I’ll begin this review by stating, straight off the top, that James “The Thinker” Smith is a friend of mine. He’s been incredibly helpful to me with my football program, my own training, and my own body of knowledge when it comes to coaching. I’ve also been both very impressed and extremely motivated by the work he’s done – as a physical preparation coach - in helping the University of Pittsburgh’s football program climb back to a position of national prominence. His results, with the play of Pitt’s skill position on the field and with his NFL hopefuls’ Combine and pro day performances, speak for themselves.

With that said, some of his past material – his DVD’s especially – have been more than a little confusing to me, and I know the same is true for others. I’ve read my share of the material he’s suggested over the years, and I’ve been coaching football for the better part of a decade, but there have been numerous times, when listening to James speak, where I’ve said, “Dude, what the f—-k are you talking about?”

With the release of his newest DVD, however - American Football: Physical Preparation During Skills Camps and the Competition Calendar – James has put out a product that I believe will be immensely helpful to football and physical preparation coaches everywhere.

At nearly 90 minutes in length, filmed in a classroom following Pitt’s pro day, this thing is a monster to get through – both in terms of length and content. It’s long, involved and complicated, and you’ll need to sit in front of your computer or TV with a notebook – and your remote in hand so you can rewind and re-listen in order to grasp the concepts James is covering. As a coach who’s been using his methods for years, however, I can assure that it’s well worth it to purchase this product and then put in the work to get through it. James essentially leaves no stone unturned with regard to the physical development of American football players – in diametric opposition to DVD’s the either gloss over such details or fail to tie them together in a manner coaches and players can use.

After purchasing and viewing just about every football and training DVD on the market, I’ve broken them down into two types. In the first kind, you’re shown a bunch of exercises, and a coach or trainer simply tells you what to do, expecting you to follow everything by rote without explaining why you’re doing things. With the second kind – and James has fallen victim to this in the past – you’re given a shitload of information, but you’re not told what any of it means, nor is it explained how to tie it all in with your team’s training.

This time around, although the information is still the same types of cutting edge science and latest training and recovery methods, James takes the time to break down the concepts he’s advocating in a manner that coaches can better understand. He’ll introduce something, reduce it into parts the layman can understand, and then give multiple examples of how he incorporates it into the training of his players. That’s been a major complaint about how he’s presented information in the past, but there were several points during this DVD where I said, “Oh, shit...I get that! That f-ing makes sense!”

I’m not going to bullshit you and tell you this is easy information to sift through and incorporate immediately, because it’s not. Listening to James is akin, sadly enough for the state of American coaching, to sitting through a graduate-level course in physical preparation. Whether you agree with his methods or not, the concepts he espouses should be part of the common body of knowledge among sport coaches. It’s unfortunate, and harmful to our athletes, that this is not the case. For my part, I agree with his philosophy on coaching for a variety of reasons. I’ve used much of it with my own program for several years with exceptional results, and I know several of his Pitt players personally – including several of his NFL guys – all of whom swear by him as a coach.

This product does exactly what its title states. It explains to you, comprehensively, how to train football players while staying mindful of their competition schedule and football-specific needs. If you purchase this DVD, take notes and study until you understand everything in it, then incorporate the various concepts into your own program, your team’s results will improve dramatically. The same applies if you’re a player. This product will teach you how to train, and why things work the way they do. This DVD will be a major component of my coaching and training arsenal for years to come.

American Football: Physical Preparation During Skills Camps and the Competition Calendar is available for purchase here.