In a little over a month, you will be hearing about the NFL Combine.  This is where a bunch of NFL hopefuls from this past college season will be trying to impress NFL coaches with their athletic prowess.

Some top candidates will choose not to attend the combine, but will have their own pro day on campus.  They will have familiar surroundings to help them give their best performance possible.  But, it is still a combine-like day for them – running the 40, showing their vertical, doing different drills specific to their position.

You will hear some football purists complain that it is basically a beauty contest and not really assessing what these kids can do as a football player.

Although, that may be so, unfortunately that is the game.  And it has now trickled down to the high school ranks.

High school football and baseball have combines or showcases that put kids through these athletic drills.  I know lacrosse dabbles in this a little bit also.  And I’m sure more high school sports are trying to figure out ways of doing this for their sport.

I know it stinks, but unfortunately that is how the game is played nowadays.  Coaches feel if these kids start off by having some type of great time or mark, then they can teach them how to play the game appropriately.

For football, numbers matter.  I’m not sure which is more important, but size and weight are big depending on the position as well as a 40 yard dash time.  Too short and/or too slow and a coach might not put you on his watch list.

In baseball, the 60 yard dash is a key number to look at, once again depending on the position.  If you are a pitcher (and this is the same for softball players), your throwing speed is huge.  To them, it doesn’t matter how good your offspeed stuff is if you don’t have the initial velocity.

Now, I am not underestimating the importance of having talent at these sports.  You must have some talent or this is going to be a moot point what I will say next.  But, if you don’t have some of the numbers coaches are looking for in the drills I discussed above, you might not go where you want to go in college.

If you think you have the talent, then how do you get the numbers you are talking?

It may sound a little self-serving, but when it comes to the runs you need to find yourself a speed coach.  The speed coach needs to not only work on improving your speed, but also how to perform well when running the 40 or 60.

You know how you get private tutors to perform well on the ACT?  If you do really well on the ACT, then academic scholarship offers come aplenty.  This is the same thing.  Get a good speed coach who will give you all the cheat codes on how to run these races effectively and good things will happen.

The 40 and 60 are basically your athlete’s test.  Do well on the test, then coaches will contact you.

Understand, not only do you have to have some talent, but you have to have a reasonable amount of speed.  If I’m trying to get a baseball player down to a 6.8 in the 60 yard dash, then he can’t be running them originally in the 7.6’s.  There are circumstances for everything, but that type of speed is tough to develop if you aren’t already set up with some fast twitch muscles.

But, if you do have a good amount of speed to work with, then you are working on the following: strength to improve the speed, plyometrics to convert that strength to power, running mechanics so your form doesn’t slow you down, and the initial start of a race to make sure it is as smooth and efficient as possible.

That my friends is the game.  If you aren’t willing to play the game, then you are significantly decreasing your athlete’s chance of playing in college.

Picture courtesy of https://www.jalc.edu/news/2014/06/19/logan-hosts-baseball-showcase.