The Fitness Principle

Optimum Performance: The Benefits of the NFL Bye Week

Each NFL team plays a 16-game regular-season schedule over a 17-week period. The open date, which both the Saints and the Oakland Raiders share this year at week 7, is called a " bye week." The concept started back in 1990, when the league wanted to give teams a chance to rest their players between weeks 4-12.

According to an October 2013 article on ESPN's Fantasy Football site, "NFL teams benefit from a week off: In the past five seasons combined (2008-12), teams are 85-72-3 (.541 winning percentage) in their first games following their bye week, the group never posting a losing record in any of those individual years."

ESPN further stated, "Quarterbacks experienced the largest increase in production in games following the bye, particularly in home games. From 2008 to 2012, the position as a whole enjoyed an 8.0 percent boost in the week following the bye, and 17.9 percent in home games (that percentage comparing home games to other home games)."

Those statistics should bode quite well for Saints QB Drew Brees, who will put up his next stats at home against the Buffalo Bills, on October 27. Buffalo's open date is in week 12 this year.

Going into week 6, the Saints listed 15 players on their weekly NFL injury report: 4 ankles, 3 knees, 3 calf, 1 hamstring, neck, back, hand, and toe. Seven players were inactive for the Patriots game, while two players - defensive end Cameron Jordan and tight end Jimmy Graham- both sustained leg injuries during the game. You can say the Saints are in a definite need of rest, recovery, and repair during the break.

Having designed hundreds of customized NFL offseason modular performance training programs for every position in the game, I made sure to place a week of recovery, after every four weeks of work, thoughout my entire 16-week program.

The recovery week afforded my players the ability to have an unscripted activity level, with usually a vacation or time away with family and friends, as an integral part of the game plan. 

Tulane University sports psychologist, Dr. Lance Green notes, "The bye week gives players and coaches time to rehab both physical and mental injuries, to assess what's going well and what's not going well and to create ways to fix what's broken within the system and individual performances."

Bob Costas, my client and host of NBC's Football Night in America says, "Generally speaking, it would benefit a team to have its bye week later in the season. However, year-to-year and team-to-team, it could also be a random benefit, helping one team who may have hit the bye week at the perfect moment on its schedule."

When asked about the Saints current bye week activities, head coach Sean Payton said, "I think the most important (thing during a bye week to receive) is rest, especially for our players." Many teams use the time for a combination of walk-though practices, conditioning and strength training, along with multiple days off - with most work concluded by Thursday and players coming back the following Wednesday for game week.

Former Saints' team physician and orthopedic surgeon, Tim Finney, remarked, "If a player who has been previously injured (such as wide receiver Lance Moore) is toward the end of his rehab work, then the bye week can help. But, for a player just injured, it may just be a wash."

So what should we expect to see upon the Saints return to action? Green says the bye week, "Often leads players, coaches and support staff to return with a renewed sense of purpose, the re-creation of one's energy and spirit, and a commitment to The Plan" -- and, hopefully the post season. -- Mackie Shiltone

Mackie Shilstone, a regular contributor to NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, has been involved in the wellness sports performance industry for nearly 40 years. He is currently the fitness coach for Serena Williams and has trained numerous other professional athletes and consulted a litany of professional sports franchises. He's the Executive Director of the Fitness Principle with Mackie Shilstone at East Jefferson General Hospital. Contact him at mackieshilstone.com

 

Mackie Spotlight

EJGH’s very own Mackie Shilstone, Executive Director of the Fitness Principle, is in New York working with Serena Williams as she goes for another U.S. Open title. As Williams’s Fitness Coach, Mackie will be part of the team preparing her for matches throughout the tournament. To give everyone a behind-the-scenes look at how Williams prepares for every opponent, Mackie is writing a daily postcard for Nola.com detailing all the day’s happenings. Check back daily for updates. 

http://s.nola.com/GDYlvhQ-NOLA.com 8/22/13

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