How to Develop Speed in your football players? Coach Dawg tells you!


The SST “F.A.S.T” 8 Pillars for Developing Speed Part 1

What is the Holy Grail of all sports performance? SPEED! Learn methods of training other than the ordinary A and B skips for speed development. Is there anything more rewarding than watching one of your athletes run sub 4.5s in the forty or vertical jump over 35 inches at an NHL camp?

When an athlete starts training with SST, the most common question is, “Will I improve my speed?” Of course, we are honest and tell them that not everyone has the genetics to be a 100m champion and that they should set their expectations to be realistic. However, most athletes haven’t even scratched the surface of their potential. At SST we have our 8 Pillars to improve an athlete’s speed. If an athlete can improve one area there will be some improvement in their speed … but if they can improve them all, the results are outstanding!

Football Camps 2019 – Register now!

The SST “FAST” 8 Pillars for Developing Speed include:

  1. Body Composition
  2. Strength and Power Training
  3. Flexibility
  4. Technique
  5. Functional Strength
  6. Overspeed and Resistance training
  7. Plyometrics
  8. Lateral and Agility

In this article we will touch on the first four pillars that are your foundation, or base, of your athletic triangle:


1. Body Composition

If an athlete is carrying too much body fat, their speed will be limited. Think about this for a second … put on a weighted vest with only 10lbs and perform a sprint … big difference! Yes, due to the fact that you are carrying DEAD WEIGHT!

Every sport (and even different positions in the same sport) has its own range for optimal body fat. An Offensive Lineman and a hockey center obviously have different physiques. The fact remains that muscle makes your body move, but fat slows you down. The way to improve body composition is through a clean diet and interval training. SST does not recommend rhythmical Cardio as it is counterproductive to speed development.

2. Strength & Power

Newton’s 3rd Law of motion:

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”

Your ability to initiate force into the ground is what makes you fast! The first 30 yards in a sprint is directly correlated to your strength levels and how much force you can produce into the ground. The term relative strength refers to your strength levels compared to your body weight. This quality of relative strength is most relevant to speed because it refers to your ability to move your own weight the fastest. Relative strength is so important because increasing absolute strength without any regard to body composition does not guarantee increased speed. An example is a powerlifter who generates a ton of absolute strength with no care for their own body composition nor the speed of the movement. We want FAST athletes not just big and strong. Think of it another way … we can make a huge car with a bigger engine but wouldn’t it be better to keep the car weight the same and increase the horsepower of that engine?

If we can produce more power into the ground, our equal and opposite reaction will be our athlete moving faster across that ground! Thus, being on a structured, periodized strength training program will go a long way to increasing your speed. Make sure that you plan your program properly around generating more force and eliminating weak links in your kinetic chain!

3. Flexibility

Flexibility is often the most overlooked aspect of speed training. If you ask a 16-year-old athlete if they work on their flexibility, they’ll usually tell you that they stretch before practice. Research has actually discovered that static stretching before a workout or game decreases speed! 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 also found that static stretching diminishes maximal velocity! It was discovered that an athlete could lose up to 0.39 seconds after static stretching and with sprints lasting only 4-5 seconds, this is SIGNIFICANT!

Static stretching 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.

We, at SST, have come up with BAND DYNAMIC PNF stretching. After a 10 minute warm-up, band stretching should be performed for 10 minutes prior to the workout. Hold your stretches for 6-10 seconds, and try and hit as many different angles as possible to work on different muscle fibers. You need to spend 5-6 days a week trying to improve this area.

4. Technique

Many coaches out there will spend most of their time on this quality and yes, it is a very important pillar, but it is not the be all and end all that some coaches think it is. Over the years I have spent a majority of time on technique neglecting other base qualities and my athlete’s performance suffered. As strength coaches, most of us will not be working with 100m Olympic sprinters, this technique should not be overanalyzed with athletes such as hockey players, football players, soccer players, etc.

It is, however, 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 if your form is wrong. Remember it’s not practice makes perfect … its perfect practice makes perfect.

Larry Jusdanis is the owners of Sports Specific Training Burlington. SST has trained thousands of athletes from a variety of sports. SST’s no-nonsense approach to training has been used by thousands of athletes from a variety of sports all over the nation!

Fat Loss Top 3

SST’s Top 3 tips for maximizing fat loss:

  • TIP #1 – Moderate Caloric Restriction

One of the most common mistakes that individuals make when starting to form new nutrition habits in the new year is to restrict their caloric intake to extreme levels. While moderate caloric restriction is great as it is a key component of the energy balance equation and helps us to lose weight, restricting our caloric intake by extreme levels early on usually lead to us falling off our new habits by the time January comes along. Start small, with realistic goals such as trying to avoid that extra evening snack or deciding not to get our regular donut with our morning coffee.

  • TIP #2 – Eat Whole, Minimally-processed Foods

While there are many various eating patterns that individuals will likely adopt in the new year trying to lose weight and fat mass, the most successful diets usually have this commonality. What many individuals might not realise is we digest and absorb nutrients and calories differently from processed and unprocessed foods and processed foods usually have unwanted calories from fat and other additives that are added to the natural products. Focusing on eating lots of green-leafy vegetables, fruits, legumes and lean cuts of meats and poultry are a great place to start.

  • TIP #3 – Conscious Eating

Lastly, we need to be conscious of what we are eating. There are many successful nutritional strategies to help lose weight and fat mass, but they all also have this in common. A good place to start is to track what we are eating, eat slowly and start to think about some of our eating behaviors and patterns and where we can improve. Having a nutritional consultation with a fitness professional can be a great place to start in the new year to start making some specific and realistic goals for long-term and successful weight loss.

If your food can go bad, it is good for you. If your food can’t go bad it is not good for you.

Please contact me if you are trying to lose weight – I am taking 10 new clients on for a free fat loss phone consultation

Luke Vanderheyden – M. Kin. B. Sc. CSCS

Head Strength and Conditioning Coach – SST Burlington

Speed Drills for Pro Sports

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 coache

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.

Part 1

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!

Part 2

  1. Agility training: I believe many of us spend too much time on linear speed training for sports when we should focus more on lateral speed work.  Unlike track, sports are multidirectional, and GREAT athletes not only possess top-end speed, but also the quickness of a cat. Think Barry Sanders from the Detroit Lions; he would break ankles on the football field! There are many methods to teach agility, and we focus on closed and open-chain agility exercises.
    • Closed-chain: These types of drills and exercises are what we call patterned drills. Examples include all ladder drills and specific drills that are patterned.  With high-end athletes (could be high school as well), we tend to spend very little time with closed-chain exercises.  The few we like to include in our programming in the early preseason are drills in which we have our athletes learning how to decelerate. (Note: Sometimes, an athlete has a difficult time changing direction, not because of form, but because they tend to be eccentrically weak. This has to be taken care of in the weight room.)  We use the cue “STICK IT” to make certain they stop on a dime!
    • Our drills for this may be as simple as a 5-yard sprint and stop before the line. Our athletes focus on accelerating as fast as they can but then lower their hips and stop on a dime before the line!  The next progression to this is having our athletes perform the same distance but moving in a different direction (backpedal, crossovers, and shuffling).
    • After we have mastered the ability to stop after moving in all directions, we teach our athletes how to change direction, which is VITALLY important in ALL sports!  For example, we will have an athlete shuffle for 5 yards, and once they touch the line with their foot, they change their body position and direction and shuffle back.  We cue the athlete to stick it where they started.  Once they master each direction, we then progress to multidirectional movements, such as sprinting for 5 yards then crossover back and stick it.  Your imagination is endless with these drills, but we try to be specific to the sports and position.  For examples, defensive backs in football focus on all, but we tend to have them backpedal much more since they pretty well do this on every play.
    • Open-chained agility: This is SPORTS. React to what you see and make it happen.  When is the last time you were in a game of football and a player was running and a coach yelled to go left then right, etc.? NEVER!  Games are played by reaction with your senses, especially your eyes.  This is why I firmly believe younger athletes should play multiple sports. In fact, kids should play more in uncontrolled environments. This is where they can be creative and learn to react!

Part 3

  1. Acceleration phase: Approximately 80% of most sports are played in this phase, so we spend at least 80% of our time training in this phase.  Drills that I like to use include:
    • 2-point starts
    • 3-point starts
    • Band resisted starts: This is one of my favourites!  Note: Please make certain you do not apply too much resistance in order to keep the athlete’s mechanics from being altered.
    • SpeedSac resisted starts: These are similar to sled sprints, but I have found that the SpeedSac to be more effective for two reasons. We can alter the weight to be more precise compared to the sled.  The SpeedSac also has less shifting, as does the sled, thus our mechanics are not altered as much.

So, to answer the question, I like to spend 80% of my time training with open-pattern agility and acceleration exercises with my so-called more experienced athletes!

I follow the 80% rule in most things in life, and in this case, these training modalities provide our athletes with the best bang for their buck!

2019 SPEED Camp

Register for our 2019 SPEED camp!

Sriracha Shredded Chicken Tacos

Sriracha Shredded Chicken Tacos – Gluten Free

Course Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword Gluten Free
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 Tacos
Calories 128 kcal


  • 2 thinly sliced chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp Sriracha
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup chopped red cabbage
  • 1/2 cup chopped peppers
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • 1 lime


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and top with Sriracha. Bake for 30 minutes (or until they’re fully cooked).
  3. While the chicken is baking, heat the tortillas up (optional).
  4. Top each tortilla with chopped red cabbage and chopped peppers.
  5. When the chicken has finished baking, shred it and place in the tortillas.
  6. Top each taco with feta cheese and a drizzle of lime. Enjoy!

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

***Sweet Tooth Alert*** When your dying for a cookie, here is your best option!
Prep Time 9 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 16 minutes
Servings 20 Cookies


  • 2/3 plus 1/2 cup oat flour 140g
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tbsp coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp regular sugar unrefined if desired
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips or more if desired
  • 1/3 cup chopped macadamia or walnuts (optional)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp vegetable or melted coconut oil
  • 3-5 tbsp milk of choice as needed


  1. Preheat oven to 380 degrees.

  2. Combine dry ingredients and mix very well. Add wet, and form into a big ball.

  3. Now make little balls from the big one. For soft cookies, refrigerate until cold (otherwise, just bake right away). Bake for 7 minutes.

  4. Remove from oven when they’re still a little undercooked, then it’s important to let cool 10 minutes before removing from the tray, as they’ll continue to cook while cooling. They should have spread out, but every now and then they might not (climate plays a huge role in baking), so just smush down with a spoon if needed.

  5. You can also choose to make extra cookie dough balls and freeze them to bake at a later date.

  6. For softer cookies, store in a lidded plastic container. For crispier cookies, store in a lidded glass container.

Coconut Flour Pancakes

Coconut Flour Pancakes

Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Keyword Breakfast, Pancakes
Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes


  • 4 Lg Eggs organic, free range
  • 1 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tbsp Honey Raw
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • Coconut Oil/Grass Fed Butter For Frying


  1. Preheat griddle over medium-low heat. In a small bowl beat eggs until frothy, about two minutes. Mix in milk, vanilla, and honey.

  2. In a medium-sized bowl combine coconut flour, baking soda, and sea salt and whisk together. Stir wet mixture into dry until coconut flour is incorporated.

  3. Grease pan with butter or coconut oil. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of batter into pan for each pancake. The pancakes should be 2-3 inches in diameter and fairly thick. Cook for a few minutes on each side, until the batter starts to bubble. Flip and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.

  4. Serve hot with butter, coconut oil, honey, syrup, or fruit.

Sausage Stir-Fry Breakfast

Sausage Stir-Fry Breakfast

Course Breakfast
Keyword Breakfast, breakfast bake
Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes
Servings 2



  • 1 tsp Coconut Oil
  • ½ Yellow Onion Diced
  • ½ Cup Mushrooms Chopped
  • ½ lb Chicken/Turkey sausages nitrate/nitrite free, sliced
  • 2 Cups Spinach Shredded
  • 2 Cups Kale Shredded
  • ½ Cup Cherry Tomatos Optional


  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat, and add coconut oil when hot.
  2. Add diced onions and sauté until they soften. Then add mushrooms and sauté until both are tender
  3. Remove onions and mushrooms from heat and set aside
  4. Add sausage and cook until browned, tossing frequently
  5. Add greens, onions, mushrooms and sausage and reduce heat to medium-low, and cover.
  6. Serve when the greens are wilted and soft (about 5 minutes).

Eggs with Avocado & Salsa

Eggs With Avocado And Salsa

Course Breakfast
Keyword avacado eggs, eggs, southwestern cuisine
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 8 minutes
Servings 2


  • 4 Eggs Free Range
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • ½ Avocado sliced
  • ½ cup Raw Almonds Sliced or Slivered
  • 4 tbsp Salsa Garden Fresh
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste


  1. Heat non-stick skillet over medium-high heat with olive oil
  2. Beat eggs in a small bowl, and pour into skillet
  3. Cook for 1 minute and turn heat to medium-low and add seasonings. Finish cooking (about 2-4 minutes longer).
  4. Top with almonds, avocado and salsa

Tex-Mex Breakfast Scamble

Tex-Mex Breakfast Scramble

Course Breakfast
Keyword eggs, southwestern cuisine
Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2


  • 1 tsp Coconut Oil
  • 4 Eggs
  • ½ tsp Cumin
  • ½ tsp Chili Powder Sub: Ground Chipotle
  • ¼ tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tbsp Water
  • ¼ Red Onion Diced
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper Diced
  • 1 Jalapeno Diced (Optional)
  • 12 oz Chicken Breasts Cooked
  • 1 Medium Tomato Diced
  • ¼ cup Fresh Cilantro Chopped


  1. Heat coconut oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Scramble eggs in a bowl. Add cumin, chili powder, sea salt, and water.
  3. Add onions, bell peppers, and jalapeno to the hot skillet. Sautee 3-5 minutes, or until slightly softened.
  4. Add eggs and chicken, and cook while continuously stirring until eggs are light and fluffy.
  5. Remove from heat. Stir in tomatoes, and top with fresh cilantro to serve.

Breakfast Stir-Fry

Breakfast Stir-Fry

Course Breakfast
Keyword breakfast hash, breakfast stir-fry, southwestern cuisine
Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 27 minutes
Servings 2


  • 8 Bacon Slices Diced
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • ½ Yellow Onion Diced
  • 1 Medium Sweet Potato Diced
  • 1 Medium Zucchini Diced
  • 7-8 Green Beans
  • 2 Handfuls Spinach
  • 1 Avocado Sliced
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper To Taste


  1. Cook chopped bacon in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Drain fat when done
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add coconut oil and when hot add sweet potato stirring often for about 10-15 minutes
  3. Once potatoes are softened add in onions and sauté until they turn translucent
  4. Add zucchini and green beans to the sweet potato mixture and cook just until they turn bright green
  5. Combine bacon and vegetables and spinach. Season with freshly ground black pepper, and top with avocado to serve

Recipe Notes

Optional – Add a poached egg to your dish for added protein and texture!