Football Fitness

Football Fitness

football game

One of the most popular American sports, football was first played at the college level between Princeton and Rutgers on November 6th, 1869. Since then, it has become a significant force in professional, college and high school athletic programs.

The American Professional Football League hosted its first game in 1920 with a match between the Dayton Triangles and the Columbus Panhandles. The Triangles won the game 14-0.

Football has always been known for its versatility in team size, equipment, location and rules. The varieties of football that exist are responsible for most of the versatility, as flag and touch football require only comfortable clothes.

Tackle football is the variety played at academic and professional levels, and requires significantly more gear (such as pads and a helmet) to protect the body from injury. In addition, tackle football is by far and away the most common and popular variety of football played today.

Football at any level requires a great deal of running, jumping and quick changes of direction. Anyone wishing to begin playing any form of this sport should be able to run, sprint up to 50 yards, and have a good sense of balance and agility. The game is an excellent form of aerobic and anaerobic exercise, and a solid training program will certainly benefit an individual’s ability to successfully participate.

Playing The Game

Football (assumed for the remainder of the article as the “American” variety) is played on a field of either grass or AstroTurf that measures 100 yards in length from end to end (120 yards if the end zones are included) and 50 yards in width. Two teams compete with the goal being to advance the football across their opponent’s goal line (the team that crosses the opposing team’s goal line receives 6 points plus 1 point if they successfully kick the extra point) or to kick the football between two poles that make up the “goal posts” (referred to as a field goal and worth 3 points).

The game of football is divided into halves. Each half consists of two quarters and each quarter consists of 15 minutes of playing time. Hence, an entire game of football consists of 60 minutes.

When a player in possession of the football is knocked to or falls to the ground (or either loses their flag or is touched in other varieties), the play is considered dead and a down is applied. The team with the possession of the football must advance the football a minimum of 10 yards within 4 consecutive downs or the football will be given to the opposing team.

Teams may opt at any time to kick the ball downfield (usually when they are not confident that they will be able to advance the football 10 yards within the 4 downs). When a team decides to kick the football to the opposing team, the opposing team must then advance the football a minimum of 10 yards, within 4 consecutive downs, or they will be forced to kick the ball back to their opponent.

When a football is given to another team, the starting point is determined by the point at which the football was turned over. Ways to turn over the football include:

  • An interception: During a pass, an opposing team member catches the ball.

  • A fumble: Before a play is considered dead, the ball is dropped to the ground and an opposing player obtains it.

  • A punt: The possessing team opts to kick the ball to avoid giving the receiving team a good starting point.

  • A turnover on downs: The team in possession fails to advance the football 10 yards after 4 consecutive downs.

At the beginning of the game (and sometimes at the beginning of the second half), teams participate in a coin toss. The team that wins the coin toss will then answer one of the following questions:

  1. Whether they will kick the ball to the opposing team or receive the kick from the opposing team. The team that receives the football first at the beginning of the game will, by default, allow the opposing team to receive the football first at the beginning of the 2nd half.

  2. Which side of the football field they will defend (separated by the 50 yard line).

  3. Whether to allow the other team to make the decision to any of these questions.

There are various ways to score points during a game of football. Below are a few examples:

  • When a player advances the football (either through a run or catch) past the point of their opponent’s goal line, 6 points are awarded. This is referred to as a touchdown.

  • After a touchdown, the team that scored the points is allowed to kick the ball through the goal posts or again advance the ball past the goal line from the 2 yard line. If they make the kick, 1 point is awarded. If they advance the ball successfully, 2 points are awarded.

  • At any time, the team in possession of the football may choose to kick a field goal from any point on the field. This is often done when a team cannot advance the ball any further due to time or lack of “downs.” If a field goal is scored, 3 points are awarded.

  • When the possessing team is caused to down the football in their own end zone, 2 points are awarded to the opposing team. This is referred to as a safety.

Training for Football

Strength training is very important for any football player. In order to be successful at most positions played in football, an individual will need strength to overcome their opponent’s strength. Provided below is a workout program that can be used by anyone just beginning to play the game of football.



  • Power Clean: 6 sets – 1 set of 8 repetitions, 3 sets of 5 repetitions, 2 sets of 3 repetitions

  • Barbell Squats: 6 sets – 2 sets of 8 repetitions, 2 sets of 5 repetitions, 2 sets of 3 repetitions

  • Barbell Dead Lift: 6 sets – 1 set of 10 repetitions, 2 sets of 8 repetitions, 3 sets of 4 repetitions

  • Front Barbell Squats: 5 sets – 3 sets of 6 repetitions, 2 sets of 4 repetitions

  • Barbell Lunges: 4 sets – All sets are 8 to 12 repetitions

  • Lying Leg Curls: 5 sets – 3 sets of 12 repetitions, 2 sets of 8 repetitions

  • Abdominals Toe Touchers: 4 sets – All sets are 25 to 35 repetitions

  • Jack Knife: 5 sets – 3 sets of 25 repetitions, 2 sets of 15 repetitions




Typical Injuries Associated With Football

Back Injuries: Of all the common injuries experienced by football players, back pain accounts for 65% of the injuries. A large amount of stress is placed upon the back when bending, twisting or jumping during a game. If you experience a notable back injury, always consider it to be severe and seek the help of a physical therapist or a medical professional. This will ensure that the proper rehabilitation procedures are taken.

Head Injury: There have been numerous studies into how common head injuries are for football players. Although protected by a helmet, the helmet-to-helmet impact between players is extremely high. This leads to a high incidence of concussions. In addition, there are instances where the player’s helmet comes off during a play and is exposed to impact from the other players.

Skull fractures, smaller bone fractures and brain tissue damage as well as clots, lesions, nerve network tears and brain surface damage are all injuries that can be suffered due to a blow to the head. If a head injury is suffered, seek immediate medical attention.

Nutritional Information for Football Players

Ensure that your diet has enough carbohydrates. Each day, 50% of the food you consume should be derived from complex carbohydrates.

Protein is important to football players as strength training is a major part of their exercise program. Make sure that at least 35% of your daily food intake is comprised of protein. High levels of protein can be found in eggs, red meat, chicken, legumes and soy products.

Before games, be sure to eat meals that are high in carbohydrates but low in fat. These foods may include lean cuts of meat like turkey, potatoes, eggs and pasta.

After games, replenish fluids first and then consume a meal that is high in protein. Typical food choices would include steak, fish, potatoes, pasta and chicken.

When attempting to gain weight, do so with healthy foods instead of turning to fried foods, fast food and sugar. Consider purchasing a weight gain supplement that is high in protein.

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