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Test Prep

Training NFL prospects to conquer the combine
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AS SOON AS the college football season ends, NFL hopefuls begin training for the combine or for a scouting session on campus. They often work out at facilities staffed by fitness experts and retired NFL players who can help them maximize their performances. Geir Gudmundsen, a former All-America tackle at Albany who had a stint with the Bills in 2005, runs the Test Football Academy in Martinsville, N.J. Last week, Gudmundsen talked about what players can hope to achieve before the draft, college strength programs and how combine scores relate to football (for more on that topic, see The Unaware Olympics, page 46).

SI: How much can a player expect to cut from his 40 time in six or eight weeks, and how does he do that?

Geir Gudmundsen: We hope to shave as much as .2 of a second. A lot of it is about technique. The stance, the start and the acceleration are where they're going to make their money. It's hard to change top-end speed.

SI: What about the bench press?

GG: Our goal is to add about a rep per week. It's an endurance test, and kids have to understand that it's about what they put into it.

SI: College football programs have emphasized performance, from high-tech weight rooms to highly paid strength coaches. Why are players not already maxing out their capabilities?

GG: Strength-and-conditioning programs are doing a great job, but they have a different focus. They're working with 110 guys at once, and their job is to build players up and keep them healthy through the season. We work with smaller groups, and we can focus on specific tests. We can spend a whole week helping someone get better hip extension by opening his arms as he comes out of the drive phase [in the 40].

SI: That leads to the obvious question: Does the combine have anything to do with football?

GG: It gives teams a measurable test, and it shows that players are committed. We always say that film is a player's résumé, and we want the test results to be an exclamation point on that résumé. For guys who don't have much film or aren't getting their film looked at, a great combine performance can convince a scout to go back and take a longer look. I've seen an offensive linemen who could only do 10 reps on the bench press turn into a hell of a player in the league. So teams have to look at the intangibles, at how all this information fits into a bigger picture of a player's performance.

EDGE

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What do the six combine drills purport to show? SI consulted a few sources, including Gudmundsen, to find out

40-yard dash

Top-end speed and burst

Broad and vertical jumps

Explosiveness and leg power

Bench press

Upper-body strength and endurance, and weight-room dedication

Three-cone drill

Ability to change directions while maintaining speed and to move efficiently in a small area

Short shuttle

Same as the cone drill plus lateral speed

For more athlete training profiles and tips, go to SI.com/edge