Why is developing your core strength so important? Improving your core strength increases performance by allowing more efficient coordination and transferring of energy throughout your body. It also helps reduce injury through stabilization.
You need your own blocking style when it comes down to extreme short-yardage and goal-line situations. Everyone knows what’s going to happen in these situations, you are going to try to pound out a couple yards on the ground for the first or a touchdown. In this case, it is wise to adjust your stances to gain a slight advantage.
Settle into a four-point stance by placing both hands six inches in front of your shoulder pads. Put as much weight on your hands as possible. This will allow you blow forward off the ball and knock the defender back quickly.
Your feet should be a little wider than your hips. Set your hips up and higher than your shoulders. Lastly, align your body to blast directly ahead. The next key after your stance is to focus on the snap count.
It’s a tremendous advantage to know when the ball is going to be snapped, so use take advantage of it especially in short-yardage and goal-line plays. All you have to do is concentrate and anticipate the snap.
Use the big muscle groups of your legs, hips, and lower back to explode out of your stance and into the defender. Focus on keeping a low pad level and driving the defender with quick, short steps. Keep your attention on the defender and expect him to fire out low and hard. The preliminary contact and strength of the block should come from your shoulder pads. Once contact is made with your shoulder pads, use your hands and arms to push the defender back. Keep your elbows in tight and control the defender from the inside by grabbing his two breast plates.
You need every advantage you can get when push comes to shove. Your advantage starts with a stance that allows you to fire out quickly. Your second advantage is to use the snap count to get a head start. From here, explode into the defender with short and choppy steps while maintaining a wide base. Lastly, finish off the block by thrusting your hips forward and extending your arms up and through the defender.
Power Balance (www.amazon.com)
Schutt Ion Lineman Gloves (www.amazon.com) Gloves for the extra padding and grip you need for the hard work down in the trenches.
DonJoy Extreme Armor Knee Brace (www.amazon.com) Little pricey, but saving your knees maybe worth it.
Adidas Cleats (www.amazon.com) Heavy duty cleats with ankle and foot support for pushing people around.
Encourage your team to always be growing.
“When you’re green, you’re growing. When you’re ripe, you rot.” Ray Kroc
Just last season, I tuned into a Baltimore Ravens game. Big surprise, their defense was playing lights out. Undoubtedly, there are a lot of parts in making that defense so special. I would argue the glue that holds that team together is quite possibly the greatest linebacker of all time, Ray Lewis. During the game, the broadcaster mentions Lewis’s comment from the day prior. Lewis said, “I study film like a coach and listen like a rookie.”
Lewis is a man at the pinnacle of success in his career. He has been for years. Yet, he studies film like a coach and listens like a rookie. He understands that you are either getting better, or you are getting worse. If he isn’t making steady improvement, he’s losing ground to athletes who are. Lewis seeks out opportunities to improve and grow. He doesn’t make excuses for his mistakes. He doesn’t look at his coach’s corrections as criticism. He looks at it as an opportunity to get better. As a leader of your team, it is your responsibility to challenge your teammates to do the same. The second anyone stops growing, is the second your team will get passed by.
Often, players who fail to make the grade hide behind the ‘excuse syndrome’. Don’t let this happen as a leader of your team. It’s hard for a player to take corrections or to use criticism constructively. Acknowledge that is hard, but help them realize it is part of the process. Let them know they can both learn from what you (or the Coach) are telling them and get better, or they can keep making the same excuses and mistakes. They are only hurting themselves. Tell them if you didn’t care about them getting better, you wouldn’t say anything at all.
Calls your teammates out if you have to. No ifs, ands, or buts. Effective leaders don’t let their teammates hide behind excuses. Most players want to get better. Help your teammates understand that improvement and growth is a part of making it at any level. Criticism isn’t about belittling teammates. Rather, it’s about trying to help them see their mistakes and recognize opportunities for improvement and growth. It’s about fostering your teammates, like Ray Lewis, to seek out opportunities for growth. Creating a team that studies film like a coach, and listens like a rookie.
Visualization is a powerful tool for mental preparation. While I was trying to create a name for myself on special teams, I still found myself on the sideline for most of the offensive and defensive practice early in my career. Luckily, early on Coach Doyle, the University of Iowa Strength and Conditioning Coach, gave me great advice. He said, “Devan, you are going to get your chance. When you do, make it count. You can start making it count by getting mental reps now.”
You need to know that your mental preparation starts far before your first rep on the field. Successful players have visualized their responsibilities and the oppositions tendencies, time and time again. It is so ingrained into their mind, they dream of it in their sleep. Arm yourself with the mental tools you need to be successful by visualizing. Don’t let your first play be the first play. With mental preparation and visualization you can be ready to learn from others’ mistakes and hit the ground running.
But how do you know what to visualize, especially if you lack experience? Visualization comes from being a student of the game. Watching film on a great player, learning from personal mistakes, or studying opponents can play a large role in your mental development.
Take studying opposition film for example. This alone can increase your ability to anticipate what is about to happen. You learn to anticipate the game which puts you one step closer to making a play. That one step could be all the difference in creating a game-changing play.
Knowledge is the base. Visualization is the next step.
But does visualization actually work? The short answer: yes. Studies show visualization creates neural patterns in the brain similarly to how the brain creates neural patterns from physically performing a movement. It helps to develop fine motor skills even though you aren’t doing the task physically by creating patterns that act as a road map between you brain and muscles, telling them how to perform a physical feat.
With Coach Doyle’s advice, by the time I received my first physical repetition, I felt as though it was my hundredth. I had hours of film under my belt and a concrete understanding of what was required in my position. My processor had already been upgraded through visualization. Visualization empowered me to make my first chance count.
“Don’t make your first play, your first play.” – Devan Moylan
It’s no secret that becoming a successful athlete is hard work. There are many facets of your physical development that need to be focused on. Whether you are preparing yourself for the college level or to compete in your next season of high school, your focal points of physical development should be enhancing motor fitness skills and increasing relative strength. Both will help prevent injuries and play a large role in success on the gridiron.
When it comes to designing a program, we realize there is more than one way to skin a cat. Some ways are better than others. However, there is one important principle to practice: time. Not just time, but the proper investment of time.
Whether you are investing time in your dynamic warm-up, speed work, core strength exercises, football drills, quick feet activities, explosive power movements, or so on, it is important to invest time in training movements that have a significant carry over to the playing field. Our following program accomplishes just that, helping you find success from the get-go.
“To make it work, you have to have work.” – Yogi Berra
As a leader on your team, you have to be able to identify opportunities for yourself and your teammates.
In 2004, I arrived at the University of Iowa as a walk-on. Fortunately for me, Coach Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa Staff pride themselves in turning low recruited players (and walk-ons) into big time talent. You may have heard of a few of a few of these types of players, which include Bob Sanders, Robert Gallery, Dallas Clark, and more.
That being said, I still had to find an opportunity to show my talents. I was buried in the depth chart at safety, which limited me to merely visualizing repetitions. So what did I do? I took the same route Bob Sanders took. I quickly noticed most players were not eager or willing to sell out on special teams. Some players had the notion that they only signed up to play wide receiver or tailback. On the other hand, I signed up to play football and genuinely took pride in helping me team win.
I knew at the time I wasn’t going to be a starter at safety my first year, but I still wanted to play. So, I asked if I could help on special teams. Special teams gave me my chance to show my coaches what I could do, and I made the most of it. I didn’t make quite as big of splash as Bob Sanders, who once hit a player so hard on kickoff coverage that Iowa started him at strong safety the following week. However, because of my role on special teams, my coaches saw that I could play football. As I excelled on special teams, my coaches found more and more ways to get me on the field. Ultimately, they gave me a scholarship, and two years later, I became a starter at safety.
This is just one example of opportunity identification. There is no mold or template for players to find their own opportunity—the path is yours/theirs to create. Opportunity identification is your ability to recognize spaces and gaps where you or teammates can step in to make a difference on the team. Encourage yourself and teammates to find these spaces. Stress the importance of role and the opportunities that the roles provide for showcasing their individual talent.
There are ample opportunities for all players to see playing time and prove their ability on the field. Mentally tough, mentally prepared players don’t let the fact that they have always seen themselves in a certain position stop them from being ready to play in a less glorified place. The position that special players want is a position on the field.
You never know: you may just find or may be a third string SAM linebacker, who has always seen himself as a linebacker, realize that he may be able to see playing time if he moves to tight end. Just maybe, that linebacker will see more and more playing time as a tight end. If he works hard, he could go on to win the Mackey award, get drafted to the NFL, and become a Pro-Bowler in the position he had never considered before. This third string SAM linebacker turned All-Pro is Dallas Clark of the Indianapolis Colts. He was mentally prepared and took advantage of an opportunity when it arose. Encourage yourself and your teammates to be mentally prepared and ready to pounce on any inkling of opportunity.