Combine Prep Opportunity
I recently trained a high school athlete for a lacrosse combine. While I haven’t trained lots of lacrosse athletes previously, I was excited by the opportunity. Besides, most of the training was focused on the combine events and not the sport itself. We had about 2 weeks to prepare so we mainly focused on fundamental speed and agility skills . We covered all of the basic things like arm drive, body position, accelerating, decelerating, etc. Over the two weeks the athlete made numerous improvements in his physical skills and I felt sure that he would make a good showing at the combine. Since he had never participated in a combine before,we also talked about everything from getting proper rest to how the combine would probably be run. We he showed up on combine day, I wanted him to be prepared for every possibility that he might face.
A day after the combine, the athletes father called me to give me the results. First, the father informed me that the coaches had told the athletes that they weren’t concerned with how fast they ran at the start of a game. They wanted to see what they could do when they were tired. Because of this, the combine participants all had to run multiple gassers before they did any combine drills. While this was something that was certainly different from most combines, the athlete ran the gassers and still had an outstanding day. He ended up impressing a lot of folks. When the father told me the story and gave me the results, I was very happy with what the athlete was able to accomplish.
Just like all Strength and Conditioning Coaches, I always want my clients to do well in their sports, combines, tryouts, pro days, etc. However, the father made one comment that made me realize how well prepared his son was for the combine. He said that when his son showed up to the combine, he was “comfortably confident”. To me this meant that he was confident in his physical skills, but that he also felt comfortable with everything that he was about to experience. Those comments, plus the gassers that the kids had to run, made me realize how important it is for athletes to be prepared for all aspects of tryouts, combines, etc. That should help them to perform better but should also help them to handle anything unusual that happens (like the gassers, rain, etc). While I normally try to work in some mental preparation when I train athletes for these events, I really emphasized it with this athlete. Primarily that was because he had never been to a combine before. However, after his experience, I make sure to cover any details that I can with all of my clients. This applies even to athletes that have been to multiple combines/tryouts. While veteran athletes may have lots of good info, they may have picked up some bad “tips” also. There is no telling what info that have gotten from other athletes, coaches, the internet, etc. Because of this, sometimes it is necessary to do some “damage control” and make sure that they have good info to follow. I probably put more emphasis on this part of the preparation than other people do. The thing is, if I train someone, I want them to do their best. I’m not just there to go through the coaching motions and take their money. To me it doesn’t matter if it is a high school kid hoping to perform well at a combine, or a pro athlete prepping for a pro day or tryout. Yes, if the pro athlete gets signed, it’s a great feather in your cap. However, to the high school kid, his performance is just as important.
So, what’s the take home message? Don’t forget to emphasize mental preparation with your athletes. It can help your athlete to be better prepared. It can also give them a huge advantage when things don’t go exactly as planned.