Russ Grimm is gone and thus far hasn't been replaced, so former Steelers offensive lineman Craig Wolfley volunteered to tutor the Steelers' offensive linemen. Today, Wolf works with Max Starks.
Max, I’m glad you decided to stop by for a few minutes. The knee surgery seems to be “processing nicely.” John Norwig is as good as it gets for re-hab.
Now, big guy, it’s time to make the big jump from big body, to big body that does big body damage on the field. You’ve got some God-given gifts that allow you to do things no one else can, but you need to maximize them. You can dominate if you apply yourself. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime and it would be a shame not to realize your potential.
First off, I want you to drop some weight. I’ll give you 325 pounds as your reporting weight. That means lifestyle changes, but the tradeoff is more quickness and cardio.
Second, I want you take yoga classes in the off-season, and do them seriously. Not the tree-hugging, granola head, chanting type, but a hot pain inducing “power yoga” that challenges you. Your flexibility in getting into, maintaining and powering out of a hitting position is hampered because your flexibility is limited in those positions.
Three, I want you to grab hold of those Russian Kettlebells -- those things that look like a cannon ball with a handle attached to them. Use them to do standing presses, clean-and-jerks from the shoulder, and snatches where you yank those suckers from the ground to overhead in one motion. All those movements will allow your body to fully express itself in explosive movements from head to toe and cause you to have to stabilize your core at the same time.
Where you lack most is in the “kinetic chain.” By that I mean being able to originate movement in your core and gain momentum through your limbs in a continuous and explosive movement that results in a violent thunderclap of power expressed by body slamming guys. You should be bagging bodies the way that kid down at Giant Eagle bags groceries. And part of that is pure attitude. You can’t want to play the killer. Be the killer.
Okay, we’ve addressed some of the foundational groundwork, now to pinpoint some technical issues.
Double-teams is first on the list. You’re too high. Kendall is 6’ 2” and change, which means your hips are five or so inches higher. Doubling up on a guy means getting butt-to-butt and root hogging an unwilling participant out of there and to do that you have to stay parallel to each other.
Understand what is happening. Max, you end up “chesting” a guy and your power is dispersed because you lose leverage. Because Kendall is lower, the defensive guy will roll into you naturally because he has leverage on you. Then Kendall ends up turning and essentially you two are fighting each other because Kendall’s hips get turned as you try to drive the DT out of there.
Yoga will help you to develop the flexibility to get lower, and stay lower as you grind through drive blocks. Combine that with the kettlebell stuff and you’ll have the ability to do just that.
Pass protection is another area that you’re not fully utilizing your gifts. You have a good kick-step and those long arms are wonderful; you can punch a guy while he’s a mile away. But too many times you catch the opponent. He gets into your body, and guess what? You’re too high, and body-to-body gets you into trouble.
So, here’s the first part of the solution: I want you to put on a gi. That’s a jacket that Judo players wear as they try to throw each other around. Put that on, hold your hands behind your back like they’re handcuffed (pretend you’re in Cincinnati) and have somebody big and strong grab the lapels of the gi and try to “wrestle” you while you react.
When he pushes, you push by bracing. When he pulls you, pull back by sinking your weight. React to him bulling, pulling and twisting by countering the movement without the use of your arms. Use your feet to stay balanced, and your core to counter. When it gets easy, CLOSE YOUR EYES.
I will address the punching part later. Pretend I am “Yoda.” Enter into your Jedi training, Max. Just don’t go to the dark-side. May the force be with you.
By Craig Wolfley
Posted Jan 26, 2007