Posted by J. Fallhowe, CSCS

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Aug 28, 2014 7:30:00 AM

Love him or hate him, it's tough to deny that Johnny Manziel makes plays, big plays. His opponents fear him because he's quick, elusive and unpredictable.  This post will show you the best exercise to incorporate into your training to improve your quickness and cutting ability, so you can perform like Johnny. (Exercise video at bottom of blog post.)

Let's take a look at this combine numbers to evaluate his strengths.  Once we figure out what he's good at, we can work backwards to include exercises that help us improve our performance.

Let's take a look at Manziel's Combine numbers:

Combine Workout  Result
40 Yard Dash 4.68 Seconds 
Vertical Jump 31.5 Inches
Broad Jump 113 Inches
3 Cone Drill 6.75 Seconds
20 Yard Shuttle 4.03 Seconds

Compared to the vast majority of quarterbacks, Johnny Manziel is pretty physically impressive. Is he a Micheal Vick caliber athlete? Not even close, but who is? The best athletes in the NFL can't hang with Mike Vick.

Let's Break These Numbers Down:

Um...That Wasn't What We Expected:

What's surprising about his combine numbers is his 40 Time. Sure, it's an electronic time, and if you're running a true sub 4.4 second 40 yard dash, you're an animal - but 4.68 seconds was a bit of a shock.

That Makes More Sense:

Johnny's 20 Yard Shuttle was only .02 seconds slower than some of the fastest athletes in the NFL Combine. What's that tell us?

He's good in short burst that require a change of direction.

20 Yard Shuttle Performance:

To post a good 20 yard shuttle time you have to maintain a low center of gravity, control deceleration and be able to apply force quickly in order to change direction.

Manziel's 20 Yard Shuttle Performance:

He's explosive, but more importantly, he's strong enough to slow the momentum of his body down and change direction quickly. He uses elastic energy stored in his muscle and tendons very efficiently, which allows him to change direction quickly.

Johnny Manziel appears to have good reactive strength and can apply force quickly.

What Is Reactive/Plyometric Strength:

In plyometrics when the muscles and tendons (mainly) are eccentrically and quickly stretched, muscle spindles (these are proprioceptive organs in the body that sense the rate and magnitude of stretch in the muscle) respond by creating a more powerful contraction.

The Genetic Lottery:

Just like Powerball, the odds of winning the genetic lottery are low. Some guys/girls are born with all the right tools - the other 99.9% of us have to work for it!

Here's the good news! Reactive/Plyometric Strength is HIGHLY TRAINABLE. Let's check out the exercise you need to work into your training routine so that you can cut on a dime too!

Let's Train Like Johnny Manziel:

The Exercise:  Eccentric Lunge + Speed Lunges

Combine this exercise with the #1 Exercise For Improving Speed (/blog/how-to-run-faster-the-1-exercise-for-improving-speed) and you'll run faster in no time.

This exercise is just the tip of the iceberg - Incorporating a new piece of equipment and a few new exercises will definitely help you increase your speed, but if you want to develop game-changing speed, become a playmaker, play D1 ball, or earn a scholarship, you'll need more.  Training for power, speed and strength is a comprehensive process.  Factors like exercise selection, exercise order, optimal loads, optimal rest periods, technique, supplementation and program structure all factor into performance. 

The SpeedBot training app takes the guess work out of structuring programs, rest between sets, appropriate loads, exercise combinations, exercise order etc.  All you have to do login, follow the programs, train hard and SpeedBot will do the rest.  Combine this with SpeedBot Glute Ham Machine and you'll be stronger and faster than you ever imagined!

Get started with your free trial of the app here:



Topics: Geek Speak - Improving Performance

About SpeedBot

SpeedBot's purpose is to build the most explosive and physically impressive athletes on the planet. Our blog is intended to be a natural extension of our training app and to supplement your training knowledge, so that you have all the tools you need to achieve elite performance.  More about us:

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