Behind the scenes of players' NFL Scouting Combine prep
- Published: Feb. 24, 2013 at 04:56 p.m.
- Updated: Feb. 24, 2013 at 06:26 p.m.
NFL Scouting Combine invitees spend four days in Indianapolis, interviewing with teams, going through extensive medical examinations, talking to media and preparing for the big, public audition: on-field work. For the 50 NFL prospects working with Athletes' Performance at this year's combine, that means congregating in a downtown hotel ballroom that's available for their needs, 24 hours per day. Athletes' Performance allowed NFL.com to peek behind the curtain.
For players running the 40-yard dash at the combine, it's most important to explode off the line. Athletes' Performance has players practice their starts in the ballroom but combats the slick carpet by using duct tape and adhesive spray at the line so no one slips.
Southern Miss linebacker Jamie Collins dashes down the carpet, approaching the 10-yard line marked by tape on the floor. An Athletes' Performance staffer waits outside the open front door so players don't have any accidents with passers-by in the hallway or the hotel wall directly in front of them.
Athletes' Performance brings four speed coaches -- one from each of its facilities -- to work with players during combine week. The company believes players such as Collins benefit from knowing the coach they see in the ballroom during a potentially nervous time. After all, this is a job interview.
Players often enter -- or leave -- the combine with bumps and bruises, so Athletes' Performance brings two soft-tissue therapists and one physical therapist to attend to any need. Those needs can range from massage to stretching, as Collins is doing here.
Plenty of room for everyone ...
While Collins is being stretched, another player enters the ballroom for stretching. The facility has three tables, and therapists are on call 24-7 should a player's need arise.
Athletes' Performance uses Axon, a system with the goal of protecting and training players' brains by giving them practice reps without physical contact. An image of a formation flashes on a TV screen -- for 2 seconds at the lowest level, a quarter-second at the highest -- and tests a player's anticipation of coverages, blitzes, route running, run and pass strength/direction/scheme, depending on his position. The program also can be personalized for a player and loaded on an iPad for use at any time.
Do it yourself
Players have access to foam rollers, like the one above, and massage sticks for self-massage. Free weights, cables, treadmills and bikes also are available.
Dealing with the pain
Players in need of muscle therapy can receive trigger point dry needling. Dry needling is used to eliminate trigger points in muscles, diminish excessive muscle tone and decrease pain.
Athletes' Performance also has an upstairs suite where two performance nutritionists prepare meals to ensure players are staying properly fed and hydrated. Foods are broken down into categories that tell the player exactly what they do: Colored fruits and vegetables are called "Protect" since they maintain the body.
The on-site nutritionists make food portioned and easy to grab for players who are stretched for time at the combine. Other categories for food include Build (proteins) and Fuel (homemade trail mix, baked chips). Nutritionists also make can smoothies and pressed sandwiches if needed.