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How NFL hopefuls prepare for the Combine

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If you're a college athlete prepping to enter the NFL Draft, the NFL Combine is the biggest stage you will ever face. Each day leading up to the event is pivotal in your draft selection. A millisecond can make or break your draft stock, bank account and overall success as you start your journey into an elite class of NFL rookies. No pressure or anything, but the steps to be prepared are extremely important. Over the past 10 years at Proactive Sports, we developed a systematic process in which we will provide a little snapshot.

One of the biggest questions we get is, "How soon does an athlete start?" An athlete will begin training usually one to five days after their final game. They're usually eager and ready to embark on the next phase of their journey. The process begins with a full assessment by industry professionals in their own field on the following:

- Full-body biomechanical
- Strength and Power
- Skills
- Speed
- Psychological
- Nutritional

Once we have a player's assessment, an individual plan is created based on the specifics of their strengths and weaknesses.

Now it's time to train. With the NFL Combine usually the third week of February, there's typically five to seven weeks to prep. The athlete trains six days per week, with an average of three training sessions per day. This includes field work, yoga, corrective exercises with physical therapists and even Wonderlic prep. They are on a very systematic progressive schedule that is built to taper them for when they leave for Indianapolis.

There are many training points that are important in our programming at Proactive Sports when prepping for the 40-yard dash, 225-pound bench and other NFL Combine tests. Here are a few key tips, without spilling too many of our secrets:

- An athlete's 40-yard time is not tested until a week or two before their departure. We emphasize working on the 10-yard split as the first few steps really maximize our athlete's chance of running a fast time.
- We rely on video analysis to see how a player moves mechanically for all their testing. Is their back flat when they're working on explosive exercise? Are they engaging their glutes? A lot can be seen in weekly film breakdown.
- All data is recorded to show progress with small increments.
- Variety is key on the body. Being in Southern California, we can finish the week with a beach workout that provides explosion, yet limits the pressure on the joints at the end of a week.

Ryan Capretta is the founder and director of Proactive Sports Performance and an NFL Up! Fitness Ambassador. Capretta has trained athletes such as Aaron Rodgers, C.J. Spiller, Clay Matthews and Colin Kaepernick.

Looking to get fit? Check out NFL Up! for workouts and tips and the NFL Up! Instagram feed for quick images and videos.

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