Combine Prep Isn’t Just Physical

Lacrosse Faceoff Pic

 

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.

The Result

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.

Mental Preparation

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.

Mark

Sports Upgrade Training

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Football Might Have It Right

Football Has It Right Pic

Is football doing it better than any other sport?

Football might have it right.  What do they have right?  The sports development model.  The sport of football is probably doing it better than any other sport simply because they only have one defined season.  The American football season starts in August/September and plays out over the next several months.  There aren’t opportunities to play organized tackle football year round.  While college and some states do have “spring football”, that isn’t quite the same thing.  Spring football is generally about three weeks of organized practices.  It isn’t the same as playing a true spring season.  It’s not like soccer, softball, baseball, wrestling, volleyball, and lacrosse players that play travel ball and participate in tournaments during the 8 months that their school team isn’t in season.

So how does this help football player development?

  • It cuts down on overuse injuries – what do you think causes all of the arm and shoulder problems in baseball?  Year-round throwing maybe?
  • It forces coaches to work on other things during the off-season – lifting, speed, agility, etc.  According to most sport development models, there should be a defined “off-season” where these skills become the focus.
  • It makes the football season more special for everyone – when you play year round on multiple teams, how much does each win or loss matter?  The legendary John Wooden didn’t want his players playing in the off-season partially for this reason.

It’s too bad the so many other sports have taken other approaches to sports development.  I’m not sure that playing year-round is good for the athletes and is the best way to develop them long-term.  Unfortunately, there are a few youth football leagues that are starting to have a true spring season in addition to playing in the fall. Hopefully this concept doesn’t become the norm in football.

Mark

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