Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Is this even possible?

We were talking about Strength & Conditioning last week. From the Baltimore Sun:

Zbikowski poised to take next step for Ravens

While Ed Reed rehabilitates his surgically reconstructed hip, Zbikowski, 25, will likely get the first shot at replacing the team's Pro Bowl free safety. ... If passing camps meant anything, Zbikowski is ready to step in. He showed better quickness and more understanding of the defense this summer than in either of his previous two seasons with the Ravens.
The Arlington Heights, Ill., native headed back to his offseason training haunt, the Turner Pain and Wellness Center in Naperville, Ill. There, he told owner Mark Turner he needed to address several self-described deficiencies, including change of direction, acceleration and jumping ability.
"This was probably the first year he was honest with himself in what he needed to improve upon," Turner said. "He felt like he was 3 inches away from a lot of big plays last year. He has really grown up this year and taken responsibility."
Turner put Zbikowski through an exotic routine of plyometrics and functional sport- and position-specific exercises. Turner said Zbikowski increased his vertical jump by nearly 8 inches. "Before, he couldn't touch the rim," Turner said. "Now he can dunk." Zbikowski also wanted to strengthen his neck and improve his durability in case he gets to return punts this season. He added 21/2 inches to his neck, Turner said. ...
"Tom trained like a beast in the offseason," Pagano said. "He's leaner than he's ever been. He's explosive. He's got great range. You see the instincts, you see the ball skills, so I'm sure glad we got the kid."

Wait. Is it even possible to add 8 inches to the vertical leap of a conditioned athlete?

It's easy for a non-conditioned guy (like say, me) to make great strides on a S&C program. Heck, any strength coach who can get my vertical leap up to 8-1/2 inches will have added 8 inches to it. But Zbikowski was already a professional athlete. There's no way, is there? If this guy Turner can add 8 inches to someone's vertical leap, every pro athlete in the country would be banging down his door.

Zbikowski has so far in his career been just another big-hitting-but-slow safety. Smart, fundamentally sound, not a playmaker. But what if he's completely transformed himself as a player? The work has already paid off some. This past May the Sun was writing about a big difference in him during OTA's:
Zbikowski gets up to speed
It wasn't just one play, either. Overall, Zbikowski looked quicker and smoother in the drills. That wasn't by accident. Since the season ended, the former Notre Dame star has been working on his vertical leap "to get an extra spring in my step," he said. His idea, he said. "It's a game of speed."
Zbikowski has already shown the defense can count on him. With his new "burst" ...
And Zbikowski hasn't sacrificed muscle at the expense of his new-found speed, either. He played at 192 pounds last year. This camp, he weighed 200.
What an illustration of the impact of a S&C program on a player. Can't wait to see him this preseason.

1 comment:

  1. Was he previously injured? Scottie Pippen famously lost 2/3 of his vertical while coming back from injury. He got it back, but if those muscles were injured/unused in any way for a prolonged period, that would make sense.


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