Why the Connext Combine is Beneficial to the Athlete and Beyond

As an athlete myself, I love the fact that there is a track combine for the track athletes to show off their skills and strengths. Along with being an athlete and avid track fan, I am also a strength coach, corrective exercise specialist, and running specialist with Bellin Health along with being a college coach. I want to break down on each level how this combine is special and helpful to everyone that has a part in it.

From the athlete’s perspective, there are so many upsides to being involved with this combine. First off, it gives you the opportunity to showcase yourself in a different way than just a number that is read online from a recent track meet. With the combine format, you are able to go through a number a disciplines and tests to really show off the complete athlete that you are based on your event or events. Based off the numbers you receive during the testing, you will learn what your true strengths are and what areas you may need to work to improve to reach your max potential. You will have a better road map of where you need to go and what you need to do to get there. Going to a combine like this also shows your dedication to the sport and wanting to get better. For those that are looking to compete in college, this is something that sticks out on your resume. You cannot teach drive, but you can show it. Overall, this is just a fantastic opportunity in many ways to connect with coaches and athletes to learn and to better yourself.

Coaches will like this combine for the fact that they can take a deeper look at the athletes. Many of the high school track coaches likely know their athletes pretty well, but it is always nice to have a different set of eyes on a kid and give them feedback. Sometimes a comment, suggestion, cue said or heard differently is all a kid needs to understand it better and make a positive change. For the college coach, these combines offer the opportunity to not only see an athlete compete but to also watch how they interact with the staff, coaches and other athletes. Getting to know an athlete’s character while performing can make a difference in recruiting. No matter if one is a high school coach or a college coach, both will leave with information about the athlete that they might not have gotten from online results or even watching a track meet. You have additional testing information that shows what potential an athlete may have.

Lastly, the bio mechanist in me loves this style of event because you get to watch an athlete move in multiple different ways. They can obviously run, sprint, jump and throw well, but how efficiently do they do it? How well do they move during other tests that they may not have done often? Based on the numbers and physically observation, you could start to put together what the athlete does really well along with areas to improve. Then the question becomes, are the areas that need to be improved hampering performance by a lot or a little? Are those same areas reason for concern of a potential injury? What parts of the body are at risk for injury and how severe may it be? What should the athlete focus on? Top speed, acceleration, stamina, endurance, power, strength, mobility? Many, if not all of these questions, will be answered through the testing and the staff at present at these combines.

This event is meant and made for the athletes to gain knowledge about themselves. It also helps for the parents, coaches and future coaches to understand strengths, weakness, and limitations that they might not have known of. This leads to all involved having a better understanding of how, as a team, we can help an individual reach his or her potential. Now if they only would have had this format years ago when I was competing...

Always running,

Nate Vandervest

Running Specialist, CSCS, CES, College Coach

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