Archive for “nutrition” Tag

5 Tips to a Healthy Football Season – And Any Sports Season

Football Season is Here

The season is upon us. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s football season. The time of year where you can lose more friends than in an election year. So with that said, 2016 may be an interesting year. Let’s call 2017 the year of reconciliations.

If you are an athlete, football season can be grueling and can wear you down. If you are a coach, it can do the same thing. If you are a parent…well, parents have it easy. All you have to do is print out this article, tape it to the fridge, and your young athlete will follow all 5 tips, right?

The goal of this quick article is to give the athletes 5 tips to a healthy football season and give coaches some things to harp on with your athletes. In a loving way, of course.

5 Tips to Having a Healthy Football Season

Tip #1: Nutrition

Eating “properly” for performance is a year long struggle for the young athlete and can get even more difficult during football season. One of the hardest goals to meet is getting the calories an athlete needs to perform. With lunch around noon and practice after school, kids can go 6-7 hours without eating in the afternoon.

Pro Tip: Bringing snacks to school is important to fill those huge gaps in the day. But don’t forget, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Don’t skip it.

Tip #2: Strength Train

If we work hard in the off-season, why lose all those “GAINS” during the season? Yea, I know, “I don’t have any time” or “we gotta spend that time watching film” is a common reason for skipping strength training. Time can be of the essence, but 2 days a week minimum is a must! Get into the weight room.

Pro Tip: The main goal in-season is to combat muscular imbalances that are caused by the season which CAN help prevent injuries. Oh yea, athletes CAN get stronger in-season! Don’t skip out on strength training during the season. Your off-season will thank you!

Tip #3: Sleep

You know what? I love video games too! I think it’s important to have fun with friends but don’t let it affect the season. Athletes need 8-9+ hours of sleep each night so the body can repair itself. Period.

Tip #4: Injuries

This is a big one for highly motivated athletes. Nobody likes to be hurt and miss games. But that slightly rolled ankle can quickly turn into a season ending injury if not treated correctly. There is a big difference between some bumps and bruises and an injury that can lead to something more serious.

Pro Tip: Maintain a good working relationship with ATC’s and make sure injuries are discussed.

Tip #5: Academics

Poor academics can lead to ZERO play time. Make school work a priority. Time management is one of the skills athletes will need to learn as a student athlete.

Pro Tip: Take advantage of free time. Use study hall for studying and homework (obviously), and use bus rides for the same thing. Being an athlete is work!

Have a Productive Football Season

Parents, I hope this is “fridge worthy”. Coaches, keep these tips in the front of your mind when it comes to your athletes. I hope that your football athletes will use these 5 tips to have a healthy and productive football season.

Josh Ortegon

About the Author: Josh Ortegon

Josh Ortegon - 5 Tips to a Healthy Football SeasonJoshua Ortegon is co-founder and the Director of Sports Performance Enhancement at Athlete’s Arena in Irmo, SC. Joshua earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Western Michigan University in 2000.

As an IYCA-certified High School Strength and Conditioning Specialist, speaker, and writer, Joshua has helped establish Athlete’s Arena as the premier high-performance center in South Carolina since 2005.

Joshua has worked with a wide range of athletes from youth to professionals specializing in the areas of injury prevention, return to play and performance enhancement.

Are Your Athletes Prepared to Perform this Season?

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5 Lessons to Teach Young Athletes

Lessons to Teach Young Athletes

By Mike Robertson


The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind, as I’ve been on the floor a bunch and coaching some really fun athletes.

As a result, I’ve been reflecting on some of the lessons I’ve tried to teach my young athletes along the way. Each and every kid is a little bit different and has unique things they need to address to become the kind of athlete (or human being) we know they’re capable of.

Here are five lessons that I feel we as coaches should teach every young athlete we come in contact with.

Lesson #1: Recovery Is Critical

Think back to when you were a teenager.

Chances are you stayed up too late, did dumb things with your friends, and weren’t quite the upstanding individual you are now.

And that’s OK—that’s how we all learn and grow.

But as tough as we all had it, I would argue that today’s kids have it worse in a handful of ways than we did.

Sure, there are a lot of similarities such as school, athletics, and extracurricular activities, but I would argue there’s one big difference between then and now:

Kids today carry a tremendous burden when it comes to social pressures and expectations.

Yes we played sports, went to school, and did other stuff, but there’s never been the amount of pressure on our youth as there is today.

As such, we need to teach them the value of rest and recovery.

Instead of 5 or 6 hours of sleep per night, they should be getting at minimum 7 or 8.

We need to teach them that it’s OK to relax and unwind. Turn the cell phone, iPad, and laptop off for a while and just chill out. (I’m always shocked at how much more laid back and relaxed I am when I just unplug for a while).

And of course, eating to fuel your training is critical (more on this below).

The bottom line is that recovery is critical. If we’re going to be asked to perform at a high level in the classroom, on the field, and in everyday life, that’s fine, but there has to be a balance between performance and recovery.

Lesson #2: Nutrition Is Fuel

This goes hand in hand with my previous point, as nutrition is a huge component of recovery.

And I can’t give you a better example than a kid I used to work with called “Juice.”

Juice played basketball at the high school I worked at. He had a ton of energy and was always fun to be around, so it wasn’t uncommon for me to spend quite a bit of time chatting him up and joking around.

One day I show up to train the team at 3 pm, and Juice is telling me how tired he is.

Me: “What did you eat today?”

Juice: “Nothing, but I just had a Mountain Dew, so I’m cranked and ready for practice coach!”

Me: “No, seriously, what did you have for breakfast and lunch?”

Juice: “Nothing. I was late for school so I skipped breakfast, and then I had homework to do during lunch so I forgot to eat something.”

I wish this was a joke, but it wasn’t. This kid was going to lift weights and go to basketball practice, having only had a 20-ounce Mountain Dew the entire day.

Athletes can be all over the board with their nutrition, so it’s always a tightrope when getting them focused and dialed in. Some can eat anything and everything and get away with it, while others are far more focused on their body and physique than how food will fuel their performance.

Female athletes need even more time, attention, and care.

There are all kinds of social pressures and stresses when it comes to females and food, so if I have an inkling that a female athlete may have food issues, I’m quick to punt that situation to the appropriate professional.

Suffice it to say, though, we need to give our young athletes a basic understanding of why eating properly is important.

The best avenue I’ve always found was to remind your athletes that food is fuel. What you put into your body every meal is going to determine how well you play on the court or field.

Do you really think that Twinkie, candy bar, or Pop Tart is really going to improve your performance?

And rather than focusing on portion sizes and giving out “diets” (which is where you should lean on the expertise of a dietitian or similar professional), I like to discuss some of the nutritional basics with my athletes:

  • Get some lean protein at every meal.
  • Get a vegetable and/or fruit at every meal.
  • Carbs aren’t the devil, but they’re easy to over consume.
  • Ditto on fats, and we need goods fats in our diet.
  • Hydration is critical, so shoot for 1/2 ounce per pound of body weight daily.

If we can get our athletes following the basic nutritional tenets I’ve provided above, they’ll be in vastly superior shape compared to many of their peers.

Lesson #3: You Need a Strong Foundation

As strength coaches, this may be the greatest thing we can give our athletes.
If you work with middle school and high school age kids, this is arguably the single best time to come in contact with a kid. They’re incredibly malleable, whether we’re talking about mobility, stability, strength, etc.

But perhaps more importantly, they’re much more open-minded or “mentally malleable” than some of the older clients we come in contact with. They don’t have preconceived notions as to how much range of motion they should have, how strong they should be, etc., so there’s far less resistance when we introduce them to an exercise program.

At this age, we can give them an amazing movement foundation, and I would argue this should be the single biggest focus of our training.

It starts by having them play as many sports as possible while growing up. The proper term for this is long-term athletic development (LTAD), and it’s something we preach to our kids.

Stop it with the year-round sports, travel league teams, and all the other garbage that just makes people feel superior or awesome.

Nobody remembers when they’re in their 30s or 40s that they played on the U-7 travel team. But I guarantee they’ll remember if they ended up having a Tommy John surgery as a result!

In the gym, teach them the basics of movement. Teach them how to squat, lunge, hinge, push-up, row, chin, and enjoy the amazing body they were given.

In the beginning, it’s not even about load or performance; it’s about exploration and allowing them to feel what their body can do.

In fact if you follow the teachings of Professor Zatsiorsky, he’s a huge proponent of the three year rule:

No external loading for the first three years of an athlete’s development.

If nothing else, teach these kids to move really well, and then teach them to move weights, or to move for an extended period of time.

Remember, this is the body they will live in the rest of their lives. Our goal should be to give them a rock-solid foundation that will last them a lifetime.

Lesson #4: Learn How to Breathe

One of the big things we assess at IFAST is how a client breathes.

Not surprisingly, a lot of people these days breathe horribly. The only two places they can draw in air is by “pushing” it into their belly or “pulling” it into their neck by using accessory muscles like the scalenes and SCM.

Not only does this lead to performance issues on the field/court, but it can drive physiological issues off the field. Whether it’s increased anxiety and stress, trouble falling asleep, or issues staying asleep, breathing is something we need to address.

If you follow the R7 approach that we do here at IFAST, we put a premium on quality breathing. Not only will clients get to work on this during their warmup, but perhaps even more importantly, they will also work on it at the conclusion of their workout.

Even if you’ve never done this, have your athletes lie on their back at the end of a session with their knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

Tell them to breathe in through their nose, take approximately 5 seconds to get the air in.

Follow that up with a complete exhale through the mouth, which should take about 10 seconds.

Finish by holding that fully exhaled position for 3-5 seconds, and then repeat for 8-10 breaths.

It doesn’t sound like a lot, but teaching a young athlete to breathe is just as foundational as good movement. Not only can they see performance improvements on the field, but chances are they’ll be less stressed out and anxious off it as well.

Lesson #5: The Weight Room Is a Classroom

The final thing I love to teach my young athletes is that the weight room (and especially my weight room) is a classroom.

At the risk of sounding hokey, it’s a classroom, and the class I’m teaching is L-I-F-E.

If you are serious and committed to improve your body and your performance, just think about all the lessons you can learn about:

Work ethic.



Goal setting.


The list of positive traits goes on and on.

And when an athlete comes into my weight room, I always have two things in the back of my mind.

Firstly, I always want the kids who train with me to have fun. This shouldn’t be another thing they have to do; I want this to be something that want to do.

Secondly, I always want the kids I train to look at me as a role model, or someone they can look up to and trust. I don’t consider myself to be perfect or beyond reproach, but I’m always thinking about carrying myself with a high level of character and self-respect.

Chances are if you’re reading this, you’re a pretty upstanding and legit person. Kudos to you.

But when I look around, not all the kids we come in contact with have a stable social foundation.

These kids need strong and stable individuals who they can look up to and trust, so that they can in turn become better people.

It frustrates me to no end when people talk poorly about young people. Sure, there are always going to be some bad seeds. Growing up, I know I had some bad appples around me.

But throwing this generation as a whole under the bus is a massive cop out.

Rather than simply saying, “These kids don’t get it,” or bitching about how entitled today’s youth is, I think it’s far more beneficial to take a long, hard look in the mirror and consider what we can do to help these kids become the kind of young adults we know they can be.

Take the time to nurture your young athletes both physically and psychologically.

Put them in a positive environment, give them solid footing, and allow them to have some success.

And don’t forget to show them how powerful the weight room can be. I can tell you without a doubt I wouldn’t be the husband, father, business owner or athlete I am today without the lessons I’ve learned in the weight room.


I consider myself to be incredibly lucky. Over the years, I’ve gotten to work with thousands of athletes, and I hope that I’ve successfully passed on some of the knowledge that I’ve picked up along the way.

If you work with young athletes, or if you have young athletes in your home, take this post to heart. Maybe pass it along to someone else you think could benefit from my message.

And most importantly, remember how powerful we are in the lives of today’s youth. Every single day we can make a difference, so do your best to make it a positive one.

All the best,

Want more free content to help you be a better coach?

Watch this free video from Wil Fleming on the 5 Factors of Athleticism and learn how to help your athletes go from good to great.

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Speed & Agility Training to Improve Sport Performance


Speed and Agility Training To Improve Sports Performance

by Todd Durkin

Speed kills. Speed and agility training in sport gives an athlete an edge on his/her competition. And the great news is that it can all be learned through technique training, proper drills, and hard work. If you’re wanting and willing to get faster, let’s dive (or sprint!) into the action.

In this article, you will learn all about improving your speed and agility training. You will learn about stride rate, stride length, and proper running mechanics. You will learn several different speed improvement training drills, exercises, and programs that will enable you to reach new levels in your sport.

And you will learn:

  • Best strength exercises for speed development
  • Top technique tips for speed performance
  • Power and plyometrics to develop fast-twitch muscle fiber
  • Nutrition for optimal fueling
  • Top recovery strategies

So don’t be left in the dust. Dive into the article and find out all the in’s and out’s of improving your speed and agility.


Speed and Agility Training

First off, let’s understand speed training and its components. Here are the phases of Speed Training:

  • Dynamic Warm-Up (see below; not really a phase of speed training but essential to include prior to speed training)
  • Mechanics
  • Acceleration (reaching maximum speed in the shortest amount of time possible)
  • Top-End Speed
  • Deceleration
  • Change of Direction (Agility & Quickness)

As we talk about speed training, it is necessary to understand the following principles:

  • “Stride Frequency”: The number of strides taken in a given amount of time or distance. This is improved via technique drills, cycling, towing, sprinting and bungee work.
  • “Stride Length”: The distance covered from one stride when sprinting.  Strength and flexibility are the most important factors to improve stride length.

All great speed and agility training programs should be preceded by a great General Warm-up and Dynamic Warm-up. A general warm-up is 5-10 minutes of exercise to begin elevating core tissue temperature, increase heart rate, and prepare the body for a workout or competition. Examples will include running, treadmill, jumping rope, elliptical, or bike.

One would then proceed into the Dynamic Warm-Up

Speed and Agility Training Dynamic Warm-Up:

Should be performed before every workout, practice or competition, and should take approximately 5-25 minutes.

The purpose of the Dynamic Warm-Up is to: Increase tissue temperature, improve flexibility, activate the nervous system, and help coordination and develop body awareness. It also lengthens fascia.

What is Fascia? Fascia is a specialized system of the body (connective tissue) which plays an important role in the support of our bodies. Fascia is a very dense connective tissue which envelops every muscle, bone, nerve, artery, and vein as well as our internal organs including the heart, lungs, brain and spinal cord. When fascia becomes constricted, it becomes tight, creates great pressure on its structures and becomes a great source of tension to the body. 

The methods utilized to perform a dynamic warm-up are:

Movement in Space: (10-20 yards)

  • High knees
  • Butt-kicks
  • Cariocas
  • Exagerated Cariocas
  • A-Skips
  • B-Skips
  • Frankenstein Walks (& skips)
  • Lunge with rotation
  • Reverse lunge with reach over top
  • Side-lunges


  • Jumping jacks
  • Gate swings
  • Pogo hops
  • Seal jacks
  • Arm circles
  • Trunk rotations
  • Cats & Dogs
  • Downard Dog
  • Scorpion Kicks
  • 1 Legged Windshield wipers
  • Bodyweight Squats

Perform each movement approx. 10-20 seconds.

Before a workout or competition, the emphasis is on a dynamic warm-up.

After a workout, the emphasis should be on static stretching and myofascial release.

Speed and Agility Training Flexibility:

Speed and Agility Training

Every time after you workout, practice or compete, there should be stretching that involves holding each stretch 20 seconds to 1 minute,  and it should take 10 minutes minimally. Using a stretch rope, you should concentrate on your hip flexors, hamstrings, quads, calves, trunk and opening the chest and shoulders. The methods utilized to stretch are rope chest stretch, standing rotator cuff stretch, kneeling hip flexor stretch, cats & dogs, downward dog, lying rope hamstring stretch, lying rope lower back stretch, lying rope groin stretch, side-lying rope quad stretch, walking soldiers. Foam rolling (ie. The Grid or a foam roller) & a massage stick are essential to do on your own to promote fascia lengthening and recovery. This can be performed both before and after the workout.

When assessing speed, one of the most critical aspects is acceleration. Acceleration is defined as the ability and time it takes for the body to reach Top End Speed. 

Mechanics and technique for acceleration include:

  • Foot Contact behind hip
  • Body angle at 45 degrees/Straight line from heel to neck
  • Chin to chest
  • Head down

Some of the best technique acceleration drills include:

  • Marches along wall
  • Wall Runs
  • 3, 5, 7, 9 step wall sprints


Speed and Agility Training

A huge part of speed and agility training is acceleration, it is important to train and strengthen the posterior chain of the body—glutes, hamstrings, lower back, mid-back, and even the calves & feet. Some of the most effective methods and strength exercises to improve acceleration include:

  • Sled Drags & Sled Pulls
  • Resisted Towing
  • Tire Flips
  • Plate Pushes
  • Keiser Air Runner
  • Bullet Belt
  • Super Band Leap Frogs
  • Form running in place & move out
  • Legged Romanian Deadlifts
  • Calf Raises (Double & Single Leg)
  • Swiss Ball Leg Curls
  • TRX Hip Extensions/Bicycles, Leg Curls
  • Hyperextensions (Glute/Ham)
  • Barefoot Balance Touches (on airex pad)
  • Planks
  • Pullups

Once one achieves top-end speed (T.E.S.), the mechanics then change. Now, technique is a bit different:

  • Foot Contact now under hip
  • Body is upright
  • Upper body relaxed
  • Arms swinging 90-120 degrees from waist to chin; drive elbows back!
  • T.E.S. typically reached at approximately 20-30 yards on a linear sprint

Some drills to reinforce Top End Speed Mechanics/Technique Drills include:

  • Arm swing drills
  • Fast Claw Drill
  • Marches
  • Skipping

Some of the best exercises and methods to improve acceleration and T.E.S. include:

  • Uphill running
  • Stadium Steps
  • Resisted Speed Drills (bungees)
  • Assisted Over-speed training with bungee
  • High speed treadmill

Best Strength Exercises to Improve Overall Speed (& acceleration):

  • Squats (2 legged & 1 legged)
  • Step-ups
  • Lunges (variations)
  • Bulgarian Split Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Plate Pushes
  • Sled Drags
  • Plyometrics (squat jumps, lunge hops, Box jumps, leap frogs, vertimax, etc.)
  • Olympic Lifts (snatch, clean & jerk, clean, power shrugs) (power development)
  • Core Conditioning (ie. hyperextensions, Glute/Ham Raise, Russian twists, Bosu Core, med ball standing twists, med ball standing windmills, med ball seated sidewinders, med ball side-tosses into wall, med ball throws (straight up), etc…
  • Pullups
  • Weighted arm swings

3 Tips for Speed Performance: (credit to Patrick Beith)

Tip 1 – Drive Phase – Don’t force yourself to “stay low”

Speed and Agility Training

The drive phase happens right after you react to the starting gun. Your initial 8 -10 steps is considered your drive phase. The biggest problem seen with athletes in the drive phase is that athletes are ‘trying’ to stay too low. Keep the body angle at about 45 degrees and keep the heel of the recovery leg low to the ground during the first 8 strides. Drive the foot into the ground and explode powerfully backwards to create maximum ground reaction force. Drive your elbows backwards and keep your head down. You should be in a straight line from your heels to your head.

Tip 2 – Acceleration Phase
In this phase, you want to think “powerful.” Since the acceleration phase (0-30 yards) is associated with a higher stride frequency then at maximum speed, focus on leg drive. You want to keep the feet behind your center of mass so that you can maximize leg drive.  “Head down and drive.”

Tip 3 – Relaxation 
One of the most challenging things to do is to stay relaxed while sprinting full speed. I often look at my athlete’s cheeks to see if they are running with “puppy dog” cheeks. If an athlete is too tense, their jaw will be tight and they will be tensing their entire body.

If you see an athlete with a tight face, eyes squinting, teeth clenched, elevated shoulders, and tight fists, they are actually slowing themselves down. You have to let your muscles work for you and not against to maximize your speed potential. This is a tough concept to learn and MUST be practiced if you want get the most out of our speed.

Relax and let your speed come to you!

There is an often forgot about third component to speed and agility training – and it is quickness. Let’s look at the difference.

Agility is the ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change directions as quickly as possible in the shortest amount of time possible

  • Closely related to balance
  • Should be able to move forward, backwards, left, & right all very well

Quickness is the ability to react to a stimulus in the environment in the shortest amount of time possible (a whistle, clap, defender, etc.)

  • Closely related to reaction time
  • Could be foot quickness or hand-eye quickness

Factors affecting Agility & Quickness:

  • Ground Reaction Forces
  • Reaction Time
  • Acceleration & Deceleration
  • Starting quickness (1st step quickness)
  • Cutting
  • Cross-over ability

Drills/Methodologies to Influence Agility & Quickness:

  • Line Drills—runs back & forth, jumping jack feet, front hops, side hops, Ali shuffles, 1-legged lateral hops, 1-legged front hops
  • 5 dot drill
  • Mirror Drill
  • Tag Drill
  • Cone Drills (cone circles, box drill)
  • Bag Drills (shuffles, figure 8’s, shuffle & figure 8’s)
  • Agility Ladder drills (1 foot in each rung, sideways 2 feet in each rung, Ali shuffles, Icky Shuffles, NFL crossover drills)
  • BOSU foot Quickness Drills
  • Deceleration Drills
    • Sprint & stop
    • Sprint & stop and repeat
  • Super Band overspeed/resisted speed drills (running forward & backward or left & right with Super Band; works acceleration & deceleration)

* Incorporate hand-eye coordination into any of these drills for additional quickness/reaction time.

To include hand-eye coordination and reaction time, you can include drills such as:

  • Reaction ball drills (drops, rolls, into rebounder)
  • Card Catch drills
  • BOLA catches

Furthermore, if you are needing to increase your agility and quickness, you can use the same aforementioned exercises to improve your speed. Due to the fact that agility often is lateral quickness or involves cutting, it is imperative that the groins & hips are adequately worked also. The following exercises will augment the strength exercises found in the speed & acceleration section:

  • Diagonal Lunges
  • Slide Board
  • Lateral Band Walks
  • Side Lunges
  • Dirty Dogs
  • Horse-Back Riding

POWER for Speed and Agility Training

If an athlete really wants to reach full potential, they must be able to convert their strength into power. Power is defined as the ability of the neuro-muscular system to create a force rapidly. In its simplest term, power = strength + speed

  • Strength– the maximal amount of force a muscle can generate under a given set of conditions
  • Speed– the ability to move from one point to another point as fast as possible

Methodologies to improve power:

  • Olympic lifting
  • Plyometrics
  • Strength training with speed component

For the sake of this discussion, I am going to concentrate on plyometrics to improve power (along with strength). Plyometrics is a system of hopping, skipping, jumping, or running that works on developing explosive power and maximally recruiting fast-twitch muscle fiber by eccentrically loading a muscle and quickly producing a concentric force. Plyometrics are exercises that enable a muscle to reach maximum strength in as short a time as possible. The faster the eccentric movement (the loading phase), the more stored elastic energy will be released, resulting in a more explosive jump.

Benefits of plyometrics:

  • Improves power & elasticity
  • Trains the nervous system
  • Improves anaerobic conditioning
  • Transformation of muscle strength into power
  • Recruitment of most motor units and their corresponding muscle fibers
  • Develops fast twitch muscle fiber!!!

Rules of plyometrics:

  • Perform on soft surface
  • Do early in your routine
  • Land softly
  • Have adequate strength base before introducing advanced levels of plyometrics (approx. 10 weeks of resistance training)
  • No pain should be experienced in joints
  • Be attentive to form & technique
  • Be sure to stretch & work on strength & flexibility when using plyometrics as part of program
  • Use a 1:3 work/rest ratio for most plyometric exercises
  • Can be performed in many ways:
    • immediately after dynamic warm-up
    • Infuse it during your workout and perform immediately after a strength exercise (complex training)
    • Can be performed on speed days also performed as separate sessions

3 Basic Categories of Lower Body Plyometric Exercises:

  • Jumping—taking off on one or two feet; landing on 2 feet (jumping jacks, leap frogs)
  • Hopping—taking off on one foot and landing on same foot (single leg hopping over line)
  • Bounding—taking off on one foot and landing on other foot (alternate leg bounds)

3 Stages of Plyometric Program Design:

Off-Season (General Conditioning)—2 to 3 times per week; 80-100 foot contacts

Pre-Season (Sport Specific)—2 to 3 times per week; 100-150 foot contacts

In-Season (Sport Specific Maintenance)—1 to 2 times per week; 80-100 foot contacts

Speed and Agility Training

3 Levels of Plyometrics


  • Jumping Rope
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Line jumps & hops
  • Squat jumps
  • Tuck jumps
  • Skater plyos
  • Overhead Medicine Ball Tosses
  • Med Ball Chest Passes
  • Plyo Pushups on floor
  • Medicine Ball rotational ab twists into wall


  • Box jumps
  • Lateral box jumps
  • 1 legged jumps (front & lateral)
  • Supine medicine ball push presses (to partner)
  • 1-legged lateral bounds
  • Plyo situps
  • Med ball throws into ground (with twist)
  • Explosive pushups onto 2 steppers
  • Explosive pushups onto 1 stepper
  • Med ball push press to partner into plyo pushup & repeat
  • Abdominal leg throws
  • Med ball overhead tosses, sprint, and retrieve


  • Depth Jumps
  • Depth Jump with multiple repeats
  • Single leg triple jumps
  • Smith Machine Bench Press Throws to partner
  • Add another exercise to upper & lower body
  • Keiser Air Runner or double leap frongs
  • Increase height of box
  • Incorporate single leg movements
  • Use weighted vests

Recovery for Speed and Agility Training

With all this focus on proper training to improve overall athleticism, it is necessary to  address one critical aspect to an athlete receiving maximum benefits from their training. It is called RECOVERY & REGENERATION. The following components play a critical role in determining how quickly an athlete can recover. The quicker the athlete can recover, the quicker they can train or perform again. Let’s take a look at a couple key components of recovery:

1) Nutrition is step one

  • Protein is step one; we want to increase protein synthesis. One should consume approximately 1 g per lb. of body weight.
  • A protein and carb drink promotes glycogen recovery faster than a carb drink alone following a workout. This helps stimulate protein synthesis.
  • Good nutrition controls insulin, glucagon, leptin, and other very important hormones.

insulin—stores nutrients into cells
leptin—follows insulin & caloric intake/deposition
glucagon—releases fat
Nutrient Timing does play a role in overall nutrition

2) Flexibility (see beginning of article)

  • Static Stretching
  • Yoga

3) Foam Roller or Massage Stick (Self-Myofascial Release)

4) Bodywork (massage, Rolfing, Optimal Performance Bodywork, etc.)

5) Infrared Saunas

6) SupplementationSpeed and Agility Training

  • Fish oils & Omega 3 Fatty Acids
  • Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM
  • Multi-vitamin & mineral Complex
  • B12

7) Sleep

During sleep, the production of growth hormone, testosterone, and IGF-1 are at their peak. Growth hormone speeds the absorption of nutrients and amino acids into your cells and aids the healing of tissues throughout the body. Testosterone and IGF-1 are anabolic hormones that are important in muscle growth and assist in recovery also. It is recommended that you get at least 8 hours of sleep when trying to optimize hormone-release and recovery.

Now that you have the tools, it’s time to implement the game-plan and begin working towards improving performance and designing a great speed and agility program. If you combine training hard, the correct methodologies, along with ample recovery & regeneration techniques, it is then that you can maximize your strength, speed, and power development. GO GET IT!!!

What to learn how to teach speed mechanics like the pros?

Check out Ultimate Speed Mechanics



About the Author

Todd Durkin is an internationally-recognized strength and conditioning coach who works with numerous NFL, MLB, and NBA athletes. He is the owner of Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, CA, and the author of The IMPACT! Body Plan. For more information, visit www.ToddDurkin.com or follow him on Twitter at @ToddDurkin. 

Pre-Tournament Nutrition With Dr. Chris Mohr

By Chris Mohr

Q: What foods should you eat to start your day when you are going to play in an all day tournament?

A: First, I’ll assume that you’re planning to wake up early enough to have something somewhat substantial and are not just rolling out of bed and running out the door.

When you’re preparing for several games during the day. If you read nothing else, pay attention closely to this …

Stick with what you know and don’t try new foods on the day of competition. Or even the day before competition. I once worked with a client who came to me after she had a bad day on the field hockey field. She was hungry, a coach told her carbohydrates were important and that fiber was important, so with a large bran muffin as an option, she chose that. Unfortunately for her, her body wasn’t used to that much fiber…and she had a few GI issues during that day of tournaments that kept her cramped and certainly not performing at her peak (or at all in this case).

All that being said, a few tips.

Eat something somewhat substantial 2-3 hours before your first game.

Ideally this meal will be primarily carbohydrates with some protein. Here’s an easy way to imagine this.

Tournament Nutrition

Hold out your hand. Have about 2 fistfuls of carbohydrate and 1 of protein.


1 Greek yogurt with a banana (2 parts carbs, 1 part protein). 

1 slice of whole grain toast, 1 orange, 1 egg. 

1/2 cup oatmeal, 1 apple + low fat milk. 

The closer you get to the actual workout, time wise, the less you should eat so you don’t have heavy food sitting in your stomach.

Looking for more specific information?

Check out the IYCA Nutrition Certification here:


13 Tips for Training Young Athletes

Important Differences between Training Young Athletes and Adults

By Michael Mejia

training young athletes

When training young athletes, the coach must take a different approach from one who works primarily with adults. Simply put, young athletes are different from adults and have different needs. Don’t get me wrong: Adults have their own problems, but there are a few that are much more important to keep in mind when training young athletes.

The following is a list of 13 tips that you can share with your young athletes as you prepare them for games, competitions, or simply an injury-free, athletic life. The more you can instill these principles in your athletes, the more success they will see on a regular basis.

Don’t forget: even though this is tailored for coaches training young athletes, adults can benefit from many of these principles, too!

13 Tips for Successfully Training Young Athletes

1. Drink more water

Training Young Athletes

By now, this one should go without saying. Over 70% of your body is water, and it is the number one thing your body needs for survival-not soda or Red Bull! How can you possibly expect to perform at a high level if you’re not drinking enough? How much is enough? Check out the new BASE Resource Page to find out.

2. Form is everything!

Nothing irritates me more than watching motivated athletes throw weights around with reckless abandon. I get that these athletes are young and feel invincible. I also get that many of them will do whatever is physically necessary to realize their athletic goals. That said, slinging weights all over the place is neither necessary nor is it particularly smart. Take the time to teach the proper form for lifts like squats, deadlifts, Olympic lifts and overhead presses. Once your athletes have the basic mechanics down, gradually start increasing the weight.

3. Posture is more important than you realize

Besides looking unattractive, poor posture can adversely affect your breathing, your digestion, and your risk of injury by promoting widespread muscular imbalance. This can lead to impaired performance on the field and even in the classroom!

There are a number of ways to correct poor posture. First of all, an appropriate training regimen will promote mobility and stability in the right areas, and it can strengthen key postural muscles. But by simply trying to stand and sit up a little bit straighter several times throughout the day, your athletes can help undue some of effects of all that constant texting and gaming.

4. Eat more fruits and vegetables

Here’s another area where the average kid’s diet falls woefully short. Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are lacking in many of the other foods kids tend to favor. They’re also a great way to improve immune system function, lowering their risk for developing all sorts of diseases.

Having a conversation with your athletes about the importance of eating these foods is a good start. Make sure you relate the benefits to their athletic development, academic performance, and overall growth. Then ask them if they know how to get these fruits and veggies. Most of the time, young athletes have little control over what’s in their refrigerators, so involving Mom and Dad is a great next step.

5. Want to get faster? Get stronger!

This is another fundamental of proper programming. Doing endless speed and agility drills is not always the best way to get faster. If you’re not also working to increase strength through the lower body and core, as well develop good ankle and hip mobility, then those drills are of limited value.

Instead, getting faster requires imparting force into the ground through a full range of motion. This results from strength-building, lower-body (and especially posterior-chain) exercises more so than endless drills.

6. Don’t rely on supplements

Training young athletes 5

Supplements are something you add to an already sound nutritional program; they’re not some magic elixir. Unfortunately, some athletes think that something with a nice, shiny label full of ridiculous claims can make up for a steady diet of McDonald’s and easy mac and cheese.

Again, the solution here is to start the conversation with your athletes. Some of them don’t know any better and want to get that edge over the competition. If you educate them on the value of proper nutrition—and the dangers and potential future loss-of-eligibility concerns with certain supplements—they will have a better understanding of what they need to do.

7. Change your internal dialogue

A bit of a change-up from my usual advice, but lately I’ve noticed more and more athletes engaging in negative self-talk. When they constantly say things like “I stink,” or “I’m never going to (insert athletic goal here),” how do they ever expect to succeed?

If you hear your athletes saying, “I’m a lousy free throw shooter,” stop them and get them to say, “I’m getting better and better at making free throws.” Or, if you hear them say something along the lines of “I’m not fast enough,” have them focus on saying, “My speed is improving every day.” Even if it isn’t true right away, it will start getting them in the proper frame of mind to make those changes a reality.

8. If you can’t see it in the mirror, train it!

Training Young Athletes 6

Athletes love focusing on their “mirror muscles” with lots of bench presses, crunches, and biceps curls. However, the real key to athletic success (and longevity) lies in training everything on the backside of the body.

As their coach, when training young athletes, make sure you are strengthening their upper and lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and calves to give their bodies much more balance and stability.

9. Sweat the small stuff

Athletes who don’t make time to warm-up thoroughly, stretch, and foam roll on a regular basis are making a huge mistake. Though frequently glossed over, these three areas represent some of the best ways for athletes to improve performance and reduce injury risk. I for one consider them every bit as important (if not more) than strength training, plyomterics, and speed and agility work.

If you don’t already do so, make warming up a priority. Go beyond this and give athletes a routine they can do on their own before practices and games. The more an athlete can prepare him or herself for athletic performance, the fewer injuries they will see and the more athletic success they will enjoy.

10. Choose whole grains whenever possible

Training Young Athletes 7

Most young athletes don’t understand the differences between refined and whole grains, so educate them on the importance of minimizing their intake of foods made with white flour such as white breads, bagels, white pasta, and even white rice. These foods bring about rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, leading to subsequent energy crashes. Instead, encourage them to opt for whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and sweet potatoes.

11. Give “camp” the boot

Count me amongst those who are not big fans of boot camp training for young athletes. While great workouts for more experienced trainees who are looking to test the limits of their strength and endurance, boot camp workouts are seldom a good option for developing bodies. Contrary to popular belief, young athletes tend to do better with lower reps, especially when doing more technically proficient exercises like cleans, plyometrics, and other compound exercises. Boot camps tend to feature way too much volume, which only invites fatigue and increases injury risk.

12. Be prepared!

Whether it’s forgetting to bring enough water along to practice or not having any healthy snacks on hand, a lack of preparation can be the difference between success and disappointment. Remind your athletes to be prepared, and empower them to become self-sufficient at looking after themselves.

One good place to start is to encourage your athletes to take some time each evening to set up some nutritious meals and snacks for the next day. You might have to help them understand what is nutritious, but once you do, they will be fueled and ready to go for school and training.

13. There are no short cuts

Training Young Athletes 8

Although we sometimes have a hard time believing it, this process takes time. In fact, some say it lasts an entire lifetime!

That’s exactly why I’ve presented all of this to you in list fashion, so you can chunk things down and encourage gradual, consistent change in your athletes towards achieving their goals. I know all about the impatience of youth. Like it or not, though, if you really want these changes to stick in your athletes, it’s going to take some time. Have patience and work on each item one at a time until they become habits. With perseverance and a caring approach, your athletes will eventually respond positively.

There you have it: 13 tips for getting the most out of your athletes. The next time you run into a roadblock training young athletes, consult this list and see if one of these principles can help you break new ground.

If you want to take your game to the next level when it comes to training young athletes make sure that you start your IYCA Youth Fitness Certification today! The best of the best in the industry know that the IYCA is the ‘go-to’ resource for info on training young athletes. Get certified today!

Youth Fitness Training



Training Young Athletes and The Ultimate Blueprint



Training Young Athletes Resource

I’ll be blunt with a message heading into your weekend:


If Complete Athlete Development is not in your library of educational resources, you are sorely missing out.

  • DVD Collection of Coaching Cues, Training Programs & Exercise Selections
  • Manual with Specifics on Speed, Agility, Coaching, Philosophy of Training
  • Audio CD’s on Nutrition and Strength Development
  • Sample Programs for Training Young Athletes 6 – 18
  • Mix & Match Training Templates
  • 100+ Exercise Photographs


Proper Technique for Youth Sports Training: How Important Is It?

How Important is Proper Technique For Youth Sports Training?

The IYCA forces you to think about your answer!


Watch this video to learn how to get the most out of your youth sports training programs and ensure that your young athletes are able to reach their full potential.



If you want to learn more about training young athletes and improving your youth sports training programs make sure you check out the IYCA’s Youth Fitness Specialist Certification.



Youth Fitness Training



Dietary Supplements – Hype or Hope?




Dietary Supplements

by Dr. Chris Mohr, PhD, RD


There are over 29,000 dietary supplements available.


From creatine to fat burners, whey protein to weight gain formulas. 
     What works?
     What doesn’t?
     Do you need a supplement to perform at your best?


While giving a talk recently to high school football players, I asked the team this question:


How many of you take dietary supplements?


About 95% of the athletes raised their hands.


I then asked this follow up question.


How many of you ate breakfast this morning?


3 hands out of the entire team went up. 



Youth Speed & Youth Nutrition Certification Information




Youth Speed Certification

Okay, the questions have been flooding in and the hype around
the industry is absolutely huge.


People want to know!


So here’s your inside track information for the Speed & Agility Specialit certification event-


Location: Prairie Stone Sports & Wellness Center, Hoffman Estates Illinois


Dates: Saturday July 18 and Sunday July 19


Times: 1 – 5pm (CST) both days


Seats Available: 50


Instructors: Lee Taft & Brian Grasso


Credentials: Speed & Agility Specialist – Level 1


Recommended Hotel: Marriott Chicago Northwest


Special Bonuses & Surprises: This is more than a one-liner….


On Saturday July 18, Lee and myself will be teaching you our brand-new
4-hour Speed & Agility Specialist Certification – Level 1.


That you already knew.


But here are the special bonuses and surprises….


What I haven’t told you yet is that you will actually be receiving TWO certifications
during our exclusive weekend.


On Sunday July 19, Dr. Chris Mohr will be offering you the newest IYCA credential –


Youth Nutrition Specialist


Two certifications, one price!



Peaking for Young Athletes?

Peaking for Young Athletes. Should we do it?


At a seminar I presented this past weekend in Canada,
I opened my day-long presentation with an introduction
filled with passionate and thought provoking insight into
the Art of Coaching, the need to TEACH and the necessity
we have as an industry to steer the youth conditioning niche
a different direction such as Peaking for Young Athletes – specifically, to stop creating short-term
training programs within which biomotor improvement
(speed, strength, flexibility etc) is at the top of the priority
list and in lieu of developmentally sound sequences and
adequate instructional time.


Although largely well received, one attendee asked an
interesting question during this particular portion of the seminar:


‘I understand that you think we should teach more and train
less, but then how am I supposed to have my athletes peak
for the big competitions at the end of the year?’


Excellent question… and one of the largest concerns in our


Let’s go through this step-by-step:




We have all read textbooks from heralded scholars and
have learned to pontificate words such as ‘peak’ and ‘periodization’.
The problem is that we have become comfortable with their
theories and have forgotten that their application is next to impossible.


Peaking for Young Athletes for a competition is an in-depth and systematic
process that is too involved for this article. It requires a constant
and dynamic approach to programming and necessitates that the
trainer or coach looking for this ‘peak’ have an innate understanding
of all the physiological processes that go into such an engrossed practice.


More over, it requires the trainer or coach to have control
over these physiological considerations – and that is simply
not possible in today’s youth sports society.


For instance, proper ‘peaking’ is based on nutrition, sleep,
emotional/mental stress IN ADDITION to proper training


Not only can we not control these factors in young athletes,
most trainers and coaches who preach about such methodologies
don’t even consider the aforementioned extraneous factors
in there ‘peaking’ procedures.


The coach who posed this question (who for the record was
intelligent, energetic and clearly passionate) mentioned that in
an effort to ‘peak’, he would add and take away exercise stimulus
from his athletes’ training programs during the course of a season
in accordance with standard ‘peaking’ protocol.


Again, the problem is that multiple interactive concerns associated
with over stress (and therefore Cortisol secretion – which is
terribly catabolic and renders an organism virtually unable to get
any stronger or faster) and over training are issues that must be
factored into any training procedure that is focused on:

Peaking for Young Athletes Case Study. 

A young athlete wakes up at the crack of dawn and heads to school…


They sit in class all day and consume next to nothing in the way of food…


After school they have soccer practice for 75 minutes…


They come to your training session and workout for 60 minute –
because they are trying to ‘peak’ for the final track meet of the


They come home, and eat a nutritionally devoid dinner…


They spend 2 – 4 hours on homework…


Watch 1 – 2 hours of TV…


They are in bed by midnight, having to wake up at 6am the
next morning to start it all over again.


Just think about common sense for a second… is this the kind
of organism that can be physically manipulated to ‘peak’ at
the right time???


Concepts such as Peaking for Young Athletes and periodization were designed for
elite level athletes who enjoyed little to know extraneous stress
outside of their sports and were often pharmaceutically
enhanced (use your imagination!).


These theories were never intended to be used on children
and average everyday adolescent kids.


The sooner we realize that our role as trainers and coaches
should be focused on enhancing self-efficacy, decreasing injury
potential and providing just enough of the right kind of stimulus
to aid in the body’s natural developmental processes, the better
off we are going to be.


Put down the big words and high-end theories…


… Think common sense.