Earlier today, The Players’ Tribune released a piece by Von Miller entitled “The 5 Toughest Guys I’ve Ever Faced.” His list includes players like Tom Brady, Chris Ivory and Rob Gronkowski. The entire article is worth a read, but one section in particular caught our eye.
When discussing how to get a sack in the NFL, Miller reveals that it often comes down to two things—anticipating the snap count and having an explosive first step. When you can execute both perfectly, you become almost impossible to block.
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Miller describes anticipating the snap count as sort of a “sixth sense,” which only comes when you’re familiar with a quarterback’s timing. But he also describes the challenge of timing his first step with the snap of the ball. If you want to get off the ball fast, you don’t have time to “think” about taking your first step. You just have to react, and you have to react quickly.
To build a lightning-fast first step, Miller incorporates neuromuscular training into his workouts:
Let’s say I sniff out the count, and my brain says, “Here we go.” That signal still has to get from my brain all the way down to my legs. So I have to get a slight lean forward, and then as soon as the ball is snapped I have to explode in a split second. This reaction doesn’t just come naturally. Whenever I train, I’m always taking my first step off a whistle or a flashing green light or something—and I have to react instantly.
To illustrate this skill, Miller points to one of his sacks during Super Bowl 50. Check it out:
Photo via The Players’ Tribune
See how Miller took his first step before any other player? That’s a result of his training. Here’s the full play:
If you want to train like Miller, take a page from his playbook and start your speed and agility drills on a teammate’s or coach’s whistle or movement. This will help you develop the muscle memory needed to blow by offensive linemen and destroy the quarterback.
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