Can you play the game?


Is not the ultimate test of a player’s ability their ability to play the game? You can do all the fancy and involved combine type tests and fool yourself into thinking that there is direct transfer to the game, but there is not.

The cones don’t move and the big bags don’t hit back. We now have a parlor industry that has developed called “combine prep” where players are essentially training like trained seals to perform a very narrow range of movements that appear in the various combine tests. Some of the movements may help prepare them for the game, but most are very specific to the tests.

Don’t get me wrong I believe that it is necessary to have a very specific battery of performance indicator tests to determine baseline athletic qualities like acceleration, top speed, explosive power, Agility (whatever that is) and functional flexibility. These should be administered in strictly controlled environments with well-defined protocols that are valid, reliable and repeatable. This information can be used to determine an athlete’s baseline measures, determine progress toward specific goals and above all used to define a training program.This is part of a sound training program with day to day coaching to prepare the player for their game.

However with the combine phenomena we have a bunch of random tests that do not meet the criteria of validity and reliability. They are done under vastly different conditions, on different surfaces with varied random people administering the tests, some times are hand times, some are electronic, there is no consistency. All of this makes comparison of scores very suspect at best. I even question some of the scores, times and radar gun readings of velocity I see from some of these combines. Do you know how fast 4.3 something really is? How about 92 on a radar gun?

The bottom line here is we have another big con game going here to take money from kids and naïve parents. If you want to get faster and more powerful go out for track, the cool thing about that is will also learn how to compete. Somewhere you have train for the game; combine training is not preparation for the game

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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