Stay (somewhat) sober
I know, I know. Staying sober during a family reunion may sound more painful than suffering a sprained ankle, but a football injury’s ill effects are guaranteed to outlast an afternoon of ribbing from your dad. Alcohol may numb the brain, but it also slows your reflexes, makes you clumsy, and can even interfere with your pain receptors, which could prevent you from immediately noticing when an injury has occurred.
You’re already tempting fate by hitting the field unconditioned -- don’t make things worse by stunting your brain’s response time. Save the cocktails for after the game... but maybe try to liquor up the competition? All’s fair in love and football.
Don’t go in cold
Unless you actually want to spend the week after Thanksgiving in a doctor’s office, I’m begging you, don’t go from couch sitter to backyard sprinter in the matter of a minute. While there may be a lot of standing around in football, it’s an incredibly active sport that requires cutting, quick changes of direction, and sprinting. These movements are not designed for the weak of heart (or the weak of legs). Before you get to the line of scrimmage, put yourself through an active warm-up. Try doing five minutes of jumping jacks, walking lunges, a slow jog, and lateral slides to help prepare your muscles for the game. Your siblings may laugh, but they’ll be hurting after that first series and you’ll be in mid-season form. More or less.