Talking from a rookie’s perspective, playing offensive tackle requires a combination of the proper technique, fitness, speed, explosiveness and bulk. Before my first training session, I was no stranger to a gym but I’m happy to admit I never pushed myself as hard as I do now. Prior to football, the gym was a place for me to go for a jog on a treadmill, or use a bike or cross trainer for anything between 30 minutes to an hour. I barely utilised the weights section and watched people using the battle ropes while thinking how pointless an exercise that was. The pool was used for leisurely swims and my core rarely received any attention. I was close minded, lacked proper fitness education and was overweight and frustrated with a lack of progress. During this time I also trained in Krav Maga but these classes focussed less on fitness and more on technique.
What have I found since playing American Football? Regardless of position on the offensive line, there are some key attributes that need to be honed:
- Fitness – Can I last for four 15 minute quarters without sacrificing speed and power?
- Speed – Can I take on a fast defensive line (especially on pass protection) and get up to and secure a line-backer during a run play (when applicable)?
- Pace – After holding the block on a punt, can I sprint down field to close off/apply pressure to/tackle a punt returner?
- Explosiveness – How fast can I go from a static 3 point stance to engaging a d-lineman with enough power to make a gap for a ball carrier on a run through or engage a d-lineman and/or drop back (into zone) when pass blocking.
I feel I was lucky to join the Wembley Stallions just before the off season conditioning started. The coaches who lead these sessions provided a lot of useful advice on exercise and diet which I very quickly utilised in my regular gym training sessions. Long gone are the 30 minutes then home days of old. Recently I have stepped up my training to include: four 16 minute sets of interval running/sprinting. For this I start off on a run for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds, increasing my speed so I am running faster than the 30 seconds previously. By the end of each 16 minute set, I am running flat out. In between each set, I do a series of weight sets which vary on the day. They include, incline, decline and regular bench press, lateral pull downs, battle ropes and calisthenics to help with core strength and balance. Once the four sets are over, I move onto ladder drills to improve footwork. One of the main things I have learnt is to structure my workouts before I get to the gym.
Playing with the Wembley Stallions has not only ignited an interest in American football but also a keen interest in fitness. We are often sharing workout tips and dietary advice in our whatsapp group and I am constantly looking for workouts to add so as to keep the gym interesting. L.Bentley Offensive Line Performance is one of a few sites that I follow that regularly post really good articles and videos on how to better yourself as an O-lineman. As a unit, utilising the app Myfitnesspal has been useful in sharing healthy dietary tips with each other.
All in all, I may not have played football for that long yet but I’ve already surprised myself, mainly with the limits that I can push myself to so far. I’m 27 at the moment and am probably the fittest I have been in a long time. If you don’t shy away from hard work, don’t mind taking a knock (or two) and want to join a team filled with really friendly people, I’d thoroughly recommend coming to one of our training sessions on a Saturday morning. If you want more details, send a private message through the contact us page or comment below.