The influence of American Football Training Equipment in European Programs
Faster, harder, farther or simply better than during the last season
- such a motto appeals probably to every team before the beginning of preparations for league's struggles. Economic and technological races are the domain and the integral part of a modern sport. American football is not an exception here. Someone may perpend that a dozen years ago we also played football in Europe with balls and a few cones only and of course he is right but were we better than today? And if we are better now, then to what do we owe it?
There are many answers to these questions - the increased awareness and experience of trainers, the impact of American football athletes coming to Europe, hanging up the bar higher and higher, tactics inspiration derived from other sports disciplines such as martial arts or rugby. And finally, last but not least, the access to the most technically advanced sports training equipment, which over the past few years, in many aspects has revolutionized the training system of American football at all levels.
Most of all injuries in American football are caused by inadequate, poorly adjusted or too intensive training. American football players expose their bodies to heavy loads not only during the matches but also during intensive trainings and preparations for the gameplays which indirectly (lack of concentration or fatigue and muscle weakness) or directly (sharp collision with another player during blocking or tackling) leads to serious injuries such as muscle ruptures or bone fractures.
These injuries often exclude players from playing for many weeks. One effective way to prevent unnecessary injuries during training is to replace the man with the proper training equipment. The usage of pop-up dummies or tackling dummies during some tackling exercises, effectively protects the athlete from unnecessary injuries while maintaining all the motor patterns needed to stop the opponent effectively at the same time. Usage of adequate, foam filled blocking shields which are made to imitate plastic protectors, significantly reduces the risk of minor painful injuries and allows athletes to do more repetitions with the maximum impact and pressure, consequently accustoming the muscles (muscle memory) to utilize full capabilities during match situations. All these conditions can be met only after the proper tuition and coach's supervision. Any misguided and unprepared usage of American football training equipment without compliance of proper techniques does not lead to a progression of the player's technique and bad habits can make even worse. Every exercise, even with the simplest training equipment should be done under the guidance of a qualified positioning trainer.
Positioning trainings in American football usually take place in a narrow group of well-known for each other players who spend their time together on and off the field. The emotional aspect can greatly affect on the intensivity of the exercise, especially those that require contact with the other athlete. For many beginners, young American football players it is an obstacle that cannot be omitted, which results a reduction in tackle or blocking drilling. Replacing a player from his own pop-up positioning group dummy or tackling donut significantly improves engagement in the exercise, eventually obliterating the emotional barrier and the fear of eliminating a team-mate. This fear can be justified in many cases – the rotation of experienced, physically strong and well technically trained players with very young, inexperienced and full of apprehension rookies is fast and this is the first step to an injury. Unfortunately, in many smaller clubs such situations are a daily occurrence and an element of introducing new players to the team.
Improving the workout's quality
During many years in European leagues, I met athletes and coaches who before signing a new club contract demanded the access to individual training materials they worked on at university leagues or clubs in Germany or France, which spent a significant part of their budget on the investment in training equipment and technical development.
From coach's point of view, sports field equipment do not only make it easier to work, but it also improves performance and the quality of the workouts which eliminate all the dangers described above. An excellent example of increased efficiency of trekking training is pop-up dummy. The time that pop-ups return to their original form after a hit is few seconds shorter than when the exercise is performed by the players themselves. 2-3 seconds gained on repetition transfer into 2-3 consecutive turns during series or time for coaching points and practice comments. With regard to the entire season, with the proper preparation and structure of the operation the efficiency goes up to 20%.
Field training equipment is not a symbol of American football club status. It does not guarantee success in sport but can significantly contribute the satisfaction of training among the players, improve their results and help them to become the best. Is it not what we all want?
Defensive Coordinator & Defensive Line Coach
From 2017 for Brussels Black Angels (Belgian national champion 2017, 9-0)
Belgian National Team Coach, former Polish National Team Coach
Multiple division and national champion of Poland, Germany and Belgium.