Posts Tagged “Training”

SAYZ: chalk talk with the SKLZ team

Speed is the single most important aspect any athlete can obtain to improve their performance. Improved speed entails many benefits other than just being faster, such as explosiveness, flexibility and strength. Speed is something that transcends every sport. If you are fast, most coaches will give you a shot. When it comes to sports, speed does kill.

As the founder of Play Fast Training System, I have trained some of the NFL’s fastest athletes. They train quite a bit differently than young athletes, honing technique to reach peak levels of speed. However, I believe the most critical aspect of speed training for young athletes is not technique. Most young athletes can’t put technique to use in such a way to enhance their performance, they need to simply run, and run fast. For children to be fast, they have to train fast. The goal for improving your child’s speed isn’t about harping on them about their technique or how bad they look or what they should do better. When taking the time to work on speed, children should be encouraged to run as fast as possible every single step. There should be no letting up when it comes to speed training.


Speed training doesn’t involve being tired. Athletes need to be fresh and fast every time they run. I normally give athletes three to five minutes rest between each rep. I want the athletes to be fully recovered before they run. Remember, athletes need to be able to run as fast as they can every single step.


1- Properly warm-up prior to speed training. When it comes time to sprint most athletes aren’t ready to sprint. A through warm-up will ensure their first rep is their fastest rep.
2- Rest is a top priority for speed: Athletes need to be rested to give all they got. For a distance of under 10 yards, give a minimum of one minute rest, any distance over 20 yards a minimum of three minutes rest.
3- Speed training is short distances: You are no longer training for speed if you’re running over 50 yards.

Myth: Once fast, always fast…
Truth: If you don’t use it, you lose it!

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It’s quite the rarity in Southern California, but in most parts of the country moving your workout inside because it’s raining, sleeting, or snowing too hard outside is a very real thing. Even if practice is cancelled and the field is flooded, your workouts don’t have to suffer. Below you will find some helpful tips for moving your workout indoors.

Choose the right cardio

Your endurance shouldn’t suffer just because you can’t run suicides up and down the field outside. Take moving your workout indoors as a chance to switch up your cardio and challenge your body in new ways while giving some muscles a rest. The treadmill is the obvious old standby to get your heart rate up and increase endurance. Be sure to add some elevation to the machine to mimic what it would be like to run outdoors as the movement of the belt on the treadmill can actually make your run easier than if it were off the treadmill.

Hit the stars. Maybe you’re a distance runner or a soccer player, and running long distances is a piece of cake. Try the step mill or Stairmaster for a challenging cardio session. Your body may be trained for distance, but once you add gravity to the situation, there is a whole new challenge. Expect your heart to be pumping fast in no time. Beware of the step mill if you have knee issues. The bike may be a safe choice, but for some even the bike can be irritating to sensitive knees.

Pool workouts are an amazing total body workout. Try getting a day pass to your local YMCA if you aren’t lucky enough to have access to a pool at your school or gym.  You can do a traditional swimming work out and build a swim plan HERE or try pool running to give your body a great work out with almost zero stress on your joints.

Remember the weights

Many of us, women especially, are guilty of ignoring our weight training regimens. No matter what sport you play, weights should be part of your training. Depending on your work outs you can develop muscles to build speed, core strength or overall muscle endurance. Being forced to take you workout indoors is a great time to get back to the weight room.

Find a training center

SportsForce is partnered with training centers throughout San Diego; take a look at our partners page to see ones that might fit your needs. These are a great way to move your workout indoors during the winter months and step up your game with the assistance of some great trainers.

Switch up your sports to use different muscles

Moving indoors is a great chance to switch up your sports and challenge new muscles while giving the overused ones a rest. Try playing soccer at an indoor field. Play volleyball indoors, play some pick-up basketball or hit the batting cages. The options are endless. Sites like can help you find a pick-up game in any sport.

Even though practice may be canceled due to rain or snow, don’t look at it as an excuse to bum around on the couch, see the opportunity to mix things up and challenge your body in a new way. Enjoy!

Be Sure to share your indoor workout tips in the comments.

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The following is a Guest Post Todd Williams, CSCS of Velocity Sports Performance Carlsbad

How important is speed? Far more important than most people realize!   Team speed becomes an issue every time an opposing player takes off down the sideline with the ball.  Speed changes things.  A fast player changes a game.  A fast team changes a season.  Speed moves you up the depth chart.  It makes the phone ring from colleges and adds zeroes to many professional athletes’ contracts.  Speed is a deal maker and a game changer.  The good news is that speed can be taught if you find the right coach, the right training program and enough space to practice.

How Do You Teach Speed?

There are two main factors to consider when teaching speed: physics and physiology.  Most high school athletes don’t realize that the physics lessons they learn in the classroom apply on the field or court.  An understanding of physics helps a speed coach teach proper body mechanics.  Your body, like a car, will move faster and more efficiently when it is properly aligned or positioned.  A sprint has different phases: the start phase, the acceleration phase and the top speed phase.  Your body will move through different positions during different phases of the sprint.  A well educated speed coach can recognize and correct poor alignment or mechanics which will in turn improve the speed and efficiency with which an athlete runs.

Physiology also comes into play in making an athlete faster.  Neuromuscular coordination refers to the communication between mind and body.  An athlete needs to recruit certain muscles to perform certain functions at high rates of speed.  When an athlete is placed in a situation calling for greater speed, the body will attempt to adapt and move more quickly.  Simply put, one way we can make an athlete faster is by forcing them to move faster.  This technique is generally referred to as over speed training.  A well educated speed coach also knows how to safely and appropriately incorporate over speed training once an athlete is utilizing sound running mechanics.

Speed Drills: Improving Mechanics

In any speed instruction program, sound mechanics are the first order of business.  Practice alone does not make perfect.  Perfect practice makes perfect.  An athlete who wishes to get faster needs to practice under the watchful eye of an expert.  Below are just two examples of drills we use at Velocity to improve speed mechanics.

Wall Drills.

Wall Drills are designed to teach proper body alignment as well as leg action during the acceleration phase of running. It teaches the athlete to maintain a 45-60 degree forward lean while taking those first few steps after take off. In addition to that wall drills teach the “sweeping” forward to backward leg action of the acceleration stride cycle.

Heel Recovery.

Butt kickers are a top speed running drill that focuses on the backside of our stride cycle.  They help to ensure that the athlete’s foot follows the proper path during this phase of the cycle. They teach athletes to pull their heels under their center of mass as opposed to behind their center of mass. Correct heel recovery mechanics will lead to a faster turnover thus speeding up the stride cycle and overall speed of the athlete.

Speed Drills: Over Speed

After an athlete has mastered proper running mechanics, over speed training can be used to increase an athlete’s speed.  Without solid mechanics, over speed will simply reinforce bad habits or cause injury.   Over speed drills are intended to stress the body into a higher rate of seed

Fast Leg.

When an athlete can properly demonstrate a sound stride cycle, we begin drills such as the fast leg series. These drills help athletes increase the speed of their stride cycle by working on their stride one leg at a time at a faster rate than the athlete is able to achieve in a full stride.  This trains neuromuscular coordination.


Bungees can be used to launch an athlete forward at a faster rate of speed than the athlete would normally produce.  This causes the athlete’s body to respond in kind by turning his or her feet over fast enough to maintain the artificially induced rate of speed.  This is a classic example of over speed training.

Teaching speed requires a well trained expert, the right curriculum and enough space to undertake perfect practice.

Todd Williams is available to answer athletes’ questions and can be reached via email at or by phone at 760.444.0097.

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Winter break is coming up fast, and many of us need the break from school, work, and even sports. But, breaks and school vacations are also a great time to check in with yourself and your college sports journey and evaluate where you are and where you need to be. Follow our tips below for some guidance during your time off.

Make Decisions

Juniors, winter break is a great chance to take time to make decisions regarding what colleges you are seriously interested. For juniors, this may be the beginning of the process, making a complete list of the colleges and athletic programs you’re interested in, and the likelihood that you will be able to play your sport there. Now is the time to reach out to the coaches of the programs you are interested in to learn more and set up some unofficial visits.

Seniors, your list should be much more refined. You should have a top 3 or top 5 colleges and know where you stand with recruiting with each college program.  You can narrow down your search or add new options based out what you liked about each school and how interested/ how active they are in recruiting you. Now is a great time to take an official visit or set one up if you have not already.

For more information on recruiting time lines download our free recruiting guide HERE

Make a Game Plan for the Rest of the Year

Juniors, be sure you have an online resume and highlight video (like those at SportsForce) that it is up to date. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to register with the NCAA. Something else important to register for is the SAT or ACT. You want to take these tests early to give you ample time to take them again to improve your scores if needed.

Seniors, your SAT/ACTs should be behind you, but now is the time to follow up.  Be sure all the colleges you have applied to have your scores and everything they need to evaluate your application.  For the future, mark down the date after you graduation as a reminder to submit your final transcript to the NCAA.

Maintain Performance

It’s pretty easy to let your performance and training regimen go over winter break. If you’re on a team that breaks over winter just like school does, it’s time to become your own training coach. Many athletes need a bit of a break from training between seasons, and that is definitely a good idea. However, don’t break for too long. A week or two should be a good break to let yourself recharge but not let all of your previous training get erased. If you don’t have a gym membership, running and calisthenics are always a great way to maintain your performance level.  Breaks are also an excellent time to work on weaknesses you may have noticed during the season. Check out our partner SKLZ for some great training work outs that require minimal equipment.

Have Fun

Lastly, have fun over break! Like we said, a break can definitely be good for you and give you some time to recharge. Rest up, enjoy those cookies, but maybe go for a run or do some pushups before lounging in your pajamas eating Christmas left cookie all day so all your hard work doesn’t go to waste!

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It’s been said that leaders are born, not made, but this could not be any farther from the truth. While some people are born with effective leadership skills, many people are not and need help to develop those skills. Leadership is an important skill all student-athletes should possess. For this reason, I have listed five tips to help improve on your leadership skills.

1. Be optimistic

After losing a big game or having a hard practice, it’s easy to be hard on yourself and others. But by being pessimistic you aren’t helping anyone and may be actually bringing the whole team down. Keep high spirits and share your optimism with the whole team; it will motivate others to keep being positive.

2. Offer to help out your teammates

If you notice a fellow teammate is struggling at some position or skill, don’t discourage or belittle them; offer to help. By spending a little extra time to help your peers, you will show how much you care about the team and you will motivate others to help out too.

3. Show your dedication

Effective leaders show their dedication in a number of ways. Go to practice early and stay after to improve on your skills and to help others. Push yourself to practice at 110% every time. Ask your coaches for constructive criticism and what you can work on outside of practice. Doing such things will prove your dedication and will also rub off on others.

4. Take responsibility for your actions

No one is perfect. We all will have our bad days and make mistakes. When you make a mistake, whether in school, practice, or a game, take responsibility for it. Then express how you plan to avoid that mistake again, whether by practicing more or concentrating more at that skill or position. Your teammates and coaches will admire your honesty and dedication.

5. Make the team your priority

It’s easy to get caught up in trying to be the best player you can for personal benefits. However, leaders show that their main focus is the team as a whole, not just individual statistics. Leaders will take their skills and incorporate them so they fit well with the team.

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Participation in sports can often be a way to make new friends and participate in something you love doing. It can also give you many more benefits than just the thrill of the game. Playing sports can actually give you skills that you can use outside of the playing field. The skills you learn can be used towards landing your dream job or accomplishing life goals. These skills that can be learned from playing sports can ultimately be the reason you get picked over your competitors in many different aspects of ‘real life.’

Leadership skills

One main skill that is easily learned from playing team sports is leadership. Leaders are needed in sports to encourage the team to achieve its goals. Players rely on other players to motivation and encouragement. Having leadership skills will put you well ahead of others when it comes to competition in the ‘real world.’


Being able to work well in group settings is crucial when it comes to your future career. Most careers require that you work well and collaborate with varying groups of people. Playing team sports also requires you to come together with others in order to achieve a common goal. If a team was full of players who could never cooperate, it’s obvious that the team would never be able to win, or even have an enjoyable time for that matter. So playing sports shows potential managers and bosses that you are able to put differences aside with others in order to accomplish the task at hand.


Another characteristic athletes develop as a result of their involvement with sports is determination. Athletes show determination by practicing in both regulated practice times and on their own. They also work hard to be the best at their position which will ultimately help to win games. Determination is an important characteristic managers and bosses are looking for because it shows strength and that the individual will not give up if given difficult tasks.


For an athlete to stick it out and play their hardest in his or her given sport for a long time, it’s almost certain that player is very passionate about the game. This passion is easily seen by others and is often contagious. Managers and bosses want passionate employees working in their company because they are more likely to put their all into their work and be a pleasure to work with. Passion from playing sports can be easily translated into a job you love.

Obviously, I’m sure you can think of other skills and characteristics you also gained by playing sports that would help you greatly in your future endeavors and career. It’s important to focus in on those specific strengths you identify in yourself and use those to your advantage.

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Whether you perform in a team sport or an individual sport like track, swimming, or golf, it is important that you be a team player. A team player is defined as a person who can function effectively as part of a group of individuals, sharing information and striving towards a common goal. These qualities are not only shown in your athletic field, but reflected in your day-to-day functions. They play an essential role within your friends, family, jobs, academics, and athletics. Being a team player will help you improve your game, increase positive attitudes with those around you and within yourself, and create great opportunities.

Communicate Effectively

Listen to and understand what others have to say. If you have a problem, speak up in a respectable manner. Talk to your teammates to figure out a solution together.

Support Each Other

The support from just one person can make all the difference. Help each other out. Offering compliments and advice will only bring your team closer together. Cheer for your teammates and they will do the same for you.

Be Responsible

If you are expected to do something or be somewhere on time, then do it right. Gain the trust of your teammates. They should be able to rely on you and you should be able to rely on them.

Dedicate Yourself

Show that you are committed to your team, even if that means sacrificing your free time. Let them know that you will try, try, and try again until you reach your goals. Contribute what you can and prove that you are willing to share the workload.

It doesn’t matter if you are the best or worst player on your team; every athlete must work together in order to reach the team’s full potential. Following these four simple steps will bring out the best in you and your teammates. Being a team player will make you a better athlete and a better person, and  it shows great character and qualities that college coaches are looking for.

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As an athlete, you are guaranteed to experience some kind of sports anxiety, better known as “choking,” that will affect your overall performance. The nervousness usually arises due the mind acknowledging that you are performing in front of an audience and that there are certain expectations you feel you must exceed. Whether it’s during a normal training day or the biggest game of the year, the bottom line is that the feelings are there and should be dealt with. Some people deal with it better than others, but for those that struggle under the conditions, there are methods to reduce, if not eliminate, that anxiety physically and mentally.

Understand that pre-performance butterflies are normal.

Don’t try to fight off these jitters. Instead, accept them and use them to excite yourself.  This is a normal feeling of adrenaline that will fade away once the game or race begins.

Don’t rush.

Give yourself plenty of time to prepare for your performance. Arrive early, get a solid warm-up, and stay relaxed.


Mentally prepare yourself. Close your eyes, focus on taking slow, deep breaths, and imagine yourself performing well.

Stay in the moment.

Once the event begins, try not to think about the outcome. Instead, focus on what’s happening in the present. Take the performance one step at a time. Stay focused, positive, and have some fun!

Review the performance.

Once the event is over, acknowledge the overall performance. Notice things that you can improve on but don’t focus on them. Focus on the things you did well. Recognize the thoughts, behaviors, and actions that assisted your performance. Use your overall performance review, including the physical and mental aspects before and during the event, to train for the next race or game.

For athletes who “choke’ during competition, it is important to know that the thoughts you have regarding the event can be controlled with the appropriate mental exercises. It helps to understand why you experience those feelings and what you can do to treat them. Follow these basic tips and remember that it’s not all about performing perfectly. Learn from your experiences, use them to improve your game, and just enjoy your sport!

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In today’s field of competition, having a solid game plan for athletics and academics is required for high school student-athletes to take their game to the next level. College recruiters are looking for skill both on and off the field. Fortunately, what may appear as two completely different categories actually can allow student-athletes to focus more effectively and perform well in both.

Athletics Improve Academics

Studies have proven that athletics improve academics. Physical activity advances brain function, concentration levels, behavior, self-esteem, and energy levels. Also, playing sports shows us the significance of commitment, cooperation, and can help reduce stress levels developed within the classroom. Everything you learn from athletics is applicable towards becoming a better student. In the area of college recruitment, you can use all of this to your advantage to stand out from the crowd.

Accomplish More Than You Think You Can

A great athlete has the potential to be a great student, and vice versa. Focus, discipline, and motivation are all essentials in the foundation of a strong athlete and student, and success does not exist without one of the three. If these qualities are already present within you, it is important that you apply these attributes to your entire life. You will achieve more than you’ve already achieved. Everyone possesses the ability to accomplish more than what he or she thinks is possible.

Enhance Your Future

Only a small percentage of high school athletes will actually find a career in professional sports. Regardless of this fact, all athletes can use the skills they learn in school to become successful for whatever their future holds. For example, thinking logically and quickly are abilities gained from the classroom that support a professional athletics career, as well as any career.

Success is a gift earned by those who strive for it. Use everything you learn from the books and from your athletic experiences to always improve who you are. Always remember, you carry the potential for greatness.

“Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.” – Mark Victor Hansen

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In the National Football League, the most critical and talked about issue right now is concussions. Too often in the NFL, concussions are not being reported or players are going back on the field without sufficient amount of time to recover. But concussions aren’t only a problem in professional football; they are a problem in all sports. This is why I have listed below important information for every athlete to know about concussions.

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a brain injury that occurs when there is an impact to the head. Concussions are temporary and usually take about 3-4 weeks to fully heal, but there are some incidents of prolonged effects after suffering a concussion. There are various symptoms associated with concussions. Some of the most common symptoms are:

-Nausea                       -Memory loss              -Dizziness

-Headaches                 -Confusion                  -Loss of Consciousness

The Risks of Playing With a Concussion

Playing any given sport with a concussion poses very serious risk to your safety and health. It can prolong the amount of time you have the concussion and cause more frequent and intense symptoms. Also, playing with a concussion can cause long-term and even permanent brain damage. This is why it is so critical to allow yourself enough time to full recover from a concussion.

Take the Necessary Precautions

The only known cure to a concussion is rest. It is up to you to determine whether or not you are better and ready to play again. It’s very important to check up with a doctor and have him or her clear you to play again. It’s also crucial that coaches don’t push an athlete to perform when they are not better yet. This is one case where it is especially essential to listen to your body and not push yourself to the extreme.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to concussions is that you can never be too cautious. Athletes, parents, coaches and teammates must all do their part to make sure that proper care and recovery is taken and no one is being pushed to perform when they shouldn’t.

For the latest news about concussions and more information, visit

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