FNF Coaches Talk — A Green Beret’s Influence on an NFL Team, Football Flexibility Routine, Recovery Stance

Welcome back, Coaches. We’ve got three stories for you on a Thursday.

1. How a former Green Beret has changed the Colts’ thinking (Indy Star)

This is a cool story — and it’s a different idea for high school coaches to consider when lining up motivational speakers.

Brian Decker may very well be one of the most interesting men in the NFL, a former Green Beret from the U.S. Special Forces unit who successfully catapulted a 22-year career in the military into a job in professional football. Though his title with the Indianapolis Colts is a bit vague – director of player development – his duties are not.

He probes draft prospects, digging into their psyche, and tries to uncover what others can’t. He coaches the scouts, counsels the players and meets with the head coach. Perhaps most significantly, he offers the general manager a set of eyes that are indifferent to the on-field talent that so often clouds evaluations in this league.

Decker, 47, is taking a model he developed late in his time with the military and applying it to the talent acquisition and developmental arm of an NFL team. The objective: assess the character and internal makeup of a prospect so deeply that the team can, perhaps more accurately than ever before, confidently predict whether he will succeed or fail at the next level.

It worked with the Special Forces – why not pro football?

Teams have been tracking the measurables – height, weight, speed, strength, countless data points – for decades; what he wanted to quantify were the immeasurables, i.e. everything else. Drive. Desire. Intelligence. Response to stress. Any factor that could derail progress or stall talent. “The whole game,” a former NFL head coach calls it.


What intangibles do you look for to project whether a talented player will succeed?

2. Joe D’s “Limber 11” Flexibility Routine (DeFranco’s Training)

It’s getting to be that time of year when our athletes are at risk for injury due to a lack of flexibility. Are you seeing huge gains in the weight room? Are players pushing themselves to the limit with multiple lifts per week and very few opportunities for recovery?

That’s OK, but they need to be intentional about improving their flexibility and building in recovery periods.

Here’s a recovery workout prescribed by Joe DeFranco.

The Limber 11

1. Foam Roll IT Band: 10-15 passes

2. Foam Roll Adductors: 10-15 passes

3. SMR Glutes (lax ball): 30sec. – 2min.

4. Bent-knee Iron Cross x 5-10 each side

5. Roll-overs into V-sits x 10

6. Rocking Frog Stretch x 10

7. Fire Hydrant Circles x 10 fwd/10 bwd

8. Mountain Climbers x 10 each leg

9. Cossack Squats x 5-10 each side

10. Seated Piriformis Stretch x 20-30sec. each side

11. Rear-foot-elevated Hip Flexor Stretch x 5-10 reps (3sec. hold) each side


What advice would you give a strength coach who is dealing with multiple overuse injuries this spring?

3. Hands on Knees Is Better for Recovery Than Hands over Head (Transitional Journal)

This is a tough one to stomach because we know football coaches hate to see players — especially during games — leaning over with their hands on their knees. We tell those players to put their hands on their heads to open the airways, don’t we?

Well, it turns out the players were on to something when they put their hands on their knees. That’s actually better for recovery.

Furthermore, heads-on-head posture places the diaphragm in a suboptimal position, decreasing its mechanical efficiency. A decrease in the ZOA reduces the ability of the diaphragm to contract effectively because of its poor position along its length–tension curve (10,12). Elevating the arms to 90° or more of shoulder flexion, as observed with hands-on-head posture, changes the impedance of the torso, rib cage, and abdominal wall (24,25,26). Raising the arms causes a passive stretch of the thoracic wall and abdominal muscles (overlengthened position), which may place them in a less effective position for assisting in respiration. An overlengthened abdominal region may reduce its ability to effectively oppose the diaphragm, leading to less effective respiratory mechanics (11,18). These muscle length differences could explain the discrepancies observed between HH and HK postures in the current study.


What advice do you give your athletes for recovery after conditioning drills?

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk