Video Review: Mastering The Football Combine Tests Presented by DeFranco’s Training Systems

Frederick C. Hatfield II, MS, MFS, CSCS

The opening statements made by Joe DeFranco are worthy of an article in themselves. Joe made a video describing an approach to mastering football combine tests, but he states that in no way does he believe in the combine tests. The various tests tell very little about an athlete’s ability to play football. I get the impression that Joe believes scouts are idiots for even having them! The idea that the combine tests aren’t indicative of the ability to play football is not new. Several strength and conditioning coaches are well aware of it, and in private, will say so. DeFranco is not alone in his thinking! However, he notes that they are in place and they are (as he puts it), “The biggest job interview of a football player’s life!” They aren’t going away, so you might as well accept them and prepare for them.

DeFranco mentioned it several times in his opening statements, so it’s worth mentioning in this review: this is not a football training video! This is a video that talks about the techniques involved in doing well in the combine tests. He treats the tests as if they were a sport of their own. Nothing in this video applies to actually playing football. The tests DeFranco covers are

  • the 40 yard dash,
  • the vertical jump,
  • the 20 yard shuttle,
  • the 3 cone drill,
  • the bench press and
  • the broad jump.

That is all you get from it: there isn’t even a prescribed training program to prepare you for the combine – only proper technique! You’ll want to practice the techniques, but in a sense, you could watch this video a week before your testing date and benefit from it.

As a former strength and conditioning coach, I enjoyed watching this video because I taught many of the things he talks about, as well. DeFranco shows signs that he has studied the science of movement, but does not come off as a “scientist” (that’s a good thing!). He also undoubtedly has plenty of experience, as some of the concepts he talks about could only have come from experience. For example, during the vertical jump discussion, he noted that on the measuring device (The Vertec), the pegs tend to slope downward as the device gets older. Thus, you should aim for the end of the pegs. He also tells athletes he knows about the worst kept secret they have during the vertical jump test: they cheat on the reach!

For those who don’t know about such cheating, you’ll be asked to reach up to get a baseline number. Then you jump and touch the highest peg possible. By shrugging down your shoulders while establishing your baseline reach, and fully extending while jumping, your vertical jump will register higher. DeFranco’s response to this is sensible: he doesn’t believe in cheating, but if the scouts aren’t enforcing proper measurements, you shouldn’t be the only one at the combine with a conscience.

In short, I wouldn’t say this video is necessary for becoming a better football player. Again, it has nothing to do with football. However, if you are an athlete who will be tested in any of these tests (and it’s a rarity that an athlete wouldn’t be tested at some point), you will do well to study this video. While this video is marketed towards athletes, it’s a video that strength and conditioning coaches should study as well. In fact, I will say this to strength coaches: if you really care about your athletes and want them to do well during testing (not just the NFL combine tests), you should study this video! If you already are on the same level and know these techniques, great! But it’s hard not to find something valuable in this tape.

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