Back to Back Issues Page
Finish First Insider, Issue #66
July 20, 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, rapidly as possible. This training for strike-force output will directly affect the athletes stride frequency and stride length. Training for acceleration saves not only improves that athlete’s 1st step quickness, and 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.

Energy Drinks or Eating for Energy?

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

“I want more energy!”

I hear it regularly from my clients, friends, family and even people on the street. Everyone is looking for a way to feel recharged, energized and more alert. So, let’s face it, with a name like “energy drink” who wouldn’t want to know more. The reality is energy drinks are hot! Here’s what you need to know.

Energy drinks are beverages that contain large amounts of caffeine and sugar, along with other ingredients such as B vitamins, amino acids and herbal stimulants such as guarana and ginseng. Names like Red Bull, Monster, Speed Shot, Full Throttle and Adrenaline Rush. The list is endless. They may contain up to 80 mg of caffeine which is equivalent to a cup of coffee.

While loads of sugar and caffeine may provide you with a temporary boost, that’s not all they will give you. The excess caffeine in these beverages can cause nervousness, irritability, increased heart rate, blood pressure and even insomnia. Though excess caffeine affects individuals differently, the mix of caffeine with other herbal ingredients can exacerbate the effects. Further, the high concentration of sugar may slow the body’s ability to absorb water. This makes energy drinks a bad choice for athletes. Equally important, the uplifting effects of energy drinks are short lived. When they wear off you’ll feel anything but energized.

If weight loss is your goal, drinking the extra sugar is not only going to provide you with excess empty calories, but the extra caffeine may be counterproductive in getting proper sleep- something we know is important when working toward weight maintenance or weight loss.

Another serious concern is the mixture of energy drinks with alcohol. Since energy drinks are stimulants and alcohol is a depressant, the combination of these effects may be dangerous. The stimulant effects from the energy drink may mask the effects of the alcohol, leaving you feeling less intoxicated than you really are. Alcohol also acts as a diuretic. Dehydration can hinder your body’s ability to metabolize alcohol and will increase the toxicity, and therefore hangover. The effects will affect you not only the next day but for many days after.

So, how do you boost your energy levels naturally? The first thing is to evaluate what is causing the fatigue. Perhaps you need to get more sleep. We all lead very busy lives and often this is easier said than done. Nutritionally speaking, it is important to be getting enough calories- and the right kinds. Skimping on calories decreases metabolic rate as the body works to try to conserve energy. This is often the reason why those that skip out on needed calories feel fatigued. As metabolism slows, the body begins to burn fewer calories, possibly leading to weight gain.

One of the easiest ways to get the body going is to eat breakfast. Consuming a balance of carbohydrates, protein and a little fat helps to wake your body up and keep you satisfied until your next meal. Finding a healthy balance of nutrients through the day can make a world of difference in feeling energized.


Due to the volume of athletes currently using the Finish First Sports Performance world training headquarters, all athletes are required to schedule all sessions prior to arrival. In the future, if an athlete shows up without first scheduling for a session, there is no guarantee that s/he will be able to use the facility at that time. If the facility is at capacity, the athlete will need to come back for his/her session at a later time. At Finish First Sports Performance, we are taking all measures necessary to prevent overcrowding and help ensure the safety of the athletes and the quality of the programs. We appreciate your understanding and look forward to continuing to serve you.

How to Schedule Workouts Using the Online System

Due to the volume of athletes currently using the training facility, and the expected returning college athletes over the summer, you will need to begin scheduling your workout sessions in advance. It is recommended that you do so online. The Finish First Sports Performance coaches will have access to the sessions calendar to see when you are scheduled. When you arrive to the facility, it is also important to use your fingerprint to check in to the system. Below, you will find the correct way to schedule online. It is also now possible to make payments online, and check your training history. Please call if you have any questions.

1. Go to

2. Scroll down the left and under “Additional Services” you will see MEMBER LOGIN—click on that

3. A new window should pop up and on that window click on ATHLETE

4. Unless you have logged into the system before, your login ID is: last name-first name, and your password is: last name. So for John Smith, his login ID would be smith-john, and his password would be smith. You will be prompted to change your password so that only you may know it—write it down and don’t forget it—if you do forget it, please let Jeremy know so he can reset it.

5. Once logged in, on main screen you will see a box/button on the right titled “REGISTER FOR CLASSES”—click on this.

6. You can register or change your scheduled time up to 24 hours before the session. Any changes that need to be made within 24 hours of the session need to be made by calling Jeremy at 412-787-5070.

The online system works best with Internet Explorer (most recent version).

Motivational Quotes

"The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person's determination"
-- Tommy Lasorda

"What this power is I cannot say; all I know is that it exists and it becomes available only when a man is in that state of mind in which he knows exactly what he wants and is fully determined not to quit until he finds it."
-- Alexander Graham Bell

"Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph; a beginning, a struggle and a victory."
-- Ghandi

"A failure establishes only this, that our determination to succeed was not strong enough."
-- John Christian Bovee

Thank You for Your Support

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

For Finish First Insider backissues #1 - 29, click here

Back to Back Issues Page