Russ Grimm is a bit busy these days, so former Steelers offensive lineman Craig Wolfley volunteered to tutor the Steelers' offensive linemen. Today, Wolf works with Kendall Simmons.
Hi Kendall, come on in and take a seat. I just want some time to chat with you about next year with the Pittsburgh Steelers and throw some thoughts at you about getting ready for next season.
First off, let me say I’m in your camp. I know you have the ability, but you’ve got to show consistent ability. I’ve seen you play when you’re full of confidence, but I’ve also seen those hang dog days when it feels like you’re a blind dog in a meat house. I can say that with some authority because I have experienced that.
Confidence is crucial, because a lack of it undermines everything you do. It slows your actions, re-actions, and turns a stallion into a gelding. Where do you go to find confidence? Only by having great technique hard wired into your mental software.
Let’s start with the mental stuff. First off, we’re going to get a little spooky here and I’m going to ask you to learn how to tap into the “theatre of your mind.” When you’ve got down time, get alone, relax and spend 30 minutes every night working on visualizing your technique.
For instance, on a drive block, dig your cleats in and roll over that lead foot, making sure to keep that first step a short six inch one so you can react to a slant charge by the defensive guy. Aim your forehead at the guy’s chin. After contact punch up with both fists to the guy’s chest locking onto the chest plate, roll the hips as you fork-lift the opponent. Think of “climbing the guy” and run through him, using that great power pack hanging off your backside. Finish the block in every visualization that you do, run or pass, because the job isn’t over until the whistle blows, so “hear” it in your head.
Okay, it’s time to put some sweat to the mental stuff. I notice you drive a nice big pickup truck. I’ll bet that sucker is a gas hog and pretty heavy, too. Let’s save some gas and find out just how heavy it is.
Make it part of your off-season conditioning, I want you to go to an open level area, put the truck in neutral, and drive block that truck. Yeah, you heard me and I want five seconds of effort from a “fit” or hands-on position every time. There are variations of this drill, but the first step in a thousand-mile journey is the first step, grasshopper.
Go through a mental check list as you do this of all the previously mentioned technical points. Mentally inputting the drive block is only half the game, the other is “hard wiring” it so it becomes second nature.
Getting back to the mental, run through your pass pro with a guy and stop it on an outside move after the first punch. Right there, yep, do you see where that left foot kick-steps over to your right one first? Rather than you stepping with your right foot first and dragging the left behind in a wide base, more times than not that is the culprit that gets you one step behind. Why? Because it turns those powerful hips of yours and makes it impossible for you to control his center-line.
The center-line is an imaginary line running north and south that splits a man into two equal parts. It’s what Sumo competitors in Japan live for. Control that center-line and you rule; don’t and you won’t! We’ll expand on that after you get the nuts and bolts down first.
To take care of that foot thing though, I’m taking you back to the good old days in boxing, with a little update in gear. You should get surgical tubing that stretches about two to three feet long. Tie the ends making a circle out of it. Wrap it around your ankles. See how when you pass set and step with one foot, the other foot comes along with it like it’s being dragged? The elastic tubing makes you want to step and drag. It also, because of the tension on your hip flexors, makes you conscious of which foot moves first. Go Arthur Murray, and work different foot patterns with the tubing on.
Get this stuff down first, and then come see me. There’s more in your tank than you think.
By Craig Wolfley
Posted Jan 18, 2007