Published on July 26th, 2013 | by Joe Starks0
Exercise Spotlight: American Football
At first, American football might sometimes look like a pile of brutes pushing each other around, but in truth it is one of the most versatile and exciting games when you get to know it better. It is a relatively modern game the way we know it now. It was conceived by Walter Camp during the seven years between 1873 and 1880. Before that the game that seemed most like American football was a very rough and violent sport, which was banned from many countries and places. People loved the sport nonetheless and this is why safety rules were implemented, giving birth to what we know today as American football. But what is American football exactly? What are the benefits of playing it and what are the downsides? How do you train for American football? Let’s get some answers to those simple questions.
What is American football?
American football is played on a large field that measures 120 yards in length and 53 yards and a foot wide. The basic idea behind the game is to fight inch for inch to control the opponent team’s territory. This can be a far harder task than it is in other games, because in American football almost full body contact is allowed. You can push, fall on and hold down opponents with your weight. The sport has many different “positions” or roles that have to be filled. The linemen are the first line of defense and offense. They have to keep the opponents pushed away from their part of the field and to push them back too. Quarter backs need to be able to run and to take hits as their role is to carry the ball fast into the opponent field when opportunity arises. Half backs need to be very fast and agile, while also knowing they will be tackled very often. Kickers kick the ball into the opponent field or even the goal. Wide receivers need to be very versatile and quick.
Generally everyone gets pushed and tackled a lot, so strength is the main component of the game, as is endurance.
What are the benefits of playing American football?
American football is generally a male dominated game, because of the high aggression and strength requirement. Advantages of playing this sport are:
- It is very social. You bond a lot with your teammates and even the opponents, since there is a lot of respect and touching involved in this game. You must be able to control your aggression, but still be good at what you do. This can teach young people a lot about keeping control of their emotions and bodies.
- It is a full body exercise. You need strength pretty much in every muscle of your body, if you want to survive a good American football match.
- It is versatile and fun. There are a lot of aspects to the game and teams can differ a lot when it comes to tactics and skills. Games tend to be more different from each other.
- It can build a lot of confidence, especially in young boys and teenagers. Physical strength and emotional strength can offer a lot of confidence to a kid that’s still trying to find an identity.
What are the disadvantages of American football?
Sadly there are quite a few disadvantages to this popular sport. Some of those are:
- High aggression. Players are more accident prone because raw strength is applied to each other constantly. Many players retire early or find the game too brutish.
- Extreme high impact. Almost as high an impact sport like boxing, American football in its pure form should not be played by little children, sick people or the elderly. The sheer force and violence can be detrimental. There are child friendly variations of the sport, with very little bodily contact and the taking of ribbons used instead of tackling.
- It needs immense strength. People with weaker builds are certainly disadvantaged in this game, to the point of making playing it impossible. It is a game for the athletic and strong. One can always improve their physique to some extend though. Very short or very petite people should just look for another sport.
How to train for American football
Training for American football is very versatile and it depends on the role you take in your team. Linemen have different training requirements than quarterbacks and kickers etc. Depending on your position you might need to focus more on speed or strength, but strength and endurance must be something all train to a certain point.
Some of the exercises used are:
- Squats and other body weight floor exercises. It is important to increase strength with exercises that use the body’s own weight, so that the body can get used to the use of its muscles.
- Strength training with weight. Bench presses and the like are mandatory to build the all important strength American football requires of its players.
- Agility training. Some positions need it more than others, but training your agility with floor ladders and obstacle courses can improve everyone’s play.
- Speed training. Those positions that have to carry the ball to the end need to learn how to run and to run very fast at that. Sprinting drills are mandatory for them.
- Playing the game offers the best training. Getting to know other teams and feeling the real impact of pushing a strong human being or being tackled is important.
American Football might be a very aggressive, high impact sport, but it can be an extremely fun way to vent some testosterone frustration and to make good friends. If all players abide by the rules the game can be quite safe and certainly safer than a real fight frustrated boys could get into. For adults, the game offers an amazing chance to gain strength and to use it practically, while most bodybuilders just show it off. It is generally a male dominated sport, but women with a taste for strength and aggression might delight in playing the sport too. Typical American football is not a sport for the very young or old.