Some random thoughts on movement & performance of NFL players

Annually, at this time of the year, a couple of things are bound to happen for me during the training of my NFL players:

-A lot of ideas swirl around my head on the daily. Some of these ideas are good…others pretty bad. Some are theoretical…while some are immediately applicable. Some are logical…and more are pretty far out there. Some are fleeting whereas some others are consistent and continue to hit me like a ton of bricks.

-I don’t have a ton of extra time to whip together content of any sort. Thus, writing for my blog often becomes an afterthought.

That all said, I have a rare open hour so I decided to write a different type of blog post today to tick off the boxes above and share some of these thoughts in the process.

They will read like the post-it notes across my desk(s) do…short, sporadic and random. There may be some themes throughout but for the most part they will likely be all over the place…which shouldn’t come as to much of a shock if you’ve ever had a conversation with me.

If this blog is well-received, I may consider making it a more frequent occurrence. So, without further adieu, here’s a look into some (trust me you don’t want to hear them all) of the random thoughts circulating around in my head right now.

-NFL players are just like you and I. I mean, except they recover way quicker and they are capable of operating at way higher outputs. So, these things all equate to meaning; NFL players are actually not like us at all.

-Which car, both being pushed to its limits, is more dangerous to drive? A Ferrari or a Pinto? The Ferrari of course…b/c its limits are at 200+ mph. You can push an NFL player to the brinks of the edges of their capabilities…as long as they weren’t actually over the edge, they are likely to bounce back really quickly and perform stellar in the meantime. If they DID go over the edge, watch the F out…b/c either they are really depleted and their whole life is going to get negatively affected from this and/or you just set them up for injury (sometimes a really bad one).

-You can/should screen the little things (how much they are talking, how they are standing, what are they doing during rest periods, etc) in between activities way more than you screen for the behaviors you see occurring during movement or performances. These little things tell you how ready they are but also what types of learning and/or adaptation you can actually get from the next activities that are performed (as well as others performed before this).

-Slow to smooth, smooth to fast. As Buddy Morris says, “moving slow gets the brain’s attention.” Sometimes to change behavior the quickest way to get the player to coordinate, control, and organize movement more competently is to have them slow down so they can account for changes/nuances at any of the 3 B’s of the movement solution (behaviors, brain, biomechanics). But then the first way to hit the movement save button on a competent behavior is to increase the speed of its execution. Then you should increase repetitions. Then SOON AFTER THIS increase the complexity or variability of the activities prescribed.

-Both retention and transfer would be increased immensely if coaches would be more apt to go to repetition without repetition models earlier in their progressions. One problem to this; coaches are too interested in appeasing other coaches to actually follow through on repetition without repetition. Solution; stop worrying about what other coaches think of what our athletes look like while they practice. Instead, focus on if, and to what degree, players are actually learning and transferring movement skills from the practice field and training arena to the game field on Sundays.

-People blame the current NFL CBA for the annual injury incidence rates. I don’t. Spending more time with team coaches (of any sort…position and strength alike) is not going to fix that. Sorry I am not sorry…I have watched what teams do and how they practice…most practices and models are terrible and translate little to increased skilled performance especially under chaos, pressure, fatigue, anxiety, etc. Thus, changes to CBA wouldn’t do crap…instead, change the practice habits and the behaviors that emerge from those practices and I speculate injuries are going to go down b/c skill & preparedness (not physical preparation but skill preparation) will be greater.

-Why aren’t any teams incorporating a true Performance Therapy model like that which is being driven down in Phoenix, AZ at Altis? Move, observe, treat, move, observe, treat, so on and so forth.

-I love the influx of NFL sport science. But there’s one problem…many of the NFL’s sport scientists are studying numbers…some are studying players…and fewer are actually studying (to truly understand) the behaviors of those players especially when and where it counts (i.e. in games). I know they can’t put GPS on the players in games so don’t tweet at me or comment on this blog about that…I am talking about being able to explain what it’s happening and why it’s happening that way…when a player has a tactical demand, there is an opponent in front of them, and they most use their sport and movement skills to problem solve. You don’t need data to study that…you need knowledge and wisdom and a detailed eye.

-Some of the best movers I have seen during closed agility tasks (i.e. change-of-direction tasks) are the worst movers during open agility tasks (i.e. reactive agility tasks). The behaviors (where the attention flows from a perceptual standpoint) and the brain (how intention is driven from the decisions to be made) can and often does change everything!

-If Strength Coaches analyzed sport movement skills as much as they analyze exercises or program design, their practices would be drastically different and the level of transfer from their training means/methods would be significantly higher.

-If Position Coaches analyzed sport movement skills as much as they analyze tactical strategies and X & O’s, their practices would be drastically different and the level of transfer from their training means/methods would be significantly higher.

-Though I am from small town Wisconsin, I hate farms. One thing that is a staple of most farms is the existence of silos. NFL organizations are like farms; one thing that is a staple of most NFL organizations is the existence of silos. Break down the silos…get everyone on the same page…many things will advance…including the players’ performance.

Okay, that’s probably enough randomness for today!



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