The NFL hosts the annual scouting combine for the best college football players to showcase their talents in front of team coaches, scouts and executives. This scouting combine is only one of many football tryouts that take place every year from youth to professional football. Proper preparation and training enhances your performance at the tryout to improve your chances of making the team. One of the most important factors to optimal tryout performance is having a foundation of strength, speed and power.
Set up a training schedule. As a general rule, a football strength and conditioning program is split into three major phases -- off-season, in-season and transition -- that take place year-round. The off-season phase covers the six-month period before the season and focuses on developing absolute and maximal strength. Adjust the timing of the off-season training schedule around the date of the tryout. Most beginning football players or novice lifters should spend at least eight to 10 weeks building strength for the tryout while experienced lifters can dedicate three to five weeks.
Practice the tests that will be performed during the tryout. Having experience and knowledge with the individual tests will improve your overall tryout performance. The tests may vary slightly but sample tasks include the 40-yard dash; bench press for a one-rep maximum, or total number of repetitions with a specific weight; vertical jump; and shuttle run. Practice the activities that comprise these tests two to three days per week as part of your general strength and conditioning workout. You can also add additional drills for your specific position. For example, a lineman may require additional strength, agility, blocking or footwork drills.
Perform strength training three to four days per week leading up to the tryout. Incorporate major functional lifts that develop strength, speed and power. These lifts include back squats; deadlifts; bench press; shoulder press; and Olympic lifts such as cleans, jerks and snatches. Train for maximal strength by focusing on explosive power during every repetition. Perform a total of one to five repetitions for three to seven sets with three to five minutes of rest between sets.
Perform plyometrics, agility and speed training drills two to three days per week. These drills build lower body strength while also improving your speed, agility, balance and mobility. Focus on jump training using light loads and explosive movements. Sample exercises include box jumps, jump-rope and medicine ball exercises. Each workout should consist of five to seven different exercises performed for three sets of 10 repetitions.