This is a guest article by Jimmy Lamour of Lamour Training Systems
What type of abilities do you think the great LB's shared? Many had great football speed or the ability to move from play to play without wasted movement in whatever direction the offensive players went. This can be summed up as excellent directional speed because many times LB’s do not know where the ball carriers are going. Secondly, the great LB’s were instinctive to quickly mentally process where they believed the offensive players were going. This takes years of studying the game and learning the tendencies of different opponents or particular plays. I can recall LB’s that would be in the backfield before the RB knew what he was he doing. This was amazing to watch. Lastly, these great LB’s were what I like to call “nasty.” Their mental toughness to push through their limitations made WR’s not want to run crossing routes and QB’s not want to be blitzed by them.
Today, let’s discuss an example of how these LB’s should train in order to display these abilities.
Speed is what many coaches seek when they are looking for a playmaker at LB. Why else would we run 40 yard dashes at the NFL combine? When LB’s have similar abilities coaches will differentiate between the two by speed drills. Most importantly, we have to make sure that we are really training speed. Speed can only be trained with full recovery. Speed cannot be trained in a state of fatigue. Will you run your fastest when you are tired or when you are fully rested? The way that we structure our speed workouts for complete recoveries is to rest 1 minute for every 10 meters we run.
Also, we include explosive drills such as medicine ball tosses, jumps, and sprinting in our training. These speed drills teach the brain to send signals to the muscles quickly and efficiently. We want the LB to perform these drills with great form, so they do not create dysfunctional movement patterns. This could lead to injuries down the road as poor movement patterns are repeatedly performed. This is also why these speed drills should be performed at the beginning of the workouts when the LB is fresh. There is less of a chance of using improper form when you are well prepared.
Strength Training is also a foundation of building a fast LB. A LB with good relative body strength will be able to move their body weight with less effort. Let’s look at two different LB’s to illustrate this. LB #1 can squat 405 lb. at a weight of 220 lbs. and LB #2 can squat 280 lbs. at the same bodyweight. I can guarantee you that LB #1 will be able to manipulate his body weight with less effort than LB #2. However, I do believe that strength alone will not make a LB fast. He must have proper flexibility, explosive drills, low body fat, and proper technique. But, I also believe that you will be hard pressed to find a speedy LB that is not strong for his body weight.
Instinctive ability in LB’s must be a big part of the training. This can be learned by studying game film of LB’s that were great at the position. This is where you can start to see what those LB’s saw during different plays. Great LB’s must develop great study habits. How often did that RB step left when he was going to cut back right? A great LB can develop a feel of how to take advantage of these small details. Also, a LB’s training program must include drills that help foster instinctive ability. We call these “unexpected drills.” This is where we might add a new direction to a drill by adding moving people, pads, or auditory direction. The complete abilities of the LB must be trained to ensure the LB is thoroughly prepared.
The “Nasty” factor or mental toughness that a great LB must develop is something that many coaches believe that you either have or don’t. I agree in part as some LB’s are born with more mental toughness than others. But, I feel that we can do a better job as coaches to develop mental toughness. There is a test called the Wonderlic Test that is given to every NFL prospect to test their mental capabilities. However, what tests are given to these athletes in middle school, high school, and college to determine their mental abilities? What efforts are made to develop their weak areas?
My good friend Oliver Jordan has a test that he provides his athletes at his website Excelerate Sports that determines your focus, commitment, drive, etc…We use this test with our athletes to decide how to build their mental toughness.
We develop mental toughness in our program by quoting scriptures daily. We believe until you know the truth about yourself inwardly, it will be hard to perform at your best outwardly. Also, we include mental development challenges periodically in our program.
I want to leave you with a snap shot of a day in a training cycle of a LB that is attempting to be great. Feel free to ask any questions you might have and let us know what else you would like to learn about training.
*Fast Fuel by RSP Nutrition (30 Minutes before training)
*Pre-Workout Energy Bar – Focus Food Bar bv GI Nutrition (1 hour before training)
*Light step technique drills
*Light positional drills
*Forward light Skip
*Light Side Skip
*Backward Loose Skip
*Forward Leg Swing
*Partner Hip Mobility Drills
*Upper Back Warm-Up Drills
*Hip Flexor Stretch
*Glute Activation Drills
*Quick Feet Drive Drills
* Arm Action Drills
*Quick Side Shuffle
*Unexpected Warm Drills
Med Ball Chest Toss
Unexpected Sprinting Drills
1A) Box Squat – 4x5 (80%)
1B) Hip Flexor Stretch (60 Seconds each leg)
2A) Incline Dumbbell Press 3x8
2B) Wall Slide 3x10
3A) Bulgarian Split Squat 2x8 each leg
3B) Dumbbell Rows 4x8
4A) Glute Ham Raise 3x8
4B) AB Circuit (AB Rollout, Med Ball Russian Twist, Hanging Leg Raise)
Prowler – (Moderate Loaded Sprint) x 8 with plank in between
Mental Toughness Grip Challenge
Active Isolated Training with Band
- Hip Rotators
- Upper Back
- IT Band
Total Recovery Training
- Contrast Shower
- Fish Oil
- Massage w/ stick
Post Workout Nutrition
*H2O Pro Protein Shake by RSP Nutrition (immediately following)
*Ideal Recovery Shake by GI Nutrition (1 hour after workout)
*Post Workout Meal (1 hour and 45 minutes after workout)
- Protein - Chicken, Lean Beef, Turkey, Fish
- Complex Carbs - Sweet Potato, Brown Rice
- Good Fats - Avocado, Fish Oil, Olive Oil
- Hydration - Water
- Sleep - 8 hours to 10 hours
Mental Toughness Training
- Devotional Scripture Reading
- Film Study
- Ask coaches what you need to work on
- Write goal sheet for tomorrow
- Arrange weekly meeting with mentor
For more information or questions about the drills, contact Jimmy Lamour at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jimmy also has a PDF of detailed photos and exercises that he can email you.