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Being a Training Sub at Nike’s Total Football Experience

I want to start this off by saying that Complex was originally going to send Ridgewood New Jersey’s own Nick Restivo. Don’t know him? The 6’4, 240 former social media manager for Complex Media played tight end for the University of Tennessee. Yes, homie even has his own ESPN page. Nevermind that it’s not being maintained, how many of us can say we were named in an ESPN article much less have a page dedicated to us? Exactly.

When more pressing obligations came up Complex sent me, the 5’11, 165 pound sports editor instead who gets gassed by playing hoops with friends even when the weather is ideal. Seriously, I’m on some ridiculous Goldilocks shit. If it’s not between 65 and 84 degrees outside, I’m likely opting to play NBA 2K instead. Blame the Santa Barbara weather that spoiled me as young’n. That being said, no one turns down press trips to Nike’s campus in Beaverton OR. Although football is not my favorite sport, I figured the brief training experience wasn’t going to test my stamina too much. It wasn’t going to be suicides and dribbling or passing drills like I was used to growing up, but we’ve all watched the NFL combine and see how easy the world’s best collegiate athletes make it look.

Outfitted from head-to-toe in the latest Nike gear, including Dri-FIT shirt, socks, and Free 5.0 trainers we took to the 90-degree field to do some footwork drills with Kansas City Chiefs’ DeAnthony Thomas. When you get slightly winded from the “warm-up” portion of the drills, it’s not a good look. After catching my wind, the training wasn’t bad apart from realizing how coordinated you actually have to be when testing your agility on the ladder.

The Dri-FIT gear Nike gave us was breathable and comfortable. Anyone underperforming couldn’t blame the gear. If I could’ve ordered a new set of lungs on Nike.com, I would’ve copped a while ago. Regular nights at the local hookah bar in Long Island do you no justice when you’re attempting to train with a running back who will be playing at the highest level this coming season. On a spectrum ranging from living up to what Resitvo would’ve done to desperately not trying to end up on someone’s YouTube channel and embarrass Complex Media, I’d say I ended up somewhere in the middle.

• Side steps on the agility ladder: Meant to improve the lateral movement of each position player.

• Ickey Shuffle on the agility ladder: More than just one of the O.G. touchdown celebration, this tip-toeing drill helps football players with their balance.

• Side straddle hop on the agility ladder: Another drill meant to improve the lateral movement of every position player on the field

• The crossover on the agility ladder: Balance and lateral movement are the main focuses of this drill. Maintaining speed will not tripping over either foot or the ladder itself are the main objectives.

• 10-yard high steps followed by 10-yard sprints

• The X Drill done with cones: A speed drill which tests the ability to change direction and footwork as fast as possible. This applies especially to wide receivers and cornerbacks who need to be able to stop on a dime and change direction on the vast majority plays.

• The L Drill done with cones: Another speed and agility exercise that is especially helpful for position players who run and cover routes.

The training session lasted an hour or so and we worked in groups of five the majority of the the time. The highlight came at the end: If you’re looking for some piece of equipment that’ll make you want to work on your explosiveness and speed then Nike Sparq Parachute will be your best friend.

If attaching a parachute to your waist and having it expand as you take off doesn’t get your lard ass off of the couch then I don’t know what will. It’s also great if you just want to be that dude who attracts all the attention as you look ridiculous while going on your morning run. Yes—for those of you who are fitness gurus—I know that’s not what it’s used for. For more on my lack of workout equipment knowledge peep this video. http://www.complex.com/tv/sneaker-videos/wtf-is-that-for-complex-staff-guesses-workout-equipment-uses

Overall the brief training experience confirmed my respect for both amateur and pro athletes who do those sort of drills daily. While the vast majority of us press members were seen stumbling and bumbling through ‘em, Thomas did them with the same ease that made us foolishly believe we could do the same.

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