If you’ve read anything I’ve written in the past, you know that I love talking about speed training, but football speed training is definitely one of my favorite topics. I’m fortunate enough to be able to work with many great athletes on their football speed, and I still find it fascinating after nearly 20 years in the industry. That’s a big reason I decided to start Ultimate Football Speed – as long as I enjoy it so much, I figured I might as well blog about it too.
Football speed is slightly different than general speed training. Like most training, there are more similarities than differences, but football speed includes a combination of many things you just don’t see in other sports. Straight ahead speed, agility, precision route running, sport specific footwork and movements, power, strength, anaerobic power, coordination, tactical awareness, position specific skills and deceleration are all part of football speed.
Each position has very specific needs and most players have their own individual needs. So, it’s always challenging to figure out exactly what an athlete needs. It’s like a puzzle and the different training methods are the pieces. They’re all sitting right in front of you, but you have to figure out how to fit them all together. That’s what makes strength and conditioning, and football speed training, both an art and a science.
Training a football player is rarely cut and dry. There are always going to be differences in the needs of each athlete, and football probably has the widest spectrum of needs.
I truly enjoy combine preparation for many reasons. First, this kind of training is almost a laboratory environment in the sense that you have control over many variables because the athletes are generally with you almost exclusively for a couple of months. Second, you know the tests, so you simply have to practice them in the most efficient manner possible. Unlike true football speed training, you don’t have to worry about every single aspect of the game. You can focus on the tests and position drills.
Of course position drills bring a lot of football speed into the picture, but none of the drills involve an opponent, so it’s quite a bit different.
As soon as the combine or pro day is done, however, now it’s time to get back to work and prepare for camp. That’s when we get to start adding more conditioning and traditional drills because we don’t have to spend so much time working on the details of each test. It’s great to watch a guy improve dramatically on his 40, shuttle, vertical jump, bench press, etc., but it’s just as much fun to work on football specific drills that are going to help his on-field performance.
I also enjoy the strength training aspect of football training. It’s obviously a huge part of football speed training, but many coaches seem to be taking a strange direction where they’re chasing big numbers in the weight room. Football players should absolutely be as strong as possible, but worrying about a guy’s deadlift, squat or clean max is completely unnecessary and a waste of time and energy. Instead, you need to spend time getting stronger on big lifts, but you also have to get stronger in other areas so you can’t just focus on the bench, squat and clean. Those lifts are not football, so don’t turn them into the focus of your training.
I’ll be talking a lot more about football speed training on here, so I hope you check back often and leave comments about what you like, dislike or want to see on here. I’ll see you soon at Ultimate Football Speed.