NFL DRAFT DIAMONDS

The Basics of Combine Prep by Neil Stratton from Inside the League

THE BASICS OF COMBINE PREP

There has been no greater change in the NFL draft over the last 10 years than the rise of combine preparation facilities and the belief that training for pro days should be completed not at players’ schools, but at specialized locations where they can focus on strength and speed. Let’s cover the basics of this practice.

When does training take place?: Traditionally, combine prep starts the first full week of January and continues for six to eight weeks, depending on the date of the combine and/or a player’s pro day. Most facilities have a morning and afternoon session of about an hour each, and have training Monday through Friday, though this varies; some take Wednesdays off and have a Saturday morning session, or take the weekends completely off. Trainees usually eat a diet and consume supplements provided by nutritionists at the facility, and everything that goes in their mouths is aimed at providing whatever the player needs (weight loss, weight gain, etc.) to hone their bodies.

Where does it take place?: As combine prep has become more popular, more and more gyms are offering it (and getting good at it). Most of the top trainers are located in the Sun Belt, and as top players have become accustomed to spending their winters training in a sunny, tropical climate, the bigger agencies most often send their clients to South Florida. While there are also premier facilities in Arizona, Texas and California, South Florida has become synonymous with combine prep, and many top trainers have moved to the Sunshine State to stay relevant in the business. Of course, there’s a premium to be paid for training in Florida in deluxe accommodations, so some agents and/or players look to other locations to get great training at more competitive prices. Speaking of accommodations, most players sleep at a nearby extended-stay hotel or an apartment complex where the trainer has a special rate, and this cost is folded into the cost of the training package. Usually a player has at least one roommate, though bigger-name players sometimes demand their own rooms from agents eager to satisfy every need during the recruiting process.

The total training package: So, what’s included in the cost of 6-8 weeks of training? Usually the agent or player and his family are responsible for the cost of travel to and from the facility. Once there, the facility provides training, lodging and, most often, three meals a day for five days per week. Most trainers take on a class of 12-15 athletes, and while they all get very invested in their athletes and their training, there are no guarantees that results will be achieved. At the end of the day, every player gets out of the training what he puts into it. Cost of a training package can be anywhere from a per-week basis of around $100, with no meals or lodging provided, to up to $25,000 for the entire term, usually with some bells and whistles included. The cost and size of the package usually depends on how highly the player is rated going into the draft.

There’s much more to talk about, of course, and we’ll continue this discussion Tuesday

Inside The League (www.insidetheleague.com) is the consulting service for the football industry. We work with the contract advisors for about two-thirds of active NFL players as well as the combine trainers, financial planners, scouts, coaches and other pro league organizers that make up the game. Cost is $25/month, and you can cancel at any time. To register, click here.

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