Posts Tagged With: Strength Training
When I was growing up I always looked up to the older guys on the block and wanted to be like them. I wanted to be bigger, stronger, and one day a successful athlete. As I grew up, I tried to get around as many successful people as possible so I could learn the ropes. Along with this, I would also read about my favorite athletes and people who I admired so I could take on some of the qualities that made them successful. At the time, I didn’t realize it, but I was searching for a mentor.
Most people who are involved in a trade usually have an apprenticeship. This apprenticeship last approximately 7 years and has the person shadow someone who is experienced in the trade. Research has indicated that it takes between 7-10 years or up to 10,000 hours to become proficient in any given field. This is evident with the long journey doctors take to become specialists and the effort needed to make it through the rigorous course load. It is no different for young people who are involved in sports. It is critical that the developing athlete is surrounded by successful coaches, athletes, and teachers who can greatly influence their development. It is important for physical, cognitive, and emotional development. I can see how much our younger athletes gain through our program when the expectations are high, the teaching of skill is crisp, and the athlete’s are eager to learn.
An athlete’s critical years of development are between 8-12 years of age. During these years, the learning is rapid, the student is eager to learn, and good habits can be developed. If an experienced coach can teach these young athletes the required motor patterns for running, body weight strength training, and hand/eye coordination, they can see significant improvement in their development. Conversely, if an athlete is taught poor habits or incorrect technique, it becomes difficult to correct these habits as they get older. If we use the 7-10 year model for becoming an expert, the young athlete will be reaching their potential as they get into their teenage years. This is around the time they will be competing with other athletes for scholarships both academically and athletically. My suggestion is if your child is eager to participate, get them involved. Many people get concerned with burnout. I know from personal experience that the areas I’m passionate about, I don’t get burned out, I get inspired. I can see how much our young athletes like being pushed to be the best they can be. The only burnout they get is when they can’t make it to the gym. I’m sure that many of you feel the same about your desire to become the best at what you do. It is never too late to begin moving toward your goals. Remember time will keep moving regardless of whether or not you choose to move closer to your potential.
Best in Performance,
I have coached and taught for over a decade and during this time, I have worked with many committed people. My students have gone on to become attorneys, accountants, doctors, teachers, and professional athletes. Many of these students used athletics to assist them to reach their professional goals. One of these athletes is Mike Coccia. I met Mike five years ago after his father called me and asked me to help prepare him for a high school combine. These combines are used to evaluate an athlete’s speed, agility, strength, and overall ability to play college football. After meeting Mike, I knew he had the commitment level and the ability to not only earn a scholarship but excel at the next level.
After joining FASST, Mike and I discussed his goals and set a plan up to help him achieve these goals. Mike pushed himself and was able to increase his strength, speed, and agility all the while gaining muscle mass. After running exceptionally well at the various combines, he was able to have a successful senior season that culminated with earning a scholarship to the University of New Hampshire and an invitation to play in the Big 33 All-Star Classic. This all-star game is played between the top 33 players in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Many athletes who reach their goal of earning a scholarship often take it easy and think that the hard work is finished. This wasn’t the case with Mike. He not only wanted to earn a scholarship, but wanted to become a collegiate standout. Immediately signing his scholarship he went to work preparing himself for the college game. Mike has been a staple of our program and has not only participated but endorsed our program to his college teammates. During the off season we work with Joey Orlando, Harold Spears, Cody Muller, and Dontra Peters who are all teammates of Mike’s. All of them have shown tremendous leadership, academic excellence, and dedication throughout their collegiate careers. I’m proud to say that Mike and the other guys have shown exactly what hard work, commitment, and setting goals have done to help them reach their collegiate goals. Due to their efforts, Mike and Harold were selected to the All-CCA 3rd team. The CCA is regarded as the top conference in division 1AA. Both Mike and Harold are sophomores and have much room to improve. After having the opportunity to work with them both, I know that they will be back during the winter break and summer. Before this, they will be leading their team in the post season as UNH looks to win a national championship. Good luck guys as you take on Wofford in the first round and thanks for helping make FASST the top facility for elite athletes for over a decade!!!
I often hear the expression, “He’s a natural.” If you have ever been at a youth sporting event it isn’t hard to spot the athlete who is running up and down the field and seems to be in a league of his own. This person is often bigger, stronger, and faster than all his counterparts and doesn’t necessarily need to put in the time to hone his skills. At the time, this person has the advantage but over the long run, this person may actually be at a disadvantage accoring to research on performance. Research has indicated that early success is a poor indicator of long term success. The athlete who is considered a natural will often shy away from challenges later in life if the challenge exceeds their ability level. Because they have often been envied for effortless results, when challenged, this person may not exert the effort necessary for success. Due to this, they may be passed by the athlete who has played in the shadow of the superstar.
This is encouraging news for the athlete who is undersized or a step too slow. If this is you, make sure that you work on the finer skills, technique, and maintain a positive attitude. Eventually your size will catch up to your skill level and you may become the standout performer you always dreamt to be. If you are the talented youth athlete, make sure that you stay humble and work on the techniques necessary for success. Eventually you will be unable to walk onto the field and just dominate the competition with your sheer size and speed. Challenge yourself to learn new techniques and set goals that will allow you to continually push yourself to match your talent level. This way you will not fall prey to the label of youth superstar who goes bust once you advance on to higher levels.
Keep pushing yourselves!!!
Being successful in any endeavor requires you to find a way to get the edge. Whether you’re looking to become an elite athlete, top of your class, or a successful person in your field, you need to find ways to gain an advantage over your competition. When I was a collegiate football player I would run south-mountain which is located on the south side of Bethlehem near LehighUniversity. It was one mile up the mountain side and I would run this stretch wearing a sweat suit at 12:00pm during the summer. People probably thought I was crazy when they would drive past this person who was wearing a sweat suit in 90 plus degree heat. This run didn’t make me a better ball carrier, improve my speed, or gain physical strength. However, it did provide me the psychological edge that helped me on the field. I can recall specific instances where I needed to get a first down in crucial situations during a game. This is when I would think back to these grueling workouts and tell myself that I was the lone man on that mountain side during the dog days of summer. I was there and the opponent wasn’t. This was my edge and my motivation to get ahead of my competition.
This weekend I was back at my college for the hall of fame induction of my good friend Matt Bernardo. Matt was an All-American running back that broke several of my records and owns a sports performance facility on the New Jersey shore. If anyone knows about getting the edge it is Matt. I had the opportunity to work with Matt and I could see why he was such a successful athlete. I can also see why his facility is the facility of choice for athletes from the Jersey shore area. The same attitude and attention to detail that made Matt a success on the field has enabled him to build a successful business. His training has helped countless athletes reach their goals and gain the edge. By working with athletes like Matt, I have seen many techniques that enabled high caliber athletes outperform their opponents.
Yesterday on ESPN radio I discussed with Bob Shutte, some different strategies that can help people get the edge. You can use these simple strategies and apply them to your unique situation.
- Think about an athlete you hate to compete against. Someone who is tenacious, aggressive and a play maker. Once you identify this person, model their behavior.
- Observe your teammates, classmates, or others you compete against. Look for areas that they are weak and make those areas your strengths. I see countless numbers of athletes’ everyday and see which athletes are attentive to details, finish the drills, and improve on every rep. These are the athletes who are practicing the little things that give them the edge in competition.
- Do things others are unwilling to do to get to where you want to go. If everyone is doing what you are doing, there is no advantage. Find a couple things that are exclusive to you that give you the little extra push. I ran the mountain and that was my way to give myself the edge.
- Find your “Money” techniques that you can always rely on in clutch situation. For example, I would have a play list of songs that would get me ready before the game. Along with this, I would have my pregame ritual that would get me mentally prepared to be at my best.
- When you are training “think about” what you are doing and how it will translate to high level performance on the field. Just because you run a fast 40 yard dash, bench press a ton, and have a great physique doesn’t insure success. Those who are able to transfer these attributes are the ones who dominate on the field or court.
These are just a few suggestions that you can use to give you an edge in competition. I have always been a firm believer in doing things just a little differently to get results that are extraordinary. By taking this approach, I have been able to develop myself into a hall of fame athlete and also help 1000’s of athletes reach their full potential. If you are only able to get results once it is luck but if you are able to sustain a high level of performance it is a unique skill. Be a leader amongst your peers and not a follower. Set the tone and let the results speak for themselves.
Best in Performance,
There’s something to be said about simplicity. In today’s complex and fast moving world, we are inundated with information. Because of this constant flow of information it is easy to get overwhelmed and try to overthink your plan. One of the staples of our program is to keep it simple and have our athletes master the basics. As a strength coach, I am always researching new ideas, workout systems, and equipment. Throughout my years as a coach it always comes back to the basics. The athletes who are best at the basics are able to capitalize the most when called upon.
From my perspective, I think that this approach is effective in most areas of life. When we keep it simple, our stress levels decrease, thoughts become clearer, and we are able to perform at a higher level. Here are a few suggestions for those who are looking to increase overall productivity during their next workout.
- Create exercises/drills that move from slow to fast and easy to complex
- Think about what you ultimately want to achieve and break the movements into simpler parts
- Practice basic movements at each session until they are automatic.
- Most sports incorporate running, jumping, hand/eye coordination, and strength…work these four components into each session.
I always like to have my money drills that I can teach to all of my athletes regardless of sport. We consistently work on running form, jumping technique, first step mechanics, and hand eye coordination. Our system isn’t only effective but also enables the athlete to build confidence while gaining skill.
These are a few suggestions that you can adapt and adjust to accomodate your objectives. Good luck with your training and see you at the gym!!!
In today’s gym culture most facilities are built around aesthetics rather than function. When you walk into the complex you’re wowed by huge monitors, fancy equipment, and a safe, comfortable, user-friendly environment. Beware of these facilities!!! At first this may be appealing but if you’re looking to get the most out of your workouts, the pretty view can hinder performance. Substantial research has been done looking at talent hotbeds around the world and the one common factor was that they weren’t luxurious. All time Olympic great Michael Phelps trained at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club which has been said to look like an underfunded YMCA. The same can be said for the facilities the Chinese and Russians use.
Spartak, located in Russia, has the reputation for creating world-class tennis players in its run down facility. These facilities provide a distractionfree environment which is conducive to deep practice that helps the athletes build the neural connections needed for elite performance. The next time you look to workout and are caught up in the appearance of the facility, think about what you’re trying to get out of your training. Are you looking for comfort or results?
Best in Performance,
I recently had lunch with my former football strength coach Charlie Grande. We discussed football, training, and life. I always know that if I need anything, I can turn to coach. I learned a lot during my time at Lackawanna College but the most important lessons I learned were about myself. During the off season we would workout at 5:00am and at the time it was brutal. Like most college students, I would have preferred sleeping until 12:00pm and beginning my day at 1:00pm. Little did I realize at the time, that these little struggles would become big lessons that would teach me discipline, the value of pushing myself, and that my coaches saw something in myself that most didn’t.
It has been almost 15 years since I last put pads on at Lackawanna but I still keep in close contact with Coach Duda, Grande, and the other coaches who have built a nationally recognized program. The reason that they are one of the country’s elite football programs isn’t by accident. The emphasis was always to push yourself on and off the field. Being good was never enough when you went on the field. We had to be the best. We had to be the best conditioned, possess the most skill, and better prepare ourselves than our opponent. Coach Duda was a former University of Maryland standout who later went on to play for the St. Louis Cardinals. When he told you to do something, there wasn’t any second guessing. When you are sitting across from a 6’3 270lb person who looks like he could knock you into the next zip code you need to comply and that’s what we did. He was able to mold many athletes from different states, social class, and ethnic groups and teach them what it took to become a champion. Many of us became not only champions on the field but also life. Our players went on to the University of Miami, Maryland, Florida, and numerous division Iaa, II, and III colleges. We have gone off to becoming NFL players, business men, and hall of fame athletes in our respective schools. We were able to do this despite coming from humble backgrounds.
- If you’re going to do it, do it well
- Embrace challenge, challenge is what makes you stronger
- Get up and get after it. You will get knocked down, but you always get back up.
- Whining doesn’t get you anywhere, hard work does.
- Hit the books as hard as the weights. You will use your mind your whole life.
- Expect the best from others and they will give it to you.
- Give Back and then give some more
- Have pride when you sign your name on anything. It is an indication of who you are.
I have a lot of thanks to give to many people and these coaches are at the top of the list. When I was in my late teens I didn’t have a lot of people who believed in me outside of my immediate family. That changed after I went up and played at Lackawanna. I was able to learn what it took to not only make an impact on the football field but also in life. Today I look forward to working with Coach Grande at my training camps. I know that he always brings his “A” game regardless if he is working with his players or if he is pushing my athletes through drills at our different camps. It’s this give it your best mindset that has enabled countless athletes to build better life’s for themselves and become the best they can be.
What is your intent? What is you purpose as an athlete or coach? Everyday we work with hundreds of athletes and I can see who has a purpose and is working towards their goals. These athletes train harder, are more receptive to coaching, and maximize their time. On the other hand, those who are there without a clear picture or purpose tend to waste time, miss key coaching points, and waste precious time. I’m sure that all of us can remember being in school. We can remember getting a reading assignment and rushing to get it done only to wonder what it was we just read. A few pointers we suggest to assist our athletes and help them train with more purpose are the following.
- Write down your daily training goal- Make sure your training goal is clear, measurable, and challenging enough to keep you inspired throughout the workout. After you finish up with your training, you can record whether or not you obtained your goal and keep a score card on your progress.
- Visualize- Visualize how your training is helping you in your specific sport. When you are working on your sprint training, visualize how you will use your new found speed to run pass defenders or assist you in making clutch plays on the field or court.
- Raise the bar- Raising the bar means, stepping your game up during the training session. You know which drills are most critical to improve areas of deficit. I personally would pick training partners who were elite performers to insure that I was pushed during the training session.
- Don’t sleep on your competition- One of our top athletes, Eric Fiore who plays at the University of Penn is relentless in his pursuit of excellence. The Ivy League is the big time both academically and athletically. With this in mind, Eric never sleeps on the competition and knows that if he isn’t working, his competition is. This helps him fuel his workouts.
- No Regret Mind Set- I have heard many people give me advice….Many of these people aren’t very successful and give me a story of regret. They give me the “Would of, Could of, Should of” story. If they wouldn’t have screwed around in class they would have a better job. If they didn’t skip practice they would have been a professional, if they didn’t cheat on their wife, they would still be happily married. Go after it and make it happen. Be the success story and an example of how to get it done by going into practice or any event with the eye of the tiger attitude. No regrets will have you resting assured that you did everything you could to be a winner.
Hopefully these tips can not only help you athletically but will also help you in other high performance areas of your life. Remember that everything begins with a thought and will be followed by action. Hopefully your actions will result in the success you are seeking in whatever you do.
Keep ripping it up!!!
I am often asked what we do at FASST Performance. Often, we are asked how we compare to the competition, what type of workouts we do, and how we can help improve an athletes performance. I think that the best way to answer who we are, is by answering who we aren’t. The following list will enable you to learn more about who we aren’t in an attempt to help you understand what we are all about.
- We aren’t going to promise you increased 40 yard dash times, higher vertical jumps, 400+ pound bench press, or make any claims of how our methods will make you win a state championship. I have been working with athletes for far too long and have assisted numerous athletes in reaching their goals. By promising increased times, distances, and weights, it lends to a far less sophisticated approach to training and limits what the athlete can or can’t do. We have one goal, and one goal only. That goal is to help our athletes reach the highest level of participation in whatever sport they play. Our system has helped our clients earn professional contracts to the NFL, MLB, Olympic Trials, and college scholarships.
- We aren’t going to videotape people doing what they should be doing. That is working hard, pushing themselves to the limit, and dominating the gym. Although we do have some video of of our athletes making some monster jumps or hammering some heavy weights, we like to limit the amount of time we are holding cameras. The more time someone is filming, the less time the coach is coaching. We have had some of the Lehigh Valley’s premier athletes pass through our gym and they didn’t become elite by having themselves filmed after every set. In today’s society, anyone can put their image on Youtube. Instead of inflating athletes egos by putting them on film, we like the response we get when our athletes are signing their letter of intent and receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial aid.
- We aren’t’ going to lie about our backgrounds to impress our clients. Being an insider in the strength and conditioning field, I recognize that most of our clients don’t have the knowledge that we have in the strength and conditioning field. Because of this, we do our best to educate our potential clients. We have seen first hand coaches putting false information on websites, videos, and other marketing materials that can fool a potential client. You can google anyone of our coaches and see first hand what credentials they bring. We pride ourselves on being former elite athletes as well as top level coaches. I began as a coach and run my facility as a coach. We have no need to falsify what we have done to impress others. Most people are impressed by the work they see our athletes putting in at the gym and that is enough validation for our success.
- We aren’t going to recruit you on Facebook. With all the recruiting services, Facebook stalkers, sports page investigators, and other people who are able to gather information at the speed of thought, we will not go after potential clients using these methods. Our business is based off of referrals and word of mouth. We work with many of the Lehigh Valley’s top coaches and look for a specific client. We want our facility to be the place to be and want people who not only endorse our training system, but believe in assisting everyone in the environment improve. I believe if you market to the masses and follow the masses, you never become the best you. By working with people who are motivated, hard working, talented, and express a no excuse attitude, these attributes will spread to everyone around them. It becomes contagious and outstanding results will follow. We don’t want people who are looking for quick fixes, gimmicks, or to be part of a hangout. We are too busy getting it done to be trolling social media, pestering high school students who need to be given a sales pitch to improve themselves.
- We aren’t feeling excuses. Growing up I heard people making excuses everyday about how they were getting the short end of the stick. They had low paying jobs, no money for education, were getting screwed over by the coach or their boss. I found out at an early age that making excuses not only was for losers but wasted a bunch of my valuable time. After losing my parents to cancer within 10 months, I had the opportunity to make up every excuse in the book and go down hill. Instead I wanted to make the right choices and use adversity as a tool to make a better life. It wastes my time hearing others excuses and it wastes mine making my own. We have people who drive hours to workout at my place. Not because of specialized equipment, our glamorous workout environment, or a computer program. They come because of the people involved and the results our clients get. If you are traveling to our facility from outside the area, our address will remain the same. The distance you travel will not change, the cost of training has remained relatively the same, and the workouts will continue to be intense. My wife and I have three children of our own and realize that with anything worthwhile, there will be sacrifice. It has never made sense to me when someone tells me that a 20 minute drive is too far. In our world, there really isn’t a difference between 10, 20, or 30 minutes if you know what you want to get out of the trip. I know from the moment the athlete steps foot in the gym, with or without a parent, who will become part of our exclusive team. It will be the person who isn’t looking for excuses for why they can’t but looking for reasons they can succeed. Results aren’t cheap and they shouldn’t be. We aren’t going to provide discounts for elite athletes or for younger children. We will though offer you a no excuse environment that will help you be the best you!!!!! It has been this no excuse, no nonsense approach that has enabled me to be the first person in my family to become a college graduate, earn a spot in my college hall of fame, and build a successful business with the help of all of our motivated and committed athletes. We take our hats off to all of you and if you’re reading this, you are probably one of our no excuse making clients who have been crushing the opponents.
I think that by learning who we aren’t you will now have a clearer picture of who we are. We thank you for taking the time to read this and appreciate all of your business. Next time you are thinking about who you are, take a little time and figure out who you aren’t. This may be a great approach in helping you become the person you want to be!!!
Have a great weekend,