Category Archives: Notes from the Floor

Developing an Off-Season Plan for Football

When doing a needs analysis for a football team, it is easy to see how different each position really is.  In the past, football teams would have an off season program where every athlete was following the same routine.  I believe that football has the most varied needs of any team sport, so when designing the program, I have to take many things into consideration.

FootballPhysical Evaluation – Looking for strength imbalances, flexibility issues, what their current strength levels are in the major lifts, lower body power (vertical jump – dynamic & static), movement skills (agility drills), and 40 yard breakdown (10, 20 & 40yd results)

Positional Needs – Each position has varied strength, power and movement needs.  Would I have a receiver backpedal and cut?

Injuries – The early off-season is a time for recovering from injuries and also beginning a pre-hab protocol.  That includes all of the small stabilizing muscles in the shoulder, hip and ankles.

Age/Training Experience – Young players 13-15yrs compared to those 16-18 are going to be different.  Younger athletes will spend more time on single leg exercises such as split squats, step ups, single leg squats etc.  Also more time will be given to teach movement skills such as running drills etc.  After a few years in the program advanced methods such as resisted/overspeed training and complex training with prowler push and sprints  can be implemented.

Here are some needs for each position:

  • Shoulder Strength/Mobility – Flexibility, Rotator Cuff, Rhomboids
  • Back Rotators
  • Lats – Chin Up Variations, Pullovers
  • Leg Strength – lots of single leg work – Squats, Split Squats, Lunges
Running Back
  • Lean mass to absorb collisions
  • Lower Body Explosive Power – Cleans, Prowler Sprints
  • Cutting and Acceleration
  • Speed Strength – Snatch Variations
  • Complexes – Squats + Box Jumps
  • Slot Backs need more strength for blocking DL/LB
  • Cutting and Accelerating
  • Deceleration
Offensive Line
  • Body Mass
  • Explosive Power – Hang Cleans
  • Starting Strength – Deadlifts, Rack Squats
  • Hand/Forearm Strength – Thick Bar Holds
  • Starting Speed – 0-10yds focus
  • Agility – Lateral Reaction Drills
Defensive Line
  • Explosive Power – Clean Variations
  • Upper Body Strength – Incline Bench w/ chains
  • Pulling Strength – Chin Ups/Rows
  • Reaction Starts
  • Angle runs – turning the corner
  • Lean Mass to absorb collisions
  • Explosive Power – Clean Variations
  • Upper Body Strength to take on blocks – Bench press/Chin Ups
  • Lateral  Movement
  • Backpedal/Crossover to sprint
Defensive Backs
  • Speed Strength – Snatch Variations
  • Complexes – Squats + Hurdle Jumps
  • Hip Rotation Drills
  • Reaction Drills
  • Backpedal/Crossover to sprint
  • Lower body power
  • Hip/Hamstring Flexibility
  • more time on technical work


SST’s off–season program is based on a player that plays rep and high school football.  If their season is finished in November and they start up the rep season in May, this will be a progression used to recover from the previous year and then prepare for the next.


Active recovery

  • Two seasons back to back take a toll on your body.  It is important to take some time to recover after and take care of the bumps and bruises.  Usually 2-3 weeks is a good time frame. Some players may have played well over 20 games with Rep and High School



  • Each player should Start with a Fitness Assessment to determine your strengths & weaknesses.
  • Have your  body fat and lean mass calculated and set a goal for the upcoming season.
  • Have someone design nutrition program planned to help meet your goals. 80% of your goals will be achieved with proper Nutrition
  • 3-4 workouts per week
  • Workouts – focus on smaller muscles such as the VMO, Rhomboids, Hip Rotators, Rotator Cuffs. SST calls this phase the prehab month
  • Higher reps – to strengthen your tendons and ligaments and prepare you for the heavier lifting later.
  • Weights 50-70% 1RM – this is the time to build the foundation


  •  Start in increasing the weights and lowering the reps
  • Begin adding lower intensity plyometrics (except Linemen)
  • Reps are now in the 4-8 range
  • Weights 70-85% of 1RM
  • Focus on core lifts – accessory ones are individualized based on weaknesses


  • Implement Speed & Agility work – 2 sessions per week
  • Medium Intensity Plyometrics- make sure you document the amount of total jumps per week to avoid overtraining
  • Advanced lifters can be working in the 3-5 rep range for their main lifts
  • Intermediate 5-10
  • Beginners 6-12
  • One day – functional training – using tires, sleds, farmer’s walks, sandbags, sledgehammers


  • Speed Training
  • Add in 1-2 days of positional drills (or some teams will start indoor practices)
  • More explosive training – Higher intensity plyos and Olympic Lifts (advanced)
  • Med Intensity plyos & med ball training (beginner/intermediate)
  • One day include heavier Core lifts (example squats)


  • Focus on positional energy system training 2 x per week – conditioning for the season
  • Positional Drills 2 x per week
  • Weight room – now there are only 3 lift days
  • Lower Body – Explosive & Strength focus
  • Upper Body – Explosive & Strength focus
  • Full Body – Functional Day
  • This phase should maintain your lean mass, continue to improve strength & power while getting your legs conditioned for the season.


Steve Bodanis

Steve Bodanis

Steve Bodanis is the Owner of SST Hamilton and has trained NFL, NCAA, CFL and CIS players. In addition Steve has produced the 2nd fastest time recorded at the NFL Combine in 2013!

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