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The best 10 Sport Science lessons (part 2: Football)

November 5, 2009 Leave a comment

In part 1 of our feature on Sport Science, we looked through the eyes of science and biomechanics at ball striking sports such as baseball, softball, and golf. Today, in the second part of the feature, we will look at a sport where the target being struck, is the athlete himself.

American Football is often considered the most demanding sport there is, both physically and mentally. Football players are incredibly strong and athletic, performing feats most of us could only dream of. At the same time they play under immense pressure, where the outcome of each play could be the difference between victory and defeat.

Every Sunday, millions of viewers gather in front of their TVs to watch these amazing athletes compete. And often we find ourselves wondering, do we have what it takes to be a professional football player? Lucky for us, Sport Science is here to answer just that question. And in order to do so, they have recruited stars like Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Chad Johnson, Ray Lewis, and Jerry Rice, the best of the best of the NFL.

We will look at each position on the football field and find out just what it takes to become a premier football player, using science and the study of bio-mechanics.

The Offensive Lineman

Offensive linemen are the biggest men on the football field. They are in charge of protecting the Quarterback, and also creating running lanes for the Running backs. However, very little focus is paid to what these men actually have to deal with. This episode takes us into the line of scrimmage to see what the offensive linemen have to deal with on every play of the game. You think you can handle Kris Jenkins? Just watch.

It is amazing to see the amount of technique that it requires to be an effective lineman. Not only are these guys big and strong, they also have solid fundamentals which help them use their strength to its maximum potential.

The Linebacker

These guys are the secondary line of defense. They are fast, aggressive, and are a nightmare to Quarterbacks in a blitz or Running backs in the open field. In this episode we look at one of the best Linebackers in the game, Ray Lewis, and see just how much power he can hit with.

There we have it, Ray Lewis hit harder than a battering ram. Now imagine him running at you full speed on a football field…

The Running back

This is the blue collar grunt work position on the football field. It requires extreme toughness to carry the football and run straight into the teeth of the defense to gain those precious yards. The fear of any running back is the fumble. Therefore running backs are required to have great strength in order to hold onto the ball. But just how strong is their grip? Rudi Johnson steps up to the challenge, and the results are shocking.

Running backs do not only use their strength, but also great technique to make sure the ball is secure. Using the four point harness and keeping the ball tight will go a long way to reduce the number of fumbles of any aspiring running back.

The Wide receiver

The wide receiver is one of the more glamorous positions on a football team. They are the ones running full speed down field, and making spectacular catches for touchdowns. Our previous list looks at the best 10 catches in football, and will give you an idea just how athletic these guys really are. In this episode of Sport Science, two of the best wide receivers to have ever played the game, Chad Johnson and Jerry Rice, steps into the laboratory to demonstrate their athletic abilities.

Great lessons for wide receivers out there. Increase your range to become a bigger target, and use your fingertips to pull in those tough catches.

The Quarterback

He is the leader, the field general, and sometimes the heart and soul of a football team. Great Quarterbacks can lead a team to greatness, and poor quarterbacks can doom their team to mediocrity. A quarterback has the most responsibility of anyone on the field. They have to call the plays, read the defense, make adjustments, and when that’s all done, they have to throw the ball accurately with defensive lineman and linebackers charging him at full sprint. No wonder even the best quarterbacks only complete 60% of his passes.

Drew Brees is one of the best passing QBs in history. He is the 2nd QB ever to throw for 5000 yards in a single season, and is the 2008 offensive player of the year. If anyone can hit a bulls eye, he can. Drew attempts to hit a bulls eye from 20 yards. And the results are astonishing.

Drew’s accuracy is unbelievable. Proving that professional football players are truly amazing athletes, and their multi-million dollar contacts are probably worth the work they have put into the game.

Bonus clip:

We saw a great defensive lineman, and we saw a great quarterback. But what if we put them against each other? Ben Roethlisberger and Luis Castillo go head to head to tell us the answers.

As Al Pacino says in his pregame speech, it really is a game of inches.

The best inspiring pre game speeches from sports movies

October 20, 2009 Leave a comment

rudy

Movies reflect life, and in turn, life imitates movies. Many of the great sports movies are based on true stories, like Rudy. However, how realistic are these movies? Here is today’s question.

How do the inspiring pre game speeches from sports movies compare with motivational pregame speeches from real life?

Best 10 real life pre game speeches

Today we will watch the best 10 inspiring pre game or game time motivational speeches from our favorite sports movies. As we go through the list, let’s analyze their key moments and study them for what makes them great.

The Program (1993)

Premise: The Program, starring James Caan, Halle Berry, and Omar Epps,  is a fictional story following the lives of coach Winters (Caan)  and the players of the ESU Timberwolves as they deal with the pressures of trying to make a bowl game.

Notable scenes: One is the very heterosexual phlegm swapping scene (@1:50) in the locker room between 2 teammates. Another shows Lattimer, who is obviously suffering from roid rage, smashing a car window with his head while screaming “Place at the table!”

You probably would not see this in real life. Coaches, however excited they may be, generally don’t physically hit their players. But seeing as how this is a movie that thrives on testosterone, it does fit. He spends no time on how the team should play the game, so this speech is better saved for the movies.

Did you know?

A scene in the original movie showed several players lying in the middle of the street with traffic whizzing by. The scene was imitated by several teenagers who were either killed or suffered injuries, resulting in the scene being omitted from all other copies.

Hoosiers (AKA Best Shot, 1986)

Premise: Set in 1951, and starring Gene Hackman, is a true story of a small town (Hickory) Indiana basketball team going on to win the state championships under a controversial coach (Hackman).

Notable: The movie has won numerous awards including several Oscar nominations. It remains one of the most highly rated sports movies of all time.

This speech is a bit short. He talks about focusing on the fundamentals and being the best team they can be. However, he does not spend much time on building the team’s confidence and framing the challenges positively. Without the slow clap at the end, the speech would not accomplish its goals.

Did you know?

Dennis Hopper plays the town drunk in the movie, a role which earned him an Oscar nomination for supporting actor.

Rudy (1993)

Premise: Rudy, based on the actual life events of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, is among the most popular football movies of all time. The movie is about Rudy overcoming numerous obstacles while chasing his dream of playing football for the famed Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Notable: Here is the speech before the final game of the season, the only game Rudy is allowed to suit up for. He plays in the game and recorded a sack against the opposing QB.

This speech almost sounds like it was directed at Rudy. Since it’s not a bowl game or a important rivalry, the coach did not bother with a motivational speech. But he does mention the “forever” factor.

Did you know?

Rudy featured the first credited appearances by John Faverau and Vince Vaughn.

Friday Night Lights (2004)

Premise: This instant classic follows the 1988 Permian Panthers of Odessa Texas on their path to the state championships. In Texas, where high school football borders on obsession, everyone on the football team faces enormous pressure. After losing the star running back for the season, Permian’s chances of success are in doubt.

Billy Bob Thornton delivers this memorable speech to his team at  halftime against a powerhouse Dallas team.

This speech touches on the coach’s philosophy of “being perfect”. It doesn’t mean being a perfect football player, it is about living up to your responsibilities as a teammate, and as a human being. To live in the moment and to have love in your heart. It is definitely a surprising topic for a halftime speech, but the performance carries it off.

Did you know?

New York Jets cornerback Ty Law makes an appearance in the movie as a rival wide receiver. He catches a one handed touchdown in the movie.

Little Giants (1994)

Premise: Little Giants stars Rick Moranis and Ed O’Neill as opposing coaches of peewee football in the town of Urbania, Ohio. The Cowboys, coached by O’Neill, is the best team in town. The Giants on the other hand, don’t seem to have a chance. The two teams face off to see which team will survive in the “One town, one team” struggle.

The Giants are down by 21 at halftime and retire to the locker room dispirited. This speech changes their attitudes and changes the game.

No matter how old you are, this speech still has the same magic. The message behind it is self belief and not giving up. Even if you lose 99 out of 100 times, there is still a chance for victory if you don’t give up.

Did you know?

Danny O’Shea (Moranis) and Kevin O’Shea (O’Neill) were a pair of brothers who played in the NHL.

Miracle (2004)

The Premise: The backdrop is the cold war. Russians and Americans have nuclear missiles pointed at each other and the entire focus of the world is on the hockey finals of the 1980 Winter Olympics. The Russians have sent their best, and the U.S. has sent a bunch of college kids. It’s like Rocky IV, but on ice. Too bad the Russians don’t look as crazed as Ivan Drago.

Here is a clip of the last minutes of the actual game.

Coach Brooks (Kurt Russell) knows how big the occasion is and how nervous his team must be. He goes into the locker room, and delivers this speech.

The first line is great. “Great moments, are born from great opportunity.” That is the mindset he wants his players to have. They no doubt face a great opponent in the Russians, but what they can accomplish is unimaginable. This is a rather impractical speech before a game, but it sure makes for a great movie moment.

Did you know?

The speech was also given by another great coach, watch this.

Remember the Titans (2000)

Premise: Starring Denzel, this movie focuses on the racial tensions within the Titans, a newly integrated high school football team from Alexandria, Virginia. Coach Boone (Washington) battles the racial prejudices of the community and leads his team to an undefeated season. At one point he leads the players on a run and arrive at a civil war battlefield, where he gives this powerful speech. The speech is the turning point in the movie and helps to unite the previously divided team.

During the big game in the movie, Coach Yates calls upon his defense to step up their play. It’s short, but very effective.

He gets the message across nice and clear. And that last line will get anyone’s adrenaline pumping. He proves that a speech doesn’t have to be long to achieve its goals. The players must have ran onto the field ready to take their opponents’ heads off.

Did you know?

Hayden Panettiere, the cheerleader from Heroes, plays the daughter of coach Yates.

We Are Marshall (2006)

Premise: In 1970, after a plane crash kills nearly all the members of the Marshall University Thundering Herd football team, the team is about to be disbanded. Coach Jack Lengyal (Matthew McConaughey) steps in to rebuild the program and help the university, and the community to recover from the tragedy. The team goes on to win their first home game of the season despite their lack of experience with a score of 15-13 over Xavier university.

This is a great speech about heart, about laying it all on the line and giving it everything you’ve got. It also uses the “forever” factor to give the players an idea of how important an occasion this is. There is also the “Marshall!” chant at the end to give it a high finish.

Did you know?

Miami Dolphins QB Chad Pennington, Patriots WR Randy Moss, and Buccaneers QB Byron Leftwich all played for Marshall university.

Any Given Sunday (1999)

Premise: Any Given Sunday had an incredible cast including Al Pacino, Dennis Quaid, Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, and many others. It is a fictional film about the Miami Sharks, a once prominent team now struggling to make the playoffs. After two quarterbacks are injured in a game, third string QB Willie Beamen (Foxx) must step in and run the show. He makes a number of errors and also vomits in the huddle. However, he quickly learns the game and goes on to become a star QB in the league, leading the team to a playoff win at the end of the movie.

Notable: This is by far the most popular sports movie speech and is delivered by the legendary Al Pacino.

This speech is used in all sorts of motivational videos for all types of sports. It’s a speech that applies not only to sports, but to life, and to the essence of man’s struggle. He lays it all out and trusts that his players will win as a team, and not lose as individuals. In life you have to give it your all and fight for those inches in front of your face, and teamwork means knowing the man standing next to you will do the same with you.

Did you know?

Sean “P. Diddy” Combs was cast as Willie Beamen, but dropped out due to conflicts with his recording schedule. And the world will forever be grateful.

The takeaway:

Movies can seem similar to real life, they can even be based on real life events, but it is still fictional and speeches in movies cannot be expected to work in real life. They are great when paired with the right music, the right director, and a great actor, but those are not things real coaches have or use. There are things we can learn from these speeches, such as the importance of presentation (Miracle, Friday Night Lights) and the use of dramatic locations (Remember the Titans, We are Marshall). But in the end, we are better off learning from actual coaches.

Bonus Clip:

This one didn’t quite qualify as a pre game speech, but it gets in anyway because it’s freakin badass.

The best motivational pre game speech videos

October 17, 2009 8 comments

What makes a great coach?

phil-jackson

Michael, the basket is that way!

Some say it is the deep understanding for the fundamentals of the game. Others say it is the ability to instill discipline and determination in their players. And still more think that it is a force of personality that can rally the troops and lead them on to victory. The only thing we know is, that there is no clear cut answer to being a great coach.

Every coach has his/her own individual style, and each coach arrives at his/her style through a long period of study and experimentation. One coach can’t simply copy another coach’s style and expect it to work. Pat Riley can’t become Phil Jackson without a deep understanding of Buddhist philosophy, and very few people can coach like Bobby Knight and still succeed.

What we can do, in our process of becoming a good coach, is to learn from the great ones, and experiment with their techniques. Some will work, but most will fail, and it is in our failures that we will eventually discover our own style of coaching.

Today we will look at one important aspect of coaching, the motivational pre game speech.

I believe the importance of the motivational pre game speech is over dramatized by sports movies. Just compare the videos on this list with the pre game speeches from movies list to see the differences.

However, the motivational pre game speech does serve an important purpose. Players and coaches alike are nervous before most games, and it is important to calm those nerves and instill a sense of confidence before stepping out onto the court or field. Here are a few techniques used by some well known coaches to inspire and motivate their players.

Bill Self speech – Kansas (NCAA)

The nothing to lose, so much to gain approach. And the “forever” factor.

It’s always good to go into a match being the one with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Whether that’s true or not does not matter, it is the state of mind that counts. Bill Self does that by building up the players’ confidence by going over their major accomplishments of the year and the fact that their place in history is already secure. He then talks about how his players will always remember this night, and driving up their internal motivation. The key point to notice here is that he makes no mention of the opponents.

Billy Donovan speech – Florida Gators

“Live in the moment” technique, with high energy.

Same as Bill Self, Billy makes no mention of the opponents at all. It is all about  how to be the best team we can be. He also focuses on the “forever” aspect of this game. Instead of saying things will be hard, he uses words like adversity and challenge, which is a positive way of framing difficulties. The high energy denotes a sense of confidence, which he hopes will pass onto his players.

Coach Warren speech- Abilene eagles (HS)

The indirect language technique. And the build up.

He doesn’t ask his players for anything, but tells them that in order to win, they will need heart, courage, and commitment. He also says he doesn’t need to challenge the players to play hard because he knows they will. He gets the message across without making any demands. The energy level of the speech is low for the first 90 seconds, but picks up very quickly in the last 30, and ends with a bang.

John Hufnagel speech – Calgary Stampeders (CFL)

Turning disadvantages into advantages

This team and coach are obviously confident playing an opponent they have beaten, but it is still important to address the positives. He ends his speech by turning the difficulties facing his team into challenges for his team to overcome.

Derrick Moore speech – Georgia Tech

It is your time, your moment.

He delivers a very passionate speech. Dramatized for effect but effective nonetheless. He uses a chant to harmonize the team’s energy and to build up their willingness to fight. To be successful in sports a player needs to be able to use his/her emotions to motivate themselves on the playing field. Often times a person with whom the players have a close emotional bond with, for example a chaplin, is a great choice for a pregame speech. They know which buttons to push to tap into the emotional energy that could make the difference between a win and a loss.

Michael “Pinball” Clemons speech – Argos (CFL)

His personal technique

This will be very difficult for any coach to copy. It seems rehearsed and it’s a bit of showmanship, probably for the cameras as well as for the players. But what’s good about it is that the players know what things to focus on, and those are what the chants are about. Repeat what you want the players to remember over and over again. One of the best ways to get focus is to use a chant that the players can recite to themselves on the field.

Coach Flowers speech – Leland (HS)

The pre written speech. The chant build up.

Not sure if the the speech is taken from somewhere or if he wrote it. He benefits from great energy and a strong voice. The background music is a bit cheesy but can work with the right age group of players. He uses a great line “I am a champion” for the chant, and builds it up very well at the end for a great finish.

What we can learn:

Most of the coaches above use many of the same techniques in their pre game speeches.

1. Stress previous accomplishments to build up confidence

2. Stress what the team needs to do, don’t mention the opponents.

3. The “forever” factor, this game is important and will be remembered.

4. Appeal to a higher purpose. Nationalism/school spirit/fans

The other factors are more of personal choice. You might want to include a chant in the speech to build momentum. You might want to raise the energy level gradually towards a big finish. You could even have background music. These things should be tested and experimented with to see what works with your personal style.

Remember, it is through our failures that we succeed.

Need some motivation, check out these messages from Michael Jordan.

The best 10 unbelieveable catches in football history

October 10, 2009 Leave a comment

We’re getting to the heart of the football season. The games are starting to get intense and the rivalries are heating up. And what’s a better way to get more football action than to watch some of the best videos of football?

Some people prefer the running game. They love to see the running back blast through a hole and juke defenders out of their cleats. But I would bet that most people love to watch the long passes. When that ball leaves the QB’s hands, anything can happen. It could get tipped by a lineman, it could get intercepted by a corner, but best of all, it could result in an amazing catch that makes us wonder if we should trust our eyes. Because what we saw was unbelievable.

The reason professional sports are such a big draw is because of that potential of a great moment, when we see something that goes beyond ordinary human capabilities. When a moment like that comes, we just have to say WOW and admire the athletes for their amazing gifts.

And that is why this list has been created, to remember all those great moments in football history.

Some of these catches you might have seen, but most of them are probably relatively unknown. They are taken from both NFL, CFL, and NCAA football games. For the most part the timing of the games (Superbowl, playoffs, bowl games) did not play a part in the selection. They were mostly selected for the pure athletic abilities of the players making the catch.

Without further delay, here are the best catches in football.

Marvin Harrison

This catch required an insane amount of coordination. For anyone who plays sports, it is incredibly tough to be running facing one direction, and then suddenly change momentum and turn. Harrison not only does that, but jumps to reach for the ball. He manages to make enough contact to stop the ball’s motion, essentially tapping it to himself, and catches it with both hands while falling and still keeping both feet in bounds.

Bonus points for spiking the ball and getting flagged for it.

Reggie Wayne

There are some great one handed catches, but this one must go down as one of the best. He goes up, catches it one handed over the defender, then is able to maintain grip on the ball while falling and cradle it to his body before making contact with the ground. The timing required on the grab itself is incredible, not to mention being able to hold on to it while falling.

Click here

It was so good it didn’t get reviewed.

Marty Booker

Great WR are great for the speed, agility, and balance. But what if your defender is as tight as possible, you have no room to maneuver, and you’ve lost your balance? Well, you just gotta reach out with one hand and make an incredible grab.

Does this catch beat out Reggie Wayne’s catch? That would be a tough call, but I think it does.

Kevin Curtis

It’s up, it’s going, the corner back has it in his hands, oh wait! The corner just got posterized. Kevin Curtis jumps over the defender, scoops the ball with his right hand, and takes away what would have been an interception.

Click here

This catch makes the list because Curtis was out of position and boxed out for the catch, but uses his athletic ability to out jump the corner and also make an incredible catch.

Calvin Johnson

Johnson probably doesn’t even need two hands to play football. He cuts across the middle, stops on a dime, jumps backwards, and hauls in a bullet with one hand.

A.J. Green

This is one of the best. He’s running left, he looks up at the ball and sees that it’s over his head. He turns 180 degrees to his left, jumps in the air and grabs the ball one handed, and is up so high that he rotates another 180 degrees before making contact with the ground.

He would have made a great gymnast.

David Tyree

The “Helmet catch” All Giant fans will remember and love this one. It’s the Superbowl, it’s 4th quarter, the Giants are down, and it’s their last drive. Manning almost goes down, but manages to escape. He launches a 40 yard prayer, to David Tyree well covered by Harrison. Tyree and Harrison both go up, Tyree gets his hands on it but one arm is pulled away, so he uses his helmet as the other hand to stabilize the ball before getting both hands on it again.

Okay, the timing of this catch did play a small part in the selection. It’s still an amazing catch.

Tyrone Prothro

It’s a hug! It’s a catch! It’s a touchdown!!! This will remain one of the best catches of all time. The defender is literally on top of him, between him and the ball. There is no other possible way to make this catch than to put your arms around the defender and catch it on his back. Not only that, he is able to hold on to the ball as they both flip over into the endzone.

The great thing about the catch is that he loses sight of the ball right before the catch as it goes behind the defender’s back.

Chris Moore

Some say it’s the best, some say it’s the luckiest. Whatever it is, I bet you will not see another catch like it, EVER. He literally uses every part of his lower body to make this catch. It can’t be explained, just watch.

The amount of focus you need to be aware of the ball while you’re turning and the ball is bouncing off the back of your legs is just insane. Even Sport Science, the show that studies sports with the latest in technology could not recreate that catch.

Edwin Baptiste

No doubt the most athletic catch EVER. It’s so good you might think it’s fake. Baptiste is facing the QB, but the ball is over his head. What do you do? You jump straight back, catch the ball one handed, and go down in history as one of the greatest catches ever.

It’s so good it deserves to be watched a dozen more times. Maybe then you’ll believe it happened.

Wow, now those were amazing. The only thing more amazing would be to watch all those catches live. It takes dedication and so much hard work for these athletes to get to where they are. They have honed their bodies and minds to such a degree that they can perform feats that can be said to be super human. I am glad to be able to turn on my TV on Sunday and watch these athletes go to work creating unforgettable moments right in front of my eyes.

Thank you.

Categories: Football, sports, Videos Tags: , ,
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