Directing the Prep Process thru Movement Analysis
Coaches and trainers alike are accustomed to assessing strengths and weaknesses in countless testing batteries….40 yard dashes, agility drills, functional movement screenings, 1-rep maxes, this jump and that jump…you name it…all in hopes of pin-pointing the exact qualities that need to be developed to take that athlete from one level to another. Now, I am not necessarily saying that any of the above tests can’t possibly be useful for assessing an athlete (including the progress of the individual). Instead, I am simply saying that I feel like this view is one that has tremendous limitation if this is as far as we take it.
Because of this, I think it is appropriate to begin the works of this blog with an overview of how I’ve come to this point and why I feel like qualitative movement analysis holds the missing link in the development process of high-level athletes in the National Football League. A few years back, as I began to train more and more players who play on Sundays, I came to an important realization for the success of those players: I was very good at increasing physical qualities that were representative of general motor abilities (i.e. strength, speed, conditioning, etc) but what I was seeing on Sunday wasn’t that much different than before I personally knew the player. Thus, the product that they were coming to me to purchase (i.e. an increase in the performance in their sport) was NOT significantly better or different than what they were getting before they ever met me.
Sure – all of my athletes made significant gains in the weight room or in given testing batteries. However, the degree of transfer to the field in many of the methods that I was employing was very limited. This was much to my dismay. I could’ve continued to go along (like so many others in this professional field do) and hoped that these players continued to be enamored with the increase in their general motor abilities all while never getting smart to the fact that they should also seek better means for preparation. OR, I could actually seek out more specific methods that would lead me in the charge to take each of them to the next level. Thankfully, I selected the latter and I changed my philosophical approach for the better. I now firmly believe that my purpose in life is to change the way that NFL players approach their preparation and in this process perfect the way that high-performance, elite NFL players move on the field.
With any of the words that I am about to write (both today and in the future), I want to premise it all with the idea that most of what I say will be indicative of NFL players only. They are outliers; each and every one of them. The results or movement patterns displayed by NFL players are NOT typical of what we may see with your average (normal) athlete of other levels of mastery or qualification. All in all, as you will come to find, both the analysis as well as the training process for this level of athlete is one of enormous complexity.
In tomorrow’s post (Part 2 of 3 of this short series), we will begin to investigate the thoughts that I hold regarding how I individualize the movement perfection process for high level athletes in the NFL.