You don’t have to look like a yogi to experience the benefits of finding your Zen. In fact, for a large number of football players – professional and college – a yoga studio can provide much more than relaxation. It can also improve key abilities and attributes that are beneficial to on-field performance.
In fact, some teams have even brought in full-time coaches, while others have made yoga workouts mandatory.
Most yoga sessions rely extensively on the hips for range of motion. Football players rely on their hips for countless on-field movements. Receivers use them to get out of their breaks when running routes, linemen use them to get low and fire out of their stances, and linebackers use them to change direction and cover a speedy back going out for a pass.
THE MENTAL GAME
You can’t win every game or play on the football field. When times get tough, being able to channel yoga’s breathing and centering exercises can really come in handy. Given that there are anywhere between 25 and 40 seconds between plays, team members do have time to compose themselves for a moment and mentally move on to the next play.
It isn’t just the hips that benefit from practicing yoga. The hamstrings, back, core and shoulders also receive an added boost. A good lunge twist can prevent a pulled muscle when a receiver needs to extend themselves to make a play. The same logic exists for cornerbacks and safeties on the defensive side.
You wouldn’t think so on the surface, but maintaining a difficult yoga pose or plank can be as challenging as lifting heavy weights. Don’t believe us? Try maintaining a plank pose for 30 seconds. Then, move on to 60 seconds and 90 seconds. It’ll humble even the best of us.
YOGA EXERCISES FOR FOOTBALL PLAYERS
OPPOSITE ARMS, OPPOSITE LEGS Warms up the hip sockets, shoulder sockets and abs. Try it for 2 to 4 minutes.
LUNGE TWIST This pose will increase strength in the legs while stretching the quads and increasing rotation in the back.
PLANK POSE Performing a plank will increase your abdominal and hip flexor strength. If you’re looking to add to this move, an elbow to knee variation will deepen the ab crunch and strengthen the wrist joint.
DOWNWARD DOG Often seen as a rest period, this pose will open up the anterior deltoids (front of the shoulders), while stretching the biceps, neck and spine.
FROG The frog pose will help release the groin and inner thighs, but we recommend holding this one for at least 2 to 4 minutes to see the desired effect.