Pro Bowl Player
Joined: April 19th, 2005, 2:10 pm
Everything starts with a struggle- Herm Edwards-NY Jets
Everything starts with a struggle
- New York Jets head coach Herm Edwards
The next step in my quest to make it as an NFL punter starts with the struggle that is the New York Jets training camp - 30 days of intensive training that began on July 29.
Actually, I see the training camp as the third rung on a six-rung ladder that I hoped to climb when I set out on this US football quest.
The first step was to sign a contract, the second to work towards perfecting the NFL punting technique. The third step was to make it to training camp. The fourth step is to punt in a real NFL match. The fifth step is to hold my spot on the roster. The sixth step is to help the Jets win the Superbowl.
The Jets' training camp is held at our complex at Hofstra University on Long Island and is a big event on the club's calendar.
A host of companies sponsor the camp and fans are encouraged to get along. Entry is free and there is an interactive theme park called Generation Jets Fest, which features games, activities and inflatable kids' play equipment. There are also organised sessions where the guys sign autographs and pose for photographs.
The NFL fans love these camps, because they are essentially their only chance all season to see the players training.
By the time you read this, I will have just finished a scrimmage against the New York Giants at their training base on a university campus in Albany. It was my first chance to punt "live" against an opposing team, with a player returning my punts.
On Friday, we were to play the Detroit Lions at the Meadowlands in the opening practice match of the pre-season.
There is no formal pre-season competition, like the AFL's Wizard Cup, but I can assure you the clubs take the practice matches very seriously. They want to beat other teams in every facet of the game. For example, if another team is averaging 43 yards for its punts, then our punts had better average at least 44 yards.
So far, the training camp has been mentally and physically draining. There were 12 practice sessions alone in the first week.
It's very different from an AFL pre-season. The focus is not on the aerobic component, as it would be at Geelong. The Jets coaches simply expect that you'll do some cardio work to keep your body fat down. The heavy weights training has been done and the weights program is now more about maintenance.
The players are divided into their relevant groups and concentrate on skills and training according to their specific needs.
For the punters and kickers, much of that focus is on staying strong, powerful and flexible, as well as repeatedly going over our plays. Most of the other position players rely on repeat efforts. There are about 70 plays a game and each play requires maximum effort to achieve the desired results.
Punters and kickers don't have it as tough as some of the other players, but when it's your time to step up, there's no doubt the expectation is as high as it would be for anyone else at the club.
We're all staying in the dormitories, which means sleeping in a pretty uncomfortable single bed. But the days are so long that you'd pretty much crash out on a bed of nails.
A TYPICAL DAY AT NFL CAMP
To give you an idea of how the past week has pan ned out, here's a rundown of a typical day at camp.
6.30am: Wake-up call.
8.30am: Assemble on the field.
8.45-11am: This session is broken into 11 specific training periods, taking in anything from a team stretch to individual drills to rookies going through team plays. (Weights training is done three days a week before or after morning practice).
12.15pm: Coaches review videos of morning prac tice and prepare for afternoon sessions.
3.15pm: Kickers and return specialist assemble on the field.
3.30-6pm: Another 12 specific training periods, mostly going through drills with 11 players against 11, nine against nine, seven against seven, etc.
6.45pm: Coaches review videos of afternoon training and prepare for evening's meetings.
7.15pm: A meeting for special team players and coaches, at which video footage is reviewed and goals are set out for the next day.
8pm: Meeting involving all players, at which the head coach reviews the day's practice and lays out the next day's schedule.
10pm: Break in meetings; players can get injury treatment.
10.15pm: Team snack - there is chicken, pizza, cold meat, yoghurt, ice-cream and fresh fruit, and everything is colour-coded into three levels according to calorie and fat content.
10.30pm: Staff meeting, including updates on injured players.
11pm: Bed check - two coaches and one trainer are on duty to make sure all the players are in bed in their rooms and ready to do it all again the next day.