MMA at NFL Combines

The days of elite football players exclusively spending long days in the weight room, benching rep after rep, and just maxing out on the squat rack are gone. So MMA at NFL combines? For some NFL players,  Mixed Martial Arts has become the key to success in helping athletes reach the top of their game, and it does not include one single free weight. Innovative MMA training to fit a specific regiment that appeals to numerous athletes has become a new trend. Players such as DaQuan Jones, Nate Stupar, and now Sam Ficken realize their dreams of making it in the NFL.

Many trainers have been using Mixed Martial Arts in a hybrid form to train players getting ready for the NFL. They have tweaked their training methods to appeal to the changing times. Nowadays, all styles of MMA fighting, ranging from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to kickboxing to Krav Maga, are used in some form or another. To help appeal to the growing UFC trend, some trainers started formulating their own separate brand of Mixed Martial Arts. Through these new brands, trainers have helped shaped the careers of numerous collegiate athletes with this new hybrid form of MMA training.

In 2012, Penn State’s Strength and Conditioning Coach Craig Fitzgerald realized the intensity and potential within MMA training and decided to incorporate the same techniques into a football workout. Under Bill O’Brien, Fitzgerald began using MMA techniques to ensure the team would be faster, stronger, and more aggressive on the gridiron. Players were put through rigorous training and developed new grappling and punching techniques to help them improve their game. Their preparation emphasized techniques that focus on the immobilization of limbs, a core skill to have regardless of a player’s position on the field.

Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien
Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien

Not only does MMA get them in great physical condition, but there are certain MMA movements and elements that players can use in football. From a blocking standpoint, they can learn how to use their forearms faster and harder. On the defensive line side, they can gain quicker hands and footwork. When Bill O’Brien left to coach for the Texans, Fitzgerald decided to take MMA training techniques to the NFL. The training techniques even gained high praise from Coach John Harbough during the Raven’s mini-camp. The MMA elements seemed to combine a cardiovascular endurance players might get from various running and agility drills, while at the same time providing a muscular endurance that’s completely different from lifting weights.

As a professional NFL player, one must work out once in the morning and once in the afternoon. And most players will tell you that the MMA workout is the more challenging and rigorous of the two.The MMA workout is probably the most taxing workout a player can do to prepare for the NFL Combine. The best cross training for any sport is MMA, whether you’re a swimmer, football, basketball, or soccer player. If you want to get in the best shape of your life, MMA is the training program to get you in shape both with strength and cardio. And the workouts are not just for NFL players and hopefuls they are for anyone who wants to get in the best condition of their lives.


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