Dan Skuta, Bengals linebacker for the first four years of his NFL career, appreciates the challenges and rewards available to those who play football at the professional level.

He also knows, however, how hard it often is for young players to get their foot in the door—including the level of training and commitment it often takes to transition from one level of the sport to the next.

Below, Dan Skuta, a one-time Bengals linebacker, shares what he believes to be some of the basics of beginners’ football training—items aspiring young talents should focus on as they work to make an impact on the field and throughout their career.

Go basic and lift heavy in the weight room.

Any effective football training program, particularly at the high school level, includes a heavy lifting regimen. But the best results, it’s often best to go with the simplest formula available: Basic and heavy. Though sets and reps vary, focusing on big lifts (press, bench, incline, squat, etc.) is generally best for improving the strength you’ll need to be effective on the gridiron.

Pick a plan and stick with it.

As Dan Skuta, former Bengals linebacker knows well, those new to football often fall into the trap of alternating plans every other week, an inconsistency that doesn’t do anybody much good. Whether it’s technique on the field, exercises at practice or lifting in the weight room, it’s usually best to stick with the same approach throughout the course of training.

Work hard regardless of the program.

You may find out in the middle of your program that you picked a bad one. It happens. But it’s important to note that full-blown effort on a bad program always trumps going halfway on a good one. No matter the course you’ve taken, training to play on the gridiron is and should be hard work. Success isn’t possible without it.

A nine-year pro, Dan Skuta, former Bengals star, enjoys the opportunity to see promising young talents realize their full potential.