The Importance of Off-Season Conditioning

The college football season has been over for a month. The peak recruiting season has been over for a few weeks. Spring football, for most programs, is still roughly one month away.

From a fan's perspective, this is a quiet time. There aren't even any preseason magazines to enjoy!

Do not underestimate, however, how important this time is in the life of a college football team.

Winter conditioning is often where some of the best teams are built. It's time when players, after some time off to rest their bodies, begin the slow climb toward peak health and strength, two things that get worn down considerably during the course of a long season. It's when a program's strength and conditioning staff takes over the coaching and works on the mindset of players by training for increased mental and physical toughness. Players call upon this training once the season rolls around.

Winter conditioning also helps identify new leaders among the players. The outgoing seniors are either preparing for their shot at the NFL or some other role in the job market. New guys, often seniors-to-be, set the goals and worldview of the team in January, February and March. Captains aren't often elected in the winter, but captains are discovered and shaped at that time.

Coaches generally adopt more of a hands-off approach during this period. They're still around, of course, making plans for the future, but they also want their strength staffs to do their best to build team bonds before spring football when all those players will be competing against each other for playing time.

Winter conditioning is also the time when dreams of better seasons are born. For any number of programs coming off of disappointing seasons, winter is when players envision a better season and make their pacts to achieve that vision.

The game of football takes a well-deserved break, and this is one of the slowest times of the year for the game. But football life is perpetual, and there's something important about this time, right now.