The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' official offseason training program began on Monday, and the 16-week series of workouts, weight training, mini-camps and classroom study will stretch almost to the end of June. After roughly a month off, Buccaneer players will convene again at team headquarters for the start of training camp in late July.
In other words, even though football is an autumn sport and the heat of summer can be brutal in Central Florida, the vacation months are critical to the development of Buccaneer players.
The same is often true for youth football players, who – given the right opportunities – can hone their developing skills significantly during June, July and August. Fortunately for young athletes in Florida, there will be several such opportunities in the summer of 2009.
That's because USA Football is bringing its renowned Player Academies to the Sunshine State this summer, conducting a pair of camps that are sponsored in part by the Buccaneers.
USA Football has scheduled 12 Player Academies in June and July this year, hitting such states as Ohio, Texas and California. Florida and Illinois are the only states that will be visited twice, with both camps taking place in Polk and Osceola Counties. The first camp will be conducted from June 15-18 at Poinciana High School in Poinciana, which spans both counties. The second will run from July 27-30 at Haines City Parks and Recreation in Haines City of Polk County.
USA Football Player Academies, designed for youth players aged 9 to 14, encompass three days of instruction covering the fundamentals of offense, defense and special teams.
Academy players are split into three age brackets – 9-10, 11-12 and 13-14 – allowing for age-appropriate pace and sophistication. The camps' controlled and limited contact incorporates game-like situations.
"I've been coaching youth football for four years now and this was by far the best camp that I've experienced," said Matt Estes of Annandale, Va., whose son, Jacob, participated in a 2008 USA Football Player Academy. "The things that Jacob learned put him at least a year ahead of other kids in his league. The coach-to-player ratio was excellent for his age group. He'll definitely return to this camp this summer."
Player Academy enrollment is capped at 200 for an effective 10-to-1 player-to-clinician ratio. Clinicians are recognizable and accomplished high school and youth coaches from a camp's surrounding area. With an on-field and classroom football curriculum, Academy players also learn from keynote speakers lending insight and inspiration to excel as both athletes and people. Age-appropriate classroom sessions focus on rules, Xs and Os, film study and more.
USA Football was endowed by the NFL and the NFL Players Association in 2002. It is a non-profit organization that serves as the national governing body of football at the youth and amateur levels. USA Football plays host to more than 100 training events each year, offering programs for youth players, coaches and officials. Jack Kemp, former congressman and star NFL quarterback, is the organization's chairman.
Registration for the two camps in Florida is already underway and, as mentioned above, there are a limited number of available spots. Visit the registration page on the USA Football web site to sign up your kids today.