Tuesday, February 19, 2013

NFL Combine: Inside the Numbers - Wrap-Up

We've reached the final step in this fantastic NFL Combine journey.  With the Combine coming up this week, it's only fitting to have a little recap of what we've seen so far. 

If you've missed any of the previous posts, check them out

NFL Combine: Inside the Number - Intro
NFL Combine: Inside the Number - Skills
NFL Combine: Inside the Number - Power
NFL Combine: Inside the Number - Bigs

1.  Horizontal Jumping (Broad Jump) scores may be a better indicator of Acceleration and Sprinting abilities than the Vertical Jump. 

This isn't the first time that horizontal jumps have been a better indicator of running speed over vertical jumps.  Here are some studies that suggest horizontal jumping scores better correlate with sprinting speed

here, here, here, here

A reason for this may be that the 40 yard dash is a test of acceleration more than top-end speed.  Recent studies have been finding that horizontal forces are key during the acceleration phase of sprinting.  The broad jump by it's very nature is a horizontal jump, that requires great horizontal forces and angles.  So the broad jump might be a better indicator for acceleration potential in athletes than the common held belief of the vertical jump.  The vertical jump still has a positive correlation with 40 times, but the horizontal jump may correlate stronger.

Now don't be in a hurry and rush out to start training your broad jump, as there are some precautions to take.  The landings in the broad jump are generally more stressful on joints, require greater ranges of motion, and have different, often higher braking forces than the vertical jump.  Think about jumping into sand and landing in an athletic position instead of striving for extra inches on your landing.  Really reaching for a far landing is similar to reaching for a high box jump.  You are putting yourself in a potentially dangerous position.

2.  Lower Body Weights may lead to faster running speeds

At every position, lower body weights correlated with faster 40 times.  As track coaches have been known to say, "Fat don't fly"! 

Whenever you start to move up in body weights, it becomes harder and harder for that extra weight to be "good" weight.  You may think it's all muscle, but more than likely a good percentage of that is fat.

Depending on your genetics and overal build, your optimal body weight will vary.  But as a general rule, you should shoot for 9-11% BF if your a male and 14-16% BF if your a female.  If you're in these ranges, that you are pretty dang fit and more than likely at a good body weight for your frame.  Check out these studies for more info on how excess BF can effect performance

Here, here, here, here
3.  Faster sprinting speeds correlate to faster C.O.D drills

Despite many claims over the years that change of direction (COD) and sprinting are two separate skills that do not correlate or effect the other, I beg to differ.  From all my observations, from this data and from other studies, here, here, there seems to be a pretty good correlation.

Think about it, if you can accelerate and sprint faster, then you're gonna have higher potential for COD skills.  Does speed mean you'll have better force absoption and eccentric abilites?  Not necessarily, but it does mean you'll be bring more speed into breaks and be able to accelere out of breaks faster, which means more times than not you have the advantage over a slower competitor. 

You also have to remember that the COD of direction drills at the Combine are specific and planned.  There is no reaction involved as there would be in a real game.  This greatly enhances the success for faster guys, over guys with great eccentric/absorbing/reaction qualities as it is a closed drill, not an open drill.

4.  Is the Combine a Good Predictor of Draft Status?

That is the Million Dollar question.  Obviously NFL teams hang there hat on the Combine, and use it to help determine their decisions.  While many question the validity of the Combine to actual playing ability, the fact is higher performance at the combine is associated with higher draft position. 

You see it every year.  A guy has a bust out Combine, and jumps from a 4-6 rounder, to the 1st or 2nd round.  This shows just how influential the Combine can be for a player.  Take a look at the following information from this study that looked at Drafted vs. Undrafted players testing from the Combine


Height Weight 40 Bench Vertical Broad Pro Ag. L-Drill
Drafted 5'11.6 201.67 4.49 16.53 36.8 10' 4.08 7.02
Undrafted 5'11.8 203.74 4.59 17.07 35.24 9'10.4 4.21 7.22


Height Weight 40 Bench Vertical Broad Pro Ag. L-Drill
Drafted 6'2.8 251.3 4.74 23.5 34.24 9'7.7 4.24 7.26
Undrafted 6'2.9 255.95 4.83 22.8 33.14 9'5.35 4.31 7.42


Height Weight 40 Bench Vertical Broad Pro Ag. L-Drill
Drafted 6'4.5 313.3 5.21 26.46 29.53 8'7 4.61 7.78
Undrafted 6'4.13 208 5.31 23.1 29.05 8'7 4.71 7.93

As you can see in just about every category the Undrafted players under performed compared to the Drafted players.  The numbers in bolds and italics show significant differences between Un-Drafted and Drafted.  Now this may be as simple as, these players test better and are drafted because they are better players. 

This could very well be the case in some of these, but there have been several studies that suggest the Combine results do not predict success in the NFL all that well.  Drafted QB's score on average over 2 points higher on the Wonderlic, depsite various studies showing the Wonderlic does not correlate to potential playing success.  Check these studies out for yourself

Here, here, here, here 

5.  Not everybody is running 4.3x, jumping 40 inches, benching 225 for 30+ reps, so GET OVER IT!

A very small percentage of athletes can actually do these things.  So 1. Don't get discourage because you can't do these things and 2. Don't lie and say you can to puff your chest.  Be a man and tell the truth, that you run a 4.70 (very respectable)

6.  Benching for reps may be an indicator of potential running speed.

This is a really interesting correlation.  Does this mean that being able to bench a lot directly correlates with running speeds?  No, of course not.  It probably just means that being able to bench a lot is an indication of high relative strength, good body composition, good overall body strength, and a good indicator of power endurance.  All things that are good indicators of running fast as well. 

So don't think that just focusing on the bench will directly make you faster!  It's probably the other way around.  Training for power, speed, explosiveness, and being an overall athlete indirectly increases your bench press.

Here are 2 studies finding similar correlations between bench (UB strength) and sprinting abilities

Here, here

7.  These guys are tall, big, fast, powerful, and damn good athletes

No matter if the NFL Combine is just a big show and has no barring on whether it relates to actual ability, it doesn't matter.  These guys are some of the best athletes on the planet, and you have to be amazed at their physical abilities.


So now that you know a little bit about the NFL Combine and how all these things relate, don't relate, etc.  You can kick back and watch with a closer eye.  They might show the guy running 4.3x, benching 225 for 40+ reps, or vertical jumping 40+ inches every chance they get, but look at all the other guys.  And be on the look our for some of the correlations I just told you about.  Do they hold up? 

Also, be sure to sign-up for BBA updates. Just enter your email on the home page to stay up to day with all the happenings at BBA! 

Until next time, Go Get 'Em!

Like, Dislike, Agree, Disagree, WORLD CHANGING, or a big turd; whatever you feel, leave a comment below and let me know!

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