The Art & Science behind Pro-Football Combine performance training

Setting aside what genetic potential you are born with; superior athletes are developed. We as performance specialists with this in mind must first define what we are preparing for, combine preparation. The NFL Combine is: A showcase where college football players perform physical and mental tests in front of National Football League coaches, general managers, and scouts. At Paramount Athletic Performance we’ve created a performance training and injury prevention program that has perennially produced an average in improvement in excess of 8% year over year in the 40 yd. Dash performance marker. (The 2013 Avg. 40 yd for all positions was 4.76 sec.; an 8% improvement relative to Combine performance avg. is 4.41) This kind of change can take a late round draft status pick and rocket their stock to the top of the draft board by position as far as metrics are concerned. To put this into perspective for an elite level athlete the margins of improvement measured for top speed are marked in single digits. For example, an athlete who runs 5.0 second 40 yd. dash then goes through our training ends up with an 8% increase in speed can run a 4.63 sec. 40 yd. dash. Our methodology on an average year over year basis has athletes running 8% faster than they have ever posted in their lives. This kind of improvement is either the difference maker between getting a job in the N.F.L. being drafted or signed as a free agent or ending your football-playing career. Improving the raw athleticism of the football player is the responsibility of the Performance coach. Football players who use their skills on command at maximum potential require training at intense bursts of short speed intervals, explosive weight training, prescription plyometric training, and various implement training for variation.

The following parameters define our multi-dimensional A.D.A.P.T.S training model. Performance training designed to facilitate the development of the six major components of Combine preparation are: Assess, Design Augment, Produce, Train, and Specify. These are integrated to the athlete’s time specific goals and sequence the critical components of the performance parameters.

Assessment of Posture/Gait analysis; length/tension relationships; athlete specific goals; performance testing baselines; and lifestyle evaluations are all critical components to review. The Design comes in part from revelations of a C.H.E.K. level I assessment all the way to Gray Cook’s Functional Movement Screen. The Augment is derived from the periodization of Power, Speed, and Agility components utilizing the “Progressive Overload Principle” to using football position “specific adaptations to implied demands” of that athlete. Production comes from how we make our projection models based on the testing parameters. The theoretical model is built on a timeline basis.

Training is the easiest part of the whole model; we modulate on a continual basis relying on benchmarks in the design and daily readiness assessments. The athlete is monitored on a constant recovery plan foundationally built on Metabolic testing. Specify in our model refers back to the “S.A.I.D. principle” wherein we are beholden to no one specific training philosophy, implement, or training apparatus, yet we will utilize all at our disposal when time appropriate. [(I.e. Kettle bell’s, Barbell’s, Dumbbells, parachutes, weighted sleds, and the list goes on); (Eastern block program design methodology, USA track sprints methodology, all the way to Newton’s laws utilizing Plyometric Jumps]. (See Figure A). In order for sprint performance evolution to develop speed in an athlete, their run technique, ability to coordinate, speed strength, and range of motion, require training to evolve maximal sprinting performance. Speed development is trained by augmentation of stride length, stride frequency, sport specific endurance, and reaction time. By influencing these distinctive qualities, the athlete will maximize their sprint characteristics.

Combining both explosive and heavy strength training produces better results in maximum strength and athletic performance rather than training either one or the other individually. Olympic lifting develops the explosive power needed in the starts and triple extension of the lower body. Intermuscular and intramuscular coordination are key ingredients moving towards maximal muscular contractions. Such lifting is the foundational key for explosive development. The neural component to training is just as important to speed development as any other physiological adaptation. We carefully monitor and look for overtraining effects due to training.

In closing, Paramount Athletic Performance realizes all athletes are born with a spectrum of potential athletic ability and it is our job to harness and develop this into a goal accomplishment for the upcoming N.F.L. combine. The art of performance training is feeling the rhythm of the workout flow, seeing the athlete express strength and power without hesitation. The science comes in minimizing inherent risk, while mathematically and systematically optimizing the results. Where the projection model and the flow of the workouts converge is when performance becomes graceful and flawless in expression.