Contrary to popular belief, the NFL actually does have an off-season and if you are here it means you want to find out exactly how it’s going to go down.
The off-season begins the moment following a team's last game and goes until training camp starts the following July.
Off-season training is, as you can imagine, extremely important for various reasons, with the most obvious one being to help athletes become faster and more explosive by integrating performance training, nutrition and physical therapy.
The NFL's off-season workout program is broken into three phases:
- Phase 1: Strength – Conditioning – Rehab
- Phase 2: On-Field Workouts (no live contact)
- Phase 3: Team Activities, also known as OTAs
New England’s Patriots Rob & Glenn Gronkowski started their off-season training on April the 17th and they are more than looking forward to work on their speed, power & performance.
It's great to be back with the team training and preparing for next season. Every year it's a fight to keep improving yourself in some way. – Rob Gronkowski
Off-season training is all about improving yourself. For a younger guy like me I look forward to developing my speed, strength and agility. Plus, getting to know the plays better as now is the time to get the reps. – Glenn Gronkowski
Phase One of the Off-Season (4 hours a day)
Phase one features a foundational strength, power, and movement program to actively recover from the previous season. It’s during this phase that only strength and conditioning coaches are allowed on the field and they work with the athletes to build a base level of conditioning to prepare for the more intense phases to come.
The first one and a half to 2 hours (max) are spent on the field and after that the players can choose the other 2 hours for weight training.
This first training phase lasts for two weeks with activities limited to strength, conditioning and physical rehabilitation ONLY.
Phase Two of the Off-Season (4 hours a day)
In phase two, athletes prepare for the rigors of their team’s minicamp. They take part in a more advanced strength and power program and start to build explosive speed, power, and agility.
The rules are the exact same as phase one but with some alterations:
- All coaches are allowed on the field
- Individual and “Perfect Play” drills are allowed
- No offense vs. defense, no 1 vs 1 & no helmets
This second training phase consists of the next 3 weeks of the program. On-field workouts usually include individual player instructions and drills, as well as team practices that adhere to the previous rules. So no live contact or offense vs defense drills are permitted.
Phase Three of the Off-Season (6 hours a day)
In the final phase, the athletes shift focus to position-specific work capacity, movement quality, speed, and agility. At the end of this phase, athletes will be in top shape and ready to compete during training camp and throughout the season.
Phase three consists of the next four weeks of the program. Teams will conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity, or “OTAs”. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted. Helmets are now allowed as well as protective knee and elbow pads.
One week - usually the last week of this phase - consists of the mandatory minicamp. So the schedule for phase 3 remains fairly simple:
- 4 weeks of Organized Team Activities
- Only 3 OTAs per week are allowed for the first 2 weeks
- The third week consists of 4 OTAs
- The final week is usually the mandatory minicamp
Minicamp (10 hours a day)
The Minicamp, which usually takes place on the last week of Phase 3 of the off-season, starts on Monday and there is no practice, just physicals for all athletes.
Then, Tuesday through Thursday are practice days and there are two practices allowed daily, each one lasting a maximum of 3 and a half hours. The second daily practice is limited to walk-through activities only!
Friday is always a much-needed day-off!
For those of you who are interested, the New England’s Patriots OTA off-season workouts are on May 22-23, May 25, May 31, June 1, June 12-13, June 15 and the minicamp is Tuesday, June 6th to Thursday, June 8th!
What The Off-Season Is All About
The NFL off-season is a time for every athlete to reflect on the last year and focus on the year to come. It’s a time to work on weaknesses, a time to rehabilitate past injuries. It’s a time for athletes to get their mind right!
The training schedule is less time-intensive compared to the actual season and this brings the opportunity for vacations with family, or catching up on personal hobbies and recreation. Even though there is still plenty to do, the off-season is a welcome chance to break from the long hours of the regular season!
And most importantly what’s worth remembering is that smart work in the off-season leads to big plays during the season!
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