Football Coaches Guide To Training Camp
It is no secret that training camp can be a long grinding endurance test. After all, that’s a good portion of what it’s all about. Obviously coaches want the football team to get better and certainly they want the team to bond throughout training camp. However, training camp is also about how well a player and a coach can handle the day in, day out practices without the reward of a game.
Teams are at different stages of training camp right now, with some just getting underway and some who have been in camp long enough to feel the drudgery that can come with three or four long weeks of work against yourself. We thought we would take a minute to look at training camp and remind everyone lucky enough to be in one that the best approach is to embrace it.
Now full disclosure here…I love training camp… No, really I do. There are a lot of things I like about coaching football but I’m serious when I say that training camp is at or near the top of the list of reasons why. Don’t get me wrong, the season filled with Saturdays or Sundays – depending on where you are coaching that year – is still exciting but there is something about training camp that is special.
I guess for me it’s a chance to escape the outside world and just coach football. Generally, training camps are very routine. They go something like…Wake-Eat-Meet-Practice-Eat-Meet-Practice-Eat-Meet-Sleep (a little) and then repeat the process for two or three weeks. When I coached I would generally lose track of the outside world during training camp. Family and friends understand; after all, it happens almost every year around the end of July and the beginning of August. It is football in its purest form and it is generally football 24-7.
What makes it special when it is compared to coaching in a stadium filled with 100,000 plus fans waiting to see what their team will bring them this weekend? Maybe that’s just it. It’s the work, it’s the long hours, the total football focus, the absence or near absence of everyday conveniences like cars, TV’s and other things we deem important in our day-to-day lives.
It’s what takes place when no one is really watching…yet. There are players, some will make the cut, some will not. Some older athletes trying to hang on to what they have and some younger trying to prove they belong. As coaches, we are just trying to find the right parts, the right chemistry, the right family to weather the demanding season once training camp is long gone and forgotten.
Make no mistake, the family part is important. Training camps are at their best when they are set up where coaches and players are put in an environment where they must work together, hang out together and become family. There is something to be said about working your tail off day in and day out and at the end of the day getting to know your teammate or co-worker who is just as committed.
Every good training camp I have been a part of has resulted in a much closer team coming out of camp than went into camp. All coaches know that when hard times come, and they surely will during the course of a long grueling season, a close team has a much better chance of enduring and coming out of the hard times successfully than a group of individuals.
So if you’re in the middle of training camp right now and can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, take an old coach’s advice and don’t look for the light at the end of the tunnel. Instead, embrace and enjoy the journey of training camp.
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