Looking for an edge on the football field? Don’t laugh, but you may want to consider yoga.
You might be like I was a few years ago, thinking that yoga is for women. But once you learn about all the different ways yoga can improve your game, you may take yoga a little more seriously. Quite a few NFL players (Troy Polamalu, Ricky Williams, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh to name a few) have taken up yoga because of it’s benefits. I’ve found that one of the simplest ways of influencing behavior is education, so allow me to briefly share with you the ways yoga can help you on the football field.
Improved flexibility is one of the more commonly known benefits of yoga.
You can’t make plays on the sidelines, and improving your flexibility can reduce your risk of getting injured. On top of that, improving your range of motion can improve your performance.. You want to be careful, though, and not get “too” flexible. The flexibility of a ballet dancer may not be smart for football. There are several benefits to increasing your flexibility. If I started to list all of the benefits, I wouldn’t be able to fit what I want to say in this article. You might want to look into, or Google, to learn about all of the ways increasing flexibility can help you athletically.
Did you know that poor posture can put improper amounts of pressure on your joints, spine, muscles, and nerves?
A study conducted by the American Medical Athletic Association concluded that these conditions can hurt your athletic performance.
If you’re doing your yoga “poses” correctly, they’ll help you correct your body alignment.
As I said before, you can’t make football plays on the ground.
Balance is crucial for football players, especially if you play close to the line of scrimmage where you’re engaged in contact just about every play.
Overall Body Strength
Strength plays a major part in you generating the power you need to come out on the winning sides of the collisions you’re going to face on gridiron.
In fact, there’s a style of yoga called, “power” yoga that is focused on developing strength and flexibility.
But even if you’re not doing power yoga, there are several yoga poses in the other styles that develop your strength as well.
If you’re not deliberately working your core muscles in your current workout routine, yoga is a great way to do so.
Although “overall body strength” includes core strength, core strength is so overlooked and important, I felt this benefit of yoga deserved it’s own section.
The on-field benefits of a strong core (e.g. improved explosion and change of direction abilities) are numerous.
You’ve probably heard your coach tell you to “believe what you see.” In other words, he’s asking you to react to what you see, quickly. Regardless of the position you play, you need to be able to “read and react” quickly, if you want to dominate. Yoga helps you develop your mind-body coordination. Other Mental Benefits (Concentration, Focus, Mental Clarity, Calmness, Improved Memory)
You don’t need me to explain to you how improved focus and mental clarity can help you on the football field, do you? There are quite a few yoga techniques that’ll help you mentally. Take Dharana, for example, where you keep your mind in one place, instead of allowing it to wonder. Techniques like this increase your mental strength, which in turn develop your ability to concentrate.
The mental benefits of yoga are virtually endless for you as a football player. Imagine reacting faster, memorizing your playbook easier, making better decisions on the fly, and even being able to handle the pressure and stress of the big games better.
Let’s face it. Football is a brutal sport. If you play football over an extended period of time, you are going to get injured. Yoga is a great way to maintain your strength, flexibility, and overall physical fitness as you recover from your injuries. One of the worst parts of getting injured is the concern that all the hard work you put in during the off season is going down the drain since you can’t move like you could before your injury.
Yoga can help you with that.
Improved Body Awareness
I bet you’ve never even thought about body awareness before, but it can help you tremendously on the gridiron. As the name eludes to, body awareness is all about becoming more aware of your body, and the signals it’s constantly giving you. Most players slip into auto-pilot, and ignore the signals their bodies are giving them. This can be a crucial mistake. Yoga can help you learn your limitations and strengths, which can both be crucial to helping you prevent injuries on the field. As we said earlier, you can’t make plays on the sidelines. Although training hard is important, resting properly is just as important, and overtraining is a problem that can put you on the sidelines for a long time. There’s a difference between gritting-out a tough workout, and your body telling you that you’re on the verge of overtraining.
Do you know how to tell the difference?
If not, you’re starting to understand the power of yoga, and how it can help you on the field. All of these benefits and more are yours through consistent yoga practice. Good luck.