When the difference between a first or fifth round selection can hinge upon tenths of a second, athletes will do everything they can for that extra advantage. Within IMG Academy’s NFL Combine training program, the Athletic and Personal Development staff have been proactive in the research and application of performance technologies to encourage their athletes to reach the next level. ALINE Systems, a leader in movement efficiency and functional mechanics, is one of a number of performance companies who lend their expertise. ALINE’s role during the initial NFL Combine athlete assessments was to evaluate each athlete’s lower body mechanics. Adrian Hubbard, a 6’6’’, 252-lb standout linebacker for the Alabama Crimson Tide, was one of several players who took special interest in the ALINE advantage.
As part of the initial assessment, Hubbard was fit using cutting-edge fit stand technology and provided a pair of ALINE Performance Insoles. He quickly noticed the difference in power transfer and response when working on his approach and agility drills, “I can really feel my legs staying straighter and my knees don’t collapse inwards. A lot more powerful and quicker response.” With his body in the correct bio-mechanical position, power was being driven to the proper engines to fuel him. Hubbard, a Georgia native, opted out of his final year of eligibility to chase his NFL dreams. During his tenure at Alabama with Coach Nick Saban, Hubbard won 2 BCS National Championships, 1 SEC Championship and garnered multiple personal accolades.
Recently, Hubbard was fortunate enough to be one of the elite athlet’s selected to play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl. In the midst of a hectic training and travel schedule he forgot to transfer his ALINEs into his practice cleats on Day 1 of Senior Bowl practice, and felt something was off. He did not make that mistake again during practice or during his game, and made an impressive six tackles at the Senior Bowl. At the conclusion of the game, in the hustle and bustle of interviews and saying goodbye to fellow pigskin warriors, Hubbard forgot to retrieve his cleats with the ALINEs inside. Once back on the IMG Academy campus, he was relieved to find another pair waiting for him.
IMG Academy aligns with a variety of industry leading performance companies to provide each NFL Combine athlete with every edge possible leading up to the ‘world’s toughest job interview’. The integration of ALINE provides athletes with a product and service that not only prevents future injuries, but also helps increase athletic performance though proper alignment.
If you’re looking for the Gridiron/Battle in the Trenches style of football played upon the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, you will NOT find it here my friends. This is 7v7 football – a high speed, lightning intensity paced game where the focus falls upon the skill players. If the vertical attack of the quarterback to his gravity-defying wide receivers virtually dicing the defense apart as a skilled butcher would take apart a side of beef sounds appealing to you, then this is your game!
On the weekend of June 21st, the Third Annual Cam Newton Skills Challenge kicked off the IMG7v7 National Championship weekend festivities, which took place at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. This event attracts some of the nation’s most elite high school talent reaching from Delaware, Canada, Colorado, Florida and all points between. Teams qualified through a series of events held all across the United States. This was one of the last opportunities to watch players by the names of Quincy Wilson(48 D1 offers), Richard Yeargin(40 D1 offers), Sam Bruce(Nephew of NFL great Isaac Bruce), Bo Scarborough(RB – Alabama commit), Jeff Holland(45 D1 offers), or Kevin Toliver II(CB – LSU commit) without paying top dollar for a ticket.
As an Official Sponsor of IMG, ALINE Systems was in attendance to evaluate and analyze all of the athlete’s functional lower body alignment. The results were, in a word, shocking. In this context shocking has dual meaning, as you will see.
The Skills Challenge kicked off the weekend’s competition. After a motivating speech from Cam Newton himself, the battle was underway to crown the tournament’s top Quarterback and Wide Receiver. The ALINE Team was placed just outside the End Zone ready to Evaluate Like Champions…(insert Notre Dame Fight Song)
As the day progressed two things became blatantly apparent. 1 – These young men were amazing physical specimens and individuals. 2 – Overuse Syndrome has become an epidemic! The amount and frequency of injuries along with severe mal-alignments were, as I mentioned earlier, quite shocking. Running the gamut from chronic lateral ankle sprain to medial tibial stress syndrome through ACL/PCL complete tears. Even at this youthful age, Lower Back Pain was a common complaint. Historically an issue developed late in life from the punishment placed upon the body from years of movement, now seems to have translated to the youth athletic population. The ALINE Team was in amazement at the contradiction of elite level athletic performance and severe injury frequency and history.
On the positive side, in most all cases the youth foot is flexible. Still malleable and not rigid from decades of punishment, we were able to place these young men on the ALINE Foot Suspension Systems and correct most of their alignment maladies. The severe pronation and correlated genu-valgum(knock-knees) knee patterns disappeared as the ALINEment advanced. Instant comfort was felt and healthier tracking patterns seen. The simplistic joy seen on the faces of these pigskin warriors when the Red Line bisected their well muscled legs and ALINE under foot was a constant pleasure. Again the ALINE Advantage was able to identify lower extremity alignment issues and aid in the prevention of further injury or deformity allowing these young athletes to perform to their utmost potential!
The event weekend concluded on Sunday with Team Tampa being crowned the NFA 7v7 National Champions for the second year in a row! It was an intra-Floridian battle with Tampa overtaking Miami’s own South Florida Express Elite, 25-24. Cam Newton was in attendance throughout the entire event. If his physical presence and personality didn’t alert you to his NFL pedigree, you would think he another one of the kids. As an outsider looking in, it’s always refreshing to see an athlete of his acclaim and success able to interact with young, aspiring student-athletes. Also, at the conclusion of the Skills Challenge, Cam was there to hand out award packages including ALINE Performance Insoles!
The facts are clear about the importance of alignment and foot care. The human body is not made up of separate parts. “The knee bone’s connected to the shin bone…”as the song goes. It is this kinetic chain that must be maintained and assessed over time. The challenge is changing the knowledge base of youth, coaches and families so they all understand that their foundation directly affects their function. This fact alone will have positive long term effects on not only their football careers, but their quality of life beyond the Gridiron.
- Written/Edited by: Jonna Pento