Nike breaks down how to dominate Hudl Combine’s drills and gain attention on the recruiting circuit.
Testing numbers have never been so important for prospective football players. More than 1,200 media members attended this year’s NFL Combine in Indianapolis, a scouting event that hosts hundreds of NFL general managers, coaches and scouts. Athleticism is a magnet for coaches, who are constantly in search for the next weapon they can mold into their scheme.
This style of scouting trickles down to recruiting as well. It can be difficult to judge a player based solely off of video as some questions go unanswered: what level of competition is he facing? Is his coach putting him in the right system to suit his strengths?
But a 4.4 40-yard dash and a 37” vertical jump don’t lie.
With Hudl Combine, no prospect goes undiscovered. Regardless of region or competition level, any player can improve his scores using Combine’s drills, get invited to regional and national camps and showcase his skills.
Record yourself in four drills using Hudl Combine - the 40-yard dash, the vertical jump, the agility shuttle and the power ball toss. These numbers are combined into a Nike+ Football ranking. The higher your score, the more likely a regional invite will follow.
With so much on the line, athletes should prepare themselves in any way possible to improve on their scores. Hudl talked with a Nike representative to get the lowdown on the best way to prepare for a combine.
Train in brief, explosive settings. Combine events rarely last longer than four or five seconds, so athletes must prepare with the same biometric qualities. This is called the elastic training system, focused on short bursts of high-energy activity.
This means more sets with fewer reps. For example, do 10 sets of three repetitions of a lift rather than three sets of 10 to better prepare your body for quick bursts of energy exertion. And don’t load up the bar - instead of shooting for your personal record, lift about 75-80 percent of your max and do it to technical perfection.
Get your technique down. Even the strongest athletes will fail without good technique. Nike suggests spending as much time on form as you do in the gym or weight room.
There is no magic potion or formula. Some coaches believe they have the blueprint or the perfect lift/drill for every test, but this simply isn’t the case. Every athlete is different, and at the most basic level, athletes need to get stronger. By strengthening your entire body, you’ll be better prepared to take on any drill.
Train fast to run fast, and don’t forget to rest. The only way to run faster is to train at maximum intensity, so be sure to give your body long periods of rest to recover. Nike recommends taking one minute of rest for every 10 yards run, meaning every 40-yard dash should be separated by at least four minutes.
While that might seem long, burning through reps will tire you out faster and make your technique sloppy. Extended breaks allow you to fully recover and maximize every rep.
Lifts and drills. Lifts that emphasize the hips are important, such as track-bar deadlifts and kettlebell swings, though according to Nike, there are no perfect lifts to unlock any drill.
“I could take the same exercise for a 40 or for a marathon just based on how I apply it."
Here are two exercises to help prepare your body for the explosive movement out of the gate:
1. Tall and Fall: Stand on the starting line on your tip toes and lean forward until you feel like you’re going to fall on your face, then get out of the gate and start running.
2. Belly stomachs: Start out on your stomach, then pop up and run as fast as you can.
Two things to always remember: Keep your head down throughout the duration of the rep and come out of your stance low. Don’t pop out of your stance and stand up.
Keep it simple. Jumping exercises get physically demanding in a hurry, so don’t do anything too crazy. Stick to bounding progressions and standard box jumps to do the trick. Another Nike tip: line up four or five benches and hop over them in succession, all while maintaining good body control.
Focus on the hips. For all these drills, hip strength and power are critical. Focus on exercises that target the hips to help you improve.
Power Ball Toss
It’s not about the upper-body. This is one of the drill’s biggest misconceptions - the power ball toss is more about total body power and translating that explosion from the hips to the upper body. Focus on coordination and timing, and remember that extensive practice is critical.
Don’t lean back. According to Nike, begin the toss like you’re sitting in a chair and let that power explode through your hips and move throughout the rest of your body.
There is a pressing component to the drill, but it’s not as important as most think. Like the other drills, Nike stressed generating power in the hips and exploding that throughout the rest of your body.
It’s all about technique. Most of the tips for the 40-yard dash apply here, particularly the rest rule. But Nike stressed the importance of running in a straight line - too many athletes tend to run this drill in a figure eight. Stay low, don’t stand up coming out of your cuts and remember step count is huge. Check out the video below to make sure you’re counting your steps correctly.
Nike’s regional camp tour is over, but The Opening finals are scheduled to take place in July. And all prospects should consistently work on these drills to perform their best when the time comes.
Hudl Combine is a great way to get noticed, compete with friends or opponents and up your game.