For the next three weeks, agents, draft prospects and trainers will be in a frenzy as agents sign players and they, in turn, decide where the top prospects will train. We thought we’d spend some time introducing the people running the facilities where they train, telling their stories and illuminating the experts who are so important in the lead-in to the combine and/or pro day.
Today, we’re talking to Dave Spitz of California Speed, which is based in San Ramon, Calif.
Most of the top combine prep facilities are located in the Sun Belt. Have you found it harder to establish your business given that you’re in the Bay Area?
“The only challenge with having a combine prep facility in the Bay Area is that the cost of living is high, so housing athletes presents an interesting challenge. That being said, the benefits of training in the Bay Area far exceed the potential initial downside. First, we have incredible access to industry leaders in orthopedics, physical therapy, massage, and the latest in technological advancements. Second, the available food and nutritional options are second to none.”
Are speed players made or refined, based on the explosiveness they already possess?
“In the 8-10 weeks of preparation for the NFL Combine, it’s not so much the speed that we are concerned with as it is running the 40-yard dash, running the L-drill and running the 5-10-5 (short shuttle); these events are tests that we prepare our athletes for in a specific and methodical way. We have an overriding approach to block periodization that drives our NFL Combine and pro day results, but within the context of that model, we have a lot of room for customization based on the type of athlete that we receive in any given season. Every athlete has a specific set of strengths, weaknesses and opportunities that we need to hone in and capitalize on in order to bring out their best performance when it counts.”
What role does pure speed, in your opinion, play in the evaluation process? Can a player ‘run’ himself into a camp invite or late selection?
“The quantitative data that we collect as a result of the NFL Combine or pro day performance is valuable because it essentially confirms what NFL personnel see on game film, or, those performances can force teams to re-evaluate a player and spend time looking at additional game film. We liken the quantitative data of the 40-yard dash, L-drill, and 5-10-5 (short shuttle run) to an SAT or ACT test score when applying to a college or university. Essentially, if the athlete’s game film is their GPA, the NFL Combine or pro day scores are a metric that we can use to determine whether an athlete has, A, the requisite athleticism to play in the NFL, or B, has upside that an NFL team can potentially use. For example, one player we trained last spring, Khalfani Muhammad, ran a 4.34-second 40-yard dash in what was a torrential downpour in 50-degree weather at the Cal-Berkeley pro day. This performance gave the Titans a critical data point to utilize when considering Khalfani as a potential punt returner and deep threat (editor’s note: the Titans took Muhammad 7/241 last April).”
What’s the most common mistake speed trainers make in the combine prep process?
“The most common mistake is not having a consistent and cohesive strategy for success. The idea that a speed (only) specialist can (succeed) when talking about the 40-yard dash is a flawed concept. You need a closed system that accounts for the athlete’s treatment, nutrition, weightlifting, and linear and lateral speed training that are all married together in a comprehensive program designed to produce optimum results. We have and always have been the ‘Apple’ of NFL Combine preparation, meaning that we control every aspect and component of the athlete’s training from start to finish.”
What’s the most common mistake draft prospects make in the process of selecting a trainer?
“Not getting on the phone and speaking with the trainer, but instead deciding to simply rely on what others say or decide on a facility based on marketing material alone. I would encourage anyone that wants to work with us to pick up the phone and speak with me personally, learn about our process and be prepared to commit to our training methods.”