So the NFL lockout is finally over, and the players can go back to work. Well they can kind of go back to work. Part of the new CBA has drastically reduced the players workload, and even eliminated two-a-days. The players managed to negotiate this as a part of player safety. And while they did win this point, I believe it will prove to be a Pyrrhic victory.
Enter my new favorite player in the NFL, Bart Scott. Scott, lineback for the Jets, has been the most outspoken on his objection to taking away the age old practice of two-a-days. “I think it’s wimping out, making football more soft,” Scott said, according to reports. “No reason to try and make camp easy.” He went on to say,”I get concerned you’re making football players weaker because you don’t push them past that threshold.”
It’s refreshing to think that, despite all the ridiculous tweets followed by insta-retractions that some pro athletes “Get It”. Despite Scott’s reference to “wimping out”, two-a-days are not a macho thing. They are in fact a business thing. The better conditioned you are the better you play, the better your numbers, the better your paycheck. It’s simple math. So simple even an NFL player should understand it. This also holds true for any athlete trying to make it to the next level. Coaches and scouts are looking for on the field production. They are looking for NUMBERS. And to increase your chance at better numbers you need to play the entire game at a high level and not fall off in the final minutes. How do you do that?! CONDITIONING!!
The players that were in favor of less off season football workouts and no two-a-days, presumably did so to decrease injuries and lengthen careers. However, reducing their conditioning work, in the end, will have the exact opposite effect. During the lockout the players and owners proved they are only interested in money. I have absolutely no problem with that. If you have an area of expertise, if you are the best at something then you should be paid accordingly. Fans are naive to think that the players care about them, and if they truly wanted the NFL to care they could withhold their weekly investment. It is no longer “just a game” when you get paid. It’s your job. And whether they admit it or not everyone with a job would gladly let someone negotiate a better compensation package for them if they could. Eliminating two-a-days is a mistake. Lower conditioning levels will decrease the quality of the product in the fourth quarter as well as the final games of the season. These lower numbers will lead to less $$ on the players next contract.
Scott was also quoted as saying “Two-a-days, it’s what football is all about…It’s about endurance, pain, will, putting yourself through something when your body is telling you it doesn’t want to go. Your mind controlling your body. That’s what camp is all about. With one-a-days, guys might not be in as good of shape as they would have been. Camp tears you down, and then a smart coach starts pulling back in enough time that allows players’ bodies to build back up.”
Once again he is dead on. The purpose of the extra football workouts in the preseason is to build your conditioning level up as high as possible. Once the season begins your conditioning level begins to drops off. There just in not enough hours in the days to recover from any extra workouts in season to keep your conditioning up. That’s when the litte nicks and injuries come in, and this is when people start to wear down in week 13 and 14.
NFL players fought hard against the 18 game schedule because of increased risk injury. What they don’t realize is that by reducing preseason conditioning they are doing the same exact thing. In the second part of this article, I will address what lessons you can learn from the NFL’s mistake, and how you can apply it to your own training.