Football virgin! Help!
June 30, 2011 10:17 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to be a sophomore in high school, and I wanna play football for the first time. What do I need, and what should I expect? Practice starts in 6 weeks.

I'm 5`10" 235-240, never played organized sports before and aren't the most fit person in the world. Here's my questions:
-What position can I expect?
-What can I do to prepare?
-Can I pick up the game quickly, starting so late in mylife, how will I compare to other players that have been playing for years?
-What should my bench/squat/clean etc be?
-What equipment do I need?
-What should I expect?
Any other tips would be great... thanks guys!
posted by sizzil34 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total)
I think a lot of your reasonable expectations depend on:
Where you live... there are big football places and not big football places
How big your school is... the bigger it is, the more competitive the positioning of the team will be
How serious the program is... there are school that go to State finals every year and schools that get the shit kicked out of them every year. The experiences are different and so is the level of seriousness.

You need a cup, a mouthpiece, and cleats to start.
How familiar are you with the game? This will mean a lot with regard to learning curve and position.

If you are super new to the game, worry about your skills before your strength. How much you bench doesn't matter nearly as much as your technique.

For physical prep, I would run sprints until you feel like you are going to yak, that will get you ready for running sprints until you feel like you are going to yak. I might also do burpees until you feel like you are going to puke. In general, these thing are going to be less terrible the more lean you are. If you can get your diet figured out (lots of protein not a lot of bullshit) before hand, you will be ahead of the game compared to the people who were lazy all summer (an advantage you might need being as new to the game as you are).

Good luck, MeFi mail me for anything else. You put more info here so other can chime in on the points I missed.
posted by milqman at 10:48 PM on June 30, 2011

Do you have contact information for the coach? My high school team allowed athletes to use the weight room and participate in conditioning drills before the season began, under the supervision of the assistant coach. They could also help you out a bit with weight lifting tips and just generally let you know what to expect. If the coach isn't around, you can ask for the athletic director or anyone in the athletic office. Be respectful and polite, but don't be shy.

A lot of this is my experience at a very small school, so this might or might not apply!

We were expected to provide cleats, workout clothes, and a water bottle; uniforms (practice and game), pads, and helmets were provided. A few of the more well-off kids had Under Armor or other fancy gear, some kids didn't. There are different cleats for different sports, you can go to an athletic supply store and ask them to help you find some.

In terms of position, it really depends on the makeup of your team, both physically and skill-wise. I was relatively big, slow, and clumsy compared to many on my team so I ended up on the offensive line. They measure your weight, height, speed, standing jump, stuff like that to get an idea of where you stand. At other schools, I would have been too small to be competitive for O line. (Playing against those giant corn-fed teams was about as fun as it sounds).

If they sort by skill level, you might end up with a bunch of pre-pubertal freshmen (we had varsity and JV, some schools have freshman teams as well). That may make you one of the biggest on the team and the offensive line might be in your future as well.

We were allowed to try for various positions, so if you have anything you'd particularly like to try, keep that in mind and do your best.

We did conditioning drills with the entire team, but we also split off into different groupings for the different position-specific skills, and we split into varsity and JV to run plays.

In terms of preparation, I'd worry much more about conditioning than skill at this point. Everything will be easier if you are in shape--psychologically, physically, everything.

Good luck and have fun.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:54 PM on June 30, 2011

Ah, that reminds me, we were given mouthpieces. I didn't need a cup so I don't know if we were provided with those.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:55 PM on June 30, 2011

Note: My experience is decades out of date, but may prove useful.

Given your size, I'd expect to play on the offensive or defensive line. A talent for running, catching, throwing, or kicking would lead to different positions.

At 15, attitude is worth quite a bit and can replace experience (which will come). Let them teach you to be good at it, and work on the things they ask you to work on. Getting the basics down matters, as milqman says, more than being the fastest or strongest.

Remember that if they're yelling at you (or all of you), that's an accepted sports practice that they think will motivate you. It's unclear if it works, but don't take it personally.

In Texas, you'd be on the junior varsity squad, which is above the freshman team and reserved for sophomores and juniors who aren't on the varsity team. Since you're not joining as a freshman, that team is likely to already be formed and players returning from last year will have ideas about their own roles and ways to work together. You would (at most Texas HS's) need to earn a spot on the team. See attitude and practicing, above.

Again, in Texas, you'd be told what equipment you needed. IIRC, it was "your own Cleats" and most everything else was provided.

Early in the season practices often are more conditioning than learning or practice. This is where the coach(es) figure out what you should be doing in the weight room.

Looking at my Alma Mater's website, they have summer workout plans, a weight training program, contact info, and the reams of forms that are needed. Practice typically starts well before the school year, so make sure they have what they need now.

Good luck! It should be tough, but also rewarding.
posted by Mad_Carew at 10:56 PM on June 30, 2011

Someone suggested contacting the coach, they may be doing summer conditioning and you should be welcome to join. You will need a physical to play when "real practice " starts. I hope you have a great experience, I have never been on a team or played sports, but am enjoying it through my kids!
posted by jennstra at 12:23 AM on July 1, 2011

Do this. I didn't play any sports in school, and now I regret it.
posted by teatime at 12:54 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

The thing that really distinguishes American football from most other team sports is the hitting. Football, at most positions, is mainly about hitting some one, or several someones, harder and better than they hit you. Some people have more appetite and attitude for this than others. Top linebackers and defensive lineman definitely enjoy contact, and the sense of physical success that comes from imposing their will on an opposing player by skill and physical force. Nearly 40 years after I played my last snap, that feeling of hitting resistance, and feeling another body give as I push into it, and make it go somewhere I want it to go, is still what I miss most about the game.

But not everybody enjoys it as much, and some people don't cotton to contact at all. There is an element of physical courage to it, and having a high tolerance for noise and pain helps, but those who really enjoy it really aren't hurt by contact; they learn technique to efficiently transfer energy to other players in contact, and along with that, to transfer most of the hurt to their targets.

Other people don't mind hitting and being hit, but take a longer than average time to heal the bruises, strains and sprains that come naturally with such a sport, and over the course of a season, will find that their body fails to respond as they would like. In a typical 10 game high school season, with one holiday week, and perhaps one or two playoff games, a defensive lineman who starts and plays without major injury will be in something like 300 to 400 game plays, and will spend another 40 to 60 hours in heavy physical practice activity; so, there is ample opportunity for minor injury, and, usually, no tomorrow for healing, that doesn't involve missing games. Hands and elbows always get a beating, as do feet, lower legs and ankles, ribs, and shoulders. Dealing with the hurt honestly, communicating accurately with coaches and trainers about your physical state, and learning to play, safely, with minor injury, is part and parcel of football.

In return for that kind of dedication, you'll learn things about yourself that you'd learn no other way. You'll also learn about being a member of team, and succeeding or failing as such. If you stick it out for a whole season or more, even if you're not a good player, you'll be a fitter, more disciplined person, and most likely, a better student, for having done it. If you are good, you may get an athletic school letter, some press in your home town paper, maybe a 2 minute radio or even TV interview on your local station, and some great memories. If you're very, very good, you may get college offers, but 98% or so of high school players don't. And someday, if you become a parent, you'll have a base of experience to draw from when your son or daughter wants to play competitive sports.
posted by paulsc at 1:16 AM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

It's difficult to say what position you might play without knowing more about the makeup of your school and team. I went to a namby-pamby private school from a massive public school where football was 'the thing'.At my private school, I started two ways and was the strongest person on the team; I'm not even sure I would have played that much at the public school.

Right now though, you should be training every day, or at least six days a week, a couple hours a day. Get to a gym. Focus on strength and not repetitions. I would incoporate a healthy mix of sprints, running stairs,and plyometrics for your footwork. Distance running is not as crucial but you should be able to run a couple miles without stopping.

Typically practice schedules start without pads. All you need is your cleats,a cup, and a water bottle.

Good luck. Watch your head when you're hitting. But don't be afraid to put your whole body into someone. It's a great stress reliever.
posted by ofthestrait at 5:31 AM on July 1, 2011

You will have a much easier time if you are a) in shape and b) have the basic skills to complete the drills.

Your team should have a summer workout plan or something similar that you can get by contacting the coach. Your coach should be able to tell you the running speed and distance expectations for preseason. In addition, you might also find it helpful to work with someone who knows football on your technique.

You should also do some of your physical training outside during the day. Pushing your physical limits is different indoors (in the ac) than on a field in the blazing August heat.
posted by oceano at 8:32 AM on July 1, 2011

Get fit.
posted by sandmanwv at 9:41 AM on July 1, 2011

Agreeing with the others to contact the coach at your school. They will likely have form of summer program for the team. You should expect to have practices begin in late Summer before the school year begins. Traditionally (at least in the Mid-West where I went to school) the season starts with a two week period of "Two-A-Day" practices. That is, you practice for 4 hours in the morning, break for lunch, then practice another 4 hours in the afternoon.
These practices will focus almost entirely on running and general endurance. Expect to throw up from exhaustion at least once. (The goal of these practices is to get you into as good a shape as is possible in a short amount of time, not to kill you or make you sick. If you feel dizzy or show any signs of heat stroke, speak up!)
After the "Two-A-Days" period is over, practices will get much easier, so try to remember that during the worst of things.
Given your size, you'll almost certainly end up as a lineman, defensive if you are quick, offensive otherwise, and both if you attend a smaller school. That means that every play you will be hitting against the lineman across the line from you. This really doesn't hurt. Most of the impact will be taken by the shoulder pads and in any case you start so close to the other person that you won't really be able to generate much momentum. When I played, the only bruises I ever picked up were on my fore-arms and knuckles.
Don't worry too much about not knowing the game. You'll be taught the plays that you need during your practices. You may also be given a play-book to memorize. This will be a few dozen plays with some limited variations. On every play you will have a particular goal that you need to achieve. If you are an offensive line-man, it will mostly just be bock the man in front or block the man to my right\left. Defense can be a little more free-form, but generally consists of trying to push past the blocker in front of you and get to the man with the ball.
Have fun! The practices can be grueling, but I think you'll find it's worth it.
posted by Eddie Mars at 12:05 PM on July 1, 2011

« Older How does one intentionally learn...   |   HDMI to multiple screens Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.