"It's about a tenth of a second, one dropped pass or caught pass, one missed or made block, a cut one way rather than the other. That's how close it is in this talent pool of players." - NFL Coach
Each and every year as July dawns pro football teams do what they have done for decades, open the locker room up, roll the equipment out to the field, get the practice shorts and T's ready for distribution, pile the neatly folded towels on the counter a few steps away from the showers and soak tanks. The smell of training camp is in the air, literally and figuratively.
College teams do this too. So do high school teams. But we're talking pro's here. Even the pro's have a annual training camp. Even that All-Pro player, who's been doing this since he was about 10 years old in some cases. Even he shows up for training camp.
These same world-class athletes, who show up when the weather is at it's hottest follows the advice and insights of their coach or coaches. Here's something more, today's best athletes even hire a personal skill coach for closer technique, strength, and diet training during the off-season. That's right, the season when they are "Off".
Keys here: 1) Participation in an annual training season. 2) Coaches eyes. 3) Commitment to deeper training in the off-season.
Pro football training camp, goes back to around 1919, and is used in several different ways. New players and coaches use it to acclimate themselves to new teammates and systems. For younger players, it serves as a period of evaluation; for veterans, it is time to round back into form. Major league baseball Spring training might be the oldest of the two sports, in sites other than their regular season game sites first became popular in the 1890s and by 1910 was in wide use. Early training sites include the St. Louis Cardinals in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma; the New York Yankees initially in hot and steamy New Orleans. NOTE: Players and coaches in the "Old days", back to the 1950's or earlier, didn't know if their physical and financial life would allow them to play from year-to-year. So, Spring or Summer training camp was also a time to see what sort of team would be fielded for the up coming season.
There must be a very good reason all of the pro's do this, time and time again. Let's look at the good, the bad, the ugly of training camp:
It's sort of a house-keeping: It challenges all players to be prepared to preform and be at their best in friendly confines, under helpful coaching eyes and advice. All knowing this is a time to be measured for excellence and good growth.
Vulnerability and transparency: Take a deep breathe here...at first this can be a little painful, because all of our blemishes are exposed. We all have a few. But, that's not the end of the world. The pro's deal with their strengths and weaknesses during this time, each year. Honest discussion and work is done. Motivation towards better is happening all around.
Injury and recovery: Injury is also prevalent during training camp. Not that it's the objective, but it happens, and all know they are susceptible to it. So, preparations in the off-season, up to and through camp is given extra-special priority to this. Finding that zone for pushing to without any injury is a crucial art most athletic trainers are skilled at, and the best teams have armed themselves with.
Good fuel: The physical and the mental play hand-in-hand with each other for world-class performance. Exceptional fuel is essential during intense training. The pro's know that their engine (body) might be ready to run, however, without exceptional fuel (fluids, foods, class-room time) they will fall short of the goal.
Summary: Let's picture ourselves in a pro-level, world-class position. Spring-training or Summer training camp is an essential to our greatest growth. Having a coach or two around to look in on our efforts, techniques and movement is a must. Off-season training pays-off. Exceptional fuel like the foods and beverages as well as the class-room time we ingest has to be a top priority.
Time for a training camp?