There’s no off season for elite athletes. Year round training is now the norm, allowing time to perfect technique, enhance skills, and work on conditioning. For football players the summer months are the right time to develop that extra edge leading into fall practice.
If your idea of a summer workout is some weight training, wind sprints and some laps around the track, you’re not likely to develop specific muscles and skills that will make a difference on the field. A number of special tools have been developed that will do just that. They are simple, easy to use and highly effective. And it’s not just football players who will benefit. Soccer, basketball, baseball — athletes in any sport that requires agility, power and speed can use these devices.
(leg strength, stride length and frequency)
With most resistance training you are standing or sitting still. Speed chutes bring running into the mix because you are pulling an open parachute behind you. Not only does it build leg strength, but it helps develop explosive speed — just what a running back wants when he hits the hole. The chute itself attaches to an adjustable belt. Run with resistance, then flip the Velcro® patch to release the chute and get that “shot-out-of-a-cannon” feel. Speed chute training is easy to do by yourself and the device is simple to use and store — just fold it up and take it with you.
Quick Ladders (foot speed, agility, coordination, overall quickness)
This device doesn’t strengthen your muscles, it helps you use them better. The 10-yard ladder with 18-inch squares allows for a variety of agility drills (backward, forward, sideways, in-out, hop scotch, etc.) that promotes a wide range of foot movements. Do them at the beginning of a workout, after warming up, because fresh muscles will help mobility.
Reaction Belts (reaction time, lateral movement)
In these drills two athletes face each other, wearing waist belts with a Velcro strap that attaches to the other person. One player then moves and fakes, trying to detach the strap, while the other player must be quick enough to follow so the strap stays in place. It quickens reflexes and improves stop-start ability — ideal for a defensive back.
Shoe Weights (Knee lift, jump height, speed and agility)
Here’s another device that combines resistance with speed. Unlike old fashioned ankle weights, modern designs wrap and distribute the weight around your foot, providing more balanced strength training. You can use them during training, or build strength as you walk around in your daily routine.
Speed Hurdles (feet placement, quickness, speed, running mechanics)
These small hurdles can be adjusted to 6- or 12-inch heights, allowing for a variety of exercises. All of them put a premium on quick movement of the feet and knees — a critical athletic skill. Football, basketball, baseball, soccer players and more can benefit from speed hurdle drills.
Lateral Resistor (lateral movement, change of direction, first step quickness)
This device is as simple as it is effective. A cord stretches horizontally on the inside of each ankle, making it harder to move side to side. By maintaining proper body position as you move side to side you will strengthen the muscles for rapid foot movement in any direction. It’s especially effective in improving hip flexibility and strengthening groin muscles.
We’ve all heard the adage “no pain, no gain.” Still, you can improve comfort during a workout with Under Armour compression clothing. This tight knit material offers several advantages:
The compressed design helps keep muscles relaxed.
It also helps your muscles recover after the workout.
You stay drier because the knit technology and microfiber design helps wick sweat away from your skin.
Some designs feature anti-microbial properties to help reduce odor.
High compression clothes aren’t just about comfort. There is significant academic research that shows performance benefits from wearing high compression clothing compared to looser fitting garments. In one study volleyball players were tested on a series of vertical jumps. While high compression shorts didn’t influence their jumping power, they were able to better maintain power during repeated efforts because their muscles didn’t get as tired.
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