The 2011 NFL Scouting Combine ended yesterday. This week-long showcase is held at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and tests the physical and mental ability of NFL hopefuls in front of coaches, general managers, and scouts.
At Pro Sports Experience Youth Football Camps, athletes are given the chance to participate in a combine of their own, as competitions are held in the 40-yard dash, the 3 cone drill and the shuttle run, which are just three of the six main workouts performed at the real NFL combine.
Make no mistake: NFL-bound athletes work hard and devote endless hours to training and conditioning in an effort to increase speed and strength. But sometimes, their remarkable abilities makes you wonder if they have something going for them that the rest of us don’t, especially in terms of sheer speed.
The 40-yard dash is a difficult race; it requires explosive speed from a static start since there is limited distance to gain momentum. In human muscles, there are Slow Twitch (Type I) and Fast Twitch (Type II) muscle fibers, and the amount of each that is in the muscle of any given person is genetically determined.
Slow Twitch fibers are efficient at using oxygen to generate more fuel; they fire more slowly than Fast Twitch fibers and can go for a while before they fatigue. Marathon runners, for instance, have a lot of Slow Twitch fibers. Fast Twitch fibers, on the other hand, are good for anaerobic activity and can rapidly generate strength and speed, but tire faster than Slow Twitch fibers. Athletes with a lot of Fast Twitch fibers perform incredibly well in the 40-yard dash.
Now that we know the science of speed and how it is part of some people from birth, it’s safe to say that Chris Johnson, who holds the NFL Combine 40-yard dash record of 4.24 seconds, and the rest of the elite athletes who participate, are “born fast.” However, there is no way of knowing who is “born fast” and who isn’t, and the only way you will find out is if you push yourself hard in practice and conditioning, day in and day out.