Summer is officially here and NFL teams have released their training camp schedules for the 2010 NFL football season. There is no better summer vacation for families than a visit to watch the players of the NFL prepare for the upcoming season.
Each year in late July the players, coaches, administrators, and assorted other NFL staff members make their way to training camp. For 3 to 4 weeks, the players and coaches work intensely to improve their personal and team performances. Its great to see the rigorous work that the players put in to prepare for the 16 game regular season.
Many of the 32 NFL teams hold their camps outside of their home city. For example, the Baltimore Ravens hold training camp 1 hour from Baltimore in Westminster, MD and the Chicago Bears hold theirs in Bourbannais, IL,1.5 hours south of Chicago.
On field practices are usually open to the public and are free of charge. This means that fans can watch the players at work — participating in drills, 7 on 7s, and joking around with teammates, coaches, and even fans. Moreover, for fantasy football players, it is a chance to check out the players up close before the fantasy football draft.
All 32 NFL teams hold public practices, but each vary in their schedules, policies, and Here are 5 tips for getting the most out of your visit to NFL training camp: here are the training camp locations and dates.
1) Items for physical comfort. There are many things that you should bring to make sure you and your crew are as comfortable as possible. This is especially true if you are bringing kids with you. Remember, training camp is outside and occurs in the late July and early August. In many places, this means that it will be hot. Bottled water, snacks, sunblock, hats, and even seats like those you might bring to a kids soccer game. Different teams offer different seating arrangements and provisions for shade. All have some form of concessions, but they may be expensive and are not likely to be the healthiest options. (BTW, parking is typically free)
2) Confirm the time of the practice, the location, and get there early. The benefit to being there early is that you can watch the players come onto the field and stretch. You will quickly see each players personality in the time and way they enter the field. Its also a great chance to see the players up close, often times before they have their pads or helmets on. Great opportunities for pictures and sometimes autographs and short conversations. Make sure you allow some time for traffic, parking, and walking to the facility from the parking area. (Most teams offer information on their official websites regarding parking)
3) Bring a camera, felt tip markers and pens, and mini-helmets, pennants, hats, jerseys, t-shirts and other items that you would like autographed. Firstly, when we say bring a camera, we mean a real camera. While cell phone cameras have expanded our universe, for an NFL training camp, a real camera is a much better call. For example, zooming in may be the best way to get a close up of Peyton Manning as he works with backups and the quarterback coach on a far field. Or you may want more megapixels for the picture of you and Larry Fitzgerald during your visit to Flagstaff, AZ.
For autographs, the opportunities will vary based on team policies. Each team will have designated autograph sessions and some autograph opportunities are dependent on the personalities of various players. For example, each training camp, the Pittsburgh Steelers hold a Friday night practice at a local high school in Latrobe, PA. As the practice begins, the entire Steelers team walks out to the fences around the field and sign autographs for about 15 minutes.
4) Get a good night sleep and save your voice. A visit to an NFL training camp is an awesome fun and can be very tiring. Much like a trip to an amusement park — excitement + sun + heat can make us all tired. Some of us may even become cranky. Make sure that you follow this tip as well the others to cut down on the likelihood of crankiness. Also, be ready to cheer for your favorites. Whether shouting hey to Ocho Cinco or joining in a rendition of Bear Down Chicago Bears with other fans, training camp is a great opportunity to show your team spirit.
5) Bring a football and other small games to play with. There is nothing more inspiring than watching pro football players practice. Its why you will see countless pigskins flying around and fans running patterns while the pros practice on the field.
Some teams may even provide kids zones full of activities or allow you to help with practice (fans at Raven’s camp can shag field goal attempts on the side fields). Check your teams website to find out what type of activities they offer at their facilities. All will likely have souvenir shops so be prepared for that!
6) Dress like its a game! Players, coaches, and other fans will appreciate your full support during camp. Two a day practices are draining and enthusiastic fans can easily change the momentum around camp. Get your jerseys, team t-shirts, hats, and flags ready. Remember, the real season is just around the corner and we all could use a tune up.