ota is not a single event, it is a generic term meaning “organized team activity.” otas refers to off-season team meetings and practices. Additionally, otas can mean team events like morale-boosting boot camps and bowling outings.
Key Fact: Each NFL team can schedule a certain amount of ota during the offseason based on the collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association.
Reading: What are ota’s in football
nfl teams post the dates of their scheduled ota practices. Practices are typically held in May and June and include veterans, recently drafted players, and undrafted free agents invited as athletes.
Normally, the ota calendar consists of three parts:
1. nfl offseason training schedules
The first weeks of the ota window are strength and conditioning. players lift weights, run races. injured players are monitored in their rehabilitation and are limited to certain activities.
2. learning the nfl playbook
according to former nfl coach jon gruden, there are hundreds of plays in a typical playbook. teams select 75-100 passing plays and 15-20 running plays when putting together a game plan for a particular week.
Playbooks and terminology vary from team to team. systems take time to learn if players switch systems, so imagine the challenge for newly recruited players and free agents switching teams.
So, while otas are voluntary, the implicit incentive for new players and players who want to play in the new season is to attend. Typically, only unsigned free agents or players who are renegotiating contracts will skip spring team activities.
ota teams are limited to the amount of full contact activity, per collective agreement. in fact, in 2022, washington commanders and coach ron rivera were fined by the nfl for overdoing contact drills to gain a competitive advantage.
3. low intensity contact and mandatory minicamps
As the ota window closes, teams can schedule up to 10 days of full non-contact practice. while tackling and full-speed blocks are not allowed, teams can line up and engage each other to practice plays.
Veterans Minicamp: Teams may schedule up to 4 days of mandatory practice. with a few caveats, all signed players must attend. these mandatory practices do not allow for intense contact, but do provide initial feedback to coaches on how the new team will perform.
new trainers get more time
Teams with fresh new coaches are allowed an additional veteran volunteer minicamp to help install new playbooks and new systems. in 2022, eight clubs will hold voluntary mini-camps for veterans.
Rules for additional volunteer mini-camps for veterans:
- must take place prior to the nfl draft
- no earlier than week three of the club’s offseason training schedule
- after at least one week of the two weeks of the phase an activity
When a disgruntled player wants to renegotiate his contract or wants out of his contract period, he sometimes sends an unsubtle signal by not attending an ota.
although attendance at otes is not required under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement between the nfl and the players union, teams, fans, and even some players tend to look down on other players who don’t attend otes ota.
ota spring time example
new england patriots:
- first day: April 18
- out-of-ota training sessions: May 23 and 24, May 26, June 1 and 3, June 13 and 14, 16 and June 17
- Mandatory Minicamp: June 7-9
- Players will begin their off-season training program on April 18, with otes beginning in late May.
- Day One: April 11
- Voluntary Mini Camp: April 25-27
- Ota Off-Season Workouts: May 23-24, May 26, May 31-June 1, June 3, June 6-7, June 9-10
- Mandatory Minicamp: June 13-15
- first day: april 18th
- workouts out of ota season: may 24 and 25, june 1 and 2, june 6 and 7, june 9 and 10
- mandatory mini camp: June 14-16