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Finish First Insider, Issue #41
January 16, 2009
Welcome Back

Please enjoy another issue packed with evidence-based information about sports performance training and news about current events at Finish First Sports Performance. If you find value in this e-newsletter, please forward this message to your teammates, coaches, or other parents of hard working athletes.

Improve Strike-Force to Improve Specific Game Speed

By Coach J. Hoy, CSCS, USAW, Jump Stretch, Inc. Certified,
Elite Performance Scientist

While there are a plethora of exercises and drills that can be used for speed enhancement, most coaches tend to focus specifically on training an athlete’s running stride length, stride frequency, or running mechanics.

Stride length is the distance an athlete travels between two foot contacts with the ground (ie. Left foot contacts the ground when running then the right foot contacts the ground 6 feet later, giving you a stride length of 6 feet).

Stride frequency is the number of foot contacts in a given time or distance.

Running mechanics typically refer to the specific running techniques of athletes at full speed. Some of the techniques include arm mechanics, posture, breathing, and leg turnover.

Game speed is the most commonly used type of speed in game situations: short bursts of explosive power and strong, quick movements, with frequent changes in direction.

Training for Full-Speed Running

Stride length, stride frequency, and running mechanics are designed to address full-speed running (aka top-end speed), which occurs after an athlete has finished accelerating. In a 40 yard dash, full-speed running typically occurs somewhere after 20 yards and continues through 40 yards. Despite the fact that specific training for these elements occurs AFTER the first 20 yards, most coaches still tend to focus on these as their primary game speed training areas.

Training for Short-Quick Bursts of Speed

The first 20 yards of the 40 yard dash is specific to acceleration. Most expert coaches would agree that acceleration is one of the most important training elements because it requires training for power—the combination of speed and strength that gives an athlete that ‘1st step quickness’ and helps an athlete ‘pull away’ from his/her opponent in the first few steps of movement. Since most sports require short bursts of powerful game speed followed by quick deceleration, then re-acceleration as the athlete changes direction, specific programming designed for acceleration is paramount to an athlete’s success.

While many training camps and speed training companies promote the latest bells and whistles for speed training, the truth is that most acceleration training is accomplished through effectively designed weight-room training programs, accompanied by specific training protocols for minimizing ground-contact time during powerful movements (pliometric training methods).

Creating as much force as possible in as little time as possible is the goal of power or explosive training (used in pliometric training methods).

In running, this explosive training is designed for increases in strike-force output—each time the foot contacts the ground, it is the goal to utilize the reactive forces (from the contact) in addition to the forces that are actively generated to produce even greater forces in as little time as possible. Simply put, the athlete is training to generate more force per foot contact, as rapidly as possible. This training for strike-force output will directly affect the athletes stride frequency and stride length.

Training for acceleration not only improves that athlete’s 1st step quickness, and produces quicker short bursts, but also helps with increasing full-speed. And, acceleration training only requires 10-20 yards of space and a well-equipped weight training facility!

Strike-Force Output Training for Game Speed

Training for acceleration, or strike-force output, is the key to improving an athlete’s game speed. It helps an athlete beat his/her opponent with a quicker 1st step, and gives the athlete the power to continue to ‘pull away’ from the competition.

Maintain Power Through-out the Game

Lastly, it is also important that the athlete’s training program addresses the need to be able to maintain maximal power output throughout the entire competitive event. Athletes that are only explosive for the first part of the game will soon be surpassed by athletes or teams that can maintain this power for the duration of the game. This specific type of training is power endurance. Although there are many ways to train specifically for power endurance relative to a given sport, one simple way to address this is to ‘train the time frame’ of the sport. What this means is that if an athlete’s specific position for his/her sport requires 30 bursts of sprinting and each one lasts 10 seconds, then the athlete must be able to produce 30 bursts of all-out effort for 10 second intervals. Rest intervals (rest between sprints) can also be specific to the rest found in the sport. Start with longer rest intervals and shorten them as the athlete becomes better conditioned to the sprints. For sports with variable rest intervals in sport, vary the rest in the training.

It is best to for the athlete to be training to maximize acceleration and power endurance on an annual basis, with specific programming modifications during the pre-season and in-season periods.

For more specific information regarding speed training, acceleration, power-endurance, or to see how Finish First Sports Performance addresses these components, please call or stop by the training facility.

Staying Motivated in the New Year

By Heather R Mangieri, MS, RD, LDN Finish First Sports Performance Sports Nutrition Advisor

The New Year is here and many of you have set your new year’s resolutions. Whether you have chosen to get fit, eat better, become more financially secure or spent more time with family, your goals and expectations are in progress and hopefully you are seeing success. For many of us, setting a goal is not the problem--staying motivated is. It is easy to get off track and fall back into our old habits.

One of the most common questions that I get asked in my nutrition practice is, “How can I stay motivated?” This is a very hard question to answer. Not all people are motivated by the same factors and what might really help one person to stay focused might mean nothing to another person.

One frequent problem is that clients often set unrealistic or unclear goals. For example, a client that I saw last week told me her new year’s resolution was to lose weight and she wanted me to give her “the plan.” When I asked her how much weight and what her time frame was, she told me she did not know. Her plan was to continue to lose weight until she was happy with her weight. “Weight loss” is a common objective.

The problem is that without a specific goal, we can never reach success.

Most of us start motivated and within weeks end up caught up in our busy lives, get frustrated with slow progress and lose our focus. As a result, our motivation and our confidence fade away, as does the dream we started off the year with.

One of the first things that I do with clients that I see for nutrition counseling is to set up a game plan for achieving success.

Answer these questions to help turn your New Year’s Resolution into your reality:

*WHO? Who is involved in your goal? Who will help you reach your goal? Who will help you stay motivated? Who will teach you or train you how to do what you want to do. Can you do it on your own or will you reach out to someone for help?

*WHAT? It is not enough to say, “I want to lose weight” or “I want to be faster.” Be realistic and be specific. For example, you might set your new year’s resolution to be, “I want to lose 5 pounds. Another specific goal would be to finish this year’s marathon in three minutes less than last year. The greatest thing about setting small goals is that we are more likely to have success.

*WHEN? Once again setting a specific date or time is helpful in keeping focus. You want to lose 5 pounds, but what is your time frame? Your new goal might be to lose 5 pounds by February 14th (Valentine’s Day). Another specific goal would be to decrease your body fat percentage 1% by February 10th.

*HOW? Finally, it is important to understand what you will do to achieve your goal. Simply wanting something is not enough. We must figure out how to achieve the things that we want. If you are not sure, get help. Educate yourself or seek the help of someone who can help you formulate a plan. For example, if you goal is to improve your PR in the upcoming 10K, your HOW might be to utilize a new training plan. If your goal is to decrease your body fat, you HOW might be to schedule an appointment with a registered dietitian and have a specific plan formulated for you. Maybe you will write down everything you eat for 4 weeks, track your exercise and try to identify trends in your eating and exercise patterns.

The bottom line is setting smaller, concrete, attainable goals will increase your chances of meeting them. The more small goals that you meet, the more confidence you will gain and the more motivated you will feel to keep it going. It is also quite likely that these small changes will become part of your lifestyle, making it even easier to meet your larger, long term goals.

Lastly, keep a positive attitude! Focus on the positive changes that you are making in your life and do not let the road blocks get you down. It is important to recognize from the beginning that you will have hurdles to jump and upsets to face. The important thing is to stay focused.

Motivational Sports Quotes

Players win games, teams win championships.
-- Bill Taylor

The country is full of good coaches. What it takes to win is a bunch of interested players.
-- Don Coryell, ex-San Diego Chargers Coach

Adversity cause some men to break; others to break records
-- William A. Ward

You have no control over what the other guy does. You only have control over what you do.
-- A.J. Kitt

The Store is Now Open For Business!

Finish First Sports Performance Logo Apparel and Items

T's, Athletic T's, Coffee Mugs, Mouse Pads, Hoodies, Jackets, Hats, Stickers

All for sale online!

Take a look at the logo apparel store.

Good Luck to Miss Pennsylvania

Please join me in wishing Finish First Sports Performance athlete and current Miss Pennsylvania, Ms. Kendria Perry, all the best at the upcoming Miss America pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 24th, 2009.

You can show your support by watching her on the world's stage on TLC. Check your local TV listings for times and specific channel information.

Break a leg, Kendria! (That's how you wish good luck in the pageant world!)

Finish First Sports Performance Becomes the Official Fitness Training Provider of the Miss PA Organization

Yes, it's official.

Finish First Sports Performance is the Fitness Training provider of the Miss Pennsylvania Organization. We are proud to be a part of such a great organization with a history of excellence and look forward to preparing future Miss PA's for their shot at the Miss America crown!

Kick Some A, Tony!

Please help support Finish First Sports Performance athlete, professional MMA fighter, Tony Abbate, at his next fight, January 17, 2009. Tony will be fighting in the King of the Cage, at the Chevrolet Centre in Youngstown, OH. Ticket information can be obtained by calling Jeremy at 412-787-5070.

Break his leg, Tony! (That's how you wish good luck in the MMA world!)

Coming Soon

Finish First Sports Performance Athlete Spotlight: Connor Ford

Finish First Sports Performance Discovery Days
Curious about what we do or what we can do for you? Attend one of our Discovery Day presentations and have all of your questions answered AND learn about preparing for sports success.

Summer Speed and Acceleration Camps

Sports Performance Seminars for Coaches, Parents, and Athletes

ATTENTION: World Headquarters Training Center Under Construction


The Finish First Sports Performance world training headquarters is currently under construction. As you know, the headquarters is located in an aged building. As a result, some issues have arisen that needed immediate attention. The issues have been resolved, but we are patiently awaiting completion of the final stages of repair.

We are making every effort to be continue business as usual, with no changes to the hours of operation.

Again, we apologize for any inconvenience and will notify you of any changes that need to be made.

Thanks for your understanding and patience regarding this issue.

Thanks again for subscribing to this free e-newsletter. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. I look forward to your feedback as I continue to research to bring you the most current scientific training information available.

Should you have any specific article requests or questions, email me at Please visit for detailed sports performance training information and programs offered exclusively by Finish First Sports Performance.

Yours In Training,

Coach Jeremy S. Hoy, CSCS, USAW, Jump Stretch, Inc. Certified,
Elite Performance Scientist

Finish First Sports Performance

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