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!

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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!

Resistance Training for Acceleration

Sprinting has been described as consisting of a series of phases: an acceleration phase (typically the first 10 metres), a transition phase, and a maximum velocity phase.  For sports such as soccer, rugby, football and basketball, maximum velocity is not always attained, and repeated short sprints are more common.  Taking this into consideration, the ability to develop speed in as short a time as possible (acceleration) may be of high importance to many athletes.  It has been proposed that acceleration and maximum velocity are relatively separate and specific qualities.

An athlete’s ability to accelerate his or her body during sprinting is dependent on several factors.  These factors include technique and the force production capability of the body, in particular the leg muscles.  It has been shown that the technical aspects may have less importance for the acceleration phase of performance than for a typical sprinting event.  For example, in many sports the athletes have to accelerate from a lying or crouching position, from landing on 1 leg and pivoting, from catching a ball, and so on.  Therefore, the force capability of the muscle may be more important in improving acceleration of the athlete.  This point was supported by R. Mann in his publication titled “The Elite Athletes Project: Sprints and Hurdles.” which stated that the ability to perform well in sprints over short distances is dependent on the ability to produce large amounts of force at crucial times.

A variety of methods are used to enhance force output.  These methods include resistance training, plyometric training, and assisted and resisted sprinting techniques.  For this article we will focus on resisted sprinting which involves athletes sprinting with added load.  This load can come in different forms: weighted vests, sled-sprints, uphill sprinting and limb loading.  More specifically, this article will focus on the towing of weighted devices such as sleds which is the most common method of providing towing resistance for the enhancement of sprinting.

It has been shown that the use of towing as a form of resistance may increase the load on the athlete’s torso and therefore require more stabilization.  This training stimulus may increase pelvic stabilization, leading to a positive effect on sprint performance.  Increased torso loads also cause an increased upper-body lean and increased thigh angle at both the beginning and the end of the stance phase.  This increased thigh angle reflects the increased need for force production during the prolonged stance phase.

It is important to note that sprinting speed should not be decreased by more than 10% when adding resistance; adding too much resistance may alter running kinematics in ways that are not desirable.  It is also maintained that sled-sprinting should not be employed when the desired training effect is neural (i.e. maximal velocity).  Sled-sprinting is an effective method for a metabolic training effect (i.e. acceleration).  Due to evidence that only the first 10 metres of a sprint have been designated as the acceleration phase, it is suggested that sled-sprints should be performed for distances no longer than 10 metres.

S.S.T. holds that a well implemented speed program should include a variety of methods to achieve desirable results (i.e. resisted sprints, assisted sprints, unassisted sprints and resistance training).  Also, methods such as resisted and assisted sprints should be used sparingly, such as in the final or next-to-final block of an athlete’s periodized program.

To find out more information regarding SST’s upcoming Lightning camp please visit our website at


How to improve your 40 yard dash- Part 1

If you want to go places in football, then you had better work on your 40 yard dash. While the forty yard dash is probably the most overrated test, it’s also the test that most coaches rely on when scouting a player. Given the emphasis that is placed on this one test, I am surprised at how many athletes come to combines and camps unprepared. I see athletes wearing the wrong shoes or the wrong clothes and I can tell that many of them don’t know the proper starting technique or running mechanics. Furthermore, it’s obvious that most players haven’t done any effective speed or strength training leading up to the big day. I tell my athletes that they have to consider the forty yard dash as a job interview that could land them a scholarship or millions of dollars when their stock goes up in the draft. Remember that first impressions mean everything, so plan ahead and be prepared to run like a professional. Don’t get me wrong, running a great 40 yard dash doesn’t mean that you’re automatically a great football player, but it will turn heads and give you the chance needed to show universities or professional teams what you can do on the field.

When training for the 40 yard dash, players tend to forget how important it is to be STRONG! I have yet to see a weak player run a great forty yard dash. As a Sports Performance Coach I know through personal experience that players who speed and strength train on a continuous basis will experience dramatic gains over those who only focus on speed training. One athlete who followed SST’s 12-week speed and strength training program went from a 5.05 to a 4.62 at the National football combines this year.

There are three main factors that SST considers when designing a strength training program for football players who want to decrease their forty yard dash time. First, we assess the player’s experience and abilities. Factors such as age, previous training experience, fitness level and amount of time available for training are considered. Next, we evaluate the player’s 40 yard dash to determine weaknesses. Do we need to improve his start, decrease his ground contact time or work on reaching maximum speed? Lastly, we focus on strengthening the player’s weakest muscles. As a general rule SST has found that football players tend to have weak lower back, hamstring and VMO muscle (VMO, or vastus medialis, is the teardrop muscle found on the inside of the quadriceps), therefore for the purpose of this article we will highlight , what we believe to be, the top six exercises designed to strengthen these muscles.

In Part I of this two part article, I will explain the first three exercises: snatch grip dead-lifts, tire flipping and Olympic lifts and their derivatives. These exercises strengthen lower back and hamstring muscles which are key components for achieving maximum speed.

Exercise #1 – Snatch Grip Dead-lifts

If I had to choose only one strength training exercise to improve a player’s 40 yard dash time, I would pick snatch grip deadlifts because they work the entire posterior chain (lower back and hamstrings). Snatch grip dead-lifts are a bit different than your traditional deadlift in that they recruit more of the hamstrings due to the angle of the trunk and a wider grip.

Results: improve start, increase maximum speed

Description: Starting position- feet are shoulder width apart. Grip is wider than your traditional grip. Elbows are turned out. Shoulder blades are retracted. Knees over the bar. Chest and shoulders over the bar. Lower back is arched. Initiate lift with hamstrings and lower back. Maintain lower back arch throughout. Keep bar path straight.

Variations: snatch grip dead-lifts off a podium, snatch grip dead-lifts with chains and traditional dead-lifts.

Exercise #2 – Tire Flipping

Tire flipping is not your traditional weight room exercise but it’s a functional way to develop the posterior chain (lower back and hamstrings). This is a grueling exercise that has lot of return for its effort.

Results: improve grip strength, decrease 40 time (after 12 weeks SST athletes decreased their 40 time by up to 3 tenths)

Description: Start in a deadlift position and grab the tire from underneath (fingers under the tire). Lift the tire using your legs and pop your hips forward. Flip your hands around (palms on the tire) and push the tire away from you in an explosive manner. You must keep your back arched throughout the entire movement to prevent lower back injuries.

Exercise #3 – Olympic Lifts and Derivatives

Olympic Lifts consist of power cleans, hang cleans and snatches. These exercises must be done explosively which means as fast as possible. The amount of weight doesn’t matter as much as the speed of the bar. Of all the Olympic lifts the snatch uses the most muscles in the body. People tend to shy away from this exercise but I have found it to be the most effective and easier to teach than cleans. In order to achieve maximum results and avoid injury it’s important to employ proper technique and use the right weight when performing Olympic lifts. If you are not familiar with Olympic lifting and their derivatives call your local weightlifting club or email me at

Results: faster starts and less ground contact time

Description: An explanation of hang snatch from thigh will be provided because it is the most applicable. Starting position – feet are shoulder width apart. Grasp bar with hook grip. To determine the distance between hand placements measure your elbow to elbow distance with arms straight out to sides. From this point move the bar explosively from thighs by extending the hip, knee and ankle joints in a jumping action. This is also known as “triple extension” of the joints. Keep the bar close to the body. This is a very important element and should be perfected. At maximum plantar flexion (up on the balls of the feet), shrug the shoulders, flex and pull with the arms. Pull the bar as high as possible. As the bar reaches maximum height, flex and then rotate elbows around and under the bar. Then fully extend the elbows and lock the bar overhead. Catch the bar with knees and hips flexed and squat down slowly and under control. The hang snatch is a complicated exercise that should only be performed in the presence of a qualified coach.

In Part II, I will explain the remaining three exercises that focus on increasing VMO strength: squats with chains, wobble board split squats and sled dragging. Strengthening the VMO muscle will help decrease ground contact time which is vital in order to increase speed. The less time a player spends on the ground, the faster he’ll be!

Larry Jusdanis is the owner of Sports Specific Training Inc. 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!

Larry Jusdanis

Owner, Sports Specific Training

Director of the National Association of Speed and Explosion (NASE)


Mercer T- CFL COMBINE Blog 2!

Mercer and Brett East west CIS football


I knew that the road to pro football would be full of sacrifices. That’s why I left home to play high school football in the States, then went to the U of C. I knew that I would have to push my personal limits, on and off the field. The next step is no different. I’ve chosen to work with one of the top trainers and have surrounded myself with people who will help me achieve my ultimate goal. This blog is my journey and I’m happy that you are following it with me. I felt that it was important to tell you where I was, before we go on this journey.

I know that training for the combine will be a gruelling test. It’s why I felt like I needed SST at my side.

Could I train on my own? Sure, but I’ve been working with Larry for several years and he’s proven to be one of the top strength coaches in North America. He gets it and he gets me. He knows the road I’ve travelled and where I want to be. Training for the combine is more than just getting bigger and faster – it’s about mastering the combine drills. I’ve got just over 2 months to prepare and I’m going to work every minute!

My first week back to training was a sore one, it was filled with drop sets of bench press and 10 sets of 8 second eccentric squats. On the running side I have been stressing the technique of my stance and start. There is no better person to be working with than Larry.

Mercer T

U of C

SST Athlete News- Player of the week and OPC starts!

Congrats to SST Milton athlete Madison Taylor who is Northeast 10 Conference goalkeeper and rookie of the week!

click here for full article

SST Linebacker U is looking good…both Michael Moore and Luke McQuilken each had 7 tackles in their tough loss vs Laurier

QB U members Eric Morelli and Nate Hobbs squared off in Kingston with Eric leading his team to a tough win!

QB Canada member Nathan Rourke is still tearing up the the high school loop in Alabama- He has thrown a whopping 44tds!

The #1 ranked Dinos are being led by RB Mercer Timmis and Wr Brett Blaszko..Brett scored his first td of the year in their big win on Friday night

SST Long time hockey player Andrew Campbell and Tim Brent Squared off in Philly yesterday…Soupy – the Marlies Captain got the best of Tim’s team with a 3-1 win yesterday

SST’s first ever 7 on 7 Camp was a true success…the competiveness was exceptional with all of our athletes! Great coaching and athletes equal success!

The largest all-star football game in Canada started this weekend with tryouts in the GTA and Ottawa- huge numbers at both camps- should be some great games in May 2016

OPC West and Halton – Peel start this weekend in St Kitts and Burlington

To register- CLICK HERE

SST Monday Morning Athlete News! SST LBs step it up!

What a great weekend of sports!  The Jays Are in…my Angels are out…the Cats lose on the last play vs the Stamps….My Miami Hurricanes can’t get over the hump….Bills lose with 17 penalties!

Lets start with Friday night lights in Burlington…Nelson avenges last year’s loss to Assumption with a 13-7 win…Nelson created 5 turnovers and blocked 2 punts on their way to their victory

Dom Mandalfino once again showed why he is a top recruit….Ben Cowman an underrated DL from Nelson should be on all CIS scouts list….A tall, long athletic player who just makes plays.

Nelson OLINE- led by Patrick Spelman and Riley Littlejohn grounded out the clock in the 4th for the victory

QB Canada star and top 5 player in Canada Nathan Rourke is tearing it up in Alabama- in 7 games Nathan has thrown for 27 tds!

SST Linebackers tear it up- Queens huge upset of Guelph was led by Michael Moore and Luke McQuilken- both had 5 tackles each and an INT!

How about the longest play ever in Queens history…QB Canada star Nate Hobbs throws a perfect dime for a 108 yard td!

Click here to see!

Jordan Lyons continues his possible run to OUA rookie of the year with another 87 yards and another td!

Football Q and A with SST Laval owner Antoine Hamelin

J’aimerais savoir si il est toujours possible pour un athlète de 21 ans de prendre de la vitesse et comment?

R: Oui, il est possible de prendre de la vitesse pour un athlète de 21 ans ou plus. Je travaille en fait présentement avec des athlètes universitaires qui sont invités au combine de la LCF au mois de mars. Ces athlètes ont entre 24 et 25 ans et nous constatons des améliorations de leur vitesse à chaque fin de cycle d’entrainement, qu’ils soient de deux ou de quatres semaines.

Le corps humain a le potentiel d’être entrainé et d’améliorer ses qualités athlétiques à n’importe quel âge. Il faut bien comprendre que même le meilleur entraineur ne fera jamais courir un 40 verges en 4.40 secondes à un athlète qui, à l’âge, de 20 ans court son 40 verges en 5.5 secondes. Par contre, sans atteindre des vitesses dignes de la NFL, il pourra aider à améliorer la vitesse de cet athlète, en ligne droite et dans différentes directions.

L’amélioration de la vitesse passe par plusieurs facteurs. L’athlète doit devenir plus fort, surtout au niveau des muscles du bas du corps. Il doit par la suite apprendre à son corps comment exploser avec les muscles acquis. On doit travailler aussi à bien équilibrer les masses musculaires chez un athlète afin de rendre celui-ci plus rapide. En effet, si l’athlète possède des muscles qui sont trop dominants par rapport à d’autres au niveau des jambes, cela pourra l’empêcher de devenir plus rapide.

La majorité des athlètes avec lesquels je travaille sait déjà assez bien comment courir, mais on peut aller chercher quelques précieux centièmes de secondes en améliorant la technique de course. Aussi, si un athlète a un surplus de poids, le changement de composition corporelle (augmenter le ratio de muscles par rapport au gras) aidera à sa vitesse. Pensez-y, si vous courez durant 60 minutes de temps avec une veste lestée de 10 livres, votre vitesse et votre capacité à maintenir votre vitesse sera diminuée. Lorsqu’un athlète a 10 livres de gras corporel de trop, l’effet sur sa vitesse est le même qu’avec la veste lestée.

Pour terminer, la vitesse est l’une des capacités athlétiques les plus difficiles à travailler au niveau de la conception des programmes et cela requiert un travail intense sur la piste de course et dans le gym. Méfiez-vous des camps ‘spécialisés’ de course qui promettent des améliorations incroyables en peu de temps. Cela demande de l’effort, du temps et beaucoup plus que de courir avec des gadgets durant deux ou trois semaines.

Je vous invite à continuer à m’écrire vos questions à Bon entrainement!

SST Monday Morning Athlete Success!

Wow great weekend of sports with NFL starting…Jays winning and SST Athletes kickin butt! NHL camps start this week and our SST athletes have been dominating their fitness testing

Start off with High school football on Friday night….Terrell Richards leads his ST Roch team to victory over Nelson with a pick 6 for a td!

Nelson SST Standouts Patrick Spelman, Ben Cowman, Riley Little John and Justin Morgan kept the game close but in the end St Roch had too much team speed for Nelson

At Assumptions scrimmage versus BCI- top running back recruit Dom Mandalfino showed why he will once again be the top back in high school football

CIS scouts were drooling over LB Jack Miller’s speed and football IQ!

Standout QB Canada Qb Nathan Rourke is shining in Alabama….in just 4 games Nathan has thrown for 15 tds!  Scouts are calling!

Running Back and 1st year player Jordan Lyons scores a td on his first ever CIS catch..we have a feeling this won’t be his last for this talented runner!

Speaking of talent- top CFL prospect Mercer Timmis is carrying the Dinos to victories…this past weekend Mercer ran for 267 yds and 3 tds!

Declan Cross another top running back at Mac had 59 total yards and a td in their big win over the Gee Gees….Cole Mundel led all D players in tackles!

Ryan DiRisio lead his Warriors in total yards in their loss to Queens

Johnny Augustine is guiding the Guelph Offence with 186 total yards and 3 tds in their victory!

QB Canada Members Nate Hobbs and Will Finch continue their mastery of defences in winning their weekend games

SST Athlete news is getting bigger and bigger!  Enjoy!

SST Monday Athlete News Sept 7 2015

One day late due to the Labour day Holiday but some outstanding athletic performances by some of SST athletes across the board

Congrats to the Hamilton Tiger Cats and players like Mike Filer and Big Pete D for their thumping of the Toronto Argos yesterday!

4th year player and Hec Creighton favourites Will Finch and Mercer Timmis dazzled over the weekend

Mercer led his Calgary team to a victory over his former coach 49-16

Mercer carried the rock for 150 yds and punched in for 2tds!

Will Finch- had the perfect QB rating!!!- 14-15 passing – 304 yards and 3 tds….and added another thru the ground in leading Western to a victory

Next week Will will take his Mustangs into Laurier where SST Athlete’s Mike Malanda, Jamie Lalonde and Brendan Carey await

SST Oakville has some talented players who are making some noise in MLB

Miles Gordon the 4th ranked baseball player in all of Canada was selected in the 4th round by the Cincinnati Reds

Here is a great article on Miles

Lots of great performances and with NHL, High School football and NCAA all starting up the news will be flowing in the the next month!

SST Canada Monday Morning Athlete Review

SST Monday Morning Athlete review

I know this is a few days late but every Monday thru the fall and winter season SST Canada will highlight some of our athlete’s action over the weekend!

Qb Alums from Qb Canada highlight a great weekend

Eric Morelli starting his first ever CIS game debuts in a big way! Eric had an impressive start to his CIS career by throwing for 258yds and 3 tds! In addition he added another 39 yards on the ground and another td!

To See Eric’s Highlights:

Click here

Will Finch touted as one of the best qbs in the country got his Western team off to a good start by going 20-27 –226 yds and 3 total tds

Nate Hobbs making his CIS debut after being the back up to another QB Canada Alum Billy McPhee beats up on Carleton- this game may have huge playoff implications by the end of the year

Nate threw for 338 yards and 2 tds!

#1 ranked Canadian QB Nathan Rourke who is at Edgewood Academy in Alabama led his team to its 2nd straight win by going 11-13 for 223 yards and 6 total tds

To see Nathan’s highlights

Click here

Some of our defensive stars from SST include

Luke Korol who lead his Guelph defence in tackles!

Cole Munden who is a workout monster led his Mac D with 8 tackles

Michael Moore who had a great off season of working out at SST Oakville had a total of 6 tackles in helping Queens upset Carleton

Josh Palmer one of Canada’s most highly recruited players will make his debut this weekend for the # 2 ranked St Thomas Aquinas high school in Florida

For highlights of last weeks game

Click Here