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12/26/2014 11:36:45 PM - DB

I work with a variety of athletes, but I get a lot of football combine types (high school going into college, and college going into NFL tryouts). My question pertains to the high school kids. This year I have created a group of athletes that are kind of the "Who's Who" in the area. All of these kids have D-1 potential, but just need to get that exposure in front of coaches. They have game tape, but as I preach to them, "You have to catch the coaches eyes" so we recommend that they go to collegiate camps to get exposure. My guys this year want to go the NIKE SPARQ Combine in Ohio (it's free, and they like the measuring stick to national competition). My question is, what recommendations would you make going into this? Usually this combine is around the beginning of February, which leaves a shortened timespan. Obviously getting a base level of training and general capacity is of key importance, but do you have any insight as to when to begin the introduction of sprint/jump work so early in the off-season? By no means will my guys be at 100% of their ability at this point, but just wanting to get some other (trusted) opinions on approach. Thanks for any insight.


Your issues are pretty common and it seems you have a really good handle on what coaches are looking for. It is really good to get your athletes performing well at a combine. It helps them compare to other athletes regionally and nationally like you said. It also, reinforces the hard work they put in and the training template they were provided by you.

People can say all they want about the combine type days and senior prospect camps don't matter but from a former coaches perspective, it does. Most of the DI schools will already have most of their verbals, but camps like these expose these kids to a pressure situation and gives them tangible and objective numbers.

I know a lot of the DI schools are limited in the prospect camps they are aloud to do. I also know for a fact that the times of most of those prospect camps were purposefully timed faster. A kid that runs his best time at a certain school's junior day leaves with a positive feeling about that school. "Subtract 2-tenths from everyone's time". No shit.

I would prepare your guys much like you prepare them for their season. Definitely, teach them the test by repping the drills they need.

As far as speed and jump training, I would incorporate that as early and often as possible. I have my own opinions but I feel that waiting to "build an adequate level of strength" before doing speed or plyometric work is to vague of a statement. When that point actually happens is usually never going to happen. The old "athletes need to squat 2.5 times their bodyweight before doing any plyometircs." Well for a 250lb high school lineman, that may never happen. There are a lot of training benefits being missed out on. I get it, you have to ensure the athlete is prepared to perform the drills you ask, but to talk in absolutes is foolish. This integration of speed during all training cycles is what the conjugated method is built on. And, with limited time like you have, it makes sense.

Without knowing your specific situation, here are the progressions I would use with your speed and jump training for combine preps. Remember, strength is still key so this is a given.

Linear Speed
Tests: 10yd & 40yd
Total Volume: Less than 300yds per session
Rest Ratio: 30 sec rest for ever 1 sec sprint
Wk 1: 10 10s
Wk 2: 4 10s, 4 20s
Wk 3: 2 10s, 2 20s, 3 30s
Wk 4: 2 10s, 2 20s, 2, 30s, 2 40s
Wk 5: 6 10s, 6 20s
Wk 6: 2 10s, 3 20s, 4 30s
Wk 7: 2 20s, 2 30s, 4 40s
Wk 8: 8 10s, 8 20s
Wk 9: Test

Lateral Speed
Tests: 5-10-5 Pro Agility, 3 cone L
Total Volume: Less than 200yds per session
Rest Ratio: 30 sec rest for ever 1 sec sprint
Devote 1 day to Pro Agility and 1 day to 3 cone drills
Every session, break the movements down:
1.) Lateral Starts
2.) Transitions
3.) Freeze Reps (decelerations)
4.) Full Reps

Jump Training
Tests: Vertical & Standing Broad Jumps
Depth Jumps 6"-18"

Vertical Jump Progression )12-24 contacts)
Wk 1: Box Jumps
Wk 2: Single Leg Box Jumps
Wk 3: Kneeling Box Jumps
Wk 4: Depth Jumps
Wk 5: Box Jumps
Wk 6: Single Leg Depth Jumps
WK 7: Seated Box Jumps
Wk 8: Test

Linear Jump Progression (20-40 contacts)
Wk 1: Broad Jump
Wk 2: SL Broad Jump (opposite Leg)
Wk 3: High Hurdle Jumps
Wk 4: Bounds (uphill or stairs)
Wk 5: Broad Jump of Box
Wk 6: Single Leg Runs
Wk 7: Broad Jumps Up Stairs
Wk 8: Test

I know this is a little crude and there is little explanation. What you will see is a modified deload and a tapering of volume.

I am not sure if there is a right way for your athletes in preparing them. My thoughts are always this.

If you are not sprinting full speed, you are not developing speed. If you are not jumping as high or as far as possible, you are not developing explosive power. As long as your kids are putting the work in and you are allowing them to recover, they will do great.

Let me know if you ever need anything. And, thank you for using the word "trusted". It means a lot.

Mark Watts

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