This week, with players and agents making decisions on where to train for the NFL Combine and pro days in March, we’re talking to our combine prep partners about their methods, clients, and success stories. There’s more than one way to maximize a player’s explosiveness and unlock his potential, and we’re out to learn how the best trainers across the country hone each player’s athleticism.
Today, we talk to Darryl Wong of Sparta Science, an innovative training destination near San Francisco.
Sparta Science has involvement with National Football Scouting. What is your role with them?
“We were at the NFL Combine last year and here is a short article on what we do and how Jeff Foster, Director of National Football Scouting, integrates our technology in the combine. We will be there again this year and it is part of the medical/physical evaluations that every player will have to go through. That way teams will be able to gather deeper evidence/facts objectively in order to compare and contrast players.”
How much can you tell about an athlete’s future based on your testing?
“The scan cannot predict the future. Each individual athlete’s choices, day in and day out, have the biggest impact on their future. The scan provides powerful statistical information regarding where an athlete compares to his counterparts, where his/her deficiencies lie, and if the athlete is at a statistical risk of injury. The most important part of this data is not the collection but the action based on the information. The interplay between the data, the coach and the athlete plays the biggest role in improving performance capacities (speed, strength, flexibility, endurance) and reducing injury risk in a statistically significant way.”
How much can injuries be reduced simply by knowing how a player moves and is built, as well as his prior injury history?
“We cannot provide a percentage. No one can. The biggest predictor of injury is prior injury, so any coach helping athletes must consider this. The Sparta Scan is so advantageous from an injury perspective because it looks at the root cause of injuries rather than the end result. Athletes tear their ACL — the real question is why? More importantly, (it’s better to understand) that one athlete tore his ACL because of reason X and the other tore it for reason Y. When we understand the components that underpin the injury from an individual perspective, we can address things more appropriately.”
How long has Sparta been gathering data? How has Sparta been able to head off injuries so far?
“Sparta has been gathering this information for a decade. More importantly our system is set up like a hospital. All of our domestic and international partners (NFL, NBA, MLB, English Premier League, International Rugby, U.S. Special Forces, universities) data feeds into one centralized database which allows unprecedented amounts of medical-grade data to be analyzed regarding athletic movement and injury potential. This depth of data is the key component regarding the statistical power of the Sparta Scan. Sparta’s partners have seen a savings up to $900k in one year of use with the system.
“The biggest obstacle to overcome regarding pro days and combine preparation is time. Since the dawn of time, coaches and facilities use strong educated guesses to address an athlete’s needs. The technology we use identifies areas of weakness that will inhibit performance and put you at higher statistical risk of injury in under two minutes. By improving said weakness, we improve an athlete’s speed, change of direction, strength, and injury reduction more efficiently than any other program in the world.”