NFL

An Inside Look at the Grueling Schedules of NFL Players After Game Day

While it’s easy to think of pro athletes as privileged millionaires who work one or two days a week, you might be surprised to learn that even NFL superstars have a weekly schedule they must follow. Professional athletes are pros for a reason. The best of the best put in ample work every day, approaching practice, the press, and their playbook like a full-time job.

So what does an NFL player’s average week look like during the season? Let’s break it down.   

The schedule of NFL players: Monday through Wednesday  

While every team has its own way of doing things, with its own routines, celebrations, and punishments, Mondays look pretty similar all around the league. According to Bleacher Report, the only difference is whether the team won or lost the night before. 

Monday’s theme is adjustment. Mornings begin early, between 6 and 8 a.m. for most teams, and involve a weightlifting session designed to reduce soreness from the prior day and promote flexibility for the tough week ahead.

Players also receive therapeutic intervention and treatment for injuries. Weight and therapy sessions are followed by a team breakfast, then grueling team meetings, tape review, and breakout meetings for groups like special teams, linemen, and offense.    

Tuesdays are an NFL-wide “day off” as mandated by the NFLPA, or NFL Player’s Association. This doesn’t mean you’ll find top-tier athletes taking it easy. Many NFL stars use Tuesday as an extra practice day. They work on conditioning, skill-building, or by studying game film.    

Wednesday marks a pivotal point in the week for most teams. By mid-week, coaches will have an idea of what the team did wrong the prior Sunday as well as what the team needs to do against its upcoming opponent. Because of this, Wednesday is typically the longest day of the week. It’s known as install day spent learning a new playbook for the coming week.   

Thursday through Saturday  

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers stays on schedule
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan prepares to board a plane | Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Thursday looks a lot like Wednesday as in-depth practices continue, according to Newsday. The game plan for the coming week is revised and fine-tuned. Each focus has meetings to further develop game-day strategy.  Coaches also use this time to tweak the upcoming playbook based on information from scouts, film, and progress on the field.

Friday is the final day to refine the team’s offensive and defensive sets. It’s also typically a short day with practices and meetings held until the early afternoon only. This is the final chance for players to show they’ve mastered the playbook before a game.   

Saturdays look different depending on whether the game is at home or away, reports HowStuffWorks. If the game is at home, the early part of the day involves a walk-through practice, meaning players train at half speed.

The offense and defense will make any last-minute adjustments to scenarios specific to the team they will play. If the game is away, most of Saturday is spent traveling. Then, a sit-down team meeting takes place before dinner and curfew at the hotel later that night.

Game-day in the NFL

Sunday is the culmination of an NFL player’s long, exhausting work week. Players eat a balanced, carb-heavy breakfast the morning of the game. After breakfast, they stretch and receive different massage therapy to warm up muscles. The rest of the day is spent warming up and getting into the zone.

We all know what game time is like; it’s the reason we love football. But technically the players’ week doesn’t end after the fourth quarter. Victory speeches or conciliatory talks occur, followed by locker-room press access and a formal press conference.

The night ends with a mad dash to the bus — and the airport for the visiting team — as both sides head home and prepare to do it all over again in the morning.