THE BASICS OF COMBINE PREP (PT. 2)
Let’s continue fleshing out the details of combine prep.
Position-specific training: One of the trends in the business is to offer specialists (often ex-NFL players) who work one-on-one with combine trainees honing their skills. In fact, on Monday, one of the leaders in combine preparation, Athletes Performance, announced that it hadto do just that for the passers in its 2014 class. This is one of the value adds that many services are offering, but there are a number of other bells and whistles when it comes to combine prep.
Bells and whistles: While the main thrust of the time spent training is focused on reducing a player’s 40 time and other drills while gaining strength and explosion, there are a number of bells and whistles that can also be provided. Some locations provide massages as a basic part of the package, while others provide them a la carte. Rehabilitation services are also a critical part of the package for some facilities, and some keep physical therapists and/or orthopedists on staff full-time to attend to injured players. Another common add-on is interview training provided by ex-NFL scouts or administrators; there’s even one former NFL GM who provides such training full-time at a rather expensive rate. His specialty is covering the questions teams commonly ask at the combine and on team visits, especially for players slated to go in the first three rounds and/or those who have background issues that may create trouble. Interview training has become so common that some see it as a necessary part of the process; different facilities provide their own spin on this practice, bringing in a local team official, using a sports psychologist, or perhaps even an ex-actor aimed at training athletes to be calm in front of the lights and cameras.
Who gets training?: More and more, players eligible for the coming draft see combine prep as a right or an entitlement, and expect their agents to provide it. As a rule of thumb, all non-kickers invited to the combine (just over 300 players)(though some will opt to stick around). After that, it kind of varies. Some players will find agents with open checkbooks who see training as part of the process, and these agents might give their clients pretty free rein about deciding where they’ll train. Such agents are becoming more and more rare, however, as combine prep costs rise and some question its benefits over training at school. Agents who are recently certified are most likely to be the ones that offer to cover combine prep for virtually anyone they sign as an incentive to sign in the face of their inexperience and limited (or non-existent) client list. This has become a classic mistake, as many athletes pursue an agent who offers all-expenses-paid training over one who may offer a less-enticing training package, but who is willing to work hard, be responsive, maintain a good communication level, and overall do the things a good agent does.
We’ll talk more about training options and how they are funded in Wednesday’s newsletter.
Inside The League (www.insidetheleague.com) is the consulting service for the football industry. We work with the contract advisors for about two-thirds of active NFL players as well as the combine trainers, financial planners, scouts, coaches and other pro league organizers that make up the game. Cost is $25/month, and you can cancel at any time. To register, click here.
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