The Four Pillars of Developing Speed

When an athlete starts training with SST, the most common question is “Will I improve my speed?”  I am honest and upfront and tell them that not everyone has the genetics to be a 100m champion.  However, most athletes haven’t scratched the surface of their potential.  At SST we have 4 methods to improve an athlete’s speed.  If they improve one area their will be some improvement….but if they can improve them all the results are outstanding!

The Four Pillars of Developing Speed include:

  1. Body Composition

If an athlete is carrying too much body fat, their speed will be limited.  Every sport and position has their own ranges for optimal body fat.  An Offensive Lineman and a Defensive Back obviously have different physiques.  But the fact remains that muscle makes your body move, but fat slows you down.  The way to improve this is through a clean diet and interval training.  Cardio is not recommended unless you are in a long distance sport.

  1. Strength & Power

Your ability to initiate force into the ground is what makes you move.  The first 30 yards in a sprint is directly correlated to your strength levels.  The term relative strength refers to your strength levels compared to your body weight.  This is the most relevant to speed because it is your ability to move your own weight.  Being on a structured strength training program will go a long way to increasing your speed.  Make sure that you plan your program and keep track of your weights.

  1. Flexibility

This is often the most overlooked aspect of training.  If you ask a 16 year old football player if they work on their flexibility they usually say that they stretch before practice.  This is not what we refer to when we say flexibility training.  Our athletes take 10-15 minutes before workouts or speed sessions performing dynamic flexibility and mobility drills.

Static stretching should be done 4-6 hours before or after your workout.  You should warm up for 10 minutes, and then spend 30-45 minutes stretching.  Hold your stretches for 10 seconds, and try and hit as many different angles as possible to work on different muscle fibres.  You need to spend 5-6 days a week trying to improve this area.

  1. Technique

It is important to learn proper running fundamentals for both straight ahead speed, as well as for changing directions.  If you are wasting movement you’re wasting time.  So spend some time with a coach who can correct your errors.  It is a waste of time to go out and practice running 40’s if your form is wrong.  Remember it’s not practice makes perfect… its perfect practice makes perfect.

Oh and remember to check out our speed camps:

SoccerHERE

FootballHERE

Speed Drills for Pro Sports – Part 1 (of 3)

Since my last few articles, “To Squat or to Power Clean, That Is the Question” and “How to Train the 40-Yard Dash in the Weight Room – Part One & Part Two” I have had tremendous positive feedback. With this in mind, I have had a few people email me regarding what type of speed drills I would choose for college and professional football players (American football).  If people wish, I can write about speed work and demands for football, aka soccer, in an upcoming article.

Back to the purpose: what speed drills do I like to use with my college and pro football players?

To start, I have all my athletes perform a proper dynamic warm-up, which includes many drills, such as:

  • Walking A’s
  • Marching A’s
  • B’s
  • Plus the conventional drills we all use as track coaches

I am going to assume that these athletes know many of the basic drills mentioned, so I won’t spend much focus on this.  Here is the catch: I will watch an athlete, and if there are mechanical issues, then we will focus on a drill or drills SPECIFIC to that athlete.  The purpose of this is to reinforce a good habit and correct the issue(s).  I learned a long time ago from good coaches that anyone can teach the X and O’s, but the good coaches can see and make adjustments in making the athlete better.

So, we at SST do not really spend much time with so-called drills to improve performance.

Where do I differ with my athletes?

  1. Know your position! For example, I don’t waste my time doing repetitive 100-meter sprints with O linemen. I have seen this numerous times with coaches and just shake my head. What is the purpose of 300-lb men running 100 meters? When do they ever do this in the game?  The question I then get is do we need to condition them? No! These guys are paid to have a fight in a phone booth. Conditioning drills should be more functional, such as tire flipping and pushing cars!
  2. Top-end speed: Athletes such as wide receivers and running backs focus on top-end speed. Development. I do not waste time with linemen with this training method- we may spend one training block a year on long runs over 40 yards and that’s it!

Brown versus White Fat- is there a difference? – Part 1

Many people are probably new to this question. YES there is a major difference between the two types of fat in our body.   White fat aka the ugly fat lies under our skin and keeps us insulated but is also responsible for the ugly cellulite that we all hate. Another characteristic is that White fat stores energy as fat!

How about Brown fat…often found between the shoulder blades and neck region.   Brown fat converts food energy directly into heat. What does this mean for you? Simple Brown fat BURNS MORE CALORIES….thus the more brown fat you have the more calories you burn!!

Brown fat prevents weight gain in individuals by increasing their metabolic rate after overeating!  Ever get that feeling of the sweats or body just heating up after a big meal?  Well, that’s your brown fat burning food into heat and increasing your metabolism.

So what does this all mean with regards to fat loss?  Increase your Brown fat and melt off the pounds.

In my next blog I will teach you some ways to increase the amount of brown fat and how to activate this adipose tissue better.

These techniques will be outlined in my NEW Butts and Guts Nutrition booklet used in our 28 day summer shape up program. Please CLICK HERE for more information

5 Things That Are Making You Less Agile as a Soccer Player! – Part 2

Last week we discussed 2 major mistakes soccer players maybe making when trying to change direction:

  1. Foot Position
  2. Shoulder sway

To read more about this PLEASE CLICK HERE

Today we will continue with the last 3 mistakes that you may need to improve on:

  • Planting Stance: This may sound a little vague, but this simply refers to the position of the feet in relation to each other when you plant to change direction. If the stance is too narrow or too wide, you will allow for an energy leak and imbalance when changing direction. Specifically if your feet are too close together, this will often lead to the shoulder sway problem mentioned above. Feet position should be shoulder width apart.
  • Weight Distribution: Having the weight on the toes is not a good thing for changing directions! This is because as you go to slow down, you are only engaging the quads and the calves to absorb force to slow your body down before you change direction. By having the weight distributed evenly across the foot, the glutes and hamstrings will also be used to absorb force to slow you down. Now you will have 4 muscle groups absorbing force instead of just two! This will allow for better force absorption, which will allow you to reaccelerate quicker.
  • Lack of Strength/Being out of control: As mentioned above, to decelerate properly you must engage both the muscles on the front and the back of the leg. Well, what if these muscles aren’t strong enough to absorb the force they need to?? Simple, you will be out of control and most likely lose your footing or experience one of the energy leaks we already talked about. A stronger muscle will be able to absorb more force, so fortunately this problem is rather simple to fix!

Are you making any of these mistakes?! If you are, realize that you have the potential to be a lot quicker, which could make a huge difference in your on-field performance!

To find out how to improve your agility please CLICK HERE

Q&A – Courtney Pewes on specialized baseball training (SST Mississauga)

Courtney- thanks for taking your time and speaking with me.

1. Courtney why do have so much success with Baseball athletes and teams?

Football and Hockey athletes are ‘easy’ to train, in that you can give these athletes just about any exercise and there is little risk for injury. Baseball athletes on the other hand require a little more finesse in their programming. Because of this there are very few facilities who specialize in training these athletes. Our years of experience have taught us the most effective way to train these overhead athletes and how best to stave off injuries. However, in an effort to become the leading Canadian facility for baseball training SST Mississauga has sought out those who work with the best in the world to learn directly from them, how they make the pros as good as they are. Refusing to believe we know everything about training baseball athletes is what makes us so good, we strive to continue learning and find better, more effective ways to make our athletes some of the best in the country.
Because of our specialization we often get athletes who travel into our facility multiple times a week from as far away as Scarborough, Whitby, Barrie and even Penetanguishene. We also have many athletes training with us on Satellite Programs who are too far away to come into our facility each week but see the value in what we do. We have trained athletes who have gone on to play in the NCAA, CIS, Ontario Provincial Team, Canadian National Team, minor leagues and professional baseball. We currently have athletes who are playing baseball with Oklahoma University, Middle Tennessee State University, Binghamton University, Niagara University, Stanford University, the Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres, Guelph University, McMaster University, and Burlington Herd to name just a few. But what truly separates our programs from anyone else is our 12U development programs, where we work with athletes as young as 8-9 years old.
Many Young athletes are sustaining injuries they never should because they are not properly prepared for the demands and intensity of the sport they are playing, baseball or otherwise. 45% of pitchers under the age of 12 suffer from chronic elbow pain, and in high school this number increases to 58%. Young athletes are still growing and often lack coordination strength, endurance, or stability of their muscles and joints to properly or efficiently perform many sport skills and are, therefore, at high risk for poor form, improper technique, and training errors.
Because we work with our baseball (and other sport) athletes at a young age we are able to optimize their mobility, stability, coordination, strength, and movement efficiency. And coincidentally their speed, agility, quickness and conditioning also improve. This helps to reduce the chances of traumatic injuries but also in chronic injuries that are common in young baseball athletes and gives us a better foundation for strength and performance training as our athletes get older.

2. Can you add some insight into your strength coaching style?
I believe my coaching style has been shaped by the world class strength coaches I had the privilege of working with while doing internships as well as the coaches I had as an athlete. I believe in hard work and no excuses to reach your goals. I know firsthand that hard work, dedication and sacrifice it takes to be a world class athlete and I strive to educate my athletes about this. Nothing comes easy, especially in athletics, and I try to instill a hard work ethic in my athletes from a young age.
When it comes to motivating my athletes, I think it is important to understand that everyone is motivated by different things, some like to be challenged, while others liked to be recognized and appreciated when they do something outstanding, while others are motivated by quality performances outside the gym. Either way, it is important to know what motivates each of your athletes on an individual basis in order for me, as a coach, to be able to better push them towards their potential.
I do my best to create a training environment that is welcoming to any sport, age, race, or gender. When you walk through our door you are no longer alone in your journey; not only are your coaches here to support you but your fellow athletes are as well. We are all one team, one family, here at SST Mississauga and that environment is what helps fuel greatness.

Canadian Junior National Team and Oklahoma University Commit, Pitcher Ben Abram, Jumping on the prowler to add some extra weight and encouragement For Jaden, one of our 12U baseball development athletes. We’re all in this together! #SSTFamily

I love my athletes and my entire job is working to help see them succeed as athletes and human beings. There is nothing better than having athletes come back from post-secondary school or training camps and saying, ‘because of you I was prepared’, ‘I had a great season’, ‘I’m excited to get back in the gym and get even better!’. That is what makes this the best job in the world!

BTW….. if you haven’t seen it, read Courtney’s blog – Quarterback Vs. Pitcher Vs. Bench Press   HERE

One Minute Workout – Part 2

Last week I discussed the research and benefits of a One minute workout.  CLICK HERE to read Part 1

Today I would like to provide you a simple workout I use when I train two people…. over the years I have found this to be more beneficial for all clients as they push themselves harder and  they will challenge one another.

Using the premise of the one minute workout of 20 seconds of hard work and a short rest, I have used this simple workout to achieve some amazing results.  Note – the difference I use is that my workouts last ten minutes in total but the sets are one minute.

Set 1-3

Body weight squats for 20 seconds (add weight when u feel like you are able)

Rest 20 seconds

Pushups for 20 seconds

Rest for 20 seconds

Swiss ball pull ins for 20 seconds

Rest 1 minute and repeat two more times

Set 4-6

Chin-up/ ring row variation for 20 seconds

Rest 20 seconds

Db standing lunges for 20 seconds

Rest 20 seconds

Swiss ball crunches for 20 seconds

Try this workout with a friend or by yourself…. trust me it’s a CHALLENGE for ten minutes!

Next week I will discuss why I use this format…hint …it’s all about the hormones.

In the meantime if you are looking to get in shape for the summer please CLICK HERE for our Butts and Guts Summer challenge.

5 Things That Are Making You Less Agile as a Soccer Player – Part 1

Agility is a skill which becomes invaluable on the field, court, or pitch! It is often the person who can change directions the fastest that will be the first to the ball.  Also, being agile can be immensely helpful if you are not the fastest runner, as a good change of direction can allow you to keep up with a faster player. And if you are both fast AND agile, the opposing team better watch out, because you will be impossible to contain! However, like I said earlier, agility is a SKILL, which means there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things.

Here is a list of 5 MAJOR MISTAKES athletes make when changing directions:

      1. Foot position: If your need to change directions quickly and your plant foot (also the push-off foot) is either open (toes pointed out) or closed (toes pointed in), you are not going to re-accelerate as well as you could be. Having your toes pointed outward allows the ankle to flex in the direction opposite to the one you want to re-accelerate in. This creates an energy leak which means that energy will be lost at your ankle because it is not stable enough to absorb the force you are placing into the ground when you’re pushing off the foot to re-accelerate.
        Having your foot point inward creates the opposite problem: Your ankle is not in a good position to absorb the force you place in to the ground when you plant your foot. This is actually potentially injurious as having the foot turned in can easily lead to a rolled ankle. The best position for the foot is to be square, neither in nor out.
      2. Shoulder sway: This is another energy leak which occurs as a result of the core muscles not being strong enough to stabilize the upper body as you change directions. This will make your change of direction slower as your shoulders will have to stop swaying before your body can begin moving in the direction that you want to re-accelerate. A strong core will provide better shoulder stability thus helping change of direction.

Are you making any of these mistakes?! If you are, realize that you have the potential to be a lot quicker, which could make a huge difference in your on-field performance!

BTW – Make sure you see our “Femal Xeleration Speed Camp” CLICK HERE

Q&A – Soccer Speed Coach Delroy (Owner – SST Oakville) – Part 2

Last week we talked female soccer training with SST Oakville owner Delroy aka Coach D

Click HERE to see – Part 1

  1. Can you add some insight into your strength coaching style?

My style of coaching stems from the type of coaches I had growing up as a young athlete to the coaches I had as I trained while playing on the Canadian pro Beach Volleyball Circuit. It was a “no nonsense” work hard, give a 110 percent and leave it all on the field. I have taken this approach with all my athletes and adult clients. I am tough and I expect you to give me everything you have while you are on the training floor. I have had athletes and adults see my car in the parking lot and tell me we know it is going to be a tough day when “the dark over lord is on the training floor.” I treat everybody the same, I want the same for every one of my clients. Results…. period.  I approach every training session with energy that fills up the facility. I want all my clients to have fun, challenge themselves and most of all work hard. For my athletes I treat them like family; my goal is help them all understand from my own experience and the experience of my high level staff what it takes from a training stand point to get to the next level. Mentoring is so, so important to me for my athletes. As I move around the community nothing makes me more happy than to here an athlete shout to me “ Hey Coach D “ . I absolutely love to train!

  1. You have had many girls in many sports on scholarships…is there a key to your success?

I believe you need to understand the female athletes in order to get the best out of them. We have had much success with female athletes who have received scholarships, because we have created an environment at SST Oakville were these ladies feel like they are at home. We have seen other facilities focus on “just the boys” and at SST Oakville we treat everybody the same. The female athletes who come to us for a few reasons; One, because we push them and two, we discuss their goals. We are not afraid to have them try complicated movements and they see the results of their hard work.  Communication, Communication, communication is the key ingredient when dealing with high performance athletes. We take the time to explain, critique and most importantly coach and this seems to work really well as our female athletes respond and get tremendous results.

To find out more about Coach D’s exclusive Female only Xelerate soccer program – Click Here

Q&A – Soccer Speed Coach Delroy (Owner – SST Oakville) – Part 1

Delroy- thanks for taking your time and speaking with me

  1. So Delroy why do have so much success with Soccer teams?

I really enjoy training soccer teams. Soccer was one of the first team sports we had come to us for training when we started SST Oakville. My staff and I have spent many hours with soccer athletes and have a great understanding of what is required for a soccer athlete to succeed. Our reputation and our results with soccer athletes have spread through the soccer community. We have teams from Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga and Brampton comes out to train with us. The coaching staff of these teams trusts us and understand our facility is “no nonsense “training center, as we build our soccer training programs to get their teams prepared for the season. We have worked with many soccer athletes who have gone on to play NCAA, CIS and professionally. We soccer athletes playing at University of Miami , University of Maine, Memphis University , kent State , Eastern Michigan , Louisiana State , Miami – Ohio , Carleton University , University of Western Ontario, Mc Master University to name a few. Today, we have Dianna Matheson from the Canadian Women’s National training in our facility to get her prepared for the FIVB women’s world cup. Here is what Dianna has to say about why she trains at SST Oakville:

 “I use SST Oakville when I am a home because it has everything Ineed to train at the highest level.  I go not just for strength training, but to be a stronger, faster, and more complete athlete.” – Thanks, Diana M

  1. Can you add some insight into your strength coaching style?

My style of coaching stems from the type of coaches I had growing up as a young athlete to the coaches I had, as I trained while playing the Canadian pro Beach Volleyball Circuit. It was “no nonsense” work hard, give a 110 percent and leave it all on the field. I have taken this approach with all my athletes and adult clients, I am tough and I expect you to give me everything you have while you are on the training floor. I have had athletes and adults see my car in the parking lot and tell me we know it is going to be a tough day when “the dark over lord “is on the training floor. I treat everybody the same, I want the same for every one of my clients. Results -period.  I approach every training session with energy that fills up the facility. I want all my clients to have fun , challenge themselves and most of all work hard. For my athletes I treat them like family , my goal is help them all understand from my own experience and the experience of my high level staff what it takes from a training stand point to get to the next level. Mentoring is so, so important to me for my athletes. As I move around the community nothing makes me more happy than to here an athlete shout to me “ hey Coach “ . I absolutely love to train.

For more info regarding our Girls Xceleration soccer speed camp please click HERE

Soccer and Stretching – Increase speed or not?

The other day I was on a field watching a bunch of kids practicing soccer it reminded me that soccer season is now starting to ramp up with pre-season training.  It made me think of the research article I just read in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning regarding static stretching and the effects it has on soccer players during a match.

With so many different training methods out there for soccer players one that is still used by many coaches is static stretching…yes the kind where we ask the athlete to sit on their butts and stretch their hamstrings or stand on one leg and pull their leg back to stretch their quadriceps muscles!

The article by Sayer, et al looked at the sprint performance of soccer players after static stretching.  Data was collected on 20 elite female soccer players from a soccer team that participates in the Women’s Professional soccer league.  The impact of static stretching on sprinting for soccer players is important as sprints occur approximately every 90 seconds during a match.

What did they find in this study?  Well, any type of static stretching had a negative effect on sprint times for soccer players.  Sayer, et al discovered that there was a significant difference in the acceleration phase between the stretch and non-stretch groups.  What is the acceleration phase?… it’s the part of a sprint when a player goes from a standing start to full speed – somewhere around 20 meters.  The study found that static stretching diminishes maximal velocity as well.  It was discovered that an athlete could lose up to .39 seconds after static stretching and with sprints lasting only 4-5 seconds to complete, this is Significant!  This may be the difference between one player getting to the ball before another and recovering defensively to avoid a potential goal-scoring opportunity.  In elite soccer, the ability for each player to be at their best may be the difference between winning and losing!

Wow, that means that not stretching has more of a profound positive effect on sprinting for soccer players than stretching does. This is an important article for all coaches, player’s educators, and other administrators who are involved with soccer players.

So what do you do?  Stop wasting your time pre-practice or pre-game with static stretching and get into dynamic stretching.

I will look into the benefits of dynamic stretching for soccer players in part two of our series.  As well, in the upcoming weeks, we will be showcasing videos on our website for all soccer players to view!

BTW – Please check out our latest Soccer Xeleration Speed Camp for women/girls, click HERE