Sprint Speed and Physical Size Predict Rankings for High School Football Recruits

Sprint speed, height, and weight are the best predictors of how high school football players will be ranked by college recruiting scouts, reports a study in the May issue of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, official research journal of the National Strength and Conditioning Association. The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.

Jamie J. Ghigiarelli, Ph.D., CSCS, of Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y., analyzed physical characteristics and performance data on elite high school football players to determine which factors best predicted player rankings. He writes, “The results may help strength and conditioning specialists better understand the anthropometric and physical attributes that distinguish highly recruited from recruited players and which attributes are likely to predict higher star value scores.”

Combine Performance Factors Predict Recruits ‘Star’ Rankings
The study used scouting data on 2,560 elite high school football players between 2001 and 2009. Factors such as height and weight, sprint time, and vertical height jump were analyzed for association with the players’ “star” rankings, as assigned by a national ranking website (www.scout.com). Dr. Ghigiarelli looked for factors that could differentiate “highly recruited” players (4- and 5-star rankings) from “recruited” players (2- and 3-star rankings). Both groups were considered competitive on the Division 1-A collegiate level.

The most consistent factors identifying the two groups of players were height, weight, and sprint speed. On average, the 4- and 5-star players were about one inch taller and five pounds heavier than the 2- and 3-star players. Average 40-yard sprint time was 4.76 seconds for the highly recruited players versus 4.84 seconds for the recruited players.

Forty-yard sprint time predicted star value for all ten positions—overall, it explained up to 25 percent of the variation in star rankings. Height and weight were significant predictors for seven of the ten positions. Vertical jump height was a significant predictor for only one position (tight end).

“Over the past three decades, football players have become bigger, faster, stronger, and more powerful,” according to Dr. Ghigiarelli. There is debate over the use of performance measures from scouting combines to evaluate players’ on-field abilities. However, these measures may help coaches and trainers evaluate the effectiveness of their training programs. Few studies have looked at how physical and performance factors affect recruiting potential in high school football players.

The results suggest that height, weight, and sprint speed are the key factors affecting rankings for high school football players. The article includes tables breaking down factors related to star rankings for players in ten different positions, which Dr. Ghigiarelli believes could help to guide training regimens for players who are at—or trying to reach—the elite competitive level. “These physical characteristics can be used as obtainable training goals,” he writes. “If these goals are reached, it’s plausible a player may increase the likelihood of obtaining more Division 1-A scholarship offers.”

About The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
The editorial mission of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (JSCR) is to advance the knowledge about strength and conditioning through research. A unique aspect of this journal is that it includes recommendations for the practical use of research findings. While the journal name identifies strength and conditioning as separate entities, strength is considered a part of conditioning. The journal wishes to promote the publication of peer-reviewed manuscripts which add to our understanding of conditioning and sport through applied exercise science. The JSCR is the official research journal of the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

About the National Strength and Conditioning Association
The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is an international nonprofit educational association founded in 1978. The NSCA develops and presents the most advanced information regarding strength training and conditioning practices and injury prevention. Central to its mission, the NSCA bridges the gap between the scientist in the laboratory and the practitioner in the field. By working to find practical applications for new research findings in the strength and conditioning field, the Association fosters the development of strength training and conditioning as a discipline and as a profession.

About Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (LWW) is a leading international publisher for healthcare professionals and students with nearly 300 periodicals and 1,500 books in more than 100 disciplines publishing under the LWW brand, as well as content-based sites and online corporate and customer services.

LWW is part of Wolters Kluwer Health, a leading global provider of information, business intelligence and point-of-care solutions for the healthcare industry. Wolters Kluwer Health is part of Wolters Kluwer, a market-leading global information services company with 2010 annual revenues of €3.6 billion ($4.7 billion).

The material in this press release comes from the originating research organization. Content may be edited for style and length. Want more? Sign up for our daily email.