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In the National Football League, training camp refers to the time before the season commences. During this time, teams will sometimes congregate at an outside location, usually a university, to conduct training camp for at least the first few weeks. This is similar to baseball's spring training.

Recently the NFL has let teams have off-season training sessions, officially called Organized Team Activities (OTA's). Many teams use the OTA's to help develop players and make them better. These training sessions are in late April, early May. The OTA's are the only practices between the end of the previous season and the start of training camp. New players to the NFL attend seminars and lectures organized by the NFL from mid-June to mid-July. For veteran players, they use the off-time to sponsor football camps for children, golf outings for charity, or even some family time.

Training camp is used in several different ways. New players and coaches use it to acclimate themselves to new teammates, new systems, and weather since training camps begin in the hot days of summer. Young players use the time to prove that they can become starters. Veterans use the time to prove they can still handle the workload.

Training camp is divided into several different components. The first is scrimmages. These are pseudo-games where teams run nearly full games' worth of plays. Sometimes, two practice sessions are held on the same day. This concept is referred to as two-a-days. Other parts of training camp include drills, meetings with coaches and other players at one's position, weight training, and pre-season games.

The latter half of training camp leads directly into the exhibition season.

College, high school, and junior leagues (e.g. municipal) also have training camps. At a college or university level, the NCAA regulates the start of collegiate football training camps. At most US high schools with football, the state's high school athletic association or commission regulates the start of training camps. For junior leagues they are regulated by different bodies. The start of football training camp varies from state to state. The NCAA teams start practices in early-August. Like the NFL, NCAA and high school football teams have the same type of practice schedules. Often a morning, afternoon, and evening practices are scheduled. The only difference is in high schools there are no weekend practices. In addition in high schools, players need time to acclimate to weather conditions, so usually the first couple practices are not done in pads.

In some high schools, athletic associations or commissions have even integrated scrimmage games similar to the NFL preseason games. These games do not count for any standings.

With NFL training camps starting in late-July, the biggest concern has been dehydration. In 2001, Minnesota Vikings player Korey Stringer died from medical condition based from dehydration and heatstroke. The death of Stringer, prompted the NFL to change their training policies. At each practice, every team must have the team doctor and trainers on the field, also an ambulance must be present during practices. Many players are encouraged to drink lots of water and fluids.

Weather can play havoc with training camp too. With NFL training camps beginning in late-July, severe weather can affect practice and exhibition games. In 2002, a Cleveland Browns exhibition game ended due to lightning near Cleveland Browns Stadium and severe storms have been known to disrupt training camps of some of the Southern teams. Weather can affect the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game too.


Training camp sites by team

Team Site Location
Arizona Cardinals Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, Arizona
Atlanta Falcons Atlanta Falcons Training Facility Flowery Branch, Georgia
Baltimore Ravens McDaniel College Westminster, Maryland
Buffalo Bills St. John Fisher College Pittsford, New York
Carolina Panthers Wofford College Spartanburg, South Carolina
Chicago Bears Olivet Nazarene University Bourbonnais, Illinois
Cincinnati Bengals Georgetown College Georgetown, Kentucky
Cleveland Browns Cleveland Browns Training Facility Berea, Ohio
Dallas Cowboys San Antonio Alamodome San Antonio, Texas
Denver Broncos Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Centre Centennial, Colorado
Detroit Lions Detroit Lions Training Facility Allen Park, Michigan
Green Bay Packers Don Hutson Center Green Bay, Wisconsin
Houston Texans Houston Texans Practice Facility Houston, Texas
Indianapolis Colts Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Terre Haute, Indiana
Jacksonville Jaguars Jacksonville Municipal Stadium Jacksonville, Florida
Kansas City Chiefs Spratt Stadium Complex at Missouri Western State University St. Joseph, Missouri
Miami Dolphins Miami Dolphins Training Facility Davie, Florida
Minnesota Vikings Minnesota State University, Mankato Mankato, Minnesota
New England Patriots Gillette Stadium Foxboro, Massachusetts
New Orleans Saints New Orleans Saints Training Facility Metairie, Louisiana
New York Giants SUNY at Albany Albany, New York
New York Jets SUNY at Cortland[1] Cortland, New York
Oakland Raiders Napa Valley Marriott Napa Valley, California
Philadelphia Eagles Lehigh University Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh Steelers Saint Vincent College Latrobe, Pennsylvania
St. Louis Rams Russell Athletic Training Center Earth City, Missouri
San Diego Chargers Chargers Park San Diego, California
San Francisco 49ers San Francisco 49ers Complex Santa Clara, California
Seattle Seahawks Virginia Mason Athletic Center Renton, Washington
Tampa Bay Buccaneers One Buccaneer Place Tampa, Florida
Tennessee Titans Baptist Sports Park Nashville, Tennessee
Washington Redskins Redskins Park Ashburn, Virginia

Differences with baseball

Unlike Major League Baseball spring training, where teams congregate at locations in two states, NFL teams train all over the United States. An increasing number of teams do so in the same facilities at which they practice all year long - 16 teams in 2008. Most of these teams departed distant locations to "come home" for training camp. For example, the Lions' camp was long held at Saginaw Valley State College, the Broncos trained at the University of Northern Colorado, and the Redskins moved in from Dickinson College, the former site of Carlisle Indian School.

However, it is still fairly common for teams to use somewhat distant locations at the fringes of their markets to promote their team. For instance, the Buffalo Bills moved their training camp from SUNY Fredonia in Fredonia, New York to Saint John Fisher College in suburban Rochester to better capitalize on the Rochester market. Similarly, the New York Jets moved their training camp from Long Island to SUNY Cortland in Cortland, New York. The other New York team, the New York Giants, have held their training camp in Albany for many years.

Another difference between spring training and training camp is that true intra-squad games do not take place (anymore), though informal scrimmages are very common. Split-squad games never happen in the NFL. It is also fairly common to see two teams hold a short joint camp and scrimmage at a neutral site in addition to their main camp.

See also

External links




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