Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Response To Post Titled "Is Your Athlete SPARQ Ready?"

This is my response to Jason's comment on my post dated 10/24/07:

CrossFit Jason said...

"What are your thoughts about using the bench as a fitness test in football? Having a nice max bench is nice, but it doesn't seem functional to me, and I don't see how you can tell how good/skilled a football player is by looking at his bench press. Somethign involving pushing (similar to blocking) would make more sense, I'd think. Also, how is the SPARQ scored?"

My response:

This is a very good question. One of the primary tests required of athletes at the NFL scouting combine is how many times they can bench press 225 pounds. While this may show how much strength the player has, it says nothing about how good of a football player he is.

From my experience of playing football at the Division I level in college as a defensive back (my bench press max was 400 lbs.), a big-time bench press max had little to do with successfully playing the game. Speed, power, quickness, agility, acceleration, explosion, etc. were all more important than brute strength.

And on the occasions that bench press strength came into play, such as taking on a tight end, leverage and body positioning was more important than bench press strength. I know a former NFL lineman who started on 2 Super Bowl championship teams who said that leverage and positioning was more important than bench press strength. He should know.

When I train football players, I focus on building their full-body strength and endurance as a foundation for speed and power training. A big-time bench press max is not a bad thing, but I stress more importance on speed, power, quickness, agility, etc. using exercises that simulate game-time actions.

That's why SPARQ testing is a more reliable predictor of tangible athletic skills. SPARQ football testing procedures assign scores in the vertical jump, 40 yard dash, bench press and shuttle run. There is also a SPARQ Pro testing procedure that includes things such as vision and reaction tests. Individual and total scores can be compared to others in your sport to see how you measure up.

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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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