Saturday, November 19, 2016

What Makes You Sore and What Does Not

Hello Everyone!

Please stop going for long jogs/runs thinking they will help you flush the lactic acid out of your muscles and therefore help reduce soreness. That is a myth. That is not science. That is actually a waste of time and detrimental to your body and its performance.

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Muscle soreness from working out happens not from the burning lactic acid that you feel, but from the tearing and breaking of muscle fibers that occurs when you expose your body to weights and lifts that overload the muscle fibers to the point of tearing and breaking. This is a good thing! Think of it like tearing and breaking apart soil before you plant a garden. Your garden needs you to break up the soil to plant and grow, and your muscles need you to tear and break up the fibers to plant and grow new, more, and often times bigger fibers. (How much they grow depends on your nutrition, genetics, gender, and consistency.)
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Instead of going on long jogs that actually stress your joints, research shows that doing mobility, flexibility, and warm-up drills when sore can actually decrease the feeling of soreness and improve recovery. Because forcing more oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood into the torn areas helps quicken recovery and lower inflammation.

Athletes and Coaches, it is 2016, let's please use science to fuel our training, not "this is what we've always done" or "this is what I did 20 years ago." Let's be better and let's advance.

Keep Training!
Coach Amanda Kephart

Friday, September 30, 2016

Got It

Hello Everyone!

Have you ever had a conversation with someone where he/she just got it? Where he/she just completely understood what you were saying and were instantly on-board with what you were conveying? Well that’s exactly what happened to me this past weekend in Dallas, TX at the PGC Athlete Performance College that I directed.

There was close to 70 athletes and over 15 observing coaches at the 13-hour weekend course, which includes film analysis, classroom, and gym sessions, and it seemed like everyone just got it. As I shared how speed, strength, and power are all skills that anyone through proper training can improve, I looked around the room to find these individuals nodding agreeingly and taking detailed notes. I was honored to be able to provide the tools, information, and skills these individuals were seeking to take their game to the next level.

This group continually and consistently demonstrated that they “got it” and that they wanted it. Throughout the course these individuals had to compete against other athletes that were sometimes bigger, faster, and stronger than them. Every time they rose to the challenge and used the speed and strength skills they were learning to face the challenge head on.

One of the most powerful things we can embrace in life is that we create our lives through our actions, not our thoughts. If we choose to continually act in the ways that we know will help us get closer to our goals we will find steading progress. If we focus on our actions, and not the outcomes, we can find success. We can’t always control the outcomes, but we can always control our actions.
Choosing to train our speed, strength, and power are actions that any athlete seeking athletic success must embrace. Learning the difference between good, better, and best training, in order to maximize our time and efforts, is an action that separates the good from the great. I am blessed to have spent a weekend with individuals that are on the path of greatness.

Keep Training!
Coach Amanda Kephart

Thursday, August 25, 2016

3 Things Athletes Should Have Done This Summer

Hello Everyone!

There’s no sugar-coating this blog post. It’s the end of August which means the end of summer and back to school. Let’s look back on three things you should have done this summer if you were truly trying to become a great athlete in the sport you love.

#1) Created a Schedule of Best Practices
You should have taken the time to plan out your days with the “best practices” for each part of your day. Best practices such as waking up after 8 hours of sleep and starting the day by addressing one of your weaknesses. It’s well documented that our mental willpower diminishes throughout the day. The more choices and decisions we have to make the more we drain our willpower’s strength. Guarantee you’ll make progress towards improving one of your weaknesses by tackling it first thing in the morning. For many athletes a 20 minute yoga or stretching routine to improve flexibility, first thing in the morning this summer, could have dramatically improved their range of motion and movement.
Photo Credit:,-balance-and-strength
#2) Learned How To Prepare Healthy Foods
You should have taken the time to either learn how to cook and store healthy foods that you like or simply to research what are the safest, healthiest, and best food supplements for your goals. In today’s world there is an abundance of healthy options that you can keep on hand. The more you surround yourself with the right foods the more often you’ll eat the right foods. Just imagine if you would have eaten healthy foods all throughout the summer? How much better would you look and feel about your body now?

#3) Read Autobiographies about your Sport Heroes
With all the extra time you had this summer you should have filled your mind with the true stories of successful athletes in your sport. You can learn so much about the road you have ahead of you in your sport by reading the autobiographies of your favorite athletes. Please realize that these athletes have climbed the mountain, made it to the top, AND THEN taken the time to write about it for you to learn from! Do you understand what a huge competitive advantage it can be to learn from success their own words?!
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Now you can’t go back in time and add all of these “should haves” to your summer, but thankfully you can prevent future guilt and regret by adding these to your upcoming fall. I’d suggest picking one of these “should haves” and make it your primary focus for fall (September through November) and then pick a different to add in the winter, etc.

Keep Training!
Coach Amanda Kephart

Friday, July 15, 2016

How Athletes Can Avoid Ruining Their Two-A-Days or Three-A-Days

Hello Everyone!

I have the privilege of working with some very driven and focused athletes. These athletes are far from you average athlete that barely does the little that is asked of them, instead these athletes that I am coaching do more than their share and more than is expected of them.

Recently I had an athlete come in for her one-hour speed and agility session. This workout was her third workout of the day, she had already conditioned with her high school team and lifted with her strength coach (did I mention it wasn't even lunchtime yet?). When she arrived she made the mistake that most athletes make when doing multiple workouts in a day - she showed up looking tired and fatigued with her body language. 

Did she have every right to be tired and fatigued? Most people would say "yes" and I am here to tell you that if you think it is your right to look tired and fatigued than you are ruining your two-a-days or three-a-days. 

Looking tired and fatigued is not some badge of honor that you wear, it is a sign that says you're actually a pretender, not a contender. Simple said, great athletes never look tired.
Even at the end of hard fought games, great athletes never look tired.
Looking tired is a waste of your energy and a waste of your coaches' time. As the third coach to work with her that day I didn't spend time planning and organizing her speed and agility work to have her walk in looking tired. If she is trying to be great, which would be the point of her doing multiple training sessions in one day, then I expect her to walk in looking like a great athlete. (Note: As a responsible coach I obviously take into consideration the training she has already done when it comes to the drills and training I will put her through.)

You might be thinking that I am being selfish when I say I don't want her looking tired, but I'm actually doing my job which is to coach her into being the best version of herself she can be. If she wants to be great then I need her to look great, even when she is not feeling great.

Athletes at all levels, collegiate, high school, and middle school ruin their two-a-days and three-a-days with poor, weak body language. If you want to avoid ruining your multi-workout days than start holding yourself to a higher standard when it comes to your body language, even if you have to fake it until you make it.

Great athletes never look tired.

Keep Training!
Coach Amanda Kephart 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The #1 Way to Become A Better Defender

Hello Everyone!

There are countless articles and drills out there for how to become a better defender, increase your defensive speed, or how to become a defensive stopper, but all of those drills and articles will fall short of your goal if you fail to get into the right athletic stance.

In this short video I show you how to maximize your defensive speed by getting into the right athletic stance.
Many athletes struggle to get into this proper stance because they lack flexibility in their low back and hamstrings. If your low back and/or hamstrings are tight you won't be able to lift your hips. Lifting your hips not only points your shoulders into a better, more horizontal position, but lifting your hips also loads your hamstrings and glutes into a more powerful firing position. Having your hamstrings and glutes loaded and ready primes your body to make the quickest, most powerful movements possible!

Keep Training!
Coach Amanda Kephart

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

When Your Best Isn't Good Enough

Hello Everyone!

I recently had a rare event in my life. Prior to this recent experience I had conquered almost any dream or goal I had set out to do. From working my first dream job as a Division One Strength and Conditioning Coach, to running my own department, to achieving a fitness goal... my drive, passion, and work ethic have allowed me to get most of my goals.

Recently this was not the case, and while I want to be professional and keep the details personal, I will say that in regarded my future with a company. And even though I hit all my assigned targets, went above and beyond where I could, and was highly rated by my superiors, I did not get what I had set out to do. My superiors sadly informed me there wasn't capacity to award me my goal.

It made me think of all the athletes that have set out to accomplish a personal goal. They worked hard for their goal, and in the process, they put in the extra time, did everything that was asked of them, and were well received by the coaching staff, only to be told that "there wasn't capacity for their goal." (Example: not making the team, not getting playing time, etc.) 

How does this happen? What can we do about it?

First, let's address how does this happen? Especially when the athlete or individual does everything within their control to accomplish his/her goal? The first point I want to make is sadly, even though we can control our personal actions, when our personal goal includes working with a team, whether a sports team or a corporate team, decisions are affected and made with factors that are not in our control.

This was initially the hardest part for me with my recent experience. Knowing I had done everything within my power, but my best wasn't good enough to sway the other factors that were not in my control. After a brief time a grieving (this may be a strong word to use here, but when you want something bad enough I believe it is normal and healthy to acknowledge the grief of a lost goal), I soon found comfort and strength knowing I had given it my all and had no regrets when it came to my actions and efforts.

TIP: When your best isn't good enough, make sure you can rest easy knowing you gave it everything you had. Don't couple a lost goal with the regret of not doing all that you were capable of. 

Second, what do we do about it? While the next action we take largely varies on what are goal was, don't underestimate the power of using the loss as fuel for an even greater future. (The popular concept of failing forward rings true here.) I've avoided dwelling on what could have been and instead have focused on the belief that something even greater than my goal is out there for me. But what is it? This required me to sit down and reevaluate what I wanted out of life. What was most important to me? If I could have anything, what would it be? Once I wrote these down for my professional and personal life I then wrote down my non-negotiables. The things that were not up for discussion and that I did not want in my future.

TIP: Knowing, acknowledging, and writing down your non-negotiables makes knowing what you do want much clearer.

Having my non-negotiables laid out helped me focus on opportunities and goals that are in-line with my dream life. And isn't that why we have goals to begin with? To help us create our dream life?

When your best isn't good enough, remember:
  • Give your dreams and goals everything that you have, but understand that sometimes your best won't be enough. 
  • While you can't control every outcome, you can control how much regret you have.
  • When failing forward, know both the things you want AND the things you don't want in your future to have the clearest picture on what to do next.

Keep Training!
Coach Amanda Kephart

Thursday, April 28, 2016

PGC/Glazier Coaches Clinic Detroit 2016

Hello Everyone!

PGC Basketball and Glazier work together to create some amazing opportunities for coaches to get together with like-minded (or should I say, growth-minded) coaches to help grow their game, network, and share.

Although I was looking forward to speaking on my 3 Strength and Conditioning topics, I was equally looking forward to meeting and learning from others.

My 3 Strength and Conditioning Presentations from #PGCDetroit
During the Clinic Tip-Off my fellow PGC Directors TJ Rosene and Duez Henderson shared some quick hitters for how to maximize your clinic experience and how the same quick hitters can also help your basketball players maximize their game performances. TJ shared the importance of "locking in" and remembering that the "why" of what you do should come from your heart. Were we willing to "lock in" to this unique and fleeting experience at #PGCDetroit ?

PGC's Duez Henderson (front) and TJ Rosene (back) kicked off the clinic with some great quick hitters and reminders!

 Throughout the weekend I was blessed to meet, listen, and learn from some great coaches and speakers. I was also impressed with the distance some coaches travelled like Coach Christopher Woodside from Maine. I couldn't help but wonder, how many coaches were less than a 2 hour drive from #PGCDetroit and chose to miss out on something that will not happen again for a year (or longer)? As coaches we ask our players to take the actions of great leaders: show up early, stay late, put in extra work, but how many coaches practice what they preach? I am thankful I was surrounded by coaches that did!

Reed Maltbie (TedX Speaker), Coach Christopher Woodside, and myself at #PGCDetroit
I could write in length about all the great speakers I heard over the weekend, but I would like to highlight Canadian Coach Chantal Vallee, who currently is the Head Coach of the 5-peat National Champion Windsor Lancers Women's Basketball Team. My pen never stopped taking notes during her amazing talks at #PGCDetroit. Here is a 2 minute video to give you a taste of how she used her hours of sports psychology research and study of success to turn a non-winning team into a 5-time Champion in only a few years!

Besides having an impressive resume and being a dynamic speaker, she is also a phenomenal person who openly shares her learnings and love of the game with others!

Thank you Coach Vallee!
One of the best parts of PGC/Glazier Coaches Clinics is being around coaches of all levels and all backgrounds that are passionate about the game of basketball and how it can #SCHAPE lives. It's a handful of days that can accelerate your growth as a coach, and as a person!

One of my favorite parts, meeting awesome coaches!
Visit to see the full list of PGC/Glazier Coaches Clinics.

Keep Training!
Coach Amanda Kephart

Monday, April 4, 2016

2 Myths My 4th Graders Busted About AAU

Hello Everyone!

I am coaching the 4th Grade Akron Bobcats this Spring and as much as I hope I am teaching my players skills and lessons that will make them better basketball players on the court and better people off the court I have quickly realized that my players are also teaching me lessons and improving my skill set as a coach and as a person.

They’ve already busted 2 myths that I long held about AAU/Travel Basketball…
Sports should be fun and provide opportunities to learn and grow (both on and off the court)!
Myth #1 Playing AAU/Travel diminishes the desire to win because “there’s always another game” 

I have long been under the assumption that playing multiple tournament games on the weekends made athletes less competitive because they know there will be another game in the very near future. In one hour, my 4th Graders quickly put that assumption to rest as I witnessed the devastated looks on their faces after we lost a game.

They absolutely wanted to win every single game and they were heartbroken from losing. Their hunger and competitiveness to win was immense. To the point where I became genuinely concerned about their ability to bounce back (one of many life lessons they are learning).
They wanted to do a "no-smile" selfie after a loss.

I used to think that AAU/Travel hurt an athlete’s competitive drive, but now I believe it can actually help strengthen a passionate player’s hunger and competitiveness to win. Competing may in fact be a skill, and like any skill, the more it is practiced and trained the more improvements that can be made. AAU/Travel gives athletes more practice at competing and more exposure to game-environments that are hard to match in a practice setting.

Myth #2 Players don’t improve their skills because they are busy playing games and not developing skills 

I can only speak from my experience with the Akron Bobcats, so this may not be true with all programs, but the 4th Grade Bobcats train as a team twice a week in intentional, skill-oriented practices that focus on development. The purposeful practices we go through are designed to teach them skills, to learn how to use them, and to compete with them. (Learn more about the TLC method here.) With games on the weekends, there is quick feedback on whether what we are trying to develop in them is transferring and what other areas need to be addressed.

Win or lose I am proud of these guys!
Additionally, the life lessons and real-world situations they are exposed to in the tournaments is even greater than what I had anticipated. One game alone has had more learning points and character developing moments than I ever could have imagined.

I wonder what other myths and long-held beliefs I will question thanks to my 4th Graders?

Keep Training!
Coach Amanda Kephart

Saturday, March 19, 2016

How to Create an Unstoppable Off-Season of Growth & Development

Hello Everyone! (NOTE: this post is spoken to basketball players, but the plan outlined below is for every athlete or any sport!)

So it's over, whether you hoisted the state trophy or didn't even make the post-season, every player’s season eventually ends. Suddenly there's no more scheduled practices or packing your duffel bag for the game. There's just available time, and a lot more of it than you're used to. Having time for yourself is something you haven't been accustomed to the last few months. The last few months have been spent in a season that is now over and has left you with countless feelings, memories, and emotions.
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 Maybe you're glad your season is over. Maybe you're glad you no longer have to deal with the drama that contaminated your season from teammates and coaches that couldn't consistently work together. Maybe you're heartbroken from a season unfulfilled. Maybe this was supposed to be YOUR year to win it all and it didn't happen. Maybe you were the dark horse that came out of nowhere and had a dream season. Maybe you still can't believe you're not going to lace up your sneakers one more time with some of the best teammates anyone could ask for. Basketball asks a lot from you emotionally, mentally, and physically. And if you're not graduating or retiring this year, basketball will be asking you to come back for more.

But what now? What if you're not even sure if basketball is worth it any more? Or what if you just can't wait to get back on the court you love the game so much?

Regardless of how you feel, doing the following is the foundation for an unstoppable off-season. It will prevent you from wasting this value gift of time that you now have. Doing the following is also what great players do at the beginning of their off-season.

Before going further, please know the following is not for everyone, but neither is playing time for everyone. All of these things require you to make a choice of whether you'll actually do them or not. To be great you must make great choices and take great action. Here's your chance to start being great.
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No matter how painful or how long you think it will take. Pull out a notebook and write down the following categories:

  • 10 things you did well this season 
  • 10 things you didn't do well this season
For category one you must find 10 things you did well. Even if you have write down things like, “I tied my shoes so well they never came undone in a game.”

For category two you are not allowed to write down more than 10 things. You may feel like you could write a never-ending list, regardless, you can only put down 10.

Now go through and cross off anything on both lists that is out of your control. Anything that you could not have done something, no matter how small, to affect or change. Anything that could not have changed if you would have talked to coach, put in extra practice, studied more, met with your teammates, or applied a little more hustle and effort.

You may find yourself struggling to cross anything off. Are you starting to realize the power you have within you? This power to change, or at the very least attempt to change, is inside you and only you. Not your teammates, parents, friends, coaches, or fans. This power, in combination with this newly gained time, are the framework for what can be a game-changing off-season.

Where do you want to go from here? What do you want to be able to add to the first category and take off the second category this time next year? Pick the top 3 things you want to add or focus on for category one and pick the top 3 things you want to subtract or remove from category two. Now if you want more playing time, put a star next to the one thing from each of your top 3’s that you think your coach would want the most. Not sure? Then ask coach!

The clarity you're gaining by doing this will streamline your off-season efforts and give you a competitive edge. Remember, good athletes love to compete. You're now entering a new season with new competition. All over the country, and the world, basketball players are either getting ahead of you or falling behind with their development. Having the clarity of your own inner power and your most important focuses is a competitive advantage.

You have time, you have power, and now you have clarity.

For some of you there's one more thing you have to come to terms with if you're going to start creating an unstoppable off-season of growth and development. Some of you are injured and you know it. You've been playing through pain. You have to be honest with yourself and you have to have the courage to go to the doctor as soon as possible. Get your foot looked at, or an MRI on your knee, or talk to the doctor about your low back. Get to the doctor now, because no matter what you off-season focuses are, you won't be successful if you're not healthy. Get it out of the way and taken care as fast as possible. You must be healthy if you're going to have an unstoppable off-season.
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Each day it's up to to you how you'll use your time, power, and clarity to create your unstoppable off-season. Maybe your top 3 things make it clear you have to commit yourself to the weight room, or to getting faster, or reading and studying the game, or getting over 500 shots up daily. You now have the time to prioritize your focus and if you choose you have the power to take great action.

Keep Training!
Coach Amanda Kephart 

Monday, March 14, 2016

You Are What You Can Guard

Hello Everyone!

Last summer while I was at PGC's Essentials Course at the University of Washington, I heard Director Tyler Coston say something I will never forget about basketball players.

"You are what you can guard."

Source: Getty Images
Basically, if you can't guard someone you will probably be on the bench, not playing. The same can be said for most sports that have athletes play both offensive and defensive roles. If you want to be out there competing you have to be able to stop your opponent.
Source: Getty Images
So if you're looking for more playing time you can find it by being able to guard anyone. Now as soon as I say that I am sure some of these doubts (dare I say excuses) immediately popped into your head.

  • But some opponents are way bigger than me. 
  • But some players are too fast for me to keep up. 
  • But some competition can just blow right by me. 
All 3 of these common thoughts are reflective of your strength, speed, and quickness skills. And all of those skills are 100% in your control. Please note I am not talking about height when I reference bigger. In the game of basketball, if you're 5'5 your primary responsibility will not be to guard the other team's 6'9 center, we know that. Yet, you have probably played against others who "play bigger" than you. Who out muscle you, who initiate contact with you, who make you play smaller than you actually are. That's something you can control.

Most players do just No training or development, just playing with the same skills they've always had. On the other hand, those that continue to elevate their game to the next level, also continue to elevate their strength, speed, and quickness.

For example, training to get stronger, faster, and quicker in the game of basketball should be as much a routine as shooting foul shots. The more you practice/train your strength, speed, and quickness, the more results you get.

Here are 3 tips for creating a "do anywhere" workout to help you stop your opponents.

  1. Include single leg jumping exercises in your training because in games, you'll often find yourself only able to move off of one foot. 
  2. Include reaction drills that require you to improve your first move quickness and timing. 
  3. Use core stabilization exercises that force you to maintain a strong center (just like you'll have to maintain your positioning against your competition). 
By adding strength, speed, and quickness to your game you'll be able to guard more competition which will help you play more.

Keep Training!
Coach Amanda Kephart 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Why Max Testing Lifts is a Waste of Time for Athletes

Hello Everyone!

Even though max testing lifts like the Back Squat, Bench Press, and Clean is a common practice in many weight rooms I believe it is a waste of time of what otherwise could have been a great lifting/training session. 

Max Testing, for those that are unclear, is often where you have athletes buildup to a weight that they think they could do for one good rep and that's it. Hence their max weight in that exercise.

Many coaches argue that this process is necessary in order to figure out what weights an athlete should be lifting with later on in their program. But if this was true, then shouldn't the coach max test EVERY lift for the athlete? If they have to have this max number to figure out their training weights then they must be max testing every single exercise that the athlete is going to be doing in the upcoming training program right? Wrong. These same coaches only test certain, what I like to call, "big boy exercises" like the Bench Press and Back Squat. Please don't lie to me and tell me you need to max test these lifts in order to actually create a working lifting program for the athletes. I'd rather these coaches be honest and just say that every once in awhile they like to let the egos fly, grunt, stomp their feet, and turn the weight room into a high-energy rodeo where everyone that is not lifting stands around and yells and cheers on the lifter going for that 8-second ride with a bull known as the 500 lbs Back Squat.

Look at all those athletes standing around not getting better.
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To be fair, if coaches want to use max testing days to motivate athletes through the sometimes long grind of the off-season, that's understandable. But I have never resorted to this form of motivation and never will, it is not worth the risk in my opinion.

There are many other ways to motivate your athletes.
This is a huge waste of value time, one athlete lifts while the whole team watches.
What risk am I referring too? The risk of injury. No matter how well an athlete warmups, when you have athletes going all out with heavy weights you certainly increase the risk of injury. One miss-timed breath, one over zealous athlete, one off-balance setup can mean long term disaster for an athlete. To me this risk of serious injury just for a number to tell your friends, family, significant others, and anyone else that cares to hear how much you can lift, is just not worth it to me. And this is assuming that everyone lifts with good form! It is hard enough to coach athletes to lift with proper form with sub-maximal weight, let along coach them on safe, proper form when they go all out.

This is NOT how you catch a Clean. The spotter can not save this athlete's knees.
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So if you don't need to max test to be able to program training weights for athletes, and if you put your athletes at a high level of risk just for a number, then why not just go with a great, regular training session that will add repetition to your athletes' bodies, increase their experience, and continue their overall strength development? That's what I prefer. To focus on training, repetition, and development! A good program will have the athletes work up towards their 85-90% effort, notice I didn't say 85-90% of their max, perceived effort of exertion is a powerful enough tool to get athletes results.

I understand I may have ruffled some feathers with this post. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments in the section below!

Keep Training!
Coach Amanda Kephart

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Your Speed and Agility Needs Some TLC

Hello Everyone!

Here's how you can set up your speed and agility training to maximize results and actually see your training efforts improve your game!

Give your speed and agility training some TLC!


I've spoken often about how speed and agility are skills and therefore can be improved. Yet, most athletes and coaches don't know how to design an effective speed and agility training session.

Like any skill, to improve your mastery you must first TEACH the skill. If our speed skill is acceleration (your initial sprinting mechanics) you need to teach yourself the proper form to accelerate for maximum impact. One part of this proper form is high knees. Achieving full range of high knees stretches the glutes and hamstrings ensuring full power output of each strike into the ground. To teach yourself high knees, practice standing with one knee all the way up so the thigh is parallel with the ground.

Now that you've taught yourself what a high knee looks and feels like, you have to LEARN how to apply this form. A way to learn high knees is to practice high knee speed skips focusing on consistently reaching full range on each skip. After skip work it's best to LEARN how high knees feel when sprinting. From a controlled start, when ready, sprint 10 yards as fast as possible while focusing on high knees.

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Once you've learned how to sprint with high knees, it's time to COMPETE. Most team sports have athletes competing not only against themselves, but against opponents and uncontrolled stimuli (like a bouncing loose ball). So for your speed and agility training to actually impact your game performance, you have to practice competing with your skill. In this example, a simple, yet powerful way to compete would be to race another athlete for 10 yards. But don't limit your races to static, controlled "ready, set, go" kind of races, make them more game like.
   Here's a couple of ways:
   1) Toss a ball in front of you. Wait until it bounces twice before sprinting after it.
   2) Have a partner hold two balls, one in each hand, about 5 yards away from you, as soon as he/she drops the one ball, sprint as fast as you can towards it, trying to catch it before it bounces a second time.
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Whatever speed and agility skill you are trying to improve, remember to approach it with some TLC!

Keep Training!
Coach Amanda Kephart

Interested in getting some TCL with me? Visit my CONTACT INFO page!

Monday, February 8, 2016

The 80/20 Rule for Training

Hello Everyone!

NEWSFLASH: Most sports have nearly 80% the same needs and therefore 80% of the training should look the same for athletes, regardless of sport. 

Yet, most athletes and coaches spend too much of their training time focusing on the 20% intricacies.

To understand what I mean, can you tell which one of these successful athletes DOES NOT need to be fast, strong, and powerful?
All of these athletes need to be fast, strong, and powerful!

Regardless if it is football, basketball, baseball/softball, volleyball, soccer or (insert sport here) athletes need to be fast, strong, and powerful That's why 80% of many great training programs are very similar looking with similar exercises that produce the results of speed, strength, and power.

Does your training include the 80% exercises that great athletes need or does your training have too much of the 20% intricate exercises that won't matter if you aren't getting faster, stronger, and more explosive??

That's the problem with the 20% intricate exercises that vary between sports. They are great compliments to the main focus of developing more speed, strength, and power, but they in and of themselves don't impact your performance results like the 80% exercises do.

For example, regardless of sport, 80% of athletes' training should include exercises like the following as these exercises will make you fast, strong, and powerful!

- Olympic Lifts (clean, snatches, etc)
- Squats
- Lunges
- Pullups
- Pushups
- Glute Bridges & Bucks
- Short Sprints
- Short Shuttles

So what are some 20% exercises?

- box jumps, depth jumps, ankle mobility, single leg jumping
- core work in the transverse plane (think seated medicine ball twists), hip mobility, rotator cuff work
Football (varies on position, but in general): 
- bench presses, cutting drills, sagittal jumping (think long jumps)
- low back work, box jumps, single leg jumping
- long distance speed work (greater than 400 meters), patella tracking exercises, split-stance jumping exercises

Improve your training by following the 80/20 Rule.
80% of your exercises should be spent on the ones that will make you faster, stronger, and more powerful. 20% should be the intricate exercises that make your sport unique!

Keep Training!
Coach Amanda Kephart 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What College Coaches Look For At Games

Hello Everyone!

Recently, I attended a great local girl's high school basketball game where I was able to see many of my former athletes compete. At the game were two area Division III Head Coaches watching girls that they thought could be potential good fits for their programs. I had a chance to chat with both of them and learned what they were looking for from the girls. To my surprise, there were two main things that the Head Coaches were looking at.

One of the head coaches, sitting on the edge of her seat, said,
     "You know Amanda, a lot of times these girls think I am here to see how many points they score and how many rebounds they pull in, but if I wanted to know those things I would just stay home and read the stat sheet. I'm looking for the things that the stat sheet can't tell me. I'm looking for the things that greatly impact my team's culture and my program's overall success. I want to see their mistake-response."

I asked if she could elaborate on what a mistake-response is.

She sat up a little straighter and said,
     "Let's face it Amanda, no one plays a perfect game, even the pros make multiple mistakes throughout the course of a game. I'm here to see if she hangs her head and pouts when she makes a mistake, or does she act like nothing happened and stays in the game both mentally and physically. The game of basketball is so fast paced I can't have girls pouting for even a moment about something they can't change. I need them to stay focused on what they can change and that's the next play."

Let me mention that this Head Coach has won multiple championships, both conference and tournament. Hearing her share this reminded me that champions stay "in the game" no matter how well or how badly they are playing.
How is your mistake-response?

I didn't get to talk to the other coach until after the exciting game ended. She was standing in the stands with a big smile on her face.
     "Did you see her hustle?! I loved seeing her defense create turnovers and her diving on the floor for loose balls! She's exactly the type of player my program is made of. Her passion matches my current girls' passion. She'd be great."

The athlete that this head coach was referring too was also the game's leading scorer, but she didn't mention that once. She saw what she wanted, what she needed, and that's hustle.
Hustle is a skill, and therefore, can be improved.

How often do athletes get nervous and worried when they realize College Coaches are there to watch them? Sure it is natural to get nervous, but isn't it a relief to know that the coaches are there in person to see the things that the stat sheet can't show them? Mistake-responses and hustle?

Good mistake-responses are:
  • staying calm
  • no sign of sadness or disappointment
  • extra hustle to try to help correct the mistake
  • no signs of dwelling on the mistake 
  • staying focused on the next play
  • lifting up their teammates with positive energy

Hustle is a skill. Hustle is a choice. Hustle takes no talent. Hustle can happen every night no matter how much you score or don't score. Hustle is something that makes you stand out. 

Regardless of anything else, make sure every game you focus on your mistake-responses and your hustle.

Keep Training!
Coach Amanda Kephart  

Monday, January 25, 2016

3 Ways to Instantly Improve Your Workout

Hello Everyone!

Let's get right to it...

3 Ways to Instantly Improve Your Workout

  1. Perform Higher Quality Movements 
  2. Increase Your Glute Work 
  3. Time Your Rest 
Good strength coaches know that athletes will get more benefit from their workouts when they perform higher quality movements like squats, lunges, Olympic Lifts, etc. These exercises are higher quality because they: 
  • Increase full body strength 
  • Improve body control 
  • Mimic movements that are similar to movements performed on the court or field 
Drop the bicep curls and add higher quality exercises to see your athletic performance improve!
NFL's Sammy Watkins performs a lunge variation. photo credit: STACK
No matter how much glute (butt) training you're doing you can always do more! The glutes are one of the body's most important "Go Muscles" as they generate the powerful hip extension that is needed for jumping and sprinting. They're also under-active as we sit on them the majority of the day! Add any of theses great glute exercises to your training to see an increase in power!

  • RDL 
  • Clamshells
  • Supine Glute Bucks

NBA's Damian Lillard performs a Single Leg RDL. photo credit: STACK
NFL's Colin Kaepernick performs a variation of clamshells. photo credit: STACK

NBA's Dwayne Wade performs a single leg glute buck. photo credit: STACK

Most athletes waste too much time resting between sets. To really maximize your workout, take a timer (stopwatch, smartphone app, etc) to your workout and keep your rests periods in check. Here’s a quick cheat sheet I made to help you determine the maximum rest you should be having in-between sets.

Keep Training!
Coach Amanda Kephart 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Why Doing This Actually Hurts Your Sports Performance

Hello Everyone!

I'm tired of watching good athletes unknowingly hurt their performance with this good intention. It's 2016, and we know too much about exercise physiology to still be allowing these athletes to hurt their sports performance and waste their time.


Athletes commonly think that to get in shape for sports like basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, football, and tennis that they have to "go for a run" around the neighborhood or at the rec center. They think doing these long runs will improve their conditioning and help them last longer in their games.

What athletes don't understand is that "going for a run" (AKA: jogging) is NOT the same thing as the sprints, explosive starts, and powerful stops of their games. Going for a run trains the wrong energy system!

What's an energy system? Our body has 3 energy systems, each of which are used at different times and at different intensities. In this picture you will see that the Phosphate and Glycogen Systems are the systems needed for high intensity activities that last less than 2 minutes (which basketball plays, volleys, rallies, football plays, and running the bases fit into).

Sports like basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, football and tennis are sports defined by fast, short bursts followed by slower movements (like jogging or standing). These intervals of intensity therefore need an athlete to have well-trained Phosphate and Glycogen Systems to be able to repeat these quick bursts over and over again. The ability to repeat explosive speed over and over again throughout a long period of time is the actual conditioning these athletes need, NOT the aerobic conditioning that happens from "going for a run". 

I know personally that going for a run around the neighborhood will not translate to lasting longer on the court. As a uninformed high school basketball player I used to run around my housing development for an hour thinking that that sweat and effort from the run would translate to better performance on the court. Well it never did. Then as I went through my Exercise Physiology degree I learned this valuable insight into energy systems, but my basketball career was already over. 

Don't make the same mistake as me by going for long runs in hopes of improving your sports performance. As stated above, our energy systems can be trained and improved, hence why some high-level athletes play the whole 40 minutes of a basketball game, stay explosive the whole match, can powerfully pitch a complete game, never miss a snap during the game, or outlast their competitor on the clay court. They didn't get this ability by going for aerobically based runs. 

Aerobic Respiration training is needed for cross country, soccer, and any endurance sport that has athletes regularly covering ground continuously without any stoppage of play.

If you want to improve your conditioning and get in better shape, make sure your training the right energy system. Sports like basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, football, and tennis should train with high intensity intervals (which is what their sport actually is, a series of high intensity intervals). For example, do a 20 yard sprint, walk back to the start (rest), and then sprint again. Repeat for as many reps as you can or want. (I'd suggest starting with 5 reps, then next time do 6, then get the idea). 

Remember this...

is not the same as this!

Keep Training (the right energy system)!
Coach Amanda Kephart

Monday, January 18, 2016

The 3 Factors of Speed

Hello Everyone!

Speed is science. Speed is also a skill.
And like any skill, speed can be learned and improved, especially when you understand the science.

There are 3 main factors to speed:

  1. Force Production
  2. Ground Contact Time
  3. Direction of Force

Photo Credit:
Force Production
Force Production is why strength training is so important for athletes wanting to get faster. The stronger you are the more force you can create! This is also why male athletes will, on average, be faster than female athletes, because males can develop more strength thanks to having more testosterone. 

Ground Contact Time
Ground Contact Time is the duration of time that your foot is on the ground from the moment it hits the ground to the moment it leaves the ground. The shorter you ground contact time the more spring and energy you get out of the ground and into your movement. The longer your foot is on the ground the more energy you lose into the ground and less energy gets reciprocated back into your body. Think of wanting your feet to be like bouncy balls hitting the ground, not beach balls.

Direction of Force
Direction of Force is the direction you apply your force. It is crucial to understand Newton's Third Law, for every action there is an equal and OPPOSITE reaction. So if you want to run forward you have to attack your force behind you! Improving the efficiency of your force's angles and direction will improve your speed.

Photo Credit:
Great athletes train to improve all 3 factors as they know that it is this science of speed that allows them to improve their skill of speed. Make sure your training is addressing all 3 Factor of Speed!

Keep Training!
Coach Amanda Kephart 

Friday, January 15, 2016

My Interview on The Whistle and A Clipboard Podcast

Hello Everyone!

It is always an honor to be interviewed about Speed, Strength, and Conditioning, but I was especially honored to be interviewed by The Whistle and A Clipboard Podcast because of the amazing, and often famous, guests that have previously been on the show.

To be in the company of people like those listed below is truly a honor!

In my interview host I discuss the 3 Components to Speed, how to design a speed and strength workout, a personal story from my basketball playing days, and much more!

Keep Training!
Coach Amanda Kephart 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Recap of Diamond Speed, Strength and Power Clinic

Hello Everyone!

Last month's Diamond Speed, Strength, and Power Clinic at Strike Force Academy was jam-packed and attended by some eager area athletes!

The clinic started with some videos like this one showing the kind of speed needed to be successful on the diamond.

It then went into a brief presentation that empowered the athletes with how to be better leaders and to understand what kind of training they should be doing to actually get results on the diamond. Here's 2 of the slides.

The athletes then hit the turf to start training.

First) They learned a quick and powerful warm-up that will get them more athletic and ready to perform their best.

Second) They started learning the keys to speed, the best ways to get quicker, and drills to practice to get faster! Brandon got so fast he blew his shoes out!
Third) The athletes were given diamond-specific strength and power workouts that will make them more powerful this year. They even learned how often to do the workouts and how to scale the workouts.

It was great at the end having the athletes answer with a resounding "YES!" when I asked them, "Was this clinic helpful?"

If you want to achieve you New Years goals you have to gain new knowledge and new ways to improve your efforts. Stay tuned for information on my next clinic which will be with Ken Wilson on President's Day!

Keep Training!
Coach Amanda Kephart