Run Faster and Agility: First Few Steps

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Hey athletes! Do you want to run faster and be more agile?  Do you ever get the feeling like you’re running in mud? Or that you’re getting left behind by all those other agile, quick-footed players? Or maybe you keep coming in second or third and you’re ready to come in first. You’ve described a common problem with many athletes: slow with the 1st few steps.  One of the ways to address these problems and to speed up your footwork is the use of plyometric programs helping you run faster. These are specially designed programs with the sole purpose of moving your feet quick (think “dot drills”). These programs consist of a series of drills where you’ll be moving your feet fast and in multiple directions. Not only will these programs help you increase your foot speed and run faster but they will also help you increase your balance/coordination.  Plyo programs also involve jumping and landing on/off boxes.  These plyo programs are about improving your first-step—-your acceleration & power.  Most success in sports revolves around the ability to do as much as you can with your first few steps.

 

Also, don’t get so focused on your 40-yard or 60-yard dash time.  These are important, but we encourage you to spend some time on the 10-yard dash. This measure of your first 3-4 steps is critical.  If you can improve this, you can improve a lot of things, including your overall top-end speed to run faster.  Without a proper start, it really doesn’t matter what you do at the end, because ultimately you are already beat.

 

-Megan Lane

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Transition of the Sports Seasons–BASEBALL – SOFTBALL COMING SOON

As we rapidly approach the end of October, it brings us to an interesting point of the year. Football is coming to a close for youth teams, while high school & college are either at or just past the midpoint. Volleyball is in tournament mode, as their seasons are winding down.On a bigger scale, I love this time of year because you have: post-season MLB, the NFL & college football are in full swing, and basketball is about here. There is no shortage of sports around here!!So what’s the point? For those whose sports are either not in-season or are coming to a close real soon: after taking some time to let your body recover, you really need to start thinking about what to do now. Were you happy with your performance this past season? What are you doing to get ready for next season? As referenced in an earlier blog (see below), it’s important to always be looking at what you can be doing better instead of just relying on your strengths.In particular, baseball & softball players need to be using this time of the year to commit 6-8 weeks to work on their game. Do you need to be faster? What’s your arm strength like right now? Having trouble exploding out of the box to run down the line? These are all things that are good to look at…..and now is the best time to start correcting these issues. Don’t wait until February—it will be too late then.THINGS BASEBALL & SOFTBALL PLAYERS NEED TO FOCUS ON:SPEED: you need to be able to perform for that scout timing you, as well as getting around the bases. I had one baseball player who, after he finished training, was playing in a game & hit a ball to the shortstop. He knew he had hit a easy grounder for a sure out, but like you all do, ran it out anyway. To his surprise, he heard the umpire call “SAFE!” as he hit the bag. He didn’t even have to think about it & his speed had improved!! Another player told me that he was able to get the extra base in a game that he NEVER would have gotten before. So, bottom line, YOU NEED SPEED!!TRUNK: like all athletes, you have to have a strong core—note, not a strong six-pack; these are USELESS for athletes if you are not functionally strong—but baseball & softball players have to pay special attention to this area in order to perform. It helps with hitting & throwing. You need explosive hips in order to be good out there on the field. THROWING: Listen up: the human arm was not designed to throw overhead repeatedly. So we have to do extra things to make it last through a season. This doesn’t just mean to do a few sets of tubing exercises—-it means an extensive, head-to-toe throwing program to best utilize your entire body to perform the act of throwing. I welcome any & all comments regarding baseball & softball training…..I have been around baseball my entire life, spending almost 15 years as batboy & clubhouse boy for the Arkansas Travelers, then 6 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals as an athletic trainer. So I love all discussion about the game. Hit me with any questions!

Sports Events Happening in Arkansas Today

Tonight is a big deal for the state of Arkansas. Let’s all think about the biggest moments in sports for the Natural State—in no particular order. (and I welcome any omissions you suggest):1. National Championships for college sports (Razorback football, basketball, etc.)2. Jermain Taylor as world boxing champ3. John Daly’s golfing championships4. Cliff Lee winning Cy Young last yearSo let’s examine the magnitude of tonight’s World Series Game 5. Arkansas boys AJ Burnett (NLR/CAC) & Cliff Lee (Benton) are squaring off. Both have had great major league careers: last year Cliff (link to his bio) won the American League Cy Young Award as the best pitcher in the American League…AJ Burnett (link to his bio) is part of a formidable Yankees rotation, and has a no-hitter under his belt. With a great performance tonight by Burnett, the Yankees could clinch their 27th World Series title. But, Lee, as the Phillies ace, could be the spark to get the Phillies back into the Series. Both had dominating performances in their last outing. Tonight, this is the biggest stage in baseball. It is rather amazing that they are both from the central Arkansas area—growing up about 30 minutes apart. It is also amazing that they have the same agent, Darek Braunecker! Having known both of these pitchers, I am very proud of what they have accomplished over their careers. This is a big night!

Man, I Gotta Do Something…

In my line of work, I hear this phrase a lot. It usually is preceded by a few sentences describing this person’s current physical condition, or an athlete’s lack of speed or strength. The conversation goes something like this:”I haven’t done any exercise in months, and it’s really starting to show around my waist.” OR”I was fast 2 years ago but now I have lost a step or two.”For both of these instances the very next phrase out of their mouth is: “I have to do something to change this.” Well, congrats….you have taken the first step. It’s sort of like a person with an addiction problem; it is extremely important to come to the realization that you have to make a change in your life. So, for these examples, they have already taken the first step….that is, to make both a mental & verbal decision to take some action.In response to their phrase “I gotta do something”, I like to encourage them that, in fact, they already have done something—they have gone to someone to help them start addressing their issues. So, step one is out of the way. Now it becomes my job to help them along in the next progression of steps.I encourage anyone—be it the soccer player who needs more speed, the baseball player who needs to throw harder, the weekend runner who needs to get in better shape—-to make the first effort to “do something.” Let’s take the average person who is just wanting to improve their physical condition. Do some simple things like:* Take the stairs instead of the elevator* Park farther away in the parking lot* Eat smaller portions & eat more frequently* Take an evening walk—even for 10 minutesNow, let’s look at athletes training for a particular sport:* Do extra sprints* Every night do 1-3 rounds of 10 no-weight squats, 10 push-ups, 5-10 pull-ups, and 20 sit-ups.* Stretch your muscles whenever you canThese examples are the most basic, simple steps one can take. If you do these already & want to go to the next level, get in touch with someone who is qualified to help you. I would recommend someone certified by the NATA or theNSCA. Find someone who can help you go to the next level. Remember, when you get to the point of realizing that you need to do something, anything is better than nothing. Get moving people. Inaction is what hinders people, not action.

Play For Hope!

We are happy to announce a drive for used sports equipment for the kids of Rwanda! Play For Hope, a sports-based organization that ministers to kids in Rwanda will be the recipient of what we collect here at ASPC. Just bring in your “gently used” sports equipment to us here at Arkansas Sports Performance Center. (map)Play For Hope’s vision is for long term, sustainable sports growth that brings holistic ministry to the youth of Rwanda and provides children with professional level coaching. More info about Play For Hope.Due to what sports Play For Hope targets, we request that you limit your donations to the following equipment list:Basketballs Soccer balls Jerseys (preferably matching) Turf shoes, basketball/athletic shoes, cleats (especially turf shoes) Cones Ball pumpsIf you have equipment for other sports (like football & baseball/softball) bring it to me & I will get it to a local needy organization.If You Bring In Some Equipment ….. …….then we want to say THANKS!!! If you bring in some equipment before Dec. 17, and sign up for a training program, you get 20% off! Ask us about details!

Signing Athletes out of Arkansas Sports Performance

I want to take moment to recap some news about some of our athletes here at Arkansas Sports Performance Center / Athletic Republic.1. Jae Tucker (basketball, Little Rock Christian Academy) signed her letter of intent to play at Arkansas Tech University! Click here for more news & video on this!2. Davis Ward (baseball, Little Rock Christian Academy) signed his letter of intent to play at Ouachita Baptist University (NCAA d-II)! 3. Tanner Bailey (baseball, Little Rock Christian Academy/Texarkana Community College) signed his letter of intent to play at the University of Mississippi!4. There are over 25 athletes on the rosters of the four division one football schools in Arkansas (ASU, UCA, UAPB, & UA)5. 2nd round of the playoffs in Arkansas high school football (1st round for class 3a)reveals over 50 ASPC athletes leading the top teams to the next round!6. Michael Dyer (football, Little Rock Christian Academy) became the all-time leading rusher in the state this fall! He has over 7,400 yards in his high school career!7. Looking at our college basketball rosters, we have 8 of our athletes represented!8. Tyrell Johnson (Rison, Ark. State–Minnesota Vikings) is the starting strong safety for the first-place Vikings, and currently has 40 tackles!9. Darren McFadden (Oak Grove, UA—Oakland Raiders) has been battling some injuries but is still a major part of the Raiders’ offense!10. College World Series participant Arkansas Razorbacks had a lot of contributions from ASPC athlete Drew Smyly!11. Worked with Jennie Finch Softball Camp this fall! 12. Reggie Arnold (LR McClellan, Arkansas State) is bidding to become just the 8th player in NCAA Division One to rush for over 1000 yards in 4 straight seasons!13. Young triathlete Logan Gartin has had an impressive year! Read this!14. Tennis Recap: ASPC athletes Mario Martinez & Julio Olaya battled each other for the state overall tennis finals! Mario was in his second straight finals…Julio won this year, as a freshman! Also, in the girls’ division, our own Rebecca Bailey won the Girls’ Title!We are very proud of these young people, and are blessed to be able to serve them! bj

Priorities

The sports world is buzzing with yesterday’s news of Florida’s Urban Meyer’s sudden resignation. I was enjoying a day-after Christmas dinner with my family when I saw the news…when I called everyone’s attention to it, there was this common sense of disbelief around the room. “What? Not this guy!” “Why would he do that? He has 2 national championships in only 5 years!” “Wonder if Petrino’s headed there…” (that last one has nothing to do with this post…just laughed at the thought!)So what is this guy thinking? Coach Meyer offered up the explanantion that he was walking away for health reasons. There is a great summary of the story here. Makes me pause to think as well. I mean, what more could Cach Meyer accomplish? He saw that the job was taking away from his life! He was missing time with his family. I don’t know about his personal faith, but I can surmise that it played a role in his decision. Will he coach again? Probably, but that’s not the point of this post. I would just encourage you to take a personal inventory now about your job…about your sport….about your schoolwork….take an inventory of anything that seems to be taking up WAY too much space in your life. Ask yourself if there is anything getting in the way of your faith…of your family….of your health. If you can be honest with yourself, and listen to that voice inside of you, are your priorities out of sync? Are you sacrificing the best things in life in order to experience the 2nd-best things?Your health is your decision….don’t take it for granted. Your family is your gift….don’t take it for granted. Your personal faith is your true heartbeat….don’t take it for granted. Re-evaluate your life.

Do you have a New Year Fitness Resolution?

Free Fitness & Performance Classes to help with your New Year’s Resolution FREE WORKOUTSWant to get in shape, but not sure how to do it? Need help with your New Year’s Resolution of “getting in shape?” Want some speed training? Then take advantage of our FREE FITNESS & PERFORMANCE TRAINING CLASSES, one week only! Arkansas Sports Performance Center wants you to start your New Year’s Resolution off right with a FREE workout!**We are offering 5 days of free workouts starting daily at 6am until 6pm, January 4th-January 8th **YOU MUST RESERVE A SPOT IN ADVANCE…call us at 501-539-FAST or email us. **One of our Performance Coaches will lead each workout to ensure proper form and technique **We will also offer FREE SPORTS INJURY EVALUATIONS. Call for more details on this service. After the free workout, we will develop your own personal workout plan for you to do either on your own or with us! Speed Training: Buy 2, get 1 Free Looking to do speed training? If 2 athletes sign up for a training program at regular price, then the 3rd athlete & program is free! This is a GREAT way to get some friends together & train. Limited time only—offer expires January 15th, 2010. (*total price can be calculated for each to reflect free program) Remember, no matter your sport or fitness goals, we have all of the resources to help you get there. And your program is just that–your program. One size does not fit all, it fits one. BJ Maack, ATC, CSCSArkansas Sports Performance Center A Proud Member of the Athletic Republic

Speed Training

A generic blog title, to be sure. “Speed training.” Every athlete wants it…they want to be faster. So they do “speed training.” They either go to an expert, or they Youtube some “speed training” drills to use on their own. Or they just participate in their school “speed training” program. But what is it exactly?In the simplest terms, without trying to be too obvious, speed training is the pursuit of improvement in overall velocity & speed—-i.e., getting faster. It can be generic, or it can be sport-specific. By “sport-specific” I mean that soccer speed is not necessarily the same as baseball speed in terms of overall physiological muscle use & oxygen consumption.In this brief blog post, I want to focus on a very simple definition, with the goal of providing some take-home points for you the reader. Here we go:Speed is:1. IMPROVEMENT IN STRIDE LENGTH: if you are taking short baby steps, then you can’t cover as much ground with each step when compared to bigger steps. Obvious, huh? But think about it, when you run, are you really getting everything you can out of each step? Are your knees not driving up as high as they could be driving? Do you have weak hip extensors (butt-area muscles) that prevent a solid push? These things can be contributors to a shorter stride length, which can cause you to take too many inefficient steps. Have someone watch you run….or even LISTEN to you run. It doesn’t take too long to the trained eye/ear to notice an inefficient stride length. Stretch out your hip flexors (above your quad muscles), which might allow you to drive your knee higher. Strengthen your hip & hamstring muscle group to allow you to obey Newton’s 3rd Law (don’t worry about looking it up—here it is. If you have more force driving into the ground (more strength) then you get more return in your stride.Be careful not to overstride…..this can lead to too much “braking” force—slowing you down as you might tend to land with your heel. Good sprinters land on their toes/balls of feet.2. IMPROVEMENT IN STRIDE FREQUENCY: You can teach speed. It’s called improving motor engram patterns, or more simply, creating muscle memory. Think about this scenario: imagine being forced, due to an injury, to brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. Try it. It is the craziest thing! Until, after a few days or weeks, it becomes just as normal as your dominant hand. That’s called developing new muscle memory patterns. If you teach your sprinting muscles how to sprint properly, and teach them how to do it faster, then they will learn it. The body is truly amazing at what it adapts to. Get someone to help you with your sprint mechanics….it may feel unnatural at first–just do it & get used to it. Video your running form & practice your arm mechanics in the mirror.I hope this gives you some “take-home” points…I welcome any discussion & questions here!