The Future of NFL Offseason Training

The NFL has great offseason physical conditioning programs, but what about the mental side of football? I believe that's the untapped future of Pro Football training.

I believe the future of offseason training is virtual reality training, training the mind, along with the body. By training the mind to recognize plays sooner, and form a quicker conditioned physical response to what they see, it can improve every player by giving them an extra step or 2 on plays. This overall shortened reaction time should lead to a few extra wins each season. The first owner to invest in this system may see that investment repaid countless times by the increase in his teams value, and if developed in-house, profit from selling it to other teams as well as possibly the public (a basic in home version).

I'm not a computer nerd, so I can't go far into the technical side of engineering this system, but will concentrate more on the outcome, and how it's applied. Here's how I envision such a system would work, based upon 3 levels of use.

1. The (at home) Basic Level - A system sort of like Madden, in which each player has the on field view from his position during plays (also providing an overview, like game tape, to help understand the overall play), with a training program overseen by his position coach. The unit has all plays on file, which are either accessed randomly, or preferably selected by the position coach, in such a way that everything isn't thrown at the player all at once. Built upon a series of learning steps (pass a step and move onto the next step), then throw the whole playbook at them once they complete all the steps. By the players position coach overseeing the training, he can individualize the training of each player, insuring that the player fully comprehends each step of training before moving on to the next step. Just think how this could advance the development of draft picks (even more for the lower levels of college competition), by helping them adjust to the increased speed of NFL play, training players shifting to a new position, recovering from injury, or by training players who don't get enough game time (Practice Squad, and end of the roster players. Just think how much such a system could help/speed the development of a 3rd team QB.

2. The Advanced Level - Due to cost, this will probably take place at the teams training facilities (probably weekly), where they may have 1-3 training systems for players use. At this level, rather than looking at a screen, the player will wear glasses that provide a 360 degree view from his on field playing position, moving along with him. This much of the system could be performed at home, if affordable.

3. Total System Level (on site) - You don't want to just exercise your thumbs on a control device, you want sensors on the player to provide feedback to the system so it can sinc his in time movements to the image he's watching in his 360 degree view glasses. Then as a bonus you can add a pressure suit, which through the in sinc rapid inflation and deflation to the approprate body areas, can simulate the impact of hits to the body (at a much reduced and safe amount of force), an expensive add on that isn't totally required, and can be deleted for cost reasons.

This system could even be used during the season, to practice against the team you are playing that week. The forward thinking owner who does this will be rewarded with a team playing closer to their maximum level of physical ability than ever before, and draft picks who develp probably a year faster than before. This system could also be used to train rookies up to speed, that might never have made it in the NFL before. Here are a few such recent players who might have made it in the NFL by using such a system. Jameson Konz who I've posted about many times, and Keith Darbut (6' 4 1/8", 229) who played DE (48 tackles, 15, TFL's, 10.5 sacks, and 11 QB hurries as a senior) at Division III Baldwin-Wallace College. Darbut had a fantastic Pro Day workout, running a 4.38-40, a 1.42-10 yard split (until Stephen Hill this year the all-time record for all positions was a 1.40), 26 bench reps, a 38 inch vertical jump, and a 10'6" broad jump. Darbut was an UDFA, who was cut during the Bengals training camp, and not being signed by another team, but with a system like this he might have made it in the NFL. This system is like a modern day alchemy, turning base elements into gold.

I wish I had thought to post this after the draft, we have so much news now that it might be overlooked.

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