Training Harder and Smarter
While 2013 may have not have gone as planned for the Jacksonville Jaguars (a 4-12 finish), the future looks bright with the addition of quarterback Blake Bortles. The third overall pick was the first quarterback selected in the 2014 NFL draft, and so far he's 28/45 with 435 yards in the preseason.
Seven-year veteran Chad Henne will likely start the season at quarterback for the Jags, but fans and analysts alike are eagerly awaiting the Bortles era because the rookie is just a straight-up stud. Jaguars strength and conditioning coach Tom Myslinski shares his thoughts on the standout signal caller.
“He is a fantastic worker,” says Myslinksi. “He’s a big, strong kid, he’s got a little bit more of a Ben Roethlisberger-type body, and his sheer size and strength will be his strongest attribute over time.”
During the offseason, the Jaguars don’t require their quarterbacks to barbell bench press because they are trained to throw a ball, not be offensive lineman, says Myslinksi. For quarterbacks, the focus is on rotational movements and rotator cuff exercises.
“The biggest thing with us is individualization and customization,” says Myslinski. “The athlete has strengths and weaknesses so we’ll maintain those athlete’s strengths and develop those weaknesses, specific to the position they play.”
Utilizing new technologies such as the Kistler Force Plate and Catapult GPS tracking system, the Jaguars look to focus on the little things and let the big picture pan out. Here are four training factors that may garner the Jags more wins this season, especially if Bortles becomes the next Russell Wilson.
Kistler Force Plate
New to the Jaguars this offseason, Kistler Force Plates are platforms for measuring running/walking gait, jump force, jump power, jump height, and other metrics. Myslinski and staff have the players jump on the force plates to tailor their training around their test numbers.
“When each athlete jumps on the Kistler Force Plate they have a movement signature, and from that jump we can customize the athlete even further,” says Myslinksi. “We can look [to determine] if he’s more dominant anteriorally or posterially, and how he looks while jumping.”
The Jaguars were the first NFL customers of the Catapult GPS tracking system and it’s their third year using the devices, according to Myslinski. The players trained as a team for nine weeks in the summer, during which they used the tracking devices, then trained on their own for five weeks.
“We GPS our guys during practice to measure sprints, accelerations and decelerations, and total distance covered. Then we design their training program based on that data,” Myslinski says. “The data from the previous season and the summer is used to plan workouts once the players come back and train for the season.”
Individualized Training Programs
To continue with the emphasis on individual training plans, the Jaguars make a stark difference between how each position should train their bodies.
An outside wide receiver will do more sprint training and have a strong posterior chain/hamstrings, whereas an inside wide receiver will want to focus on accelerating and decelerating rather than sprint speed. Linemen will be more reliant on their quads and thus do more squats.
“We like to create a lot of self-awareness in our athletes to teach them and educate them about themselves, because the more educated they are about what’s going on, the better they can communicate to us,” says Myslinski. “When you have that interpersonal relationship with an athlete you can really understand what that athlete’s going through.”
An increasingly important focus in the NFL, neck training is important in preventing concussions. Myslinski doesn’t let this training aspect get overlooked in the gym.
“There’s a whole host of neck exercises we do from manual resistance, from the old neck harness to wrestling bridges to using a new device called the Halo,” says Myslinski. “In any collision sport, you have to train your neck to create a stable foundation for your head.”