Speed Drills for Pro Sports – Part 2 (of 3)

Before you read part two make sure you go and read part one, if you haven’t here is the link. We discuss the importance of understanding that all athletes can’t be trained the same. We also talk about the importance of coaching athletes to make them better, finding adjustments and tweaking training methods is so important to an athlete’s speed and conditioning development.

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 multi-directional, 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 programing 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!

Brown versus White Fat- is there a difference? – Part 2

In part 1- Brown vs White fat (CLICK HERE to read) I discussed the differences of Brown and White fat.

We discovered that Brown fat helps you shed off the weight.  In today’s blog let’s find out how to increase Brown fat levels

  1. Decrease your room temperature- COOL it down- a recent study had 12 men work in a room at 63.3 degrees Fahrenheit. What happened- after 6 weeks they burned an extra 289 claories per day.  What does this mean- approximately every two weeks you could optimally lose 1 lb of fat! To even increase this- EXERCISE in the cold!
  2. Eat an apple per day- this stimulates Brown fat production.
  3. Increase your melatonin levels- try and do this by turning off tvs, cell phones and other lights before bed. As well, if you do wake up in the middle of the night- KEEP your EYES CLOSED! Light will inhibit melatonin production.
  4. Avoid a low fat diet! In fact… increase your good fats such as Omega 3’s and increase your brown fat activity.
  5. CUT out sugar! Choose a better option such as Stevia to satisfy your sweet tooth.
  6. Exercise less! What ???? Yes you heard me right- lower your cortisol levels.

So try to incorporate a few of these methods….all you have to lose is BODY FAT!

Looking to lose fat?

Personal Training Challenge 

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 Lightning Camp:

Starts January 22nd, 2019HERE

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 Part 2 I will teach you some ways to increase the amount of brown fat and how to activate this adipose tissue better.

Looking to lose fat?

Personal Training Challenge 

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