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20 Yards

20 Yards From A Conditioning Coaches Perspective                                                                                                          

Michigan Football TeamMike Gittleson was the Director of Strength & Conditioning at the University of Michigan for 30 years and was a part of 15 Football Championships in that time.

If you coach for 30 years you see a few shuttles and if you pay attention you learn some things through observation.  There was a period where I spent a great deal of time timing each athlete over and over electronically.

In the mornings on a running day I would set up lanes of electronic lights for drills.  I would have a maximum of 3 athletes in a lane.  All conditioning workouts were timed electronically.  Every single event was recorded.   Athletes’ knew exactly how they were doing the entire workout.  I knew how everyone performed after the workout.  There were no assumptions.

describe the imageI always included the NFL Combine drills.  One of the NFL drills is the 20 yard shuttle, which requires keeping your center of gravity low.  Telling an athlete to stay low is one thing, when they run a drill and see their time improve because they are low is another.

Low meant as low as possible and athletes’ saw by watching their teammates and the clock low required two hands, one to touch the line and the other to come out of the hole.

Exercise Drill

After watching one another and looking at each other’s times, they refined their technique by experimenting with their form.  What was surprising to all is that some of the linemen were running faster than the young skill in this particular drill.  This also reinforced technique and perfected the deftness of the drill.  I was delighted, because the purpose of the drill for me was not to run at the NFL Combine, but to learn how to change direction in the most efficient manner possible.

When you are in a Championship program and things are competitive athletes give the effort you ask.  I also observed this, that athletes often achieved their best times in drills 20 yards or less, sometimes on the 7th, 8th, 10th or even, 15th or 20th attempt. This was surprising to me as I expected the best times always to be relatively early.  This accentuates how important skill is in change of direction.  When all the levers in your system are working just right you can hit your best time.

The following are average NFL Combine times; it is a performance guide.  Remember a successful man can be an average man who is focused.  When the event requires skill and the athlete focuses in on improvement they will improve.

Position          Time                      Position          Time 

FB                  4.35                         FS                   4.25

HB                  4.26                         SS                   4.30

QB                  4.45                         DC                   4.22

WR                 4.32                         ILB                   4.42

TE                  4.34                         OLB                  4.42

C                   4.77                         DE                   4.50

G                    4.82                         DT                   4.75

OT                  4.84                         NT                   4.65


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