What Are OTAs In Football? Learn Why Teams Have Them

Written By: Chris Haddad
Updated: April 19, 2024

Ever wonder what OTAs in football mean? You might have heard of “Offseason Training Activities.” If not, no worries.

This guide will explore OTAs and how they matter in football. We’ll look into what they are, how they work, and why they’re important for teams.

Importance and Benefits of OTAs in Football

OTAs in football

OTAs (Organized Team Activities) are the NFL’s off-season program. They help teams get ready and work better together. When the season ends, teams go home or away from the facility to start preparing. OTAs are the first time the teams are able to come together to practice.

Coaches use OTAs to teach players their offensive and defensive plans.

OTAs are great because they help teams determine whether new players are ready for the NFL. Coaches examine players’ skills and see how well they fit with the team, which is important for the team’s success.

OTAs also help players become better friends and teammates. By working together, players learn about each other’s talents, which improves their teamwork when playing.

Veterans will often skip OTAs if they know the playbook and they feel the need to not put any extra strain on their bodies.

Structure and Schedule of OTAs in Football

OTAs in football have a plan that mixes meetings, playbook learning, and practice. This plan is key for teams to get ready for the new season. It helps them work well together and see how good players are. Now, let’s dive into what OTAs usually look like and why players participate in them.

The day starts early with meetings. Here, coaches and players talk about what to expect in the upcoming practice, playbook installs, and any film corrections from the day before.

After the meeting, it’s off to the field for two hours. They practice in individual groups, then in small pods, and then as a team. This will help them get the communication and rhythm down.

Here is a list of what players can and can’t do from the NFLPA:

  • Workouts cannot begin prior to the first Monday in April for clubs with a new head coach or the third Monday in April for all other clubs
  • Workouts are strictly voluntary; Club officials cannot indicate workouts are anything other than voluntary
  • Maximum 4 w/o per week (no weekends), with one week being the mandatory minicamp (not permitted on weekends)
  • Contact work is prohibited in all workouts (e.g. “live” blocking, tackling, pass rushing, bump-and-run, etc.)
  • Intensity and tempo of drills should be at a level conducive to learning, with player safty as the highest priority.

The coaches and the NFL have rules about how hard these practices can be. They want to make sure everyone is learning and getting along. But they also keep an eye on keeping everyone safe and healthy.

Players don’t have to attend OTAs, but they really should. It’s a chance to get better, get to know their team, and learn new things. This is why teams really want their players to come.

Each team only has a set number of days for OTAs. They plan these days carefully. This way, players also have time to rest and not get too tired.

OTAs are all about improving, teamwork, and checking out how players will improve their stock before the season starts.

To see a complete list of what players can do, visit the NFLPA site here.

Rules and Guidelines for OTAs in Football

In football, OTAs have clear rules that NFL teams must follow. Teams get 10 days for OTAs in the off-season. These days help teams prepare for the new season and see how well their players are doing.

Coaches can be out on the field during OTAs to help their teams. However, players can’t do certain things. They can’t hit each other or do one-on-one drills. Though they might have to wear helmets, they can’t wear other protective gear.

There’s a special difference between OTAs and minicamps. Minicamps are mandatory for veterans, but OTAs are a choice. Still, teams really want their players to come to OTAs. They even offer them extra incentives to get them to show up.

The Role of OTAs in Team Development

OTAs are also a great time for coaches and scouts to watch players’ performance. They can see who needs to get better and who is doing great. This helps coaches plan better. It also helps everyone remember what they need to do by looking at the playbook again.

In the end, OTAs are key to a team’s growth. They help coaches practice and get organized. OTAs also help players smoothly integrate into the NFL. For coaches and scouts, it’s a chance to see what players can do and whether they need to hit free agency or draft a player who can fill the void.

The Impact of OTAs on Team Chemistry

For NFL teams, OTAs are more than practice. They help build team chemistry. Players and coaches learn from each other, and teaching methods are developed that help everyone learn better.

For veteran players, it’s an opportunity to gel with new teammates. For example, whenever a new wide receiver signs with a new team, the quarterback will go to OTAs and throw

Being present at OTAs shows that a team is ready to unite and make friends. This teamwork is key to winning both on and off the field. As Woody Allen once said, ‘80% of success is just showing up.’ At OTAs, players grow their skills and teach younger teammates, which helps the team work better together.

About the author 

Chris Haddad

Chris Haddad is the founder of vIQtory Sports & high school coach for over 12+ years. He has been featured as an authority on Hudl, Bleacher Report and countless other football-centric platforms. Chris continues to study and provide valuable content for those looking to learn more about the game of football.