I can almost smell it in the air. The football season is right around the corner. In fact, many NFL teams have already opened up shop. When practices start, literally thousands of coaches will employ their system of talent evaluation. In 99% of the camps around the country, the 40-yard dash will be one of the most widely-used tests. Athletes will be tagged as "slow" or "fast" based on this test alone.
Because of this huge almost untouchable test, athletes will spend hours trying to perfect their technique for running a perfect time on test day. After all, a faster 40 always equals a bigger paycheck, right? In my opinion nothing takes away from an athlete's full development more than the infatuation with this test. What actually does this test measure? The better the time or the better the football player?
To its credit, the 40-yard dash does measure one's rate of acceleration and speed in a linear means. However, in the game of football change of direction and skill are still king! We have seen fast 40s come and go, but agility and skill secure a player's future. With this in mind, we have to understand that training Renegade style will secure your future as well as enhance your test day results. In a sense, we make everyone happy (isn't that nice?). It frustrates me to no end to have an athlete tell me all he wants to do is bench press and run 40s.
I only wish these coaches, players, general managers and anyone else whose life hangs by the fate of the stopwatch listen to some of these words. Making a faster 40 or teaching for the test is easier to do than making a better football player. I believe society misleads athletes to believe all their time must be spent on these tests in order to be a better football player. If I can't change your mind about that, maybe we can add a few different tests that will help better prepare you for the game on Saturday. I like training to this statement made by a famous defensive line coach in he NFL. "We stop the run on the way to the pass." In Renegade Training, "We test well on the way to better game day performance."
With this in mind, we should begin to focus on other components of the wheel of development in Renegade Training. Reaction time is grossly underdeveloped in athletes who train for the test. Reaction is a huge part of the game of football if you have not noticed. Players react to movement, the ball, a sound or for that matter the coach screaming at them to watch a certain play.
So What About ...
At any rate, you have to react to something or somebody. The 40-yard dash as it stands has no reactive measure to it. What if the element of a cadence was added? What would happen to your time? What would be more realistic or for that matter sports specific? After all, we all go to a snap count right? Just adding the element of reaction can tell you how explosive your athlete might be. Actually, many times an athlete's reaction time is confused with explosiveness. If you can react, you can get to people faster. Do you spend time honing your reaction skills? We do! Do you spend time practicing in chaotic situations? We do! All these essential components of training have to be weighed out as you develop a blue print for success.
What am I really getting at? The 40-yard dash does have merit, but it has to be put into perspective. There are so many other attributes that make an athlete exceptional. In future articles we will discuss some other tests you can add to your evaluation process. We will run these tests through the gamut and see if they really hold water. In no time, you will have a battery of tests that will give you a better idea of how your guys will perform on game day.
If at any time you have any questions or want to talk speed, Renegade Training or any other training questions please feel free to contact me.
Crossing Over To Performance Training!
Yours in Power and Speed,