Your mind when fully engaged is extremely powerful. I’ll tell you that if you are preoccupied with your phone, the days’ events, or whatever is coming up you will not be at peak efficiency. This could be peak efficiency for spending time with your family or working out or solving problems.

The more advanced you get, the more critical your mind becomes. If you want to run. Run. Clear the brain. If you want to lift. Lift. If you want to write a paper. Write.

Thoreau said, “I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit. In my afternoon walk I would fain forget all my morning occupations and my obligations to Society. But it sometimes happens that I cannot easily shake off the village. The thought of some work will run in my head and I am not where my body is — I am out of my senses. In my walks I would fain return to my senses. What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?”

The weights never lie and the steepness of the hill remains unchanged. They will be constant and you can count on them to stay true. The hill isn’t steeper and weights are not heavier on a given day. Your mind and neural drive control these things. Be true to yourself and allow your body to be at it’s best by staying positive and believing. This cannot be faked. The least stressed aspect in training is the mind and it is exponentially more important than diet, rep scheme and loading protocols, and the latest training craze. Fitness crazes and training methodologies are transient and temporary, but the power of the mind is timeless.

Not enough emphasis is placed on power. When I see teams running distance and doing ridiculous endurance strength training regimens I just scratch my head. This sport is all about transfer. You have an instant to explode. Train accordingly.

Baseball: We will focus on the field specific aspects of speed such as lateral quickness for middle infielders, out of the box speed, breaking on the ball speed, and first step quickness. 60 yard dash work can be addressed.
Regarding the throwing arm, exercises that target the rotator cuff, such as a variety of internal and external rotation movements will be utilized. Scapular strength and stability will also be addressed. Since the bicep also plays a role in stabilizing this joint, it too will be strengthened.
Core stability and rotational power, when combined with the above work, leads to a more powerful throwing arm that is less apt to become injured.
A special concern to pitchers includes the maintenance and strengthening of the rotator cuff. Large amounts of energy are absorbed by the body as the hand releases the pitch. This stress should be transferred to the stronger scapular stabilizers rather than the rotator cuff. Training this area together with certain plyometric moves, direct cuff work, and closed chain movements reduces the incidence of injury and strengthens the throwing arm.

I am writing this letter as a testimonial to Ed and Strength, Fitness and Speed. I have noticed a definite improvement in my son. Ed has taken him to another level. His velocity on his pitches has improved 10 mph. I also have noticed an improvement in his mental approach. He is much more focused now. My son’s baseball coach recommended him highly and no I can see why. I would also recommend him and in fact have to many young athletes. I am looking forward to more sessions in the future. We will continue to work throughout Joe’s time as an athlete.

Sincerely, Ed Sabolek

Coach Ed you and your staff are the men! I appreciate everything you do for me. Just so you know, you have dropped my 60 time from a 7.2 to a 6.49. I believe in what you do and I am blessed that I have begun working with you.                                            -Josh Hoffman, Former Belle Vernon and Beaver Valley Baseball Player

TEAM PA FROM A FEW YEARS BACK

Softball: We train teams and players from all over Pennsylvania. We explode and react. After laying a foundation does it make sense to not focus on random movement drills? In other words repeating a know foot pattern then running to a spot where you know a ball or cone is becomes pretty useless? We see it frequently. Is there a reason to dance over hurdles before exploding to a known spot? Not really.

Here is what we choose to focus on:

1)Action: Dynamic warm Up, Stretch 

Benefit: Proprioception development,  Increased Core Temperature for better training performance 


 2)Action:  Mechanical adjustments, sprint techniques evolving to very specific basepath and positional speed. 

Benefit: Beating out infield hits, stretching singles into doubles, better reaction and getting to infield hits and fly balls. Better mechanics means more EFFICIENT movement.  

3) Action: Overloading the athletic movements with resistance and assistance. 

Benefit: Contrast training provides better neuromuscular recruitment and power in movements. Example:  pre training athletes exhibit much less muscle recruitment than trained athletes. Contrast training and complexing a plyo and a resisted movement enhances recruitment leading to a much improved “getting out of the box” and also exploding to a space. 

4)Action: Progressing movements from closed(predictable) to open(random). 

Benefit: Better transference to the field. There is very little ready –set- go in sports and softball. Movement must be reactive, not on your own cue. 


 5) Power development in the body, including lower core education and activation and development of explosive rotational core power using med balls and plyometric drills 

Benefit: All movement originates in the low core. The low core is your anchor. A stronger educated lower abdomen provides an anchor from which an athlete can turn powerfully on a pitch or launch a fast pitch. All movement originates in the lower abdomen. Rotational core power provides greater velocity off of the bat, a stronger throwing arm and a more efficient consistent swing. 

6)Leg strength and stability and ground contact work 

Benefit: Reduced chances of cruciate ligament knee injuries 

7)Upper Body strength and power transfer 

Benefit: Increased bat speed and better power transfer from legs to hands 

Our daughter Maura has been blessed with a lot of athleticism throughout her high school career in both basketball and track. We knew she had the ability to continue in both sports collegiately. We were looking for a strength program that would help her reach her potential for the next level of her career. Strength, Fitness, and Speed encompassed all the things we were looking for in a program. Ed and his staff have the experience and expertise to help athletes reach their ability on any level. They understand the importance of balancing all aspects of training in giving athletes the advantage of performing to their utmost potential.   Four years later, Maura has been recognized in both sports respectively. Strength, Fitness, and Speed was instrumental in helping Maura perform in a way that gave her the capability to be successful in both sports. Now she will be competing in the SEC for Auburn University in track and field. Thank you, Ed and staff, for helping her achieve her goals during her high school career. Looking forward to continuing this journey as she continues to compete at Auburn!

Erin Huwalt
South Park, PA

Hi Ed,

This is the third year Irene has been working with Jake at Strength, Fitness and Speed. Her athleticism has improved greatly each year!

This being her junior year she has been attending a lot of Soccer ID camps. So we want to share some of the positive feedback she has been receiving from the college coaches. I attached part of an email we received after one of her camps she attended recently. It really is a testimony to Jake and SFAS!

Thanks for everything!

Chris

Irene is continuing in season recovery/maintenance! Commitment!

The Importance of In Season Maintenance for Sports

  • Many factors are involved in speed and strength development, including, but not limited to specific strength, specific power, and multiple neuromuscular movement patterns
  • There is a nervous system component as well as a muscular component
  • Unfortunately, without continued tending to these factors, SAQ and strength has a detraining component.
  • The nervous system gains decrease first after 2 weeks, followed by specific muscle gains after about 6 weeks or so. The end result is that one loses acquired strength, muscle, speed, agility, and quickness slowly over time.

A recent research study entitled, “DETRAINING AND TAPERING ADAPTATION ON STRENGTH AND POWER PERFORMANCE” was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Aug. 2007 and provides definitive scientific data that addresses your question of whether it is worth maintaining some level of training frequency versus stopping altogether and participating in a sport.

  In the study, speed and strength training was conducted for 16 weeks prior to the experimental detraining (DTR) or maintenance (MT) work.  Following the training period, DTR stopped additional exercise; the other group, MT, performed low volume, high intensity work periodically.  Both groups continued to participate in their given sport.  Following 4 weeks of this modification, DTR lost some strength but had over a 15% decrease in muscle power (slower running speed and lower vertical jump), while  MT (the group that continued with their performance training) showed a small increase in strength and maintained power (maintenance of performance gains)

We like to do a “flush” workout with the athletes along with myofascial release techniques which promote recovery. We also do low volume, high intensity drills which preserve and in some cases increase speed even though the athlete is “in season”. Recovery and maintenance is our key.

In order to maintain sports performance in season, one must also look at musculoskeletal changes that occur that inhibit performance. These include reduced thoracic and cervical mobility and a reduction in your body’s ability to use its deep abdominal muscles. Thoracic and cervical mobility are key factors in preventing concussions and are addressed accordingly.

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.

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.