Ex-UM strength coach Barwis set to host prep combine

Allen Trieu
Special to The Detroit News
Mike Barwis

Mike Barwis’ resume is a lengthy one, and the resumes of the staff he has assembled at Barwis Methods, based out of Plymouth, are also filled with rare athletic accomplishments.

Throughout his 26-year career, Barwis has served as a strength and conditioning consultant for the Miami Dolphins and a senior advisor for the New York Mets, he was the strength and conditioning coach at Michigan and West Virginia, coached 56 NFL draft picks, two Heisman Trophy finalists, 25 Pro Bowlers, more than 600 Olympic athletes in 42 different sports – and that is only a small sample of the variety of athletes with whom he has worked. He had his own television show, “American Muscle,” which ran on the Discovery Channel.

Now high school athletes in the Midwest will have an opportunity to work with him and his staff at the first Barwis Methods Combine this Saturday, May 21, at Brighton High School.

“I’ve worked with 600 Olympic athletes, nine different pro teams and some great institutions like Michigan and West Virginia,” Barwis says. “But the reality is, most of those dynamics don’t provide you the time to work with younger kids and the NCAA restricts your ability to work with them for recruiting reasons. So that wasn’t something I had a lot of exposure to until about five years ago when we stepped out and went private, and it’s been something that’s been really, really rewarding – to help kids attain their dreams. There’s nothing more impactful that I do.”

With that, a man who has worked with Ndamukong Suh, Richard Sherman, Pavel Datsuk, Justin Verlander and countless other notable sports figures, is entering the world of high school combines. There are an increasing number of events for high school prospects, some of them more legitimate than others, and the experience of Barwis and his staff, along with their goals of innovation, are what will set this event apart.

“The unique thing about it is, we have the highest level of qualified coaches in the world,” Barwis said. “The guys running the combine have played at the Division-1A level. Dan Mozes was a Rimington Award winner, ESPN’s All-Decade center, played with the Vikings and coached in college with me at Michigan and is now our Vice President Director for the combine.

“Being in college and the pros and seeing what is tested and where it goes and how it correlates, it’s sometimes pretty restringent. We wanted to add in more cutting-edge things that are happening in science, accommodate more power orientation movements and ascertain whether or not a guy is explosive or powerful.”

Having tested athletes of various levels and caliber, Barwis is familiar with what the numbers should look like and will be able to give these high school players the areas where they may be deficient and also work with them to turn those deficiencies into strengths.

From there, the combine testing will go into football-specific drills.

“They’ll do position drills with NFL players – Mozes, Brian Wright, who coached at Michigan, was a 1A football coach and also a 1A strength coach – so people who have been at the highest level and have had exposure to cutting-edge science who can make sure you do the drills in the same way as professionals and put you in that environment and can give you the information you need to excel and for teams to take a look at you.”

How much you can load onto a bar and bench is one thing, how fast you can run 40 yards is another, but Barwis will break those traditional combine tests down further.

“On a field, it’s about the given distance an athlete can mobilize and move in as short a time as possible, and we’ll see air pneumatic devices to isolate parts of the body and say, does the upper body generate significantly more power than the lower body, and compare that to other athletes. If one athlete is exerting 1,200 newtons of force and other is doing 2,300 at the same body weight, that says something to us. After 26 years of assessing the top athletes in the world, we know what the numbers should look like, and I guarantee the guys who are really, really good players will explode the numbers.”

Ultimately, Barwis and his team want to build better athletes, and in doing so, help young men reach their potential.

“Our major goal is to help people,” he said. “If we can give them guidance no one else in the world can provide, we have to do it. Our rationale for the combine is to impact young kids and give them the opportunity to change their lives and their families’ lives.”

Go HERE for more information and to register for the event.