Training Camp officially starts tomorrow. With training camp comes the good and the bad. 10 year NFL vet Seth Payne gives us the 5 worst things about Training Camp.
1. Knowing guys are going to get cut before they know it themselves.
Have you ever had a buddy who can’t see that his girl is cheating on him, even though it’s obvious to the world? Rookies sometimes can’t see the writing on the wall when it’s obvious that the coaches have written them off. Not getting any reps in practice and games is like your girlfriend claiming she merely passed out on her ex-boyfriend’s couch and nothing happened. Three nights in a row.
The best thing you can do for these guys is give them enough of a pep talk that they don’t go in the tank mentally. Plenty of guys will get another shot after they’re cut, but if you’re a bubble player that gets a reputation as having a bad attitude it can be the kiss of death.
2. Lack of quality sleep.
Most NFL coaches are smart enough to schedule adequate time for sleep. Aside from the eight hours you can get at night, there’s usually a dead period between practices that can be used for naps. The problem is that a lot of guys are too stressed out to sleep very well. Adding to the problem is the fact that you’re over-trained, which by nature’s cruel joke also hurts sleep quality. All of this creates a vicious circle in which you don’t sleep well because you’re stressed, which makes you tired, which stresses you out even more, and then you sleep even worse. By the end of camp my night time “sleep” consisted of six hours of watching infomercials while obsessively checking to see that my alarm was properly set.
3. The heat. The cursed heat.
I grew up playing in the north. Any temperature above 90 degrees was cause for alarm. Then I went south. The first day I had to run wind sprints in Jacksonville it was 97 degrees, and I almost had a panic attack. We were running sixteen wind sprints, and around sprint 9 or 10 I started having fantasies about bolting the facility. It didn’t seem possible that humans, especially 310 pound humans, could function in that unbearable heat. There was an ice machine at the entrance to the practice fields and I eyed it like an oasis in the desert. I think my soul may have dissociated from my body and floated into the machine for sprints 11-16. All I know is that I woke up in an ice bath and my hands were covered in Gatorade.
4. The injuries.
If you’re a proven vet, sometimes a minor injury can actually offer a respite from the grind. You’ll take a few practices off and come back with fresh legs. If you’re a young guy trying to make the team, everything falls apart. You don’t want to miss opportunities or look soft, but can you risk putting bad film out there?
5. Dead legs.
I don’t know what Tour de France racers feel like at the end of the Tour, but I know this: They’d feel worse carrying around 80 extra pounds of flesh. Give Laurent Fignon an extra 15 points on his BMI and see how he does in the Alps. Training camp demands that fat men who are athletic as hell for short bursts compete in the fat man equivalent of the Tour de France, and its nonsense.
By week three or four of camp, most linemen are over-trained. They’ve been heaving their girth around twice a day at full effort, and their bodies can’t keep up. I don’t know of any other major professional sport that weakens their athletes immediately before the season, but it’s the standard practice in football. I used to look forward to the regular season because I figured that by week 3 I might be back to full strength.
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