This guide is dedicated to football athletes who are attempting to make a professional team at a tryout or are invited to participate in the NFL scouting combine. The biggest key to doing well is separating yourself from the rest of the competition. The obvious answer is to train harder, be more athletic, and score better on the athletic tests. However, more often than not there are other athletes who are just as talented as you. This guide might seem obvious, but taking these steps can make a huge difference to separate yourself from the pack.
We have gathered this advice after years of training to be professional athletes, trying out with teams, and now running a sports agency (R2S Sports Agency, LLC) geared towards maximizing our clients' earning potential and creating the best opportunities on and off the field for them. We have sought the advice of our clients who play in different sports so that we can provide you with the most comprehensive source of information available. Our goal is that this article will allow you to be creative and develop a plan catered to your needs that will help you distinguish yourself.
The most important advice we can give you going into a tryout is to know exactly what you are required to perform before the tryout and improve those skills as soon as possible. Whether you are required to run a 40-yard dash, run the Cooper Test (run 2 miles under 12 minutes), or take a mental examination, you need to be sharp and practice every test in advance so nothing will come as a surprise.
For example, the NFL Combine requires athletes to take what is called the Wonderlich Test. The Wonderlich Test is a twelve-minute, fifty-question test used to assess the aptitude of prospective employees for learning and problem-solving skills. The most difficult part is that when you take the exam you are already mentally tired because the NFL administers the exam during the middle of the intense and physical 6-day scouting combine. Some teams do not pay much attention to this exam, but others weigh it heavily and can move you up or down the draft board or even remove you from consideration for a low score. My advice would be to do an internet search of “Wonderlich Test,” where you can find thousands of practice questions that can prepare you for this examination.
Athletes should also prepare for other non-physical exams such as personality tests. General Managers recruit players based on the philosophy of the organization and the character traits of the rest of the team. They are looking for a good fit for the organization. For example, one NFL team asks players specifically how honest the athlete rates himself. Now more than ever, some teams want players with good morals and strong ethics.
Another helpful tip is to market and network yourself. Go out and meet as many coaches as possible before the tryout/combine begins. After all, you are your own biggest marketing tool. Some players try to find out where the coaches are staying the night before and wait for them in the lobby to meet them and give them a strong first impression. By talking with the coaches, you will know what the team needs are and be open to switching positions if that is what the team requires. Make sure to bring game film on DVD to the tryout/game as a visual resume. You have to treat this as any other job interview and always be prepared even if you think the coaches are not evaluating you. You should ask coaches for their business cards or email addresses so you can contact them after the tryout. Finally, another mistake athletes make is they sit around the day before the tryout. It is certainly important to rest, but a light jog and stretch will keep your muscles loose and ready to perform.
NCAA Regulations for Tryouts
If you are a senior who has finished his collegiate eligibility, please disregard this section. Under the NCAA bylaws (12.2), it is permissible for a prospective student-athlete or a currently enrolled student-athlete to try out with a professional team, provided the following conditions are met:
Tryout prior to collegiate enrollment: A student-athlete remains eligible in a sport even though, prior to enrollment in a collegiate institution, the student-athlete may have tried out with a professional athletics team in a sport or received not more than one expense-paid visit from each professional team (or a combine including that team), provided such a visit did not exceed 48 hours and any payment or compensation in connection with the visit was not in excess of actual and necessary expenses. A self-financed tryout may be for any length of time.
Tryout after collegiate enrollment: Student-athletes cannot miss class for a tryout with a professional team. Student-athletes may receive actual and necessary expenses in conjunction with one 48-hour tryout per professional team. The 48-hour tryout period begins when you arrive at the tryout location. At the completion of the 48-hour period, you must depart the location of the tryout immediately in order to receive return transportation expenses. A tryout may extend beyond 48 hours (as long as no class is missed) if the student-athlete pays any additional expenses, including return transportation. Please note that during a tryout, an individual may not take part in any outside competition (games or scrimmages) as a representative of that professional team. It would be permissible for a student-athlete's institutional coach to assist in the arranging for a student-athlete to engage in a professional tryout that occurs on or off campus; however, it would not be permissible for a coach to assist in conducting or be present at such workouts/tryouts. You also may contact the NCAA staff at (317) 917-6222 if you have further questions.
NFL Scouting Combine
The 2010 Scouting Combine, which will be held from Feb. 24 to March 2, is the annual job fair for prospective new NFL players. For six days at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, players are put through a series of drills, tests and interviews with more than 600 NFL personnel on hand. Each February, approximately 300 of the best college football players are invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Ind., where executives, coaches, and scouts from all 32 NFL teams conduct an intense, four-day job interview in advance of the NFL Draft.
Here is a brief breakdown of the measurable drills:
The 40-yard dash is the marquee event at the combine. It's all about speed, explosion and technique. Athletes are timed at 10, 20 and 40-yard intervals. The scouts are looking for explosion from a static start.
The bench press is a test of strength. You are required to lift 225 pounds with as many reps as possible. What the NFL scouts are also looking for is endurance. Anybody can do a max one time, but what the bench press tells the scouts is how often the athlete frequented his college weight room during college.
The vertical jump is all about lower-body explosion and power. The athlete stands flat-footed and they measure the highest point his hands reach. It is important to accurately measure the reach, because the differential between the reach and the stick the athlete touches is his vertical jump measurement.
The broad jump is testing an athlete's lower-body explosion and lower-body strength. The athlete starts out with a balanced stance and then he explodes out as far as he can. It tests explosion and balance, because he has to land without moving.
3 cone drill
The 3 cone drill tests an athlete's ability to change directions at a high speed. Three cones are placed in an L-shape. The athlete starts from the starting line, goes 5 yards to the first cone and back. Then, he turns, runs around the second cone, runs a weave around the third cone ( which is the high point of the L, changes directions, comes back around that second cone and then finishes.
The shuttle run is known as the 5-10-5. What it tests is the athlete's lateral quickness and explosion in short areas. The athlete starts in a three-point stance, explodes out 5 yards to his right, touches the line, goes back 10 yards to his left, left hand touches the line, pivots, and he turns and runs 5 more yards to finish.
College “Pro Day” Workouts
In between the combine and the NFL Draft, NFL coaches and personnel turn their attention to the various college "pro day" workouts. These are not as all-encompassing as the combine, but they are important enough for the key decision-makers in the league to travel around the country for more than a month to see the talent up close and personal.
For more information on the NFL Combine, please visit www.nfl.com/combine.
The Senior Bowl is an annual bowl that features the country’s best senior collegiate football stars and top NFL draft prospects. The 2010 Senior Bowl is scheduled for Saturday, January 30, 2010 in Mobile, Alabama. Teams are split up into the top players from the North and South, which are coached by the entire coaching staffs from two National Football League teams.
For more information on the Senior Bowl, please visit www.seniorbowl.com.
East-West Shrine Game
The East-West Shrine Game is an annual post-season college football all-star game played each January so that players playing in bowl games will have an opportunity to compete, which makes the event more competitive. The 2010 East-West Shrine Game is scheduled for Saturday, January 23, 2010 in Tampa Bay, Florida. Teams are split up representing the top players from the East and West.
For more information on the East-West Shrine Game, please visit www.shrinegame.com.
R2S Sports Advice
The NFL scouts and coaches are looking for speed, athleticism, and strength. The biggest adjustment you will face playing in the NFL is the speed of play. If you need any training advice for the NFL Combine, please contact us at RS@R2Ssportsagency.com. We have teamed up with professional athletic trainers to devise a program that gives players more strength, quickness, and speed to make sure our athletes blow the competition away. We will be attending the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine this year so if you are attending as well, we look forward to meeting you and best of luck!
R2S Sports, Founding Partner
For more information about R2S Sports Agency, LLC please visit: www.R2Ssportsagency.com.