Did you watch the NFL combine this year? If you did you most likely watched this year’s rookies perform the 40 yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump, 20 & 60 yard shuttles, L-Drill and Bench Press. I like to label these drills as "DNA Assessments". Each drill or assessment labels who you are as an athlete just like our DNA labels who we are as individuals. The NFL combine is one of my favorite pre-season events to watch and every year I walk away a bit more disappointed. I feel that the testing process has to improve. As our training methods and athletes evolve, so do our assessments! Everyone talks about program variation but what about assessment variation? Adding a set of new assessments every 6 months will allow you to unlock useful information in each of your athlete’s performance profiles. Information is a very powerful tool. Don’t stop at the surface you must dig deeper!
The L.E.F.T test or Lower Extremity Functional Test is a great drill that includes every movement pattern an athlete may perform in sport. Agility tests like the L.E.F.T test can tell you a lot about an athlete because it requires a significant amount of eccentric strength along with the ability to reactively accelerate in a different direction. In order to perform at an optimal level, neuromuscular control is a must. Neuromuscular control and athleticism in a number of ways have the same meaning. Have you ever seen a wide receiver run a perfect hook route? If you did you saw a perfect display of neuromuscular control. Another reason I tend to favor this test is because it involves a term known as "Speed-Endurance". Speed-Endurance drills require an athlete to maintain speed and agility over an extended duration (Greater than 6 seconds). Speed-Endurance drills are great because they help you identify how fatigue resistant your athletes are. More times than not, fatigue is the reason for inefficient movement patterns. In a nutshell, if you are fatigued you are most likely going to be SLOW!
How is the drill performed? The drill begins with two cones that are placed 10 yards apart. The athlete sprints from cone 1 to cone 2, backpedals back to cone 1, shuffles to cone 2 then to cone 1, carioca's to cone 2 then to cone 1 and finishes with a sprint to cone 2. I know that may be a lot to digest so I have provided you with a diagram.
1. Sprint Cone 1 to Cone 2: Red 2. Backpedal to Cone 1: Blue 3. Shuffle to Cone 2 then to Cone 1: Yellow 4. Carioca to Cone 2 then to Cone 1: Gray 5. Sprint to Cone 2 (Finish): Black
Need other drills to improve your assessment variation? The Shark Skill Test (SST), Flying 30 meter sprint and box step ups (upper body musculature) are also great to include. I’m positive I will talk about each of these drills at some point in the future because I truly believe in the value behind assessments. For now, implement the L.E.F.T Test! I promise you will not be disappointed