A sophomore High School Soccer player name Brian approached me to ask me to help him develop his game to be able to play at the college ranks. His skills were excellent but he felt he lacked the athleticism to compete at that level.

After a functional assessment revealed some classic soccer imbalances such as hip flexor tightness and imbalances, some quad dominance and forward shoulder posture we embarked on an interesting and what turned out to be record setting quest.

On 2/12/19 we had our first session and all that was addressed was inadequate knee punching, overstriding and inefficient shin angles and a lack of drive at the shoulders which can contribute up to 10% of an athletes “oomph” when he accelerates. We also woke up his hamstrings since I explained his brakes would be key as much as his engine. We followed this up with on 2/19 and 2/26 getting into more advanced techniques. I also provided some suggestions for alterations to his strength program getting into rep ranges designed to encourage fast twitch and enhance intermediate twitch conversion.

On 2/14/19 we had our second session focusing on his brakes and change of direction. Gluteus medius group needed woken up and he needed to learn to engage his glutes and hams. Low and leveraged needed to feel that way also.

Workout #7, 9 and 11 introduced some work on eliminating false step and reaction work to movement, sound and color. Acceleration continued to be overloaded.

Workout #8, 10 and 12 covered transition steps that occur when you have to stop start, turn etc. Reaction was added also

Cup Season was on us and we made some adjustments as we got into May. Plyometric Intensity increased while the volume of our efforts decreased. An additional test indicated that his strength resources were plenty adequate but we needed some more plyo work to bring out his explosion.

Retesting indicated his ten yard dash had improved by .3(unusual gain but expected since his first step was inefficient and allowed for a big improvement). Shuttle had improved by .38. Vertical leap had gone up 4 inches and his broad jump increased by a foot. He indicated he felt like a new player on the field.

Our work in June and July focused on more and more reaction work, starting from very awkward stances and intense overload on some basics that we did on Day 1 and Day 2. Hip swivel work as well as getting to more balls in the air was stressed as well. He felt he was making plays he never made before and could recover easily when beat.

Next retesting indicated another .12 improvement in 10 yard dash, .2 in the shuttle, another 2 in vertical leap and another 8 inches in the broad jump.

It should be noted that this young man never missed a training session and always took care of strength training sometimes at the facility and sometimes on his own.

Excellent outcome.

Additionally, we knew that we would be looking for this in advance:

5 things we’ve noticed over the last 23 years working with soccer athletes.

  • Everyone could use some more strength. All else aside, more strength makes you flat out more athletic. Power is your ability to recruit strength in a hurry and is a requirement during sprinting. Power also helps during cutting, jumping and kicking. Strength and stability keeps you from getting knocked off of the ball.
  • The athletes could use some more oblique and abdominal strength, stability and power. Your lower abdomen provides the anchor from which all movement can occur. This helps when you are kicking, jumping or sprinting. Have you ever watched a player run fast without the ball and look like he or she is speed skating? This tends to happen a lot with soccer. Sometimes it is motor and is a result of elbows that are flailing to the outside but more often it is the hips that are rotating. Force generated by the hip flexors and powerful arm action can’t be controlled by the body’s secondary rotational stabilizer, the obliques. This produces a roll in the hips, a zigzag foot strike pattern and arm action that belongs on the ice, not on the soccer field.
  • Many of the players use a crossover step to move laterally with out the ball instead of an open step. Takes longer and is inefficient in moving short distances
  • Many athletes do not dorsiflex(pull the toes up) at the ankle during planting and during the recovery phase of sprinting. This is sometimes not a natural occurrence, particularly with soccer players who must point their toes to kick! As the shin swings forward right before ground contact, a nice dorsiflexed ankle provides a shorter lever at the knee(easier to turn over) as well a more efficient ground contact in line with the hips, not in front of the hips. Dorsiflexed ankles also send a warning to the knee joint and hip joint that they need to be ready to fire in advance.
  • Many players have a false step that wastes time and is inefficient

OVERHEARD

Posted: May 10, 2021 in Uncategorized

SINCE 1998

Ed-

I can’t thank you enough for what you and your trainers have done for Drake. He had a rough couple of middle school years. He packed on some middle school weight and was feeling very insecure about himself, as well as getting some rude comments made by other classmates. He had always been an active kid but no longer ran around a playground, we mentioned him trying Strength, Fitness and Speed out, our older son had a great experience there and we knew it was the best place around for a growing boy to properly learn strength training and agility. Of course, a couple months into his training a pandemic hit, that shut down everything. Drake had just started to love the progress he was making and really craved those workouts during that stressful shut down. I left a message to you to please put Drake on the books for as soon as we were given the go to start back up. I’m so thankful that he was able to pick right back up where he left off and continue his training. But I didn’t even mention the results yet. In a year in a half Drake has lost roughly 45 pounds. He looks so healthy and he is so strong, I am amazed by the transformation. However, that transformation is not only physical, it also is a mental transformation. During a chaotic year of shut downs and quarantines and in person learning and at home learning, my son is doing amazing. Probably one of his best years ever. Has it been hard, yes, but honestly taking care of your body also has a mental and emotional impact and we have seen both those results in our son. Drake needs Strength, Fitness and Speed. He craves the workout and the feeling after a workout. He has a place that he can burn that energy off at. Those workouts help motivate him to do better and be better. He has always felt so welcome there and we are always so thankful that even when our schedule changes, you make it possible for him to get those 2 workouts in a week. We have seen such a change in our son, not only physically and on the field or court, but also emotionally. When times get tough, he handles it so much better than before. Taking care of your health, by working out and eating right have more than just a physical impact, it makes you feel better, more confident, and happier. We are more than pleased with the results we see in him and look forward to how much more he will grow and develop in his continued trainings with you. Thank you for being a part of his development, we are very grateful!

-A grateful parent

HERE’S TO THE MOMS

Posted: May 9, 2021 in Uncategorized

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms out there. Here’s to the feet that move in sync with your kid’s as they play defense on the basketball floor as you watch from the bleachers. Here’s to the feet that put a hole in the car floor as you teach them how to drive by braking from the passenger side. Here’s to the pain you feel with their breakups, failures and strikeouts. Here’s to the joy they bring you each and every day as you watch them make their way!
I was blessed with a Mother who’s gift to me was how to follow through and keep going until. She also taught me how to beat my opponent be it an exam, a player on the other team, or one of life’s obstacles. She convinced me I would never fail. She instilled a competitive spirit in me and showed me a toughness and stubbornness that was second to none. Her approach to life lives on in myself and my sons and for that I am eternally grateful. Rest in Peace Mom. Happy Mother’s Day to you.

Hey Mom P.S. When I got bullied in the 3rd grade and was getting punched randomly all of the time you told me to get that bully alone and hit him back twice as hard and he ever hit me and he would leave me alone forever. You said they get their power from an audience. You know what? That was exactly what happened. Just one of the many life lessons that you taught. Thanks.

Training is having an organized specific plan to achieve a very specific result.

Working from the endpoint backwards 12-16 weeks is a great place to start.

Any team that I have ever trained has always been asked the question: When does your season begin and what do you want to accomplish?

Working Out is going to the gym and saying today I feel like hitting chest and not having a clue as to what weight or scheme or goals you have going on. Working out is going to 3 different coaches for 3 different things(or even better 3 for the same thing) and having no scheme as to how these things should operate together. Cluster bomb results especially for advanced athletes.

Training is an organized approach to things. You can’t do a high rep high endurance crossfit session 3 times per week while trying to improve your 40 time or vertical leap for your season or a camp. Yes you can make progress but specific gains that involve explosion are being compromised.

High nervous system component work like acquiring a skill or refining a movement should take priority in your sequence of training in any given day. If this work is to be fit into a day here is an example. Working on pitching or throwing a javelin technique first, plyometric and CNS work next, strength to follow and any base conditioning or GPP work last.

Plyometric work at the end of any training day makes no sense. If explosion is your goal then on and off box hops for high reps and high volume makes absolutely no sense. Depth jumps off of a box with 100 % effort for bouts of 3-5 makes plenty of sense done fresh early in training. You can’t improve power when NS fatigue or high lactic acid levels already exist.

Train. Be smart. Organize.

Muscle weight gain

Posted: April 21, 2021 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Many athletes complain to me and tell me that they can’t gain weight. They say they eat a lot but it is usually once per day. I get asked about protein shakes which at 30 grams or so top out around 120 calories. Not the exclusive answer. The answer is a mixture of carbs, fats and proteins in increased quantities. Most underweight athletes are way deficient in total calories.

This is a description of how I ate back in the day trying to gain muscle with a very quick metabolism. It is not perfectly healthy but during extreme attempts to gain weight it is very hard to eat clean all day and consume enough calories when you are young. Breakfast was multiple eggs, oatmeal, wheat toast and Orange Juice. Lunch consisted of 2 turkey and ham sandwiches with lettuce and cheese, 1 peanut butter sandwich, and one half of a large bag of potato chips. Washed this down with a quart of lemonade. This is exactly how I ate my lunch in the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school. 3-4 similar meals like this during the day with an emphasis on cleaner proteins like fish and chicken and lean beef mixed with rice pasta and vegetables. A snack of Sunseri’s pizza in the evening. No shakes, supplements or magic potion. Add in a superior weight training plan with an emphasis on Deadlifts, Squatting and Pressing. Gained about 15 pounds. Adding a protein shake alone for weight gain is like dropping 1 drop of red dye in the ocean and expecting it to turn red. Waistline did not budge.

Gaining Perspective

Posted: February 23, 2021 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Coming up on 5 years now I was at the Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute and sat down opposite a kind happy man in the waiting room. He was around 65 years old and the first thing I noticed about him was his personality. Warm, caring, charismatic, god fearing and kind. All of this In 5 minutes. He had struck up a conversation with my wife and I and discovered I was an NBA fan and our conversation turned to the Cavaliers. And Money. And Peace of mind. And fortune. This was the most content man I had ever met in my life. He also had one eye closed and later upon further conversation I learned it was sewed shut. He then matter of factly told me he had his eye removed last week. He was so happy to have it out due to his diabetes and was so blessed to have one good eye. He went off to his exam room and my wife and I to ours. As I passed him in his exam room he yelled out “All right Ed Go Cavs!” with a thumbs up! Suddenly I realized my headache and sore knee weren’t really problems and most of the problems I had were not real ones, only imaginary. Knew this man for 20 minutes and really stuck with me. Amen!

Keep it Real

Posted: February 18, 2021 in Uncategorized
Auburn athlete Maura Huwalt 100 pounds ago. Looks even better now! Real Strength.

Let’s face it. Lifters and athletes are hung up on moving more and more weight often at the expense of form.

Any team be it high school or college that has worked with me has heard me use the term “real” strength. If you’ve gained 25 pounds in the Squat or Bench Press and your form looks identical to what it was 25 pounds prior then this is “real strength”. If your Squat has lost a foot or two of depth or you suddenly wrapped your knees then the extra 25 pounds is “false” strength.

If your new 25 pound heavier Bench has smashed your sternum since you rebounded so hard to use momentum in your lift then this is false strength. An even better one is when your spotter or spotters take over about 25 pounds of the lift and they say “didn’t help it was all you, all you”. Or maybe you decided you needed some elbow wraps to absorb some of your lift instead of you. False.

This leads to repeated plateaus and staleness. You’ll be stuck in a rut for a very long time if you are an intermediate or advanced lifter and keep fooling yourself with “false” strength.

The Deadlift?? Don’t get me started. Orthopedic Surgeons and Chiropractors are busy enough. Let’s say you Deadlifted 400 with a nice flat back. You then get 425 with a lift that turns your back into an inverted U, makes it halfway up your thighs followed by a hip thrust and wiggle to get into an almost finished position on the lift. You guessed it….”false strength”.

Look harder at your programming and EFFORT and not shortcuts. Your effort, and by effort I mean true focus and real effort, trumps any programming or supplement. When 100% effort takes over then programming becomes important. White hot focus and do or die approach to finishing lifts makes programming important. If pure effort is not there, program design is irrelevant.

Dream Compass

Posted: February 4, 2021 in Uncategorized

Quite honestly how do you know where you are going if you do not know where you are starting?

This is the most important part of our training process and an origin is actually imperative in achieving anything quite honestly. Where are you starting?

Qualitative and quantitative measurements are taken by our highly qualified staff which includes coaches with Doctorates and Masters level degrees in Exercise and Physical Therapy.

We also use video to ferret out details such as improper shin angles, foot contacts and many other items as they relate to athletic and functional movement.

If you are a Football LB how would you like to get to a space .5 sec quicker consistently by altering first step strategy?

If you are a softball player or baseball player how would you like to save .3 to .5 seconds getting out of the box?

You can only figure these items out and whether they are deficient based on motor limitations or muscular in nature via some close scrutiny and observation.

THE MIND

Posted: January 14, 2021 in Uncategorized

Training involves the body, the mind and the heart. Overriding the latest and the greatest science, techniques and supplements is your mental approach.

Built into your training should be sets and drills that need you to move to the point of madness or joy or pain before you perform your work.

If someone paid you a million dollars to do 2 more would you be able to? If you let go of that chin bar are you falling into a bottomless pit if you do not do 2 more?

This is the only way to get your nervous system to perform optimally. Get EMOTION and WILL involved.

Otherwise you are at a fraction of what you ought to be.

“Everyone is familiar with the phenomenon of feeling more or less alive on different days. Everyone knows on any given day that there are energies slumbering in him which the incitements of that day do not call forth, but which he might display if these were greater. Most of us feel as if a sort of cloud weighed upon us, keeping us below our highest notch of clearness in discernment, sureness in reasoning, or firmness in deciding. Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. Our fires are damped, our drafts are checked. We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources. Stating the thing broadly, the human individual thus lives far within his limits; he possesses powers of various sorts which he habitually fails to use.”

― William James

Thankful

Posted: November 25, 2020 in Uncategorized
Tags:
THANKFUL

Just want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

My thankful list is endless starting with my AMAZING family.

Here at SFAS despite this crazy environment we had the best year we ever had thanks to our amazing clients who are dedicated to their dreams.

I am thankful for OPPORTUNITY as this great Country was not built on living in fear and settling for what you get but on risk, perseverance and leaving your comfort zone. I am thankful for the shot at success and thankful for my ancestors taking the RISK that comes with crossing an ocean with no money in their pockets with only the promise of OPPORTUNITY in a strange land.

Happy Thanksgiving!