By Max Mulitz
At the 1:30:50 mark of this clinic, Alex Gibbs, the godfather of the modern zone blocking scheme, explains that hand strength is one of the most important athletic traits for an offensive lineman. He says, “this is their tool right here, this is what they have to have, they have to have hand strength…” Gibbs goes on explain that hand strength is a more accurate indicator of functional strength than the bench press.
Former Pro Bowl Lineman LeCharles Bentley, who runs a premier offensive line school, also believes grip strength is very important.
If measurable grip strength is a key trait for offensive linemen, then any attempt to project offensive lineman athleticism using data without grip strength is going to be considerably less accurate than a model that includes a measure of grip strength. Unfortunately, none of the NFL combine tests directly measure this trait, so there’s no way to know the exact nature of the relationship between measured grip strength and offensive line performance.
NFL teams should collect grip strength measurements on any offensive linemen that comes through the franchise to help examine how grip strength affects performance. If some of the great minds of offensive line play are correct, then a team will be able to get an advantage on their offensive line by using data to study the relationship between grip strength and performance.