HABITS OF CHAMPS

More Bron­cos hire spe­cial­ists

The Denver Post - - NFL SUNDAY - By Nicki Jhab­vala, The Den­ver Post Nicki Jhab­vala: njhab­vala@den­ver­post.com or @Nick­i­jhab­vala

Von Miller spent most of his off­sea­son in the Bay Area sprint­ing up hills and stairs, scal­ing mon­key bars with weight vests draped over his shoul­ders, and toss­ing medicine balls against a wall un­til he could no longer do so. He heeded the calls of a large man in sun­glasses, Frank Ma­trisciano, who is known to most as “Sir.”

Miller chose that life in the spring to gain a cou­ple ex­tra min­utes on Sun­days in the fall and win­ter. He pushed his mind and body to their lim­its so he could han­dle the dis­com­fort late in the fourth quar­ter of a three-point game at Mile High.

“I get tired, but I can play tired longer,” Miller said. “It’s still un­com­fort­able. It’s not like I’m out there and I feel fresh. But I can deal with be­ing un­com­fort­able now. All those months for just a few ex­tra min­utes on the field. For two more min­utes, it’s worth it.”

In the NFL, the finest de­tails mat­ter and for a Bron­cos team that boasts a “lifestyle” of “cham­pi­onship habits,” ev­ery lit­tle one is sig­nif­i­cant. The tech­nique, the speed, the foot­work, the agility, the power, the diet, the sleep, the re­cov­ery. Ev­ery. Lit­tle. De­tail.

And play­ers’ at­ten­tion to them and the rise of so­cial media have given way to a new brand of spe­cial­ist train­ing, of­ten sought out by Bron­cos play­ers looking to hone spe­cific as­pects of their game.

“I think ev­ery­one has some­one they work with, but I think it’s more com­mon for skill po­si­tions, like wide re­ceivers, quar­ter­backs,” said David Robin­son, a trainer for re­ceivers. “Re­ally more skill guys, like de­fen­sive backs and wide­outs, have guys that they see in the off­sea­son to keep their skills sharp and on their game. But more so quar­ter­backs, of course. That’s al­ways been around.”

Over the sum­mer, re­ceiver Em­manuel San­ders has turned to Robin­son and Hous­ton­based Ris­chad Whit­field, a.k.a. “The Foot­work King,” to help him hone his foot­work and tech­nique, much like bas­ket­ball play­ers have turned to shoot­ing coaches, or base­ball play­ers have re­lied on hit­ting coaches.

“The po­si­tion I play is very tech­nique­savvy,” San­ders said. “I al­ways tell people, ‘You can play wide re­ceiver and you don’t have to be the big­gest, fastest, strong­est guy. You just got to know how to get open and you got to be able to catch the ball. How you catch the foot­ball is tech­nique. How you get open is tech­nique. If you can per­fect that craft and that tech­nique, then you’ll be a good re­ceiver. That’s why I go with spe­cial­ists, be­cause spe­cial­ists are try­ing to per­fect your craft in­stead of go­ing with some­body else who is try­ing to make you more of a foot­ball player.”

So, for hours a day, San­ders could of­ten be found on a high school field in Texas or Colorado work­ing on jump-ball or press­re­lease drills, or run­ning spe­cific routes against spe­cific cov­er­ages.

Bron­cos re­ceivers De­mary­ius Thomas and Ben­nie Fowler — as well as Miller — have of­ten turned to Seth Minter, a for­mer player at Bowie State now known to most as The Foot­doc­tor, a move­ment ex­pert. The Foot­doc­tor likes toys — grids for foot speed, fit­ness balls for core work, rings

and cones for agility drills.

Through­out the off­sea­son and reg­u­lar sea­son, Minter and Robin­son fly from coast to coast at the ex­pense of their clients.

Snip­pets of their work­outs are of­ten posted on­line, but the full ses­sions are pur­posely shielded from pub­lic view­ing. Minter’s ses­sions, he said, are sci­ence ex­per­i­ments in move­ment, tai­lored to each player, their of­fense, their frames of­ten their op­po­nents too.

“People hit me up all the time say­ing, ‘I’ve been do­ing your drills.’ And I’m like, ‘For what?’ This is not a cookie-cut­ter sys­tem,” Minter said. “What works for you doesn’t work for ev­ery­body else. You have dif­fer­ent body types, dif­fer­ent gait, dif­fer­ent ap­proach. All my drills are ath­lete-driven and tai­lored to their de­fi­cien­cies.”

Minter said his ap­proach is not to change the game. But the de­tails mat­ter. Miller knows. Many of his team­mates do, too.

“I’m not try­ing to redo sports per­for­mance. I’m just try­ing to add an as­pect to it,” Minter said. “Guys are slim­ming down, the game is a lot faster, guys are not big bulky ath­letes any­more. Mak­ing a guy crazy strong isn’t go­ing to make him a bet­ter ath­lete. Power and strength are two dif­fer­ent things. Just be­cause you’re strong doesn’t mean you’re pow­er­ful.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.