7 Tips to Survive Football Training Camp

Football player at practice

Every football player goes through the stress of intensive pre-season training, whether it’s on-site spring conditioning, two-a-day practice, or off-site football training camps. 

In fact, football camp is going to be the worst week (or up to 3 weeks) of the year. Even for the repeat camp attendee, this WILL be the most uncomfortable you will feel, physically and mentally, for the whole season. 

Yes, you will hurt. Yes, you will be tired. Yes, you will wish to do just about anything except think about football—you might think getting laundry washed and sorted sounds like a possible alternative. You know it’s going to be a hellish time, but you’re committed to playing football. So, how will you endure? 

I’ve assembled some been-there-done-that tips and tricks that helped me through the last decade of high level training camps. These tips have helped me and my teammates in all aspects of camp.

1. Socks

I know it sounds weird, but you want as many pairs of socks as possible. Especially if you are going through two a days. Hopefully you are showering any chance you get, but sometimes your schedule doesn’t allow it. A fresh pair of socks can go a long way mentally, but can go even longer for your sense of smell. Really, this goes for all clothing. Wear clean clothes even when you’re dirty and gross. Pack way more in your suitcase than you need so you can avoid multiple laundry trips each week.

2. Electrolytes 

Hydration is obviously key. That’s no secret. HOW you hydrate often gets overlooked! How you hydrate depends on if you’re trying to lose, maintain, or gain weight during training camp (I don’t know if anyone has ever been successful at gaining weight during camp). Yes, drinking water constantly is important no matter what, but if you’re trying to lose weight, just add electrolyte drops into every bottle of water you have. If you are trying to maintain your weight, add electrolyte drops in your bottles of water, and mix in a full bottle of Pedialyte twice a day. If you are trying to gain weight, drink 3-4 bottles of Pedialyte a day and a couple water bottles with electrolyte drops in them as well. Why Pedialyte you ask? It’s packed with flavor, tastes better than water, it’s loaded with electrolytes, and it also provides high levels of sugar. Before you try to use Pedialyte as a primary weight gainer (I might or might not know an athlete or two who have tried), recognize that it is not “recommended as a weight gainer”, and it won’t help you gain 20 pounds in training camp. Sugar intake is something you should think about when you’re trying to change your body composition.


3. Roll out and Ice Bath

Take the time to roll out, and definitely make sure you ice bath daily, even multiple times a day if possible! Yes you use a little bit of extra energy, but it is worth it! Your muscles need to recover properly even if you don’t feel sore directly after practice. I promise you, if you don’t, you WILL regret you didn’t when you wake up the next morning.


4. Play games

Play mini games with your teammates in the locker room or hallways, play pranks on each other, try to have fun. Don’t get out of control, but enjoy the nonstop time you’re spending with each other. It’ll help build unity and most importantly, it gets your mind off football for a few minutes. From personal experience, DO NOT play games that cause you to exert tons of extra energy. NOT WORTH IT.


5. Inflatable mattress, pillow, and blanket

Typically you’ll have at least a couple hours during the day where you will have a break. I highly suggest taking naps. Sleeping is scientifically proven to help recovery (and napping helps time just go faster.) If you have an inflatable mattress that you can blow up and keep in the closet at the facility, GREAT! If not, a pillow and blanket will do. During your breaks, go find empty rooms or dark corners where you can take a load off and pass out for a little bit. Small amounts of extra sleep will go a long way.


6. Ibuprofen

Trainers can have mixed opinions with this one, so read this suggestion and know that this is not official medical advice. This is my personal experience as a pro athlete, sharing what I felt helped me with the pain and inflammation. I took ibuprofen every morning after breakfast and at night before I went to bed (with food), for about 3 weeks straight. Oh, it’s also non habit forming. Added bonus.


7. Final thought: Save energy where you can

Wherever possible, try to save any energy. This will always be the key to finding relief during training camp. Start early with it. Don’t wait till you’re exhausted to start resting and taking care of your body or else it will be too late and you’ll be that much more miserable.

Ryker Mathews

Contributing Author

Ryker Mathews | CFL Lions O-Line, contributing member of Team Nation “Football Braintrust”

This post represents opinions of contributing author. Content should not be taken as medical advice. Content provided for informational purposes only. Please consult your healthcare provider or trainer for medical advice.

Team Nation

Recommended Resources

Whether you have an established program or are leveling up your team, check out these resources to keep you at the top of your game.