The middle linebacker plays an integral role on the gridiron and is otherwise known as the "quarterback for the defense," because he is the player who receives and delivers all of the defensive plays being called from the sidelines. Simply put, it is his job to block the running plays that are coming up the middle, as well as to cover any receivers that are in his immediate path. Among the defensive line, he is generally the most skilled, if not the most accountable for the success or failure of the defense.
Keep Fit in the Off-Season
If you are determined to be the best middle linebacker you can be, it's crucial that you keep fit, even in the off-season. Stay on top of your conditioning and strength training; focusing on your upper body strength. When in the weight room, be the first one in and the last to leave. This is just one way to ensure success on the defensive line. Diet and exercise are an essential part of maintaining your edge, so be sure to load up on protein and carbohydrates. And drink lots of water during your workouts; good hydration is first and foremost. It takes a lot of strength and agility to fight off those blockers so that you can get to the ball-carrier. Bigger, faster and stronger -- that's your aim.
Use Your Head
Play smart, keeping your mind and instincts sharp. Football may be an extremely physical sport, but it is ultimately a game of intelligence and strategy. Any good middle linebacker worth his salt will know all of his team's defensive plays by heart and should be able to assume the opposing team's strategy based on their formation. Being in the thick of it, it is ultimately his responsibility to read and react to the team lined up opposite him.
Be a Strong Leader
Be a leader both on and off the field. One of the keys to winning games and being an overall successful student-athlete is leadership. Whether you're on the field or off, it's no secret that football teams perform better when there is leadership present. Being the "quarterback" for the defensive line demands a great deal of leadership skills; your teammates will be looking to you for example, direction and, of course, motivation.
In football, you can't teach size, but you can play fearlessly, and you can dominate in tackles with a good amount of confidence. You don't have to be the biggest guy on the team or the strongest, but you can be the player who leaves it all out on the field during every game. Football is a contact sport; don't be afraid of it, or you could get hurt.
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