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NFL Combinees get their Game On

It's been called “The World's Toughest Job Interview.” For six days at the NFL Combine (Feb. 24-March 2), college football's best will be measured, interviewed, tested, watched and analyzed by countless NFL coaches, general managers and scouts conducting all of their due diligence before the NFL Draft. To prepare, nearly two dozen prospects have traveled to IMG Academy for six-plus weeks of Physical, Mental, Communication, Nutrition, Vision and psychological training with Athletic & Personal Development program specialists.

Consider this: Two players performing at the combine each have similar results. Player One has a 4.43 40-yard dash, executed 22 repetitions on the bench press, and had a vertical leap of 37 inches. Player Two has a 4.46 40, put up 25 reps on the bench and also has a vertical leap of 37 inches. Assuming the rest of their statistics are equal, how does the General Manager for an NFL team choose between the two?

Steve Shenbaum and players participate in Zip, Zap, Zop

Everyone knows the importance of the physical performance at the NFL Combine but the often overlooked area of player interviews can ultimately be the determining factor in when you are selected. Go back to the two players in the previous example. If one of those athletes has poor communication skills while the other is well-spoken, articulated, can make eye-contact, and incorporates some charm and humor, who do you think will be the favorable choice? NFL teams are organizations and the players are the clients. If a General Manager believes that a player will have a negative impact on the image of their team, that player's draft stock will be damaged.

As part of NFL Combine training at IMG Academy, athletes participate in Game On sessions to prevent damaged stock from occurring. Past actors Steve Shenbaum and Chris Friday are interested in helping the athletes develop their personalities and communication skills through the use of different improvisational games and activities.

During their most recent meeting, the players engaged in an elimination game of "Zip, Zap, Zop". Players had to concentrate to make eye contact with other players in the circle and continue the zip, zap, zop sequence while already eliminated players created outside distractions.

Throughout Game On sessions, Shenbaum and Friday are able to incorporate lessons and relate the activities to situations that athletes may find themselves in, whether it be during interviews, dealing with the media, or handling the fans.

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