T Nation

9 Months to Get Ready...


Hey all, I bet you thought this was about something else...

Okay, here's the situation. I was recently approached to try out for a semi-pro / amateur football team. I work at the same place as the owner and she said I should try out next year. The tryouts are in April of 2006. The team is part of the Empire Football League, a regional league that includes teams from New York State and parts of Canada. Their link is here:


Here's the thing: I haven't played ball in over a decade, I'm now 30 years old, and I want to try out for a position I have never played before.

Perhaps I'm crazy, maybe I've seen "The Waterboy" one too many times, I don't know, but I do know that if I have a chance to play ball again, I'm going to take it. For the record, I played Defensive Back and am now interested in possibly playing Outside Linebacker.

My question is where do I start? I've got nine months to prepare for tryouts. Tryouts are in April but the season goes from July to October.

I'm currently 5'10", 195lbs, and have no idea what my 40 is. I would like to put on some size, increase my strength, and increase my speed, especially starting strength and explosivness.

I was thinking of doing CW's ABBH I and II along with a mass-gaining diet to put on some size while building strength, followed by DeFranco's WSB and WSB II programs to increase strength, speed, and work on specific agility drills. I'm also planning on incorporating some Renegade Training into the mix.

What do you guys and gals think? Any suggestions? Also, how should I go about learning LB strategies and techniques before tryouts?

Thank you all for your time, and I hope I can get some good responses to this. If you need me to elaborate on anything, let me know.


I would recommend some heavy sandbag work, believe it or not.

Josh Henkin has just published a great Sandbag manual, and you should get it.

The time frame you have is short, so make the most of every single training moment.

Sandbag it, baby. There is nothing better, and it is cheap to do.

But, oh so hard.

Hey, different is good!


Thanks for the advice. I've been thinking about incorporating sandbags into my training for a while now. CT's Renaissance article and your post have reminded me of that. Now, I must stop thinking about doing it and start doing it.

Anyone else want to chime in?

C'mon, Coach Davies? Mr. Defranco? Christian Thibaudeau (I read in a previous post that you played LB)? T-people? Bueller? Bueller?


I'm jealous. I'm 31 and haven't played since high school. I am in way better shape now, but I'm fragile, so no way in hell would I do it.

Still, for advice:

catch Charles Staley on prime time

i don't think the guy gets enough credibility from the masses, as he's not some huge mofo like Thib, but he is a true sports performance guru. it's what he does for a living. and he's a great guy.



Yeah, I'm a big fan of Charles Staley too. I first learned about him when I enrolled in the ISSA CFT program. I saw that he did a course for Specialist in Martial Arts Conditioning. I never took that but I do have his book "Science of Martial Arts Training." I will review that as there is probably relevant information in there.

My problem is, I never seem to be able to log in during the Prime Time sessions. I'll try to catch him though and hopefully he can help me out. Thank you guys for the help so far.


... also, I'm looking for advice on techniques and tactics of playing linebacker. Any good resources, or will I just be able to learn the proper mechanics and drills if I make it on the team? I have a heavy bag that I use for MA training...anyone have any football drills I can use with the heavy bag? Tackling, blocking, etc? Thanks in advance.


I am in the exact same situation as you.

And I am currently doing West Side for Skinny Bastards 2.

Also, I purchase the Core Performance book, hoping it will help me with flexbility.



Hey now....

I play semi-pro ball and have played teams in the Empire league...if you need any help, PM me.


a speed ladder would serve you well. As a former linebacker myself a quick first step and VISION are key. Practice maintaining a low firm base. The bag could be used as a tackling dummy (better if you have a friend to hold it). Make sure you are square with eyes up when you hit the dummy. Start doing more power cleans and explosive movements like that in the gym. Learn to drop back into coverage zones, but always ensure your first step is forward assuming run. A cover 2 does not mean you immediately drop into your zone, it means drop there if you read pass. This is where vision and quickness are key. I am not an expert, but these are things that helped me play well.


Some random thoughts...

Carry things...sandbags, farmers walk bars, rocks, barrels.

If you have a sled, pull it in all directions. If you don't have a sled, make one.

I suggest working on low to medium rep ranges, and think about doing EDT style workouts to keep the pace up.

Sprint. Sure, run your 40's but also run 5s, 10s, 20s, 50s, 100s...work on your lateral speed....

Work on the movements of whatever position you are...ex., if you are a DB, backpeddal.

They will prob. test your bench by 225 for reps. Up your max strenth in the bench and your reps will go up.

They'll test your 40...improve your running form and your time will go up...and I'm sure you know that prost. chain work is vital.

They will most likely give you the 10yd shuttle run. Stay low, dont spin, and drive thru the cones.

Frankly, I think tests are BS but, you gotta do them.

Given the fact that you already lift, and if you run for the next 9 months, you will be more in shape than 95% of the other guys. Don't worry about your age...I played on a team with a DL who was 52. He was a role player but ended up being 2nd on the team in sacks. I won't say who was first haha.

Some tips for the actual league play.

-You will come across quite a few jackoffs. Guys who are all talk and no play. Ignore them, someone on the other team tends to take care of these people.

-There will be quite a few "bush league" types who are out of shape, and are there mainly to start fights. Ignore them.

-The talent level will range from fromer pro players to guys who've never played before. Overall, however, you'll be surprised at how good the games are. I'd say the speed of the games is typically that of a Div. Iaa college game. Maybe Div. II, depending on the league. Remember though, these are grown men flying around...there will be some explosive hits.

-You'll have fun. For all the bad stuff that goes on, there's nothing like playing a game, getting beat up, then going out with your team mates and their families, friends etc, and eating and having some drinks.


All these people are awesome. I don't think you can go wrong with any of them. For football I immediatly think of Joe DeFranco.


The year I turned 30, I played semi pro for one year, after not having played since HS.

This was not one of the more elite leagues/teams, and you basically made the team if you had equipment and showed up to practice. I didn't do this to just make the team...

I played DB/WR in HS at 160 and I was about 190-195 when I pulled this stunt. I ended up playing center because I could shotgun snap and we ran the spread. I absolutely did not want to play OL, but I wanted to play. I started all season and never gave up a sack. We went 4-6.

1. Tell everyone that you are doing this! It will keep you motivated/focused.
2. Bust your ass in your training. I recommend reading the Sports Specific stuff at elitefts.com.
3. Use your head out there... you may have some advantage over some of the younger players.
4. Be willing to play any position and special teams.
5. Go for it, and have fun!

Keep us posted.



Thanks for all the input guys...especially the words of wisdom from those who have been there. I'll keep y'all posted.


All the above is good advice. I might try out for the position I knew best and played before. Then you can always tell the coach you want to switch or try another position. Or, at least tell the coach up front...I was a DB would like to try LB, but if you need a DB more, then I'll play that. Get on the team first. Hind site is 20/20. I learned that making the transition from high school to college ball. Good Luck!


Definitely add ballistic exercises to your workout to prepare your joints for the beating you're gonna take (and dish out).


I suggest "Smolov Squat Cycle" to increase your power! in the lower body. Also, "long-pulls" and hang cleans are good for the speed.

For the power in the "upper body" I should do some heavy benchtraining, and the strongman exercize " key toss".

Also, carry sandbags is a good "overall exercize."

But, try " Smolov Squat Cycle " to increase the lower body power.


Honestly, I really like that approach you have there. I have done Coach Davies' Renegade Training (and will likely get back to doing it again very soon) and I am doing WSSB II right now. In addition to all of the other great suggestions provided above, I think the core programs you outline coupled with some of the other tips would serve you really well.

Nice to see someone who has put some thought into all of this prior to posting. It's a lost art these days.



I am taking a keen interest in this thread as you are living out a dream of mine. Get back on the gridiron (after i get out of the Navy). I am gonna follow this one till it happens.

Found this training video, Del Rio was a solid player http://www.hitrunscore.com/k4266d-jack-del-rio-football-dvd.html

Nebraska has good defense:

a bunch of videos:

What panther said is very true. You need to start hitting and getting hit. SOMETHING EXTREMELY IMPORTANT: if you are going to succeed at LB, you HAVE to learn how to shed a block (probably from a much bigger person than yourself). I used push presses to develop the jabbing power in my arms. We had a hammer strength machine that worked well at the gym where I did my offseason work. It was called a ground based jammer. This is what it looks like: http://us.commercial.lifefitness.com/content.cfm/jammer . I don't suggest using it like the dousche in the video though. Can't find one at a gym near you, use barbell push presses and power clean and jerks like i said earlier. Again, I am no expert, but these movements helped me a TON. Start ecorporating plyometrics into your life too, box jumps and things like that. Like someone said earlier strongman training would also help a ton.


Linebacker? Take the advice that many T-men will tell you to do: eat like a mother fucker. You'll put on more mass which will give you a huge advantage.