SATELLITE TRAINING

Satellite training is a service we offer to give athletes the chance to experience the Athletes Warehouse culture and training philosophy without having to physically come to our facility. In a perfect world, we would want everyone across the country to have the opportunity to be present in AW. Satellite training is an incredible option for athletes around the world to experience what Athletes Warehouse is all about.

A commonality between training in the facility vs. training satellite style is how customized the program is. This is beneficial to satellite athletes as the program can be tailored towards whatever equipment they have access to. We’ve had satellite athletes who have access to some of the top collegiate facilities in the country, as well as those who have had no equipment but a track and a set of resistance bands. There are so many creative ways our team of coaches can help an athlete achieve their performance goals.

Satellite training happens on the athlete’s time, and therefore we find great benefit in the number of training sessions an athlete can accumulate in a given week. With many commitments in an athlete’s schedule, we understand that it is not always easy to physically be in Athletes Warehouse more than 2-3x per week. Eventually, training even just 2-3 times per week is not going to be sufficient to push an athlete to elite status. We encourage many of our in-house athletes to take advantage of this service, as it can give an athlete supplemental training on days they are not physically in our facility. This can allow an athlete to realistically accumulate upwards of five to six training days per week.

For athlete’s who are currently training in Athletes Warehouse, beginning satellite training is simple. You can start by addressing interest with your primary coach. You and your coach can then discuss a program design to be completed outside of the facility. Your coach will adjust your program so that more complex and technical training will be completed with a coach’s eyes on you. Supplemental work can fill in the gaps in accordance with what type of equipment you have outside of the gym. This truly is the best way to maximize your training at Athletes Warehouse.

For athlete’s who do not currently train in Athletes Warehouse, there are several ways in which we can get started. First, we do an initial consultation and movement screening. Just like any of our athletes in the facility, we cannot begin to write a program for you if we do not take time to get to know you and how you move. For athletes who are within range, we encourage you to be in person for your initial consultation, where an athlete can talk with a coach about goals. The coach can put them through an in-person movement assessment. For those unable to be present in the facility, we can perform an initial consultation entirely via Skype or FaceTime. After the program is designed, athletes have total access to our video library, where each movement they are prescribed is demonstrated by one of our coaches. Utilization of video conference calls allow open communication between the athlete and the coach throughout their training process. Programs also encompass a large amount of testing and logging which allows the coach to track the progress of the athlete day to day. Satellite training is an amazing way to take a little piece of Athletes Warehouse everywhere you go. Not just do you receive a superior training program, but you have personal access to top coaches in the industry. If you are looking to take your training to the next level, reach out to team@athleteswarehouse.com to get started with you satellite training experience power by Athletes Warehouse.

THIRD PLACE

Many of us have come to know Athletes Warehouse as a sanctuary. Whatever your reason for coming, it’s safe to say that many of our athletes find assurance and safety coming through the doors. By allowing our athletes to feel such a level of comfort, we maximize what we get out of them. We break down the barriers pertaining to the stress of beginning off-season training for the first time, or potentially the last time. No matter what stage of an athlete’s career, this facility has become more than just a gym to so many. It has become a “third place.”

A third place refers to a third area in the student athlete’s life where they will find sanctuary. Creating such a sanctuary where athletes can come to improve themselves in so many different facets of life is an incredible way to maximize the potential of a young individual.

I have essentially grown up in Athletes Warehouse. As first an athlete and now as a coach. This facility has become a home to me. I can remember as an athlete, coming home from college, my first stop was my house to drop my bags off, my next stop was Athletes Warehouse for a training session. The coaches here became role models to me. I looked up to Nick, Matt, and Cassie. As a coach, it is my responsibility to create this environment for every athlete that walks into our building because I can reflect on how powerful an impact this facility had on my life.

When an athlete feels as though the training environment is their third place, it creates a motivation that is so purely intrinsic in the athlete. I am incredibly grateful that I had the ability to experience this as an athlete. It has given me a totally different perspective on how I treat my athletes to this day. Each athlete may have severely different reasons for training. Each athlete may have a different motivation for coming and some may even find trouble motivating themselves to walk in the building. Regardless, the team of coaches here at Athletes Warehouse have this incredible ability of making every athlete feel at home in the facility. I have experienced this, felt it change me as an athlete, and seen it change athletes each day as they come through the building.

In a society of sports that is so hierarchical where we program our athletes to respond to authority, it is so refreshing to be in an environment where a young athlete responds to a figure they truly trust and respect, rather than fear. Know that everyday the athlete walks in the building, a coach is greeting them with the utmost effort of developing a true and honest relationship with them. This is what creates a “third place”, a “safe haven”, a “second home”, for the athlete. This is merely one of the reasons that makes athletes warehouse special and why we will continue to produce phenomenal athletes.

Stay Strong,

Coach Jack

A Letter of Thanks…

by Cassie Reilly-Boccia

So many of us ask each other what we’re thankful for around this time of year. As I sit and reflect upon all I have to be grateful for, I can’t help but find my mind circling back to our family of athletes at AW. With this being on my mind, I felt compelled to write a thank you note to our community who has meant so much to us over these last few years. So, without further ado…

Dear AW family,

Thank you for taking a chance on a warehouse in the middle of Pleasantville. Thank you for being willing to learn about the importance of strength and conditioning opposed to just accepting the previously established norms of training young athletes. There is a paralyzing amount of information on the internet that can lead to confusion beyond measure as to what the right thing to do in training is. Don’t for a second think that we don’t understand the enormity of you entrusting us with your dreams. It has become the greatest reward to watch you succeed in all that you do. Your success is our success and as Randy Pausch once said, “Sometimes, the, ‘Enabling the dreams of others’ thing is even more fun.” (If you haven’t read his book, The Last Lecture yet, I highly recommend it.) As each coach is a former collegiate athlete, we all couldn’t agree more and we would have never had a chance to experience this awesome feeling had you not handed over part of your dream to us when you first walked in the door.

Thank you for your appreciation. You have no idea how much a handshake at the end of a session or a simple, ‘Thanks for everything, coach’ means to us. Strength and conditioning is hard. Instead of resenting what is prescribed by your coach, you instead see the value and intent behind each exercise. Putting your body through physical discomfort in the short term in order to achieve a dream far off in the long term is the ultimate definition of delayed gratification. Seeing how you all appreciate and embrace ‘the suck’ of a workout during these fall and winter months shows a great deal of emotion and psychological maturity. Traits that will undoubtedly serve you well in all of your future endeavors.

Lastly, thank you for giving the effort you do on a daily basis. Your continuous fight when the weight gets heavy, push when your breath becomes short, and passion to achieve a level of greatness higher than the one you are currently at inspires us as coaches each and every day. It is because of your tenacity and grit that we are driven to work harder ourselves and aspire to become better coaches, mentors, teachers, athletes, and people. It is because of you that we go to sleep thinking about the program that will best suit you the next day. It is because of you that we wake up in the morning fired up at the opportunity to work with you. Lastly, it is because of you that we possess the most vital trait to leading a happy and fulfilled life: purpose. Thank you for giving us our purpose, defining our why, and making this the best ‘job’ any of us could have ever asked for. From our family to yours, we hope you all have a great Thanksgiving!

What I learned at AW that helped me train on my own…

by Alessandra Ahlmen

I started training at Athlete’s Warehouse (AW) when it first opened in June 2014. Over three years later, I am still learning something new every time I have a session. Like most learning cycles, there came a time to put all of this knowledge to the test. For me, that test was moving to Sweden to play for Älta IF, a division 1 team in Stockholm. Upon arrival, I faced the challenge of training on my own without the guidance from a coach of motivation from my peers. Luckily, Coach Cassie was able to give me a training program to follow every day. However, having just a program of exercises is not enough, I had to learn to be my own coach and how to train on my own. I would not have been able to take this step had it not been for everything I learned at AW and training with Alpha*.

*Alpha is a group of driven female athletes that were grouped into a strength and conditioning program over the summer.

There are four main lessons that I took from training at AW that have made me a more self-motivated and aware athlete today. 

1. Challenging yourself

At Alpha, I was always challenged: someone I was working out with always ran a faster sprint, lifted a heavier weight, or had a more explosive first step. Everyone was striving to be the best at whatever we were doing regardless of sport, position, or talent level. On my own, I have to constantly monitor and remember to challenge myself: trying for a heavier weight, demanding a better sprint, or pushing to be more powerful than my last rep even when I begin to fatigue. Alpha’s competitive environment helped me hone a focused and driven edge that I can now use to challenge myself in all aspects of my life.

2. Rest

AW coaches and athletes (specifically Marina Kern) taught me to take short breaks—to push my limits and body in order to truly find out what I was capable of achieving. Marina probably wouldn’t even take any breaks if a coach didn’t make her. Now in Sweden, I have to be extra aware that I continue to do that even when I am by myself because there is not anyone here telling me to get a move on. It is really easy to slack off and take an extra minute, but AW helped me realize that a champion is made up of the minutes they trained, not the ones they rested.

3. Ego

I am sure most athletes at AW have had a coach preach their motto “leave your ego at the door” at them. Upon arrival, there’s a giant sign with the saying “Starve the Ego”– this theme at AW is hard to miss.

Being told to remove a plate, or lower a box jump is not fun to hear, and as a matter of fact, is sometimes annoying. However, as far as lessons go, this is an important one. Ego does not improve your 40 time or increase your max back squat, a smart approach to training does. On my own, I have to make the decisions to change something if my form is slipping. At times like that, I need to take a step back, ignore my ego, and remind myself that it is more important to do something properly rather than doing something with a big weight. It’s not about how much weight you move but how you move the weight!

4. Form

Speaking of quality technique, at AW, I always had a coach eyeing my every movement and making sure my form was no less than perfect. I learned each technique like the back of my hand before I added weight. I learned what “right” felt like. Having the coach’s corrections and tips during lifting was important because it taught me to identify technical mistakes as they were happening and correct them.

I am happy I learned all of this awareness because in Sweden I don’t have the luxury of someone keeping an eye on my form at all times. I know what it feels like to be doing something right and how to fix it if something feels wrong.

AW also taught me to take critiques and suggestions about my form openly; which has proved to be only a big help when alone. For example, just last Thursday I was doing hex-bar deadlifts, and one of the workers at the gym walked by and told me I wasn’t locking my back enough. Thanks to AW I had the proper growth mindset that let me take this in while also having the competence to put their advice to use.

Athletes should make it their mission to learn something new every time they train at AW. It’s actually pretty easy to do this even without trying. All of the coaches are full of knowledge and are just waiting to teach and help their athletes grow (I should know, I’ve asked more than my fair share of questions). I have yet to hear an answer or explanation that was not clearly backed up by extensive background knowledge and experience. Athlete’s Warehouse is like the world’s greatest library for fitness and biomechanics, and everyone should take advantage of it. I can’t wait to be back training and learning this December.

Being able to train on my own is great because it gives me the ability of being able to train on my own. If I don’t have a coach, being able to train on my own allows me to train on my own when I don’t have a coach.

From Athlete to Coach

This article is about Jack Gladstone’s experience in his transition from an athlete to a coach at AW, and how he was watched the culture of Athletes Warehouse grow and evolve.

A letter from a coach to current Athletes Warehouse athletes

by Coach Jack Gladstone

Before there was a physical presence of a building that we all know as Athletes Warehouse, the culture of Athletes Warehouse had been forming since 2012. A bunch of high school and college athletes training out of a barn in the middle of the summer (might I add with no A/C). Our equipment was limited to some barbells, kettlebells, and pull up bars. However, regardless of the conditions this group was wholeheartedly devoted to the training program under one of our coaches and owners, Nick Serio.

As an Athlete, training in the barn was tremendously important to my collegiate athletic career. As I look back, I’m unsure if I would have made it through four years of varsity lacrosse without it. I was becoming faster, stronger, more powerful, and more confident as an athlete. From the start of the summer of 2013 to the winter of 2015 my strength and power numbers skyrocketed. On paper, I was a completely different athlete. Every time I showed up to school after training for numerous weeks in that barn with Nick, I had the confidence that I was faster and stronger than the previous semester. Looking back at pre-training pictures from my freshman year, I hysterically laugh at the image I see. To sum up the image in short, I just looked like a kid that could use a cheeseburger. Since beginning my athletic transformation, I have achieved things that I would never have accomplished under my own programming.

As my college career ended, and I began coaching at Athletes Warehouse, I realized the most important thing that being one of the first Athletes Warehouse athletes had taught me. Sure I had learned how to squat, clean, and sprint at an elite level, which is all incredibly important, but above all else, I learned how to BE and ACT like an Athlete. I learned what it truly meant to be an athlete. These are the things that are important, beyond what your Pro-Agility time is. Without acting like an athlete, you’ll never even make it to the starting line. So here is my list of things I learned from athletes warehouse on how to BE an athlete.

  1. Be a good person. No matter how good you are at your sport, at the end of your career if you didn’t take time to strive to be a good person you’re going to look back and no one is going to be standing there with you.
  1. Put the right things in your body. If you’re one of our athletes here and you are still unsure of what, when, and how much to eat before and after your training session, please go see Tim.
  1. Wherever you may be training or practicing, never give your coach half an effort. With the attitude that the Athletes Warehouse coaches put forth to me and every other athlete that comes through the door, the athlete should supersede that.
  1. Do not be afraid to identify and attack a weakness. It does not matter whether it is attacking physical weaknesses but also lifestyle and habitual weaknesses.
  1. To the the College and High school kids, be a good athlete, be an even better student. Just like all those coaches who put in time and effort over the years to develop your skills on the field, think about how many teachers invested years in developing you into the well-educated individual you are today.
  1. When you’re having a bad day, whether it be on the field, in the classroom, or in the weight room, make it only your bad day. Understand the impact that your attitude can have on others.
  1. Lastly, understand your “WHY”! Take the time to think about why you are playing the game. In my honest opinion, most athletes that I coach here originally do not come here with a “why”. I believe when a coach helps an athlete to understand their “why”, they unlock a whole new motivated machine. An athlete who is performing exercises without a purpose is just working out. An athlete who is exercising with a purpose is training. An athlete must understand this in order to put forth an effort and approach to each training day that is going to continually progress them to a higher level in the sport or skill that they are trying to enhance.

To all the AW Athletes out there, this is my message to you. As a former AW Athlete, turned AW Coach, I hope to see more of the same in the future. As someone who has been an Athlete and Coach here, I can wholeheartedly say that this program develops young athletes in a different way. I am so envious of the early exposure that our younger athletes have to our program because I am incredibly grateful for what AW provided me. The future of the AW athlete is extraordinary. I am honored to be a part of the process and I am humbled by the incredible athletes that I coach on an everyday basis.

The Culture of Athletes Warehouse is Cool. The Culture of athletes warehouse is awesome. The culture of Athletes warehouse, which some refer to as the culture of athletes warehouse, is world renowned for being the culture of athletes warehouse.

Interview with Coach Matt

Cassie: Briefly explain how you got involved at AW. 

MattI got involved with Athletes Warehouse because of SUNY Cortland Baseball.  Nick Serio, who played there before me thankfully reached out to me to make the connection.  When I went down to meet with Cassie and Nick for my interview I was sold right there.  I didn’t even say much because I didn’t know what to say other than I was inspired but inside a fire was lit and I called my parents right after saying I need to do this, I need to be part of this.  I didn’t quite know what I was getting into, I just knew I had to be part of it and the feeling I got listening to Nick explain his vision that day has never left me and its been over 3 years where I have not lost that feeling. 

Cassie: What was your first impression of the building?  

Matt: A lot of people get this question who saw the building before it was actually built and couldn’t believe that it turned into what it did.  I can honestly say I was never surprised.  I took the job because I knew Nick was capable of doing it.  I walked into a beat down warehouse with not a single weight in it and it didn’t scare me for a second.  We got to all help build this place together and that experience alone is something I can’t describe in words.  From demolition to laying rubber, to carrying equipment in and out, to painting, to building an upstairs, everything was part of this journey.  So my first impression was really…when do we start?  Tell me what to do and let’s do it because I was part of a team that still blows me away every day. 

Cassie: Describe what the culture at Athletes Warehouse means to you?

Matt: I have been part of teams since I was 6 years old.  I’ve played in State Championships, World Series, Super Bowl’s, Sectional games, etc competing at high levels my whole life and not one time have a been a part of a culture like we have at Athlete’s Warehouse.  I have never been on a team where every single member is on the same page and is striving towards the same goals.  Not only do we get to be part of this culture together we get to share it with youth athletes, adults, friends, family, the world!  We want everyone to understand the culture we have created because it is by far the most important and precious part of Athletes Warehouse.  It is truly a family that is successful because of the people we have and because we grind every day together to keep this culture.

Cassie: When did you know you wanted to be a strength and conditioning coach?

Matt: I knew I wanted to be a Strength and Conditioning Coach early on in my life, let’s call it sometime around sophomore year in high school.  I didn’t really know what a strength coach was yet but by the time I was in college I knew I wanted to train athletes and particularly youth/HS/College level athletes.  My whole life I was in a gym working out, not to be an athlete because I never had a real Strength and Conditioning Coach.  I did the typical Squat, Bench Deadlift and thought I was a bodybuilder at 165 soaking wet.  I knew almost nothing of what it meant to train like an athlete and how to train to become a better athlete.  When I was in College I really knew I wanted to be someone who could help educate and teach young athletes how to train properly and help them carry that on for their athletic career and for the rest of their life. 

Cassie: If you couldn’t be a strength coach, what would you be doing?

Matt: If I couldn’t be a strength coach I would have tried to become a Navy Seal or an Army Ranger.  If that didn’t work out I would own my own farm down south and obviously have a private gym in my barn.

Cassie: When you think of the word, ‘successful’ what comes to mind?

Matt: I would have to say, Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Everyone views Arnold as just a body builder but if you want to know how successful he really was google him one time.  He was a successful entrepreneur while he was body building, speaks multiple languages, had a very strict routine throughout his career, was a successful actor, became a governor and was one of the best body builders of all time.  I don’t know of many people who have dominated so many different careers in a lifetime.

Cassie: Favorite/most influential book or reading material and why?

Matt: If anyone wants to know I am horrible when it comes to reading books.  I am 27 and I still am on page 18 of Harry Potter Sorcerers Stone.  Honestly, the most influential/favorite book I have ever read is by one of our very own Cassie Reilly-Boccia “ Finished it”.  If you haven’t read it, you should start today.  It is my favorite book because, in the mist of competition for a National Championship, Cassie was also writing a book on the ups and downs, successes, the culture of her experience and senior season at Alabama.  Like I said I am horrible at sticking to a book, this book I couldn’t put down because I felt like I was there.  I have the privilege of knowing and working with Cassie and this book gives you a glimpse of why she is so successful and has been so successful her entire life.  I had the opportunity to meet her Coach and work with another one of our own Ryan Iamurri, along with a few other players from Alabama.  I have never in my life met such down to earth, genuinely good people and because of their character and who they are as people, that is why they are successful.  The fact that I get to be part of a team with them on it is such a privilege and I wish I met them sooner in my life.  This book influences you on so many levels, whether you are an athlete or not.  I have read the book twice and it never gets old.

Cassie: What type of workout are you following now?

Matt: After all the years of trying to figure out a workout routine for myself, I finally began writing my own program.  I labeled it Common Sense, to be sarcastic but serious at the same time.  It is a program that requires 45-60 minutes a day, involves body building, athletic movements, powerlifting, Olympic lifting, sprints, and conditioning.  It’s probably my favorite workout program I have ever been on and have been writing it for 6 months now.  If your no longer a competitive athlete but still want to work hard, and work out properly let me know.

Cassie: What is your favorite movement to perform?

Matt: Obviously, my favorite movement will always remain the Bench Press and I really don’t need to explain that one.  I started doing it in my basement when I was maybe 12 and could barely bench the bar.  Now I look forward to doing it every week.  My two other favorite movements would have to be the Sumo Deadlift and the Snatch.  Not only do I just love doing the movements myself I just think they are two of the greatest movements everyone should be doing.  Both require different levels of technique, One requires you to rip heavy weight off the floor and the other requires you to take a weight from the floor and bring it over your head.  What better movements are there?  P.S. really anything involving a barbell I love.

Cassie: What is your favorite post workout meal?

Matt: A long time ago I thought eating chicken wings, bacon and burritos was the key to becoming big and strong.  Although I’ll never admit I am wrong, I have changed my personal opinion towards this matter.  Now, I would much rather drink a whey protein shake with a lot of dextrose in it, while my spaghetti and meatballs or chili over rice warms up in the microwave.  If I am still hungry wash it down with a few scoops of peanut butter and a glass of whole milk.

Cassie: What is your favorite exercise to do with an athlete?

Matt: Although the Front squat and Sumo Deadlift are two of my favorites for athletes, I go back to above and will have to say the Snatch.  Not only does it require such great technique, it can be used for power, for kinematic sequencing, even for strength in a sense.  Another reason is that you can use this movement from multiple positions (the floor, a hang, from blocks, turn it into a complex, etc).  There is just something special about using power, strength, and technique to bring a bar smoothly overhead.  Every athlete should be able to at least complete this movement in some fashion. The best part is you do not need a lot of weight to complete the movement and even young kids can learn this movement when training. 

Cassie: Most influential/inspirational athlete you’ve ever trained?

Matt: Most influential athlete I have ever trained is a female athlete named KC Wallace. KC traveled from Massachusetts – that’s right Massachusetts – to come down and train with us.  She came in 5 days a week and knew exactly what she wanted, knew her goals, knew her strengths, her weaknesses, everything.  I used to stay up late every Sunday to program for her because I was excited to get to the gym and work with her the next week.  Even if I was having a rough day or I was tired whatever, when she walked in, I got fired up to train her and I think that should say a lot about who she was as a person and as an athlete.  What describes her even more, is she always had a good attitude, always brought 100% effort and never walked in or left without saying hello and goodbye to everyone.  Every athlete should strive to get on her level.  Everyone who has busy schedules should take a lesson from her, traveling every weekend to play lacrosse, getting Division 1 looks she could have easily just said I don’t need this, but she didn’t she traveled from Massachusetts to get after it every single day.

Cassie: Favorite part of your job?

Matt: Favorite part about my job is…it’s not a job.  I love when I hear people complain about their “job”…. “I don’t want Monday to come I have to go back to work”.  I don’t have to ever say that.  I get to wake up and work with the best team I have ever been a part of, be in the best training facility I have ever seen,  and I get to help athletes of all ages become better athletes, better people, and help them reach their goals.  In my opinion, I don’t have a job… I simply get to wake up and do what I love every day and I get to do it with the people I love. 

Cassie: Who has been your favorite coach?

Matt: My most influential coach is my Track Coach in High School, Coach Palmer.  In high school I thought I was a football player, who also played basketball and baseball.  I thought I was pretty talented and looked at Track as just a sport where you ran in circles.  I quit basketball my junior year to workout and get ready for baseball and football.  Coach Palmer who lived up the street from me, wrote me a letter and asked me to come run track.  I thought about it, had a few friends on the team and said what heck I will try it.  First day of practice we ran 400’s.  I ran my first one got blown away by kids who I thought were not even athletes and from that day on I gained a way different appreciation for the sport.  More importantly, Coach Palmer who was in charge of 50 + track athletes made the last two years of my high school athletic career, two of the best years of my life. I got to go to huge meets, compete in state championships but more importantly, be part of a team in a sport that is primarily an individual sport.  His ability to teach, coach and have a positive impact on so many kids at once was so impressive to me.  I am so grateful he wrote me that letter and forever I will take his coaching qualities into my life and try to have an impact on youth athletes the way he did to me and so many other athletes who had the privilege of running track for Coach Palmer.

Cassie: Favorite quote?

Matt: If you hung out with me before any game in my life you would know I could give you about 50 movie quotes, legendary sports coach or Bruce Lee quotes because it was part of my pregame ritual.  So many sticks out that I really think it is impossible for me to have a favorite. I will explain one quote that made me a better athlete especially in college playing baseball.  The quote comes from legendary Yankee catcher, Yogi Berra.  “You cannot think and hit at the same time”.  The quote is so short and simple and he is talking about baseball but I viewed it as a freshman in college as so much more.  In baseball, as a hitter, you sometimes get caught thinking about everything in the world.  Is it a curveball or fastball? Should I bunt? Is my dad here?  Is coach going to get mad I took the first pitch fastball?  I don’t want to let my team down, etc….I could go on for days, basically for you non-baseball players….the more you overthink the worse it gets.  I took this and ran with it as a player but I still have it on my background on my computer.  I think it applies to life and especially with the young athletes we get to work with.  They’re more worried sometimes about was that rep perfect, is this workout really helping me, I have a test tomorrow I can’t focus on working out,  I had a game earlier, I’m tired, I don’t want to workout,  It’s early I don’t want to wake up,etc…again I could go on for days.  The point is sometimes in life whether you’re at the plate, under a heavy barbell, having a rough day, you just have to put aside all the extra garbage, hut your mind down and go for it.  You’re in the moment right now, just do it.  I kind of live a lot of my life like that, especially when I was a player.  The reason I love that quote is because it made me really think outside the box and realize whats important.  There is a song called “Boys of Fall” by Kenny Chesney.  In the beginning of the video, Saints Coach Sean Payton is talking to a high school football team and is talking about Friday Night games or as he calls it “these tonights.”  He explains that these tonights go by fast and if you’re focused about a party, a relationship, a test, college something other than the game right in front of them then you’re focused on tomorrow.  If you are prepared for a game, prepared for a job interview, prepared for life then you shouldn’t have to over think.  You cannot think and hit at the same time just made me approach a lot of what I do in life a little different, that is why I love it.

Cassie: What is one thing you cannot live without?

Matt: I can honestly say one thing I can’t/don’t want to live without is my better half, Maria.  Some may think that is cute or whatever but to me, it’s nothing but the truth.  We started dating in a very difficult time, I was in my masters, coaching baseball, an assistant strength coach, working an 8 hour day at a local t-shirt warehouse and she was trying to enjoy her senior year while competing one last time for a national championship for women lacrosse.  Yes, it was a good time but we had difficulty hanging on especially when she graduated and I was doing the same thing for one more year of my Masters.  I packed up my bags after we lost in the World Series that year, drove home said bye to my parents and drove down to Pleasantville, New York to start my next chapter.  The problem was she wasn’t with me.  We had a choice to make and she took a huge risk moving down here to find a mediocre job but so she could be with me.  For a few months, we lived in the same town in different houses and barely saw each other.  Finally, we found an apartment and slept on an air mattress for months with not a lot money but we had each other and we figured it out  The fact that she took that risk to make us work summed it all up for me.  It wasn’t easy for the first couple years but we got through every struggle, good time, bad time together.  I am sure everyone has some sort of similar story but that is the beginning of our story and as much as I talked about how important the Athletes Warehouse Team is to me, she is just as important because she and I are in this life together, that’s our team. She has been with me through the tough times and has been my rock throughout the last 5 years of my life, from being there through my masters to making a leap of faith and honoring my passion for my career.  We make decisions together and are going through life learning it together, growing up together, without her I don’t think I could be the person I am today. 

AW Coaching Chronicles, Week 1

AW Geniuses,

It’s that time of year again. Winter is officially upon us. Although the leaves have not fully vacated the trees and there is no sight of snow for (hopefully) a long time, the winter season at Athletes Warehouse started last week. This point of the year is marked by time our teams begin training with us. Our turf is usually packed from 3pm – 9pm and our gym is filled with hungry individuals who truly understand that in order to transform their game in the spring, the hard work and dedication begins now.

For each week of the winter we as coaches will be highlighting various individuals or teams, coaching concepts, or answering questions from our athletes in an attempt to engage conversation among other professionals in the field of strength and conditioning, parents, and or other athletes themselves.  We will be keeping a more conversational vernacular in an effort to evoke responses and discussions.

So, without further ado, I present to you our first Coaching Chronicle Article:

Progressing The Athlete Through Movement

Our graphic of the week highlights our movement progression triangle that shows our considerations when coaching an athlete in the weight room through strength development, speed, change of direction, and power. This is our ultimate goal with every athlete that walks in the building:

The foundation of our triangle is POSITION. With this, we ask ourselves, “Is the athlete capable of achieving the positioning they need to in order to complete the exercise/movement?” This could be a structural issue or a competency issue. Either way, we are looking for the limiting factors of the human system. Once the athlete is capable of achieving the correct positioning, we ask ourselves, “Can this athlete move properly from position A to position B?” For example: The athlete may understand what they need to look like at the bottom of the squat but in order to get to the that position they load their knees first and then shift back into their hips. The movement from position A to position B is flawed thus our focus needs to be on progressing the proper movement pattern and teaching the brain how to tell the body how to move. Next, is speed. Everyone loves to talk about speed and how fast an athlete can move however, when we think of speed with this triangle we think of slow motion. In order to enhance our first two bases of the triangle, positioning and movement, we need to first tempo the movement. For example: We will require an athlete to take 10 seconds to get to the bottom of the squat. Then we will make them hold that position for 5 seconds before taking another 5-10 seconds to return to the start position. This is important because it gives us as coaches an opportunity to better see how the athlete moves and on top of that, the athlete will begin to learn their movement as well! Lastly, is load. So many times strength and conditioning is associated with adding a barbell with a ton of weight. This is our last consideration when working with a youth athlete. Unfortunately, many professionals in the field interpret training an athlete as this triangle flipped upside down with the weight being the most important thing. Remember, it is not how much weight you move it is how you move the weight that matters the most!

Evaluations

One of the most difficult things to do with our winter sessions is to decide on our evaluation protocol for each athlete, group, and team. Here are our concerns with looking at which tests to complete:

How many sessions will this team be coming for? 8, 12, 16 weeks?

How many times per week will the team be coming?

With keeping the first two questions in mind, how committed are the athletes?

This third one is important. If we have a 12 week program where the athletes are scheduled to come 2 times per week, that is a total of 24 sessions to get better. Improvement during that time frame should be tremendous! However, we have athletes who unfortunately won’t come but once every two weeks. If we have an entire team with this type of commitment and attendance it will severely alter our standards for evaluation protocol. Sometimes, our evaluation protocol for our younger population is just filming them perform a basic movement screening. Their technique and awareness of how they squat, lunge, jump, and run will be changed the most – factors that may not show up on a pro-agility test when working with a 10 year old.

What are the demands of the sport?

A 40 yard dash makes a lot more sense to test with our lacrosse athletes than it does our softball athletes. Should we radar gun our pitching group? Should we radar the shot of our lacrosse boys? Should we use bat metrics for any of our baseball or softball hitters when they swing? Are we becoming too goal oriented instead of process oriented with these? Is it safe to ever do a 1RM? Is it safer or more putting the athlete at a higher risk to do a 3RM or 5RM? Our goal is to still steer toward the realm of strength and conditioning while still being able to add the sport specific touch necessary for our more elite athletes. We also want to foster a strong and resilient mental game that is focused on improving themselves in the process opposed to just focusing on the numbers during evaluations.

How will we store and track the data we get from these athletes?

Keeping all of the information in one place for 800 athletes per week when you have 5 coaches can be a gigantic task. Fortunately for us, there are softwares like TrainHeroic that we have been utilizing and loving. We’ve tried out various softwares and yes, even tried to make our own, but TrainHeroic has been the most user friendly and detail oriented program we’ve found. They are made by people that get strength and conditioning and that helps a ton.

We’d love to hear your feedback. Feel free to comment on the types of evaluations you run for your athletes, how you determine which tests to run with them and if you have any other data collection techniques that work well!

See you guys next week,

Coach Cassie

Another Take on Strength and Conditioning

PURPOSE: The role that strength and conditioning could & should play in the injury prevention and performance enhancement of youth athletes.

POINTS OF EMPHASIS:

Strength & Conditioning that is positive for all of the youth community, regardless of whether the individual is an athlete or non-athlete.
Absolute Power or Peak Athleticism is predicated on the athlete’s ability to elicit proper sequencing of a given movement. (see kinematic sequencing)
A coach should maximize the attention paid to task orientation and strictly guided practice as opposed to ego oriented randomness which can result in athletic decrements.
Why is it that as a society we feel such pressure to find that edge?  You know that step-up, the ace in the hole, or that special weapon?  The differentiating skill or attribute that we are told is EARNED over thousands of hours of perpetual practice.  Practice that is probably coupled with a blindly driven, vastly unspecific, and more than likely, un-educationally based, BEATING.  Unfortunately, these practice and training domains are now being classified under the same term that at one time embodied values such as sophistication, pride, and mastery of progression.  That term; Strength and Conditioning!

The youth sports market has clearly been on an explosive incline with club teams, summer camps, sports domes, and the almighty sport specific training facilities popping up everywhere like earthworms after a heavy rain; and yet there seems to be no cap on this market and no end in sight.  Except for one little speed bump; the practitioners or consumers of this market (YOUTH ATHLETES) just can’t seem to keep up and stay healthy (cmon kids would ya just toughen up already?).

Since the year 2000, there has been a more than five-fold increase in the annual number of youth injuries related to sport [1].  When this stat is read do you know what the common response is? Well, it must be because the sports are too violent or the kids aren’t playing often enough…right? Aren’t we as American’s obese? It is this ambiguity right here that causes parents to be so befuddled by what to do, or how to correctly manage their youth athletes career.

The truth, yes, in some populations across the US our youth are not active enough and do need more activity.  However, in other areas, where activity level is high (i.e. something scheduled 10 days a week..j/k) we have seen 50% of all injuries be caused by overuse [2].  So, how do we solve this equivocal conundrum?

The answer, Strength and Conditioning!

“STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING IS A PRACTICE THAT WILL NOT ONLY ELICIT POSITIVE BENEFITS FOR THE ATHLETE BUT ALSO THE NON-ATHLETE OR SEDENTARY YOUTH.”

Generally, most overuse injuries are particularly due to a deficiency in the ability to absorb forces.  Meaning although your athlete may train on their own, or work with a coach that is primarily prescribing very sport specific movements (i.e. speed and agility drills), if they have not development structural strength in several foundational movements (i.e. the squat, hinge action, or unilateral movements) they are merely waiting to get injured.

Let’s put this a little simpler: My youth athlete is a baseball player who desires to gain more power hitting.  For years he has worked with hitting coaches and his technique appears flawless, but the increase in power just doesn’t seem to magically appear.  What shall you do next?  More hitting lessons? You are aware of what the definition of insanity is…right?  Well in case not let’s break it down a little further.

In biomechanics terminology the equation of POWER = FORCE x VELOCITY.  So let’s assume your velocity has peaked considering your technique is rather flawless.  The next piece of that equation is to increase the amount of force you can apply to a given object…also known as absolute strength.  However, for absolute strength to be applicable in sport one must have a vast amount of kinetic strength.  This is the ability to transfer energy/force from our center to our exterminates, (core to extremity) and then elicit this force on an object (ie. The ball, puck, or another lineman).

“THUS, THE COMBINATION OF KINETIC STRENGTH AND PROPER TECHNIQUE WILL HELP AN ATHLETE ELICIT THE GREATEST AMOUNT OF ABSOLUTE POWER.”

Ok, great, so I see how strength and conditioning will help create a more powerful or forceful athlete but how does this help prevent my athlete from getting injured (undoubtedly the next question along this dialogue)?  As individuals begin to develop foundational strength, kinetic strength and absolute strength (through movements such as squat, deadlift and varying Olympic lifting movements) they too will begin to develop the capability to handle a load much greater than that of their own body weight and over many repetitions (i.e. through externally loading of a barbell or dumbbell).  Thus, when placed on a playing field they are much more equipped to handle varying forces and movements due to previous strengthening.

So…why is this not more apparent among the youth athlete population?  Through poor qualification restrictions of the strength and conditioning industry, several under qualified coaches have severely tainted a practice that could be vastly beneficial to many.  With poor coaching practices and the mounting potential for injury as load increases, there have been several exercises and exercise practices that have been essential damned to the “That’s way too dangerous” or,  “That can’t be good for you” list.  Yes there is always a risk-reward ratio that needs to be taken into account when deciding on the use of a given exercise but for the most part as long as the individual possesses a normative range of motion and lacks current injury, foundational movements (i.e. squatting, deadlifting, pressing, hanging) should never be condemned.

However, has the damage been done?  Is this why parents insist on paying deplorable amounts of money to watch a coach essential babysit their athlete for 60-90 minutes, as they take them through speed drill after speed drill on a small patch of grass alongside some field they are borrowing?  Hint: Go on Youtube and get those same drills for free and with luck you’ll find a good video and still be within 90% of what you would have gotten out of that hour.

“IT IS OUR HOPE THAT BY EDUCATING A COMMUNITY WE CAN CHANGE THE PERCEPTION HOW A PRACTICE SHOULD BE RUN AND WHAT TRAINING IS NECESSARY TO CULTIVATE FOUNDATIONAL STRENGTH!”

Are you sure you know what you’re paying for?

PURPOSE: To help you decipher between coaches who care about their athletes and coaches who care about a paycheck.

POINTS OF EMPHASIS:

Letters after a name mean very little so get to know your coach and observe their passions

The education of your coach can mean all the difference.  Does their degree coincide with training? Or is this just a side gig until something better comes along?

Do your research and find out what certifications pertain to what types of coaches.

by Nick Serio CSCS, USAW-LV2, CPT, PES, CES

Don’t be fooled by letters after a name!  My son is 5 months old and while he is strong he certainly is not qualified to be a personal trainer.

The strength and conditioning industry (well really the fitness industry as a whole) is going through an identity crisis. 

There are so many fabulously intelligent coaches out there trying to exponentially increase the respect, clout, and professionalism of this industry, but are continuously undermined by the apathetic restrictions afforded by not having a governing body to enforce any.

Unlike many other similar professions (i.e. physical therapy, massage therapy, athletic training, etc.) the health and fitness industry does not require an individual to possess a licensure or higher level education in order to be qualified to work in this field.  Instead, as an industry we are held accountable by organizations that certify our professionals and then require continuing educational practices in order to maintain these certifications.  In theory, this should be a stringent enough practice. Unfortunately, the accreditation process for many of these certifications has become incredibly weak. This has led to many under qualified individuals having the potential to become Certified Personal Trainers (CPT) without having any real pre-requisites, knowledge, or value in their profession.  

The lack of restrictions and education requirements has been readily abused by mainstream membership gyms for years, capitalizing on the simplicity of contracting under qualified coaches in order to handle high volumes of personal training clients. This tactic is driving the price of their training down so low that people feel they can not pass up the opportunity, only to find out the person they are working with has nothing more than a high school diploma and is in between career choices.  This model elicits terrible training for the client, (i.e. training with an under-qualified coach) horrendous pay for the coach (i.e. due to lack of qualifications, the coach is held to low pay), and most importantly lack of value in the product (neither the coach nor client values the product because the client is under paying and the coach is being under paid as well).  Since this model is highly effective for creating large volumes of people training, many of these conglomerate companies are the direct lobbyist against an overarching governing body for the fitness industry. Having a governing body would undoubtedly fracture this model and cause exponentially stricter regulations on not only the company but each individual coach.  

Please note that this by no means encompasses all training facilities and coaches. The certification that my five month old son, Luke is pictured with is just showing an example of how easy it is to be fooled as an individual interested in personal training. If you saw this certificate hanging up in a gym, you would be convinced the trainer is credible, right? However, all it took to get this certification printed was to fill out a name, email address, and take a simple test over the computer. Never once did I have to show identification or prove my age, education, background, etc. 

So how do we know what is what?  What certification should I look for and how do I know if my coach is actually qualified or even values what they do?

I preface the following with the preceding statement! 

A certification does not guarantee that an individual actually has the ability to teach or coach! There are plenty of highly intelligent individuals who are not positive or productive coaches.

A great way to make sure an individual values what they are doing is to find out if they have any higher education in the field they are working in (i.e. an undergraduate, masters or even doctorate).  More than just representing knowledge learned, it forecasts the idea that this individual valued their profession enough to take more years out of their life and dedicate them to this practice. Therefore an individual with multiple degrees in a field indicates that what they are currently doing is their TRUE PASSION.  

As for certifications here is a list of some with their pre-requisites and standards next to them.  

The bolded certifications listed are the ones we require as a staff at Athletes Warehouse.

In-Season Training

Are we trying to sell you on our in-season training product? That’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re trying to sell you because what we want our athletes to understand is that Athletes Warehouse is our passion and our livelihood. When you all step out of our facility and onto the field, you are a representation of Athletes Warehouse. Therefore you represent our passion and our livelihood. Over the past off-season, watching all of you excel and completely transform yourselves into the athletes you are is the fuel to our passion. It is why we invest every waking hour of the day in preparation for your performance. The thought of any one of our athletes being put in a situation of potential injury or deterioration is what our coaches lose sleep over each night. With that being said, we cannot express how important it is that training is a year-long process. Furthermore, instilling a positive relationship with training, fitness, and health is a lifelong skill that we strive to ingrain in each one of you. This article intends to air out some commonly asked questions and concerns regarding in-season training.

Why should I train in-season? If I stop training, how quickly do my strength adaptations from the off-season begin to deteriorate?

After training in an optimal state of overload these last six months and then immediately starving yourself of such stimulus, the body becomes complacent. The athlete quickly begins to lose the performance benefits that they had received from a progressive overload over the last six months. A lot of these benefits are not necessarily referring to muscle loss or atrophy. These performance determinants are first felt from a hormonal and neurologically based level. In short, they are the first benefits that athletes receive when beginning their first several weeks of training, and these benefits are the first ones to go in a matter of weeks after depriving the body of training. By continuing training in season, we are attempting to provide the athlete with optimal levels of stress that enable them to maintain a high level of performance on the field while avoiding overly stressing them in a way that hinders their sports performance. The number one goal of all training (not just in-season), is injury prevention. The major commonality from all of our athletes who train in-season is that they stay healthier more often than those who do not. And for our superstitious readers, we are beyond confident in stating that.

Aren’t I going to be too sore to perform in my sport if I train during season? What does my program look like to avoid this?

Program design when coming to Athletes Warehouse in-season is a different experience than coming during the off-season. For all our current and former athletes reading this, you may understand this terminology. For our parents and other non-strength-and-conditioning related readers, it all starts with programming different muscle contractions. In a simplified explanation our training will focus on three types of muscle contractions: eccentric (lengthening of muscle tissue), isometric (no change in length of muscle tissue), and concentric (shortening of muscle tissue). What is important to note during an in-season program is the emphasis on isometric and concentric muscle contraction, as these are movements that allow us to provide a neurological stimulus at relatively high intensities, without the athlete being tremendously sore. On the latter, we avoid a large volume of eccentric muscle contraction as this is the culprit of the commonly sought after delayed onset muscle soreness that our everyday gym-goers pursue as a token of hard work. An example of how we make this adjustment is exchanging a traditional squat for a concentric squat, where the athlete simply stands the bar out of power rack and drops back down from the top.

How do I fit training into my practice/game schedule during the season?

While this answer can be drastically different depending on the sport, there are some overarching themes that span across all sports. Most would expect to see less weight room time as they approach the late season. When people think of the late season, they think of being dinged up; just holding onto their bodies hoping to make it through playoffs with whatever injuries have plagued them that year. Our athletes don’t experience this. Not only are they healthy from training year-round and throughout a season, but they are actually increasing the amount of time they spend in our weight room as the season goes on. Their practice volume and intensity tends to drop off since coaches are trying to preserve them. It creates a situation where most other athletes who are not training in season are deteriorating, our athletes are just getting ramped up come the time when it counts the most. How often an athlete trains depends greatly on the athlete themselves too. We have had lacrosse athletes who have come in for a squat session a day out of their state championship game, and baseball pitchers who are doing arm care and plyometrics a day before the biggest start of their season. Commonly, athletes tend to be hesitant to train during season out of fear of fatigue. Quickly, their in-season training becomes an integral part of the preparation and pre-game rituals as they feel the performance and health benefits over the duration of a season.

It has been an absolute pleasure to train every athlete who has come through our doors this winter season. With this spring season approaching, our coaching staff is excited to continue to be a part of your athletic domination. We cannot wait for each one of you to test out the newly acquired strength, speed, and power gains you’ve earned this off-season. If you had any doubts, you’re soon going to prove to yourself how your training has taken you to another level.