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NGYFA News - Thu, Mar. 27, 2014

Football season has been over for a month. It is full-blown offseason for pretty much all youth football players. Many will stay active by playing another sport. Some will stay completely away from football and all sports. But all players have the opportunity to get better during the offseason.

This is what the great ones do

One trait that most great players have is each new season they come back better than they were the previous season. This is what separates Peyton Manning and Tom Brady from other quarterbacks. During the season, it can become a grind. Practice and game routines are pretty defined. That makes putting extensive work in certain aspects of a players game challenging.

But during the offseason, players can target certain aspects they want to improve. It's no different for youth athletes. Whether they are spending a few hours per week on the basketball court or are getting prepared to hit the baseball field, there is still opportunity to improve their football game.

It doesn't require as much as you think

A youth player doesn't have to have Peyton Manning's coaches, trainers or facilities to do so. It doesn't take much more than a willingness to do so. Here are 5 simple ways a youth athlete can use the offseason to go from good to great.

Play other sports. I'm a big proponent of youth athletes playing multiple sports. That was one of the best things I did as a kid. Playing multiple sports kept me in shape year round, but it also widened my skill set, which set me apart from the other kids playing just one of those sports.

Play the game for fun. Backyard play is one great way to develop skills. It seems kids today don't play in the backyard or the schoolyard as much as we did. Everything has to be organized. Unorganized play in the backyard or somewhere easy and convenient keeps them around the game and active playing it.

Focus on fitness. I've blocked out one hour per day, five days per week on my calendar for family fitness. During this hour, I take the kids to the gym, to the park or just around the neighborhood to do some type of physical activity. Most of the time it involves their sports, but we also bike ride, walk, run or even play tag. The key is to not allow them to become comfortable being inactive.

Watch some games. Since there won't be any football on TV, you'll have to be creative. If you recorded some of your kid's past season's games then pull them out and watch them. If you have cable TV, you can catch some old games or documentaries about the game of football. Being around the game impacts the mental and emotional part when you can't do the physical.

Do offseason workouts. As your kids get older and more developed it may be time for serious offseason training and workouts. If you aren't skilled enough to do this with them or don't have time, considering a quality and affordable private coach may be the answer. At this stage, you and your kids are really serious about going from good to great.

The offseason is a great time to get better. By taking some simple yet intentional activities you can help your kids do so. It'll make a big difference when the next season comes around.

How do you help our kids get better in the off-season?

Jackie Bledsoe Jr. is a writer, blogger, speaker, husband and sports parent of three. He's played sports for more than 30 years, including the collegiate level, while coaching youth sports for the past nine years. You can read more from Jackie on his blog,, and connect with him on Twitter (@jbledsoejr).

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