Krav Maga in the world of sports will take your game to the next level!
“To be a better football player than you’ve ever been, you have to do something you’ve never done.” - Felicity Luckey
Football is commonly referred to as a combat sport, but combat skills are not trained throughout the year. Football players are limited to the off season to train for their sport. For this reason, players in the NFL have started using Krav Maga and mixed martial arts in the offseason to help them become better on the field. Krav Maga, a blend of boxing and many martial arts, provides football players with a unique method to stay in shape while also training their hands and body to improve in on-field performance.“When you play this game and have played it long enough, there’s always going to be some kind of obstacle you face. You have to learn how to adapt. This is the kind of game that you never know what’s going to happen. Guys get hurt left and right, so every play could be your last play."
- NFL player Olivier Vernon (New York Giants)
Here are three ways that NFL players use Krav Maga combat training to improve during the offseason:
HAND COMBAT DRILLS-
Hand combat training is designed to sharpen the player's "weapons for battle." This training is done with a partner and provides the athlete opportunities to focus on spacing, timing, accuracy and speed specific to their sport. The drills are practiced in brief, focused and frequent sessions at least twice a week. As the athlete improves, speed and intensity are added along with the use of equipment such as focus pads.
Some teams and athletes know to add Krav Maga or mixed martial arts to their training include: Carlos Dunlap of the Cincinnati Bengals, Connor Barwin of the Philadelphia Eagles, Olivier Vernon of the New York Giants and Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers. Vernon explains (in an interview with Inside Football) that his training focused on using various parts of his body to improve his techniques. "Stuff like turning shoulders and turning certain points on the body to help you get around," he said. "They broke it down more to be a more effective way of using the hands as far as putting the placement on it."
Hand combat training has grown quickly because players understand the importance of "preparing for battle". For years, there was a gap in specific development outside of the team practice. So, players are now seeking this style of training during the offseason and continuing it throughout the year.
"Using hand combat training has helped my reaction. My hands and pass rush moves are quicker and more reflexive when going against offensive tackles during a game,"- Carlos Dunlap. Dunlap trains hand combat once a week outside of practice and also follows a pregame routine that warms his hands up prior to kickoff.
Players use boxing in the offseason to develop skills that can be translated into approved movements on the field. Boxing improves hand-eye coordination as well as quickness and stamina. NFL players get a high cardiovascular endurance, and yet low impact on the lower body, workout from boxing. Within each workout the player must learn how to breathe effectively and pace himself between punching combinations. Boxing teaches striking and how to evade a defender, which translates into highly useful football movements. during a game.
Krav Maga grappling (a blend of wrestling, judo and jiu-jitsu) is a phenomenal way to train balance, the push-pull relationship, body positioning, leverage, hip mobility and total body endurance. A takedown in wrestling is much like a tackle in football. There is also a great deal of hand-to-hand combat during wrestling, judo and ju-jitsu matches. Another benefit to NFL and various athletes that comes from grappling is learning how to properly "fall," absorb force and roll along the ground. This skill can highly reduce the amount of wrist, elbow and shoulder injuries that can occur when a player hits the ground in a game or during practice. Any player looking to gain an advantage and prevent injury should consider adding grappling to his/her training.
Some of the NFL's best linemen were wrestlers in high school. Super Bowl winning offensive lineman Josh Kline of the New England Patriots was a heavy weight champion in the state of Ohio in high school. During his time training with Ignition for the NFL Combine, Josh displayed great agility, as well as the ability to bend at the hips and knees. Other NFL players who wrestled in high school were Ray Lewis, a state champion in Florida, and Roddy White, a champion in South Carolina.
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