In Spite Of, Not Because Of

After beginning this blog with so much momentum in the first week of its existence, I dropped the proverbial ball last week. I actually ended up having a few guys from the league come into town unexpectedly last week around their OTA schedules so business called on my end. Nonetheless, I apologize and I digress. Let’s see if I can get this thing moving again!

Now that you have had to sit through all of my scientific mumbo-jumbo over that first week of blogging, my plan is to finally begin to give you more taste of what it is that many of you really want: NFL player evaluations. Don’t worry; if you liked the types of blogs where I address issues of importance in the process of attaining sport mastery, I will bring more of them to you occasionally. However, I will now be getting into some posts that will likely appeal to more of the masses. Namely, this will revolve around specific player evaluations and what I see when I analyze player’s on-field movement patterns. Before we hit on the first one later this week (Deion Sanders), I want to give you a few reminders as to why I feel this is needed.

To begin, I offer the caveat that I will rarely be evaluating football skills but instead I will be evaluating movement specific to the more optimal execution of performing the football skills. The reason for this is simple: I am not a football coach and I don’t assist my players with tactical techniques in this regards. Instead, I am a movement specialist and my job is to put them in the best position to assist them in their football-specific skills. From there, I will then delineate what I feel a particular athlete’s specific strengths and weaknesses are based on that movement analysis.

You see: I am a firm-believer that Sundays in the National Football League can actually get much scarier in terms of the types of athletes that play the game at the highest levels. I realize this is a bold statement. All you have to do is look at athletes the likes of RG3, Adrian Peterson, and Percy Harvin and you probably already think I am more than a little off my rocker with this one.
You may be asking yourself how I can say this but then when we look at what a particular player (like the ones I listed) is capable of the first thing we see is their extreme athleticism (at least at first glance because we compare relatively versus their peers). Thus, how can I possibly think that their development is so poor and incomplete?

Think about this for a second: great physical preparation mind, Dan Pfaff, once said something along the lines of: “mechanical efficiency can be affected daily by therapy. Top athletes are like F1 supercars in that the mechanic (the coach, trainer, or therapist) can acutely improve performance.”

F1 Supercar

Thus, it is just as likely (and in some cases maybe even more likely) that he will get worse from the stimuli imposed on him because anything that is not highly specific and intensive to his exact needs at that given moment in time will be further away from that which he actually requires for improvement.

We must place importance on the word ‘acute’ in Pfaff’s statement. In the NFL player I have realized that like with the mastery of any other craft (insert anything that people are passionate about), we are what we repeatedly do (Aristotle was so very wise). Unfortunately, many times the typical NFL player is participating in very poor programming methods that are only inducing suboptimal movement when the athlete is placed in an irrational environment and under chaotic circumstances (i.e. every snap that takes place during a football game).

It’s because of this that I strongly feel as though NFL players excel in spite of, not because of, their training methods. If you are in this profession, you may actually get a good chuckle if you were to ever see the programs put together for many NFL athletes. Quite simply, they are frequently constructed using training means and methods with very little scientific rationale or empirical evidence to prove its efficacy in that level of athlete. It’s like many training specialists and coaches just started throwing darts at a dartboard of training means and methods hoping that something sticks and the athlete actually improves.

Dartboard

Of course, because they happen to be working with a ton of athletes who have hit the sperm lottery, a number of his athletes do see some positive results. However, the athletes would have seen results regardless of what they were doing simply because of who they are (NOTE: each player in the NFL is an outlier). Remember, they possess the ability to compensate better than everyone else! But the real question should be: is the programming being used actually assisting the athlete in realizing the most optimal degree of results per his specific potential?

After analyzing and working with a vast number of athletes of this level, my mild answer to this question is that there are many things slipping through the cracks. Many coaches simply don’t often have a thorough understanding of what is truly happening on the field (in regards to the movement being executed), why exactly it’s happening (this is of utmost importance), and how to go about enhancing upon the specific qualities which directly contribute to greater performance. At the end of the day this results in players who have to perform in spite of their incomplete physical preparation programs and how it’s causing them to move on the field.

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