Vikings fullback C.J. Ham is teaming up with the Saint Paul Parks & Recreation Department to help young people stay active during stoppages of youth sports and closures of group facilities caused by COVID-19.
Ham put together a virtual football camp with a series of videos in which he demonstrates football drills that young players can do while practicing social distancing and adhering to the stay-at-home order.
"Hey, what's going on everybody? It's C.J. Ham with the Minnesota Vikings. I hope everybody is staying safe and healthy during this time," Ham says in an introduction. "I know it can be very hard to find ways to stay active while we're sitting at home all day, so I'm here to help us find some easy ways to get active and go through some football drills from the comfort of our living room or our front or back yards.
"I just wanted to say thank you to all of those who are joining me from Saint Paul Parks & Recreation," Ham continues. "I'm so excited to partner with them during this time and bring these workouts from my home to yours."
Ham adds a "special shout-out" to medical personnel first responders and others "fighting on the front lines of this pandemic."
"I know we want to get out there back on the field, the courts, go back to the park, whatever that may be, but let's just do our part, continue to stay home and do our best to stay active at home," Ham adds.
Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said the city's parks and recreation department appreciated the help and encouragement.
"During these unprecedented times, engaging in healthy activities is vital," Mayor Carter said. "This partnership with C.J. Ham and the Minnesota Vikings helps us stay connected through creative stay-at-home workouts."
Ham took advantage of a sunny day in his back yard, but he pointed out that the drills can occur indoors with about 6 feet of space.
He leads a warm-up that consists of jumping jacks, body-weight squats and jump squats.
"Warming up is important in every activity that we do," Ham says. "It helps get the blood flowing, the body moving, helps prevent us from getting injured."
After demonstrating multiple directions of movement — from side-to-side shuffles to quick feet to up-downs — that should start and finish in a "good, athletic stance," Ham creates agility drills similar to the ladder drill that he and Vikings running backs often do.
Rather than a ladder, Ham spaces a row of training cones about 2 feet apart, but he points out that other substitutions are possible.
"If you don't have cones, you can use shoes in the same space, pillows, towels, whatever you may have at home," he says.
The first agility drill involves landing both feet in between each cone. The second drill involves alternating feet, and the third demonstrates lateral movement.
"Get our knees up as high as we can," he encourages. "These are things that you can practice while you're at home.
"Once you get more comfortable with them, you can speed it up, make it into a competition with your mom and dad, brothers and sisters, or whoever is in your house and just have fun with it," he adds.
Ham also guides viewers through how to work on hand-eye coordination, even if no one else is able to throw passes, by lying on the ground, tossing a ball upward and catching it.
"When catching the football, you want to make a diamond with your hands and you want to receive the ball, squeeze it and make sure you are looking at the ball the whole time," Ham says. "Just like in any sport, when you take your eye off the ball, it's hard to catch."
The Duluth native reminded everyone to follow guidelines that have been offered to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"I know everybody is super excited to get back out and visit their favorite parks in Saint Paul, and that time will come, but for now, let's take what we learned today and stay active at home," Ham says. "Thank you so much for joining me."