football

Breaking Down The Broad Jump

In the second portion of our football testing series we will take a look at the standing broad jump. This test is a fantastic assessment of lower body horizontal power. This tool works great for football players, who have to explosively move of the line of scrimmage once the ball gets snapped. A common misconception is that you merely stand on a line and jump. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this assessment. Horizontal jumping can be a complex coordination pattern because the upper and lower extremities must move harmoniously in order to achieve optimal results. Let’s take a look at a few factors that can help you or your athletes add a few inches.

The Arm Swing

It’s no surprise that lower body power is what propels you forward during this test but the arms play a vital role in projecting you higher off the ground and further down the tape measure. The most efficient swing technique would be to start in a standing position with your arms out in front of you. As you drop down to “load the spring” your arms should sweep back, followed by an immediate, powerful swing forward as you takeoff.

http://youtu.be/lqc_pyG7ELk

Build Those Glutes

The hip complex packs a lot of useful muscles that are crucial in just about every sport and activity of daily living. Unfortunately, many people do not train this area of the body as much as they should. We often sit in chairs, whether at school or work, and that equates to hitting the “off” switch for this important muscle group. Driving through hips during the jump and getting this area fully extended will propel the athlete further. Simple hip extention exercises like glute bridges, whether bodyweight or weighted, will help bring life back to your butt. Below are a couple videos to help with the exercise selection:

http://youtu.be/pMQV6A8F8Qw

http://youtu.be/8j4kWFHRq9o

Own The Descent

Does it matter how awesome the take off was if a plane crashes near the end of its flight? The same theory (obviously to a lesser extent) holds true during the broad jump test. Height and distance are all based upon the action taken prior to take off but this in no way omits an individual from having to properly land each jump. When landing a jump it is important to land in a position that allows the force to dissipate. This is achieved by bending the knees and sinking back the hips. An athlete should never land in a stiff-legged position. When landing, it is also important that the knees land in a position stacked in-line with the ankles and do not collapse or cave medially. Both of these habits place a high amount of stress on the joints and can lead to serious injury.  Below is a chart with normative data to see how football players stack up in this test and other common tests by position. Check back next we as we move on to discuss the bench press.

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References:

Lockie, R. G., Schultz, A. B., Callaghan, S. J., & Jeffriess, M. D. (2012). PHYSIOLOGICAL PROFILE OF NATIONAL-LEVEL JUNIOR AMERICAN FOOTBALL PLAYERS IN AUSTRALIA. Serbian Journal Of Sports Sciences6(4), 127-136.

Guest Post: Speed and Agility Development by Goose

So you want to run like this guy!

But you feel like this guy?

No need to freak out, here are a couple of tips to get you running lightning fast!

1. Conditioning

If you slack on your conditioning it doesn’t matter how fast you can run. You’ll be pooped out after one play and rock the bench for the rest of the game! Here are some suggestions, as well as a link, to get your conditioning game on par:

-Conditioning Article

-Sled Workouts

-Hill/Bleacher Workouts

-Track Workouts

Any conditioning work you do should be focused on maintaining a fast speed for a 15-30 seconds time span. A strong conditioning base is imperative as the game comprises of repeated quick all out bursts of speed for a long time. Keep this in mind when designing your workouts and the role rest plays in said workout.

2. Acceleration

Once your conditioning and strength training needs are met, now it’s time for the fun! Acceleration work should focus on improving your ability to reach your top speed as fast as possible. If you’re a running back, wide receiver, linebacker, or safety you’ll be more efficient at your job if you can reach top speed within 15-20 yards rather than 25-30 yards. Here are some suggestions on how to improve acceleration:

-Overspeed Training

-Downhill Running (Use a slight downhill)

-Resisted Sprint Training

All three of these drills force quicker turn over (how fast your feet hit the ground) and/or exert high amounts of force on the ground. Both are the components needed to accelerate proficiently.

3. Believe in the process!

A lot of young athletes are really eager and fired up to improve but then get discouraged when it doesn’t come fast and easy. Improving your abilities is an everyday, 24/7, 365 day grind. If you are putting in the work on the field and in the weight room, plus staying diligent with flexibility and mobility work, then result will come. (Note from Kelsey: and EAT REAL FOOD!!!) Be patient, allow your body to do its thing, and trust in your coach’s plan!

Tackling Technique: How to (Safely) Pummel Your Opponent

Today's special guest post comes one of our athletes, Dumont, who's played Rugby professionally and currently coaches for the Washington Rugby Club. Given his past history and present involvement in Rugby, and the fact that the dude is a monster, it stands to reason that he knows a thing or two about pummeling an opponent. He graciously offered his expertise on tackling to share with everyone here on SAPTstrength. Here he provides many practical tips on not only executing an EFFECTIVE tackle, but also how to do so in a safe and concerted manner. Hit it Dumont!

The NFL combine is just days away, and many aspiring athletes will be jumping, running, and lifting in an attempt to impress potential employers.  One skill that not showcased at the NFL Combine is tackling. Some could argue the tackle is a lost art in today’s NFL game.  Yes, we see plenty of big hits each week, and as a result of those big hits, the NFL is attempting to regulate the tackle zone in an effort to protect its players. However, with the increase in big hits, what we are actually seeing as is many defenders forgetting the fundamentals and failing to finish the tackle. The result is we see a lot of missed tackles on Sunday, and a lot of needless injuries. The art of the proper form tackle has been lost.

What is a proper form tackle? A form tackle requires the tackler to use their entire body.  Eyes, arms, shoulders, core, and legs are all engaged in an effort to bring a ball carrier to the ground in an efficient and safe (well as safe as a tackle can be) manner.   While it may not result in the big “jacked up” highlight hit we’ve become accustomed to seeing on television, a form tackle will bring a ball carrier to the ground, and stop them in their tracks every time.

Before we break down the parts to making a tackle let’s point out the first step, take away a ball carrier’s space.  The closer a tackler can get to the ball carrier the less opportunity they have to shake and get out of the way.  Close the space to within a yard, of the ball carrier and now the tackler is in the tackle zone.  Closing the space also allows the tackler to use their body like a coiled up spring that can explode into contact at the right moment.

Let’s break down the tackle into parts and make it easier to digest.  The first part is the eyes.   Before one can make a tackle, a player needs to spot their target, and know what they are aiming for.  The tackler must remember to keep your eyes open and spot their target.  This will also help to keep their head up.  Keeping their head up is key not just so they can see, but also for safety.  It keeps the back in a straight line and helps to protect the neck.

Two keys a tackler should remember when using their eyes:

  • Keep them open- sounds simple but you’d be surprised at how easily they close just before impact
  • Focus on the ball carrier’s core- they can move their legs, arms, and heads, but where their core goes, the entire body goes.   Focusing on the core will lead to the tackle point.

The second part of the tackle is the arms and shoulders.  Many people have different ideas of what to do with their arms when making a tackle.  Often times tacklers start with their arms out wide and it looks like they are trying to bear hug their opponents.  While this is effective in making a tackler look big and fierce, it’s actually inefficient when it comes to making the tackle and dangerous as it exposes the weaker muscles in the arm.  When a tackler’s arms are out wide it creates “weak arms,”   we teach ball carriers to run towards those open arms because it’s much easier for them to break through.  By keeping the arms in tight and the hands above your elbows the tackler engages the shoulders and the arms creating a strong base to enter the tackle zone.

Here are the keys for the arms when making a tackle.

 

  • Imagine creating a TV screen with your hands, and the ball carriers core is the show you want to watch.

The next part to the tackle equations is the legs. First we’ll focus on the feet.  The lead foot is most important.  Step towards the ball carrier using the lead foot.  This brings the tacklers body with them, and allows them to use their entire body and keeps the body compact and coiled like a spring.

Keys to good footwork

  • Step towards the ball carrier taking away their space
  • Do not cross your feet
  • Take short controlled steps not to overextend yourself.

Once the feet are in position, we need to focus on getting the rest of the legs into proper tackling position.  This is done by bending at the knees, and creating a powerful base. By bending at the knees a tackler engages their legs and they are coiled and ready to explode.  This will also keep the tackler low and allow them to attack the ball carriers core and legs.  We do not want to tackle ball carriers up around the chest and arms, it’s too easy for them to break through when we get that high.  Bending at the knees also gives the tackler the agility to move left, or right should the ball carrier change direction.   Remember to keep your head up and your eyes open during all this.

So far we’ve covered a lot of stuff, so let’s take a moment and give a quick rundown of everything to make sure every is on the same page.  

  • Eyes Open
  • Arms in tight, hands up
  • Lead foot forward
  • Bend at the knees
  • Heads up

This puts an athlete into the perfect tackling position.  To make contact the tackler wants to pick a side of the ball carrier’s body and attack that with their shoulder.  The head should be placed on the side of the ball carrier’s body, not across it.  This protects the tackler from being kneed or elbowed in the head, and reduces the possibility of injury.  Using your lead foot step in, make contact with the shoulder.

A good rule to remember is “cheek-to-cheek.”

The next part of the tackle is the arms.  We already have our arms in tight and our hands are up.  Once the tackler makes contact with the shoulder we want to punch with the arms. Bring the arms up keeping them close and wrapping them around the ball carriers body, pulling the ball carrier in tight.

The final part is engaging the legs and drive forward.  Once the tackler made contact with the shoulder and wrapped up the ball carrier with their arms, start pumping the legs. Drive forward and force the ball carrier to the ground.   Use the ball carriers body as a pillow to land on. This will bring the ball carrier to the ground.

Form tackles are effective.  The main key is putting the body into the correct position. Take away the ball carrier’s space, head up, eyes open, arms in, hands up, knees bent, then explode into the contact point, wrap the arms and drive the legs.

Thanks Dumont! Hopefully you all learned a li'l sumthin' sumthin' about tackling (safely and effectively... as opposed to just mindlessly throwing your body at your opponent). Proper technique will go a long way to both helping prevent injuries and winning games. And just for fun, here's a video of football vs. Rugby:

And if you want to smile: *Note* I love our soccer players! I just thought the video was funny.