NFL Combine Training: Insight from Ryan Capretta - 1080 Motion

NFL Combine Training: Insight from Ryan Capretta

NFL Combine Training: Insight from Ryan Capretta

It’s that time of year again – “combine season”. The annual NFL Scouting Combine and Pro Days. The road to the pros, where prospects display their physical qualities and skills to the 32 NFL organizations in the hopes of achieving their childhood dream.

The lead-up to the NFL combine begins in early January with many prospects seeking the expertise and services of sports performance coaches. One such individual is Ryan Capretta. After an 8-year career working as a Strength & Speed coach for the Baltimore Ravens, Arizona Cardinals and Stanford University, Capretta founded Proactive Sports Performance in 2006 and quickly grew a staff of high-level professionals that could meet the diverse individual needs of college football players preparing for the NFL combine along with professional athletes. Currently, they work with cohort of 20–30 athletes preparing for the NFL Combine every winter.

Preparation for the Big Event: the 40-yard dash

Speed continues to be a much sought after physical attribute of the NFL, and thus the primary focus for most positions at the NFL Combine is the 40-yard dash.

What is the strategy for speed development at Proactive? Actually, the overall goal is to first establish a training program that focuses on joint integrity and overall tissue health to maximize performance at the Combine. Once the program is individualized to minimize injury and maximize results, the excitement for speed training and a specific performance plan is established.

Another key element of the Combine Prep program is the relationship with The Herbalife Sports Performance Lab. This team of experienced staff provides sports science tools and support including the 1080 Sprint for speed development.

The Role of the 1080 Sprint

The 1080 Sprint is a vital tool in the speed development program at Proactive that was added about 4 years ago. Capretta comments that “it is more than just a piece of equipment, it’s an evolution that is transforming how real time speed and power feedback is utilized to enhance athlete preparation.”

More specifically, the 1080 provides customization for each training session specific to an athlete’s individual weaknesses and provides specific information to track progression during each phase. Capretta emphasizes that “there is no cookie cutter approach. Targeted workouts that attack individual weaknesses are challenging to administer in a group setting but the 1080 allows freedom to seamlessly switch from one athlete to another in a swift and efficient manner.” Furthermore, Capretta finds that “this keeps a great dynamic and flow of the training session while providing very specific information to each individual.”

Overview of the Training Approach

Following a grueling collegiate season, it is important to first allow time for the athlete to recover and heal before exposing them to extended max velocity sprinting.

To minimize risk of injury and/or provide the athlete with the best opportunity to peak at the Combine, Capretta and staff suggest that the athlete should have a minimum of three weeks of sprinting that does not extend past 10 yards.  They also use this time for instruction and coaching of technique and developing good habits for the stance and start which are key to the 40-yard dash.  Any running of more than 10 yards during this time is submaximal or less than 75% of perceived max sprinting.

After the first three weeks, the distance is extended to 20 yards for max effort sprinting; unless, of course, an athlete has a hamstring or other soft tissue injury history for which the time frame is extended prior to moving to this phase.  Fly run intensity during this phase is increased to 85% of perceived max sprinting to progressively increase turnover rate.  This phase of training typically lasts 2–3 weeks.

During this training phase, the 1080 is used to primarily track resisted starts. Starts are measured at 1, 5, 10, 15 kg.  This creates a roadmap for starts using a force velocity profile for each athlete that couples peak power, peak speed and a 10-yard split time.  Capretta states that they have seen values for peak Wattage of 1557 and 10-yard split times of 1.46 sec.

Major Advantage: Overspeed Training

Capretta utilizes overspeed training “in a calculated window when the athlete is properly primed for max velocity sprinting”. He sees this method as a major advantage in regards to speed training.

Prior to using the 1080, Proactive used a bungee system that produced results; however, the 1080 transformed and enhanced overspeed training on several key levels including risk vs reward. Overspeed training inherently comes with risk and can derail an athlete that is not properly prepared for the intense demands placed specifically on the hamstrings.  The 1080 provides Capretta and staff with a wealth of data to allow an educated decision for each athlete.  He adds “This personalized approach allows us to prescribe the right individualized load to optimize overspeed training during this important phase.”

The approach taken at Proactive is to use a 7-yard buildup into a 15–25 yard sprint zone with a 25–40 yard deceleration zone.  Assistance ranges from 4–6kg during any specific sprint. Proactive documents all metrics (peak speed as well as best 5m split)  for each NFL Combine prep athlete and has seen an average maximal sprinting velocity of 20–24mph for athletes, with an all-time high of 26.8 mph!

Capretta believes that besides the neurological adaptations of overspeed training, the positive psychological response to sprinting at a super-physiological speed is a clear advantage for any competitive sprinter.

Parting Thoughts

Capretta finds the 1080 useful for providing instant feedback on both acceleration and towing days which allows the coach to pay close attention to individualized progression, or lack of, for each athlete to ensure appropriate load prescriptions, and concludes that “The 1080 Sprint is not just a piece of equipment. It allows performance coaches to enter a new era of training, that has set a precise measurement for speed, power and ultimately reliable competition metrics.”

And the results speak for themselves.  As it relates to Combine training, Proactive has trained hundreds of athletes for the NFL (and NBA) Combine including multiple #1 overall picks, as well as Hall of Famers, over a 19-year span.

Related articles

Speed 101 with Dr. Matt Rhea

Football Fast and the NFL Combine: An Inside Look with Ryan Phillis

The NFL Combine, Sprint Profiles, and the Importance of Overspeed Training

Husky Football Unleashes Speed with 1080


We are building fast, fast athletes.

Eric Lichter

Co-founder of Plus 2 University

1080 Sprint tests power production.

RE_Building by Northwest Rehabilitation Associates – Salem, Oregon

I like the 1080 Syncro allows full control over concentric and eccentric load independently.

Tyler Kugler

Wasatch Sports Factory - Park City, Utah

Help athletes reach optimal performance sooner.

Eric Allen

Co-Founder of Pace Fitness Academy

Speed doesn’t happen by accident.

Tommy Christian

Founder of TCBoost

We are going to see how fast you can go.

Chris Korfist

Slow Guy Speed School, Chicago


    By clicking submit below, you consent to allow 1080 Motion, Inc. to store and process the personal information submitted above to provide you the content requested. 1080 Motion, Inc. will only send meaningful content and communication regarding our services and products. We will not spam you or share contact information with any 3rd party.


    University of Maryland
    Los Angeles Kings
    La Angels Baseball
    Human Performance
    Portland Trail Blazers
    Loyola University Chicago
    IFK Kliniken
    Ben Shear Golf
    Carlisle Performance
    Q-P Prentiss Hockey Performance
    Agilo Kliniken
    University Of Florida
    University of lowa
    Lone Peak
    Malmo Idrottsakademi