When star running back Shawn Alexander needed help preparing for his NFL tryouts, he called up a strength coach with a strong track record for success in elevating the performance numbers of draft prospects. Ted Lambrinides is in an elite fraternity as one of the best strength and conditioning coaches in the nation, and he is a master at unlocking the potential of football players at all ages and skill levels.
Although he has worked with several high-level professional football players, Ted also helps young high school players at his Athletic Strength And Power (ASAP) facilities in their efforts to impress college recruiters. To that end, Ted provided us a list of six things every high school football player should do if he wants to impress college recruiters.
1. Get Smarter to Get Quicker
Coaches always want their players to be quicker, but as Ted is apt to point out, quickness is primarily a matter of recognizing and reacting to plays as they develop. In other words, players can only truly be quick when they develop awareness for what is happening out on the field, and the easiest way to enhance game recognition is to study a lot of film.
“So much of football quickness is related to football intelligence,” Ted said. “One thing I find with football players is they don’t want enough film during the off-season. Your eyes are going to dictate how quickly you’re going to move. So a lot of times people think they need to get quicker, when they actually need to get smarter. Film watching is one area where I see deficiencies in term of attention to detail. There’s an art to learning how to watch film, so when I talk to athletes, I tell them they need to find someone to watch film with. That’s how you improve your football IQ so that you know where to move, because movement in and of itself might not be productive.”
2. Prepare For Your Interviews
College football is a multi-billion-dollar industry, so coaches need to be very cautious about whom they are inviting to joint their rosters. When it comes to your interviews with the coaching staff, Ted says that you need to rehearse the interview the same way you would prepare for any other professional interview. And, while you’re at it, make sure your social media accounts won’t raise any red flags when the coaches inspect them.
“Sometimes coaches ask kids how important football is to them,” Ted said. “They’ll ask you certain questions to try to fish for that information. When pro scouts are looking at college players, they look to see if the kid has a long thumbnail that’s burnt, and if a kid has one, they know he’s blazing blunts. When I give talks to college teams about this, the kids will start looking at their hands and I say, ‘Yes! I’m talking about you!’ If I’m a coach and I do diligence on your Facebook or Twitter pages, what am I going to find? There’s a lot of money at stake on the next level, and they can only afford to risk so much on you, so you need to prepare for your interviews.”
3. Sweat the Technique
One of the ways that you can improve your stock when it comes to recruitment prospects is by improving your numbers in key tests, like running the 40, or benching for reps. Sadly, many of the tests have virtually nothing to do with truly measuring game performance, but that’s just the way it is. According to Ted, some coaches fall in love with workout warriors, so it would behoove you to make sure your technique is solid so that you can ace the physical tests.
“I have to get players ready for the game of football, and I have to get them ready for camps,” Ted explained. “To me, those are two separate things; football technique and testing technique. I tell kids, if you’re going to these camps, you have to get prepped for them. It would be like taking the ACT without taking any prep classes. You can get guys faster for the 40 by working through technique and working on the mechanics for the start. Whether that translates into improved football speed, I don’t know. We know that if we increase a guy’s strength and decrease his body fat, you improve his body composition and he’ll become faster within his genetic limitations.”
4. Correct Your Muscle Imbalances
When it comes to measuring strength, the bench press is the primary measure used during football talent evaluations, and this results in many players spending far too much time on the bench trying to do everything they can to build their chest strength. Unfortunately, Ted will tell you that this is far from being the most effective way to develop strength on the bench, and it can actually lead to major problems.
“We work on bench within the structure of our strength program,” Ted advised. “Most high school kids completely neglect their upper back and their traps, so when we get them, we do two pulling movements for every one pushing movement. We spend a lot of time on the traps, the posterior deltoids and the lats, because most high school kids won’t work a muscle unless they see it in the mirror. When you see these kids, a lot of their shoulders are anteriorly rotated. That’s going to put them at risk for a shoulder injury. So we try to correct the imbalances they have, and that will still improve their bench press numbers favorably. We also reduce the probability for an injury.”
5. Be Realistic About Your Numbers
Some of the best high school football players make great decisions during games, and they look great on film, but when it comes to the skill tests, they just don’t perform very well. At the same time, there are players that have the opposite problem; they don’t stand out on film, but they can blow you away with their sprinting and vertical leaping prowess. Ted will tell you that both of these athletes can end up with spots on college rosters, but they need to be smart about what they do when recruiting is underway.
“There are great testers out there, and I tell them to do as much testing as they can,” Ted said. “You have other guys that really show up on film that might not have good test numbers, and in those situations you minimize the number of times they go out and test. If I have kids that just have great numbers, I’ll tell them to get to as many camps as they can because they’ll garner attention just from their test scores. I have other players that show up great on film, but they don’t put up five-star testing numbers. In those cases, you just try to minimize the testing, because that same guy will be the one making all the plays when you watch the game films, even against elite competition. So in those cases, you should let the film be your resume.”
6. Be Realistic About Your OTHER Numbers
All of us have heard the stories about players that were ready to join the football programs at the universities of their dreams only to be ruled academically ineligible because of substandard grade point averages or poor ACT/SAT scores. However, Ted warns that there is a hidden concern players should have when it comes to grades and testing even when you’re still academically eligible, and it will give you even more incentive to prepare extra hard for the classroom, as well as for your college prep examinations.
“What are your test numbers relative to the SAT or the ACT?” Ted asked. “If there’s a kid with the same on-field test numbers, but you have a 2.0 and he has a 3.0, they’re taking him because he is less of a risk, and they’re less likely to have to find a replacement for him because he’s less likely to end up on the ineligible list. So you have to make sure the kids pay attention to all the things the coaches are going to look at, including grades and academic progress. Otherwise, the kid can end up losing out to another player that doesn’t have a weakness when it comes to the classroom.”
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