Every child should have the opportunity to play a sport. Sports help us develop social skills, problem-solving, learning to work with others, and, most importantly, building athleticism and a healthy lifestyle. As an exercise professional, it is my job to assist athletes and parents in navigating the road to development.

Developing the Athlete Within for Long-term Success

Too often today, we see kids specializing in one sport leading to frequent or overuse injuries and burnout. My goal is to help them learn the skills and fundamentals of being an athlete, such as agility, balance, coordination, power, and endurance. These skills will set them up for long-term success.

The Advantages of Playing Multiple Sports

Today we see more specialization at younger ages. Kids are playing one sport on multiple teams for an entire year. Many leading fitness and medical associations recommend playing a specific sport for less than eight months out of the year, playing on one team at a time, and maintaining proper recovery time for the athlete’s bodies. Playing multiple sports will help develop physical advantages such as improved motor skills, strength, and aerobic fitness. This will also enhance socialization skills by meeting new kids and learning to cope with new personalities. My job is to help develop a performance program that is safe, scientific, and designed for the individual to ensure the best outcome and long-term success.

Maximizing Athletic Performance While Reducing Injury

Young athlete with jumping exercises in gymCertified Personal Trainers and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists should develop a program that will maximize an athlete’s performance while reducing injury potential. These professionals will oversee the athlete’s progressions and ability to withstand the program and fitness regime’s demands. Using evidence-based training methods and current research, a performance coach will not only set their athlete up for long-term successes but lifelong healthy habits. Building a well-rounded athletic base will, in return, build long-term success for the athlete. Too often, success is measured in playing time and winning. I measure my successes in long-term changes in my athlete’s health and habits.

Train With a Purpose

Our youth should be active and participate in sports (multiple sports if they have the desire). I also feel they should run, jump, crawl and climb as much as possible. Building long-term success in our athletes by providing them with supervised, progressive training programs that are functional will build their athletic abilities and confidence and help decrease their chances of injury and offer long-term healthy lifestyles. As a parent, coach, performance professional, or athlete, I urge you to play, train with a purpose, and look for long-term success in life.

FAST Youth Summer Sports Performance Program

Olympic lifting weights on sledNo matter your child’s sport, summer is the perfect time to develop their skills and learn the fundamentals of being an athlete by improving strength, speed, agility, and power. Foothills Acceleration and SportsTraining  (FAST) offers a summer sports performance program for kids ages 8+, college, and professional levels. Our Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist incorporates a properly designed and supervised program to help young athletes improve performance, compete, and reduce injury. These skills will build confidence, help prevent injuries, and set them up for long-term success. For more information or to sign up, check out the program at https://fast-training.com/summer

In honor of the Tokyo 2020 (2021) Olympics, this post is dedicated to a personal favorite of mine: the power clean. I get asked by many athletes, “how do I get stronger, faster, and more powerful?” First, we need to define “power.” Power is force over time. So, the more force produced in less time equates to more power. In the weight room, this can be achieved by developing type II fibers (fast-twitch) in the muscles. These fast-twitch fibers produce greater and quicker force.

What exercises help build type II fibers?

Compound exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, and split-squats are great places to start. However, there is one move above all else that will provide you with the most bang-for-your-buck when it comes to power development, the power clean.

 

What defines a power clean?

The power clean is the pinnacle movement for power production because it includes full-body and multi-joint movements. It’s a combination of a deadlift, high pull, shrug, and squat. That’s a lot of movement to cram in such a short amount of time (remember, less time & more force = more power). Because of the intricate nature of the power clean, it can take some practice to maintain proper form. This blog will provide a step-by-step guide to the movement and how to perfect it.

 

Step 1: pull

The first movement of the power clean is picking up the bar. This step will take place from the ground to the knees. Before you begin, keep your feet hip-width apart and have the bar directly over the base of your toes. Position your shoulders over the bar with your shoulder blades pulled back to help create tension through your back. As you pull, it is imperative that you have your hips and knees extend in one synchronous motion. This is where some athletes fault in their technique and can cause more problems later on in the move.

Man demonstrating power clean first pull

Step 2: pull again

This action will occur when the barbell passes the knees. The goal of the second pull is to get your hips to “drive” forward and help move the barbell in a straight vertical path. This is where you transition to the “triple extension” position through your ankles, knees, and hips. If one joint is not in an “extension” position, you are limiting your ability to produce power through the second pull. As you begin to maneuver yourself around the barbell to receive it in the “power position.” This is where athletes may fault while performing a power clean. Many try to move the bar around them when they should be moving their body around the bar.

power clean triple extension

 

Step 3: catch and receive

As the athlete performs the second pull, they will “feel” the weight of the bar traveling upward. This is a critical moment where the athlete will pull themselves under the bar to catch it in the “receiving” position. In many instances, coaches will tell their athletes to “jump” during the second pull to help achieve the “triple extension.” Coaching an athlete to “jump” during a power clean will often have the athlete spend more time in the air and limit their ability to pull themselves under the bar. I like to coach my athletes to “pull and drop” when receiving the bar. As the athlete drops to receive the bar, they will shoot their elbows forward, parallel to the ground, to catch the bar on the top of their shoulders in the quarter-squat position.

Man demonstrating power clean catch

The complexity of the power clean may seem intimidating, but when performed properly it can provide a training stimulus nearly unmatched by any other exercise. It’s one of the best training tools to teach athletes and everyday gymgoers to become more powerful. If you want to improve your performance, strength, and explosiveness, contact one of our FAST locations today!

To start with mastering your core for golf, get comfortable with controlling your upper body and its strength. Do this without moving your hips and vice versa. Being able to create hip and torso dissociation is key to having a great swing. There are a few ways we can hone this skill. First, we want to practice the movement, then move onto controlling that movement with strength and intention. Lastly, add a dynamic piece like the golf swing or something similar to put it all together.

Fig. 1

Movement
Controlling the movement of your core will take the most time because it is the base to the swing. It is also re-teaching us how to move the way we want. One way we can do this is by using a band and strapping it around our hips while in the golf ready position (fig. 1). After getting the band set up we are going to rotate the hip left and right without moving our torso. This will help to create dissociation and take control of the trunk/hips.

Fig. 2

Strength
Adding strength to the movement that we have just mastered is our next step. I like to use the ½ kneeling position because it’s a nice stability component on top of the band we will use for resistance (fig. 2). Get into a ½ kneeling position with the band perpendicular to yourself. While using what we gained from controlling the movement, press the band in and out while not moving the hips at all for this step.

Fig. 3

Dynamics
Our dynamic component should simulate our golf swing as close as possible. I love the medicine ball scoop toss for this one. It will allow us to produce some power and strength in the torso, hips and core. This involvement of the body mimics features of our golf swing. It is good to use a light ball around 6 pounds so that we can throw it hard and fast, reinforcing swing speed (fig. 3).

Looking for a personal trainer to improve your golf game with golf specific workouts? Contact FAST for a free fitness assessment today.

With the World Series coming up, were going to look at a few things that can help with training for the greatest sport of all, Baseball!

First off, we know that there is a lot of rotation that takes place in baseball.

Even though there is a lot of rotation that takes place in this sport while throwing and hitting, this does not mean that we should solely work on exercises that include rotation. Mobility, strength, and power are also major aspects of the sport and its demands.

Think of a pitcher’s hips and thoracic cavity during the pitching delivery. During this movement, both the hips and shoulders must be able to rotate and even dissociate from each other in order to develop the most amount of power. In turn, it will create more velocity on the pitch.

Pause the television next time while watching a baseball game at any point before the pitcher delivers the pitch and look at the hips and the shoulders. There is a lot of separation that takes place throughout the pitching delivery. Moreover, there is a lot of stress placed on the shoulders and elbow if you are a baseball pitcher. Knowing that throwing a ball overhand is not easy on the shoulders, and being able to maintain or gain mobility through the thoracic cavity will help not only increase velocity but help maintain good shoulder health too.

Pitchers do need to develop strength in addition to mobility to be able to reach top velocity.

The power comes from the ground up. If we can develop a good lower body strength, the pitcher will be able to produce more power and velocity on the pitches. A great strength training exercise that can help with this is the deadlift.

Lastly, pitchers are not the only players on the field who need to keep their shoulders in mind while training.

If you really pay attention to a player when they dive, you will notice quite a few arm angles that may look like they hurt. Thus, our training program needs to include not only complete shoulder strength and stability but mobility as well. Including this into our training programs will allow the body to withstand these awkward positions that the body takes on during a game or season.

When creating your exercise programs for your sport, try to think of all aspects of the game including the minor details. By doing so we can hopefully improve your ability and your durability to play longer with fewer injuries. Come in for a free fitness assessment at your nearest FAST location and gain the competitive edge that you desire.

Improve your golf swing from the comfort of your home with these 3 exercises

The golf swing is one of the more complex movements in sports, but it can easily be improved with a combination of strength and mobility exercises. These exercises should focus on thoracic spine mobility and core strength. Below are 3 exercises that can be performed anywhere you have floor space.  

  1. High Plank With Thoracic Rotation: Start in a push-up position with your shoulders directly over your hands and your feet hip-width apart. Push your right hand into the ground as you lift your left hand to the sky and rotate your body into a “T” position. Both feet should now be pointed to the left. Hold the “T” position for 5 seconds and return to your starting position. Repeat on the opposite side.
  2. Glute Bridge: Lie on your back with arms at your sides and knees bent so that your feet are flat on the floor. Push your heels into the ground and raise your pelvis as high as you can while actively contracting your glutes. As you improve, try keeping one foot in the air while performing a 1 leg bridge. 
  3. Supine Spinal Twist: Lie on your back with your knees raised at a 90 degree angle so your calves are parallel with the floor. Place your arms out to the side so they’re extended away from your body. Slowly lower your knees to the right while keeping your shoulders flat. As soon as you feel your left shoulder begin to come off the floor slowly rotate your knees to the other side.

Suggested sets and reps for these exercises vary greatly depending on your current fitness level. I would suggest beginning with 2 sets of 8 for each exercise and gradually increasing until you can perform 3 sets of 15. 

Looking for a personal trainer to improve your golf game with golf specific workouts? Contact FAST for a free fitness assessment today.

The weather is cooling down in Arizona, which means golf season is upon us! Follow along with this article to give yourself the upper hand and prepare to hit the course in optimal shape with the fundamentals of golf training. Fitness has exploded in the world of golf and people are seeing the bountiful benefits working out has in their game. From the pros to the average joes, everyone playing golf needs to continually work on their bodies in order to keep playing the amazing, frustrating, simple yet complex sport–golf.

Golf is a summation of mobility, stability, coordination, power and strength produced one swing at a time. If one of these is off, your swing suffers and your score card increases! We need mobility in our ankles, hips and shoulders, stability in our knees, back and core, strength in our legs and power throughout our whole-body system. This mobility allows us to put our body in the proper positions throughout the swing. Stability allows us to stay lined up, on track and on time. Strength allows our body to produce force and finally power is our ability to transfer that force from the ground through the body and out of the club connecting it to the ball.

As you can see, each piece of our fitness is important and has a responsibility to serve a purpose for us. Therefore, we need to treat and train each of these fundamentals, mobility, stability, coordination, strength and power. Now onto the exercise that help break down the fundamentals of golf training.

Mobility: Bretzel

Fundamentals of Golf Training - FAST Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training

  • Lay on your side with your top knee making a 90 degree angle in front of your hips
  • Reach behind you, bending your bottom knee to grab the foot
  • Pull your foot towards your glutes with your top arm, twisting your shoulders to the ground
  • Look at the ceiling and continue to actively pull your bottom foot towards the glutes and top shoulder to the ground

 

Stability: Wall T-Hip Rotations

Stability Exercise - Fundamentals of Golf Training - FAST Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training

  • Grab a wall or box slightly above hip height
  • Rotate your hips, opening your body to look like a “T”
  • Then tuck your hips, rotating your pockets under each other

 

Coordination: Deadbugs

Coordination Exercise - Fundamentals of Golf Training

  • Laying flat on your back, tighten your abdominals, pushing your lower back into the ground
  • Have your hands above your shoulders, knees bent above your hips
  • Moving your opposite hand and opposite leg away from each other, extending them outward
  • Return to the start position and repeat on other side

 

Strength: Bulgarian Goblet Squat

Strength Training Golf Training - FAST Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training

  • Holding a weight near the center of your chest, put your foot behind you on a bench/couch
  • Have your shoe laces on top of the bench and the other foot few feet in front of you
  • Balancing on the front leg, lower your hips straight down, maintaining a nearly vertical front shin

 

Power: MB Golf Groove Swings

Power Training for Golfers - FAST

  • Set up into your normal golf stance, head down and knees bent about shoulder width apart
  • With nice tempo, bring the ball into the back swing, then the forward swing NOT RELEASING it
  • Now the movement Is grooved, repeat, bringing the ball back with nice tempo and this time releasing the ball like you do with your club

 

Implement these exercises into your current fitness routine or seek a FAST trainer to complete your fundamentals of golf training! These exercises will help prime your body for golf but are encouraged to see a golf professional for specific instruction! Golf uses your entire body so make sure you train your entire body.

A typical day for many student athletes is filled with a busy morning, school, practice followed by homework—all to wake up and do it again—day after day. To keep student athletes focused both on and off the court, we’re sharing some tips that can be used every day to help improve their game and grades.

 

Have a routine.  A good solid routine gives you and your body structure for a healthy day to day life.  Try things like always going to bed at the same time each night, making sure you always eat breakfast or getting your school work done before practice.

– Wade Haras, FAST Old Town Scottsdale

 

Remember it is STUDENT athlete, emphasizing student first. Take care of your school work and home work before you train, practice or compete. You will feel better being stress free from having your school obligations done and therefore perform better on competition day.

– Greg Stein, FAST North Scottsdale

 

Attention athletes—don’t worry about that new supplement or protein powder, sleep is the most beneficial thing you can do to improve athletic qualities. If you want to get stronger, sleep. If you want to get faster, sleep. If you want to succeed, sleep. It will enhance your recovery and allow you to train harder and more efficiently day in and day out.

– Shane Anderson, FAST North Central Phoenix

 

Visualize every scenario. Go through exactly how you would react and perform during in-game situations, how you would work through an injury, and how you will handle a heavy school load with competition. If you can mentally visualize the situation and create a plan before physically experiencing it, you will feel more comfortable and be better prepared for the event. You can’t predict what will happen, but that shouldn’t stop you from being prepared for whatever comes your way.

– Kyle Schneider, FAST Ahwatukee

 

Remember that the student comes before athlete. Get your work done in the classroom so you can reap the rewards of playing on the field. Set yourself up for future success and become a model for your younger teammates. Prioritize your education before your athletic career.

– Jeff Placentia, FAST South Gilbert

 

  1. Perfect a warm up process
  2. Perfect drills for your sport
  3. Move weights fast
  4. Crush real food
  5. Dominate sleep

– Kyle Decker, FAST Arrowhead

 

“Every time you stay out late, sleep in, miss a workout, don’t give 100%, you make it that much easier for me to beat you.” – Anonymous quote

– Brandon Wood, FAST Litchfield Park

 

Make sure you get adequate sleep. Teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep for adequate physical and mental recovery. There are new studies showing that sleeping 8 hours increases your memory, and boost’s your critical thinking and decision making skills. Sleep also plays a role on the field. Athletes who sleep more have faster reaction times, sprint faster and make fewer mental errors. Sleep is one of the most underrated performance enhancers out there and the best part about it is its free.

– Travis Cummings, FAST South Chandler

 

If you’re a student athlete that is looking for more guidance both on and off the court, contact our team of Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists today. Many members of the FAST staff have been in your shoes before—trying to juggle school, sports and life—either at a high school or collegiate level.

Strength is the missing component in many young athlete’s movement qualities. The most requested topic we get from parents about their children’s athleticism is to make them faster.  It usually goes something like this “if you could make little Tommy faster he would get more playing time.”

Our next step is to do our FAST athlete assessment, where we look at some performance tests such as the 10-yard dash, pro-agility test, and vertical test, as well as some body weight strength tests for kids in elementary and middle school. We’ll do barbell strength tests for athletes who are older and more experienced with a barbell.

After doing the tests, we have consistently found that the athletes who are in desperate need of getting faster are also usually the weakest. They can do 25-35 squats in a minute compared to our faster athletes who do 50+ squats in a minute. The most squats I’ve ever had done in a minute is 84 by a kid who went on to play D1 soccer and guess what—he was one of the fastest kids on his teams.

Why is strength so important to running fast? It’s so important because strength is a huge component of force. The force you can put into the ground is what propels you forward. More importantly, the greater the strength-to-weight ratio a kid has the faster he’ll be.

One study done at SMU demonstrated that elite sprinters (Olympic level sprinters) put 5 times their body weight into the ground on each stride. Compare that to elite soccer players (D1 college level) who put 3 times their body weight into the ground on each stride. So, to run fast you have to be strong enough to be able to put LARGE amounts of force into the ground.

A lot of youth athletes don’t have the strength to be able to withstand those large forces into the ground. If a weaker kid tried to put that much force into the ground, their body wouldn’t be able to withstand it after some time.

If you’re a parent of a kid or a youth coach, take a look at the fastest kid. 9 times out of 10 that kid is usually the kid who is stronger and leaner than the rest of them. Of course, there are exceptions but majority of the time this is the truth.

So, one of the best ways to help your young athlete get faster is to get him stronger first. Once he has sufficient strength than the next steps would be to make sure he’s using his strength as efficiently as possible. This is where teaching him the proper running mechanics will come in as well as plyometrics to increase his power or rate of force development.

Luckily at FAST we do the assessment first, so we know what aspect of their athleticism is missing and from there design our programs to help the youth athlete get ahead of the competition.

PS – I just talked about speed, but strength is just as important for jumping high. You can read more about that in this article here.

 

 

Goal setting is one of the most important factors pertaining to the success or failure of a new exercise program. This is especially true when starting a new running program. Whether this is your first-time training for a race or you’re a seasoned distance athlete, setting a goal can be the difference between a personal best and injury.

The most important thing to remember when setting a goal this running season is to be S.M.A.R.T.

Specific

Too often we set very general/vague goals. Focus on developing a goal with defined metrics. In terms of running program goals, setting a specific distance you’d like to finish and/or time you’d like to finish in helps to create accountability as you progress through your running program/season. When goals are specific, it’s easy to determine if you are on-track, ahead, or falling behind where you should be in your training.

Measurable

Part of being specific is setting details which can be measured. Easy things to measure are distance (miles), pace (mph or minutes/mile), or elapsed time (length of time you’re running). GPS devices (watches, phone apps, etc.) make it very easy to track your progress in terms of measurable data. Knowing your numbers help to keep motivated and accountable. Also, it’s a great way to create friendly competition amongst fellow Ahwatukee runners!

Attainable

While setting difficult goals can give you motivation to work hard, having too lofty a goal can actually be detrimental. You will want to set a goal that pushes you to stay disciplined, but not require complete lifestyle changes or extreme measures. Look at what you’re currently doing and take it a step or two further. If you’re used to running 5 or 10k’s, maybe shoot for a half marathon. If you’re a beginner, running a marathon or six-minute miles might prove to be too much. It may be difficult to stay committed if your goal is too difficult and feels out of reach. Chance of injury rises as individuals push too far outside of their abilities, as well.

Relevant/Realistic

Your goal needs be important to you. Disregard the goals others are setting and figure out what will motivate YOU to stay committed. It is your running program goal and no one else’s. Running programs, done the right way, require an ample amount of time to increase distance and this can become a bit monotonous at times. What is it that will get you out of bed on the weekends or to fit in a run after work when you’re tired and tempted to skip?

Timely

Setting a timeframe to complete you goal in is a great way to stay motivated and on schedule. It helps if your goal is six-months to a year away as this allows you to set mini-goals to accomplish along the way. If a goal is too near, it may be very hard to properly train to complete and if it is too far away, it can be hard to stay motivated. Signing up for a race is a great way to set a deadline to meet your goal. This way you know exactly how much time you have to achieve success and adjusting the timeframe is outside of your control.

Starting a new running program is a big step and can be a difficult decision to make. Setting a goal is a great way to create accountability, stay motivated and prevent injury. Starting this journey on your own can be difficult. I highly recommend joining a local running group or signing up for a race with a friend. This will give you a support group to help keep you motivated, accountable, and celebrate in your success!

For more information on joining the Foothills Running Group or to get more advice on starting a running program, please contact Kyle at FAST Ahwatukee or visit our website today.

The sport of volleyball is explosive in almost every aspect of play. Whether referring to the spike approach, blocking, jump setting or serving, being powerful and explosive is an advantage in every facet. It’s for this reason that it’s vital volleyball players partake in a strength and conditioning program with an emphasis on developing these areas. As a former collegiate volleyball player, it was this type of training which helped me take my game to the next level.

Just how do you develop power or what types of exercises are most beneficial, you may ask. Current research suggests a program involving powerlifting, Olympic lifting, and plyometrics is the best approach to improve your vertical jump and volleyball performance.

Powerlifting movements, specifically squatting and deadlifting, are vital components to a volleyball strength and conditioning program. These exercises focus on developing a base of strength to help perform more complex movements.

The back squat is a great functional exercise which will help increase an athlete’s vertical by strengthening the muscles of the lower body, specifically the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. Squats aid in injury prevention by promoting stabilization, balance and mobility, as well.

Spike your Volleyball performance with FAST

Olympic lifting, such as the snatch and clean variations, pushes an athlete to develop muscular coordination, power and mobility. Just as in volleyball, athletes perform these exercise for minimal repetitions as stress should be placed on form and power each time it is performed.

The clean and jerk is an Olympic lift with proven benefits of increasing vertical jump and overall explosiveness/power. This exercise mimics the extension and intensity of jumping, while adding extra weight to increase strength during the movement.

Exercises to train for volleyball

Plyometrics, for both upper and lower body, are core components of a volleyball player’s program. These exercises require maximal muscular force, utilizing mainly body-weight, in short intervals of time to help increase force production. These exercises are less complex in comparison to Olympic lifting, which allows implementation into younger and more novice athlete’s training programs.

Volleyball Sports Performance Training, Ahwatukee

This example photo shows direct correlation to movement on the court as the athlete approaches the box with proper volleyball hitting form. The athlete then explodes upward, as if hitting at the net, and lands on top of the box in an athletic stance. Also shown, the lateral jump, pushes an athlete to develop quickness and explosiveness when having to move in multiple directions on the court. In volleyball, being able to jump in all directions repeatedly, and do so explosively each time, in important. These plyometric drills, along with others should be implemented into a volleyball training program to increase force and quick transitions.

FAST - Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training Volleyball

Implementing these exercises, along with many others, is vital to increasing vertical jump and overall performance on the court. For more information or if you’re interesting in improving your athletic performance, contact me or your local FAST facility to learn more about our sports performance training programs.

Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training (FAST) is empowered by Foothills Therapy Partners (FTP).