One of the beautiful things about professional sports in this era is the simple fact that there is so much visual documentation. Organized competitive sports are not a 20th-century invention, but to have the unbroken lineage we have of being able to see how the game developed is a wonder.
And we even have so much more than that. We have coaching clinics and all sorts of other exercises which showcased the fundamentals as well as the tricks of the trade. It’s part of the fraternity of the profession that players at the same position, even across rivalries, still share a bond as well as trade secrets. There are even position-based ‘summits’ these days in which they gather and talk shop.
It helps for a guy like Alex Highsmith, though, to already have one of the very best in the business in the same locker room. Dropping in on Cameron Heyward’s Not Just Football podcast, he talked about how T.J. Watt is one of the principal pass rushers he studies as he tries to flesh out his own game.
“Being with T.J., I like to kind of work on some of the same moves that he does, whether it’s the ghost or the cross chop”, he said, though he also spoke effusively about Von Miller, noting, in particular, his “sick” ghost move.
And again, the beautiful thing is that we get to see these things actually translate to tape. Listening to a player talk about what they’ve worked on and then seeing them execute it in a game can be fascinating for those who have a passion for the craft. For Highsmith, arguably his most significant incorporation has been not a ghost rush but a spin move, which we broke down during the preseason. He said, by the way, that he largely worked on it through YouTube guides.
Because, why not? What difference does it make where good information comes from? Anything that you can apply to your game and be successful with is valuable. But it doesn’t hurt when you have an accomplished peer there able to show you how he employed something in his own game—or if you can see it in their tape.
“I just try to take things from other guys because I think it’s so important to always reach out for help, and I’m always willing to get better”, Highsmith said, “so I think it’s important just to look at and try to soak up information from guys who have done it longer than you have”.
The third-year veteran has 6.5 sacks through the first eight games of the season, more than he had all of last year, and on pace to hit 14. He entered the bye week on a two-game dry spell, however, so hopefully, with Watt returning and with some time off to rejuvenate those legs, he can get back to doing what he’s been doing better than anybody else on the team this season, rushing the passer.