), which are the ones you can see without his shirt on, are significantly developed.
This guy needs more stabilizer work. Doing 1-leg variations of the squat Reverse Lunges, Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat, 1-leg squat, and 1-leg deadlift variations (1-leg DB/Barbell SLDL, 1-leg Hip Thruster, Slideboard Hamstring Curls) will certainly help these guys and anyone for that matter!
The 1-leg negative SB hamstring curl is a tough progression. No, this does not mean that machine hamstring curls are acceptable. We want to achieve full hip extension anytime we do hip dominant exercises (your hamstrings are your seconds strongest hip extensor, glutes are 1st, therefore we strengthen our hamstrings in hip extension..not lying on a machine)
Quarterbacks- these guys are obviously quite similar to a baseball players so we need to watch out for labral tears and rotator cuff issues. They need explosive rotary training with med balls and it might be a safer choice to stay away from overhead lifts. The legs, in any explosive movement, are crucial because it has been noted that 60% of throwing velocity is generated from the legs. One of the considerations needed for quarterbacks is to understand the function of the rotator cuff muscles. If the rotator cuff muscles are not strong enough as well as trained through dynamic stabilization exercises the deltoid will overpower thus causing the humeral head to migrate up into the acromion causing impingement.
Quarterbacks, definitely need to get strong too, they do have to take hits.
Lineman-everything about football is about being bigger and faster, just look at the wide receivers nowadays(6’4 230 lbs??). There are a considerable amount of lineman now that are built like basketball players (long femurs, it is not rare anymore to see a lineman 6’6+ 300+) and have trouble squatting because of it. However, in most football strength and conditioning programs you will see these guys squatting. The result? Usually hearing offensive lineman with “dull” lower back pain or patella-femoral problems. Most lineman are also put into hyperextension of the low pack while engaging with the defensive line causing extension related spinal issues.
*Lineman start each play without a pre-stretch, similarly, pause squats (if ok to squat) or cleans from blocks could be beneficial. For their one leg training, pauses at end range could be incorporated to simulate this as well.
With football increasingly getting bigger, taller, and stronger athletes it becomes more important for core training (chops & lifts, plank variations). Dr. Stuart McGill in his book Lower Back Disorders states “Interestingly, tall athletes tend to be poorer in their ability to cocontract the abdominal muscles to ensure sufficient stability during high work rates and highly challenged breathing than their shorter counterparts. This perception appears to be supported by the most recent evidence showing that taller workers (athletes like football players were noted) have a greater likelihood of having perturbed motor patterns while breathing heavily and holding spine loads (McGill et al., 2003)
Long video, I know, but well worth the watch on how we should be training the core for athletic based movements and life in general.