Archive for February, 2016

The Truth About Speed

Posted in Uncategorized on February 29, 2016 by mboyle1959
I wrote the article below in 2006 and re-published it at www.strengthcoach.com as part of our Combine Series. I reprint it every year in the build up to the Combine.

Speed is the stuff of urban legend. Deion Sanders supposedly showed up at the NFL Combine, ran a 4.2 and went home. We routinely hear of high school kids who purportedly run 4.3’s and 4.4’s. The stories of “reported” speed have gotten out of control. This would not be a problem in and of itself. Most of us could look at it and say “so what” people lie or people embellish. The real problem is that the lies seem to be setting the standard. One of the reasons that I no longer train athletes for the NFL Combine is the unrealistic expectations of athletes and agents based on these “urban legends” or the occasional freakish performance like Vernon Davis.

Davis measured out at 6’3″ and 263 lbs., ran a 4.38 forty and vertical jumped 40 inches. Those are insane stats. We won’t see that again for a long time in my mind. Every year it seems like there is some freakish performance by an athlete that raises the bar of expectation. I would have less of a problem if these expectations were not trickling down to high school kids. My intention is to set the record straight with facts. In order to prove this I pored over the NFL Combine results for the six years that I had on file. The following statistics are taken directly from the Combine results. It should be noted that although the Combine times are considered “electronic”, they are closer to handheld than electronic. There are three potential timing options:

1- Electronic start- electronic finish. This should be the standard but, unfortunately is not. The start is done with a touch pad and the finish with a photocell. This is the most accurate and as a result yields the slowest times. An electronic start/ electronic finish time has been shown to be .22 seconds slower than a hand held 40 yard dash. ( Brown, 2004)

2- Hand Start- electronic finish. This is a system used uniquely at the NFL Combine. A hand start-electronic finish will be approximately .1 seconds slower than a hand held 40 yard dash. In the combine the use of hand start will be particularly evident in the faster ten yard dash times. Athletes will run 10 yard times much closer to a hand held but, times at each following split will be closer to the electronic time.

3- Hand Start- hand finish- this is the fastest and least accurate. Handheld times tend to be faster but are clearly more prone to human error. Many of the legendary times I believe were hand-held timing combined with human error or human expectation.

At the NFL Combine in 1996, 97, 98, 2001 and 2003 and 2006 no one ran a 4.2. No one. Not one person. In 2001 Ladainian Tomlinson ran one 4.36, five in the 4.4’s and vertical jumped 40.5. 2003 was a fast year, yet still produced no 4.2’s. Ten athletes ran 4.3’s in 2003. The heaviest was a 223 pound running back. The Combine track is always said to be slow but the truth is it is simply accurate. All of these supposed fast times seem to be run at times when no independent verification is available. Seems a bit curious doesn’t it.

Here’s another angle on the whole “speed” thing. Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis ran split times of 4.67 for 40 meters ( Bryan, Rose-Hulman) The split times are below.

1.84 10 yd
2.86 20 (1.02 split)
3.8 30 (.94 split)
4.67 40 (.87 split)

40 meters is 43.74 yards. This would make the distance approximately ten percent further. This means we could reduce the time by approximately .36 seconds to account for the additional 3.7 yards. This would mean that in constant acceleration mode the best sprinters in the history of the world, using blocks, ran 4.31 for 40 yards. Does it seem plausible that high school football players can run faster times without blocks.

The table below shows some of the athletes who ran below 4.4 at the NFL Combine. Obviously the athletes are getting faster but, we still don’t see the dreaded 4.2’s we hear so much about. In 2005 I believe one athlete actually ran a 4.2 although I did not have those stats available. One athlete in a decade.


   

In 2006 of nineteen running backs listed in the internet report (unofficial) Maurice Drew of UCLA was the only 4.3 and he ran a 4.39. In other words one running back ran under 4.4 and, he did it by one one-hundreth. Four wide receivers out of thirty-one ran under 4.4. In fact five ran over 4.6. This means more wide receivers ran over 4.6 than under 4.4. 2006 was an exceptional year for defensive backs with nine sub 4.4’s. The key, again in 2006 was that there were no 4.2’s in the results I saw.

As coaches, we need to stop perpetuating the myths. We need to tell our athletes what the average at the NFL Combine was and not what the best “freak” times were. We need to further explain to them that it is unrealistic to expect to even meet the NFL averages. As with everything in our society, we have raised the bar unrealistically high. Let’s be honest with ourselves and with our athletes.

Bibliography

Modeling World Class Sprinters in 100 Meter Dash
Kurt Bryan, Department of Mathematics,
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute IN 47803 USA.
Brian J. Winkel, Department of Mathematics,
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute IN 47803 USA.

Assessment of Linear Sprinting Performance: A Theoretical Paradigm
Todd Brown, Jason Vescovi, Jaci VanHeest
Journal of Science and SportsMedicine (2004) 3, 203-210

NFL Combine Results- compiled from various sources.

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Are You Interested in Daily S+C Question and Answer?

Posted in Uncategorized on February 26, 2016 by mboyle1959

If you are interested in daily question and answer sessions about strength and conditioning, then you need to take a look at StrengthCoach.com.  Post a question about any area of strength and conditioning or personal training and get an answer from an industry expert almost immediately,  I’m one the site every day providing thoughts on every topic and, recruiting experts to expand on my answers. Take a look.

 

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Is The NFL Combine Irrelevant? My View

Posted in Uncategorized on February 25, 2016 by mboyle1959

“ the will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win”

Vince Lombardi

Bill Belichick on training for the NFL Combine;

“I think that’s a huge mistake that a lot of those players make, but I’m sure they have their reasons for doing it,”

So, who’s right? Is training for the NFL Combine preparing to win or, should the concentration be on what Coach Belichick might refer to as more “football related” stuff?

It’s never easy to disagree with Bill Belichick in New England but, here I go anyway.

First off let me say that I may have invented Combine Training in the eighties. At least that’s what Pete Williams says in his book The Draft. I have trained some great players, some workout wonders and lots of guys in between.

Lets initially look at this from the players and agents perspective. For at least the last twenty years the NFL has loved numbers. Many players have skyrocketed up team draft boards based on combine performance ( think Mike Mamula, Vernon Davis, Eric Swann) Many players have also dropped down based on poor performance or simply based on the fact that although they appeared to be very good at college football they may have lacked the measurables necessary in the NFL. ( Think Maurice Clarett running 4.7 at the combine).

Now, lets deal with reality. The Combine tests are test that can be trained for. A good combine preparation coach can make a significant difference in performance. That difference can alter draft position. Getting drafted higher obviously gets you a better look in the NFL. Why would players not do this?

In my mind players who don’t prepare for The Combine are telling you something about their “will to prepare to win”. I have often called the NFL Combine “the first and biggest job interview of your life”. Training for The Combine to me is like shining your shoes and putting a tie on for a job interview. Who wants some slob to show up for a job interview thinking he’s a shoe in?

Other reasons I’m Pro Combine

  • The Combine allows a level playing field. Everyone has to show up and do the same drills, in the same shoes on the same surface. This gives teams a very apples to apples comparison.
  • The Combine puts all the players in one place. You can see attitudes and behaviors that may not be visible in a “staged” workout at a college. I used to tell our guys “remember, the Bill Parcell’s of the world are watching everything you do. If you fall down, get up and finish the drill. Be a competitor every second”.

Other things to think about?

Teams still need to do their homework. Being great at the combine doesn’t make you a good football player. It only validates that you have the physical tools to play football. Taking guys of questionable character who do well at The Combine is the teams mistake, not the players. Same for taking a guy who is not a great player but, is great at the “events”. In the end, the NFL is not a track meet or a weightlifting contest. I like to use the tool analogy. The Combine is one evaluative tool, not the only evaluative tool. You need many tools to build a house.

Teams also need to track how much Combine prep an athlete has done. An athlete who plays on a non-bowl team may have what amounts to an entire 12 week off season to train to prepare for the Combine. If I am given that amount of time I can significantly alter the scores.

An athlete who plays in the National Championship ( and this list includes many potential first rounders) would have less than six weeks if they quickly began training with very little time to recover. 4 weeks might be a more realistic estimate of training time for those players. This can disrupt our “apples to apples” comparison significantly.

Chase Goodbread’s February 18th blog sums it up well

“Belichick’s argument that excellence in combine drills doesn’t necessarily foretell excellence on the football field is most certainly on the mark. But as for his suggestion that prospects should be doing something else with their time in the weeks before the combine, who is he kidding? In January, most of them are just coming off a 13-game season following a bowl appearance. If they take just a week off to recuperate, they’re then looking at a six-week window before the combine. It’s a competitive environment to impress 32 NFL clubs and stake as much of a claim as possible to millions of dollars in rookie salaries.

For many, pro football is a short-term career that might not pay at all beyond the first contract signed. For some, excelling at the combine is the only chance to be drafted at all, much less flourish as a pro. So forgive them if they’re more concerned about draft position than anything else at this time of year.”

 

Well said. According to the NFLPA the average career length is 3.3 years. Many careers are ended by injury. Training reduces injuries. How can training be bad?

The other reality is that most NFL head coaches have never watched Combine Preparation. When we were prepping athletes for The Combine we followed a nearly identical program to our off season program that we used to get ready to play football. In other words, we did what we will always did. We trained to get faster and, more powerful. The big difference was that we spent an extra 15-20 minutes a day working on “events”. Much like a decathlete would work. We spent time primarily on the 10 yd dash, 20 shuttle and three cone drill as these were the drills we knew we could influence most. We did a few practice vertical jumps and broad jumps for technique but mostly worked to get back to August levels of lower body strength and power. On upper body days we did one set of “practice” for the 225 set.

To be honest, good Combine prep is simply showing that “will to prepare to win” and probably isn’t that different than the “physical football training” that Belichick references.

Is the NFL Combine a Waste of Time

Posted in Guest Authors on February 24, 2016 by mboyle1959

Interesting blog from TJ Moe on why the combine may be a waste of time. I’ll have my follow up tomorrow.

Should Top Players Skip the NFL Combine?

Supplement Follow Up- A Must Read

Posted in Guest Authors, MBSC News, Media, Nutrition, Strength Coach Podcast, StrengthCoach.com Updates with tags on February 23, 2016 by mboyle1959

I had no idea when I decided to post yesterdays blog that I’d have such a quick follow up but, today’s post from Dr. Mercola is more scary than yesterday. I have always admitted to being a bit of conspiracy theorist so, if you’re like me you’ll love this article. It’s long but, read it all the way through.

PBS Abandons Fair and Balanced Journalism

Why You Should Take Supplements

Posted in Uncategorized on February 22, 2016 by mboyle1959

If we aren’t careful at some point drugs will be legal and vitamins will be regulated. I know this sounds crazy but, as I have often said

“there is no money in health, only in disease”

This is a great article from the Mercola site that highlights The Vitamin Movie.

The Benefits of Vitamins

I wrote a post a few years ago saying everyone should supplement Vit D, fish oil and fiber. In my case, I take 17 pills and capsules every AM. I down them with a protein shake that has Barleans Chocolate Greens Powder, ground flax seed, and some additional fiber.

My list incudes:

Mercola Probiotics ( 2)

Fish Oil ( 4 capsules)

Vit D3 ( 2 softgels)

Occuvite ( 1)

JuicePlus ( 4)

Glucosamine/ Chondroitin ( 2)

Super Beta Prostate ( 2)

A long list, yes, but at 56 I feel pretty good and, take no prescription drugs.

Watch our for the government. They are coming to take your vitamins.

Change is Good!

Posted in MBSC News, Seminars, Strength Coach Podcast, StrengthCoach.com Updates, Training with tags on February 18, 2016 by mboyle1959

Here’s a clip from Functional Strength Coach 3. It’s amazing how many people want to just do what they’ve always done.