Physical Characteristics and Performance of Japanese Top-Level American Football Players

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Yamashita, D, Asakura, M, Ito, Y, Yamada, S, and Yamada, Y. Physical characteristics and performance of Japanese top-level American football players. J Strength Cond Res 31(9): 2455–2461, 2017—This study aimed to compare the physical characteristics and performance between top-level nonprofessional football players in Japan and National Football League (NFL) Combine invited players and between top-level and middle-level players in Japan to determine the factors that enhance performance in international and national competitions. A total of 168 American football players (>20 years) in Japan participated in an anthropometric (height and weight) and physical (vertical jump, long jump, 40-yard dash, pro-agility shuttle, 3-cone drill, and bench press repetition test) measurement program based on the NFL Combine program to compete in the selection of candidates for the Senior World Championship. All players were categorized into 1 of the 3 position groups based on playing position: skill players, big skill players, and linemen. Japanese players were additionally categorized into selected and nonselected players for the second tryout. The NFL Combine candidates had significantly better performance than selected Japanese players on all variables except on performance related to quickness among the 3 position groups. Compared with nonselected players, selected Japanese skill players had better performance in the 40-yard dash and bench press test and big skill players had better performance in the vertical jump, broad jump, and 40-yard dash. Selected and nonselected Japanese linemen were not different in any measurements. These results showed the challenges in American football in Japan, which include not only improving physical performance of top-level players, but also increasing the number of football players with good physical performance.

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