DONALD DRIVER TEAM: Green Bay Packers POSITION: Wide receiver HEIGHT: 6 feet WEIGHT: 192 pounds
Few expected Donald Driver to last seven seasons in the NFL, let alone put together an 84-catch, 1,208-yard season, which he did in 2004. The Packers took a flier with their seventh-round pick in 1999, drafting the sinewy receiver out of Division I-AA Alcorn State based on his athleticism. That quality serves him well to this day, and he maintains his edge by following his own routine in lieu of Green Bay's off-season conditioning program. He works out three days a week, only 40 minutes a session, but the former track standout who qualified for the '96 Olympic trials in the high jump, is faster than ever. Clocked at 4.45 in the 40 when he came into the NFL as a 174-pounder, Driver says he's down to 4.37. "When I was younger, I didn't feel myself running by people," he says. "I can do that now. I've developed that extra gear." Driver's workout includes ladder drills and a variety of sprinting exercises. The relative brevity of the routine hasn't cost him stamina, largely because he has virtually no rest between exercises. Says Packers assistant strength and conditioning coach Mark Lovat, "He can run all day. He leaves people behind."
Donald Driver's Complete Workout
Drills such as this "Y-T-W-L" exercise help Driver strengthen his core.
Dynamic warm-up stretching
Start with 10 moving stretches that Driver's workout trainer, Packers assistant strength and conditioning coach Mark Lovat, refers to as "moving yoga."
Cross-training cone drills
Set up two cones 15 yards apart with a three-yard flat ladder in between (both ends of the ladder should measure roughly six yards from each cone). Perform the following drills:
1. Begin with a high-knee jog. Quickly chop feet through the ladder and sprint to the finish. (Do two repetitions.)
2. Begin by jogging and kicking one foot to the buttocks after every step. Quickly chop feet through the ladder and sprint to the finish. (Two reps.)
3. Begin by crossing one foot over the other while moving laterally toward ladder and raising knees as high as possible. Shuffle through ladder while chopping feet. Turn and sprint to the finish. (Two reps.)
4. Shuffle to the ladder, then through it while chopping feet. Turn and sprint to the finish. (Two reps.)
5. Run to the ladder while raising knees as high as possible. Hop through the ladder using two-foot jumps. Sprint to the finish. (Two reps.)
Plyometric drills help Driver stay quick on his feet.
To start: Lay down a flat mat with five small circles on it -- two in the front, one in the middle and two on the far end (they should resemble an "x"). Once that's done, perform the following exercises:
1. Variation No. 1 (side-to-side): Start by standing at the head of the mat with feet slightly shoulder-width apart, then touch both feet to the closet circle to the left of you in a 1-2 motion. Bring feet back to the middle and immediately touch the right circle with both feet in the same motion. Focus on moving the feet back and forth as quickly as possible and maintaining a proper center of gravity (try to keep hips and shoulders pointed forward instead of turning the body to get feet into position to touch each square). Touch each circle with both feet 24 times.
2. Variation No. 2 (front-middle-back): Start by standing at the head of the mat with feet slightly shoulder-width apart, then touch both feet to the closet circle to the left of you in a 1-2 motion. Bring feet back to the middle and immediately touch both feet to the right circle in the same motion. Do not return to center after touching the right circle. Instead, go directly to the middle circle and touch both feet there. After that, touch both feet to the far right circle and then touch both feet to the far left circle. Again, move feet as quickly as possible and maintain a proper center of gravity. Repeat 24 times. Mini-weave or "W" drill
Set up seven cones in a zigzag or weave formation (the positioning of the cones should resemble a "w" in the middle). Each cone should be five yards apart. Starting at the first cone, sprint to second, make a speed cut around the cone and sprint to the next. Continue this until the finish, with every cut coming as close to the cone as possible. (Do four to five rotations.)
Set up eight cones in the formation of a "U" -- the three cones on one side should be five yards apart from each other, as should the three on the other side. At one end of the formation, place a cone directly in the center of the other two. Stand in the center of the formation, equidistant from every cone, and with a partner facing you. When the partner points to a cone, open the hips, turn and sprint to that cone. Once you touch the tip of the cone, race back to the center, lower hips, chop feet and wait to be pointed to another cone. (Do three rotations of touching four or five cones.)
1. "Y-T-W-L" exercise: Start with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent and hips lowered into a crouch. Extend arms from 45-90 degrees above shoulder level, forming a "Y." Return to starting position and repeat that motion 10 times. After completing those reps, return to starting position and raise and extend the upper arms at a 90-degree angle to the torso, forming the letter "T." Repeat that motion 10 times. After completing those reps, return to starting position and raise upper arms at 45-degree angle to the torso, with elbow flexed 90 degrees, forming the letter "W." Repeat that motion 10 times. After completing those reps, return to starting position and raise upper arms at a 90-degree angle, with elbow flexed 90 degrees forming the letter "L." Repeat that motion 10 times.
2. Shoulder shrugs: Start in a push-up position. Lower the body two to three inches toward the floor and then return to original position (Do 10 reps.)
3. Lay on back, with arms extended at the side, knees slightly bent and feet on the ground. Lift midsection and hold. (Do one rep for one minute.)
4. Fire hydrant: Start on hands and knees. Extend right hip and keep knee bent. Push right foot upwards without arching the back. Then abduct knee away from the body and across the body. (Do 10 reps for each leg.)
5. Bridge pose: Start in a push-up position but with elbows and forearms on the ground. Body should form a straight line from shoulders to ankles. Pull in abdominals while extending right arm outward and left leg straight back. Return arm and leg to the floor and then extend left arm outward and right straight back. (Do one rep in each pose for 30 seconds.)
6. Lay on side with right elbow on ground, legs extended and feet side by side. Lift the right hip off the ground as high as possible and hold. (Do one rep for 30 seconds.)
Position drills like this one help the former track standout make acrobatic catches.
1. Practice releases against bump coverage. (Do at least 20 reps.)
2. Catch balls from various angles --- low passes, high passes, passes thrown to the sideline, passes thrown behind the receiver, passes that require one-handed receptions, passes thrown while running crossing routes. (Catch at least five to 10 balls from each angle.)