Covered in motion capture sensors and surrounded by cameras recording his every move from every angle, rookie Saints linebacker Alex Anzalone performed a number of baseline tests designed to provide in-depth data on his every movement. Anzalone’s assessment provided a full evaluation of full body balance, stability, agility, and power production.
The goal of this pre-NFL Combine evaluation for Anzalone was to diagnose any performance factors that needed improvement in order to lessen his injury risk at the highest level of football. Muscle imbalances, joint instabilities or stiffness, improper biomechanics, and asymmetrical power production are first diagnosed in each athlete who participates in IMG Academy’s annual Combine Training Program.
In 2013, IMG Academy paired with leading human performance technology firm Motus Global in order to provide the highest level of biomechanics data collection available today. The most popular data collection device is the Motus 1, which combines markers, wearable motion capture sensors, and cameras in order to record the movements of each athlete who walks through their door.
After getting off the phone with Tony Laughlin, the Director at Motus Human Performance and Biomechanics Lab in Tampa Bay, Fla., I was invigorated and excited for Anzalone. I’ve been a multi-sport athlete all my life as well as a personal trainer and exercise instructor for the past ten years.
What Motus is doing is super innovative, and I’m glad young athletes like Anzalone are making this investment in their performance enhancement and injury prevention.
First, an athlete receives a full body biomechanics assessment. The baseline tests assess full body active ranges of motion, functional multi-joint motions, balance, stability (landing technique/core), and power production.
Tony couldn’t dish on Anzalone’s exact measurables, but he was able to confirm that the third-round pick from Florida was in fact one of the more athletic players from this year’s participating draft class.
One look at Anzalone’s draft profile would suggest that his visit to IMG Academy paid its share of dividends at this year’s NFL Combine. The edge rusher was a top 5 performer for all linebackers in the 40 yard dash, 3 cone drill, 20 yard shuttle and 60 yard shuttle.
One NFC personnel director’s opinion of Anzalone mirrors the over-arching theme surrounding the promising athlete. "You saw at (Senior Bowl) practice how gifted he is athletically. He just has to prove he can stay on the field.”
Anzalone knows his injury history in college was his biggest red flag, but he took the bull by the horns towards improving his performance and hopefully reducing his injury risk in the future. His biomechanics assessment was just the beginning.
A follow-up (as many as 3-4 per semester for college athletes) helps design a specialized training regimen that can help Anzalone move smarter and more efficiently with less injury risk. The athlete is trained to the point where proper biomechanics come naturally, instinctually, and effortlessly.
With Saints players dropping like flies in the dog days of June, hopefully Anzalone’s commitment to his health and production will help him become a valuable contributor to the Saints putrid pass rush. Outside of Cam Jordan’s amazing 79 pressures on 619 pass rushes last season, the rest of the New Orleans defense only managed 170 total QB pressures on 2,202 pass rushes.
Please stay healthy Alex. The Saints need you.