An often over looked area of the body by weightlifters is their hands.  Now Milo readers know how important the grip and the hands are, but many weightlifters take their grip and hands for granted.  I guess this is due to using the hook grip (wrapping the thumb around the bar, then grabbing the thumb with the fingers), using straps, or just not lifting enough weight where grip is an issue, thinking the grip will just get stronger as the lifter gets stronger.  To some extent this is true.   I’ve seen many lifts missed due to hand problems, from losing the grip to tearing a callus.  Two situations I think can be avoided.

I will deal with the care of the hands first.  The first thing beginners and those coming back from a long layoff notice is how tender and soft their hands have become.  So, just as the body has to get back in shape, so do the hands.  So, the light weights your using will toughen up the hands as your body gets stronger, but your hands will hurt some and be a little sore just as your body will be.  The first thing you’ll notice is the build up of the calluses on your hands and this is good, but you have to take care of them so they don’t get too big because then they will tear and that’s painful, bloody, and a big distraction to your training.  After you’ve torn a callus you have to tape the hand in order to continue lifting and most people don’t know how to best tape an injured hand or have a trainer around to do it for them.  After you’ve taped the hand the bar just doesn’t feel right for the next few lifts.  So, we want to prevent callus tears.  First, have some nail clippers in your training bag and a file or emery board.  You want to file your calluses down before they get too big.  However, if you do tear, then you need the clippers to trim away the torn skin.  Another thing that contributes to tears is chalk (magnesium carbonate), it dries out the hands too much for some people.  So, I recommend not using chalk for your light weights and when you do use it use it sparingly, just enough to get the job done.  And after each workout use a medicated hand lotion and rub it into your hands thoroughly.

The next part of hand care is strengthening them.  Yes, they will get stronger from just lifting the weights.  A gym owner once told me you don’t need to work your forearms because every time you grab a weight you are working your grip and forearms.   Well, I don’t think that is enough for anyone who wants to be real strong and lift real big weights.  Now you Milo crushers have super grips because you work at it, so weightlifters must do the same.  I recommend wrist curls, pinch gripping plates for time, hanging from a thick bar for time, and working out on grippers, ones that you can only do 5 reps initially and building up to sets of 10 reps.

Two great demonstrations of grip strength that I witnessed were, 77 year old Karl Norberg pinch gripping a York 45 pound (20.5 k) plate by the hub with three 10 pound (4.5 k) plates placed between the rim and hub and lifting the 75 pounds (34 k) from the floor and placing it on a bench press bench.  The other was Bruce Wilhelm pinch gripping a pair of Eleiko 25 kilo plates by the rim and curling and pressing them overhead.

So, take care of and strengthen your hands, don’t neglect them.

TAKU’s NOTE: Thanks to my good friend Jim Schmitz for his excllent areticle this week.


Plateau Busting

By The Viking

In exercise terms, a plateau is a sticking point.  A point at which, despite all your efforts, you just aren’t getting the results you wanted.  Plateaus occurs in all types of training and with all types of goals.  Whether you’re trying to gain muscle, loose fat, increase your aerobic or anaerobic capacity or simply trying to get better at whatever it is you like to do, chances are if you train long enough, you’ll hit a plateau.   Why plateaus happen vary from person to person. Regardless of when and how it affects you, the solution is usually relatively simple so don’t get scared.  Here are some points and tips to consider when breaking through those plateaus.


If you’re experiencing a plateau it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to increase the amount of time you spend at the gym.  On the contrary, it probably means the exact opposite.  Your body doesn’t get stronger, faster or leaner in the gym.  All of the benefits of exercise happen when the body is at rest.  If you give it the time it takes to repair and replenish itself, chances are you’ll see much better results for your efforts.

Take a close look at exactly how much exercise you get on a daily and weekly basis.  If you’re spending more than 5-7 hours a week working out at a fairly vigorous pace, the plateau may be a cry for rest from your body.  Try taking an extra day or two of rest during the week and see what happens.


The body is an amazing machine.  It adapts to physical stresses very quickly and gets stronger as a result.  It’s constantly learning.   It also doesn’t want to work harder than it has to.   If you’re doing the same exercises with the same weights in the same manner for more than a few weeks, you’re body has probably already figured out the game and is doing what it can to conserve its out.  That’s when a plateau sets in.

By keeping the body guessing, you can maximize the effectiveness of your training.  Try the following changes in your routine:

  • change      up the exercises
  • increase      the weight you use
  • switch      the order of what you do
  • alter      the frequency  (days per week)
  • change      the time of day you work out

By following simple suggestions such as these, you constantly give your body new physical stresses to deal with.  If it doesn’t know what’s coming, it can’t take the easy way out.


Diet plays an enormous role when it comes to heath and fitness.  Your dietary habits can mean the difference between seeing the results you want and simply wasting your efforts.  In addition to making good dietary choices, which are detailed elsewhere on the Hybrid Fitness site, consider increasing the number of times per day that you eat (without increasing your overall calories).  Have you ever eaten a big meal and noticed yourself start to get warm or perhaps even sweat?  There is a metabolic response to eating.  As you intake calories, your body has to find a way to digest, process and assimilate everything you’ve eaten.  Everything your body does, every function it performs takes calories and believe it or not, it takes a lot of calories to chew and process the food you intake.  Your metabolic level stays elevated during this process, which may last well over an hour or two depending on what you eat.  When the food is digested, the metabolism slows and your body goes back to its pre-digestive state.  By eating 6-7 smaller meals per day, you’re able to elevate and sustain your metabolic rate, effectively burning more calories than you would eating “3 square meals” per day.

Here’s a couple simple graphs to help explain.  The red line is used to roughly demonstrate the average metabolic rate over a day’s period.


Regardless of your goals, be they health, aesthetic, strength, skill or performance, you will benefit most by incorporating the Exercise Trifecta.  The trifecta is a combination of aerobic conditioning, resistance training and proper diet.  For example, let’s say you’re a runner and your main goal is to increase your full or half marathon time.  Most of your time is likely spent logging miles on a treadmill or outside on the pavement.  Sooner or later, your body will get used to the same old training day in and day out.  Try mixing in solely strength training or anaerobic circuit training of a couple of your training days.  Not only will you be throwing your body a necessary curve ball, but you’ll be forced to use different energy pathways to perform the activity.  You’ll get stronger as a result, which will likely result in a lower overall distance time.  If you’re a body builder and not quite getting the results you want, try looking at your diet.  Chances are that small changes in your diet will create a big change in your results.  These rules apply for everyone.  There is no sport I can think of where strength is a detriment.  Don’t ever be afraid to lift weights and don’t ever be afraid to get stronger.  It will only benefit you.

Your results are completely in your hands.  With all of the information available in this world, you have no excuses.  Take these tips apply them to your current routine.  Even if you haven’t hit a plateau, chances are you will eventually.  It’s best to avoid one then to try and get past one.  Either way, it’s never a lost cause.  Keep training hard and listen to what the experts have to say.


INTENSITY: Ways to modify

By: Jim Bryan

Following are some of the ways you can alter or modify the intensity of your workouts. Some are from Arthur Jones learned in the 70′s. Others are more recent. None are my “discoveries” I learned them from some of the more well known Strength Training Authorities. I have been fortunate to meet many trainers in my 40 plus years of Strength Training. I’ll cover as many as I can.

Adding weight or Reps

This is fundamental. You have to train in a progressive manner. Add a little weight when you can do a certain amount of reps, or do extra reps if the weight feels “lite” that day. Keep a log and always try to improve from your last workout.

What if you are already training very heavy and the force of the weights on your joints is starting to worry you?

Then you can try some of these options before going back to your heavy weights and regular workouts.

Training to Failure or Overload

Don’t argue over this. Do it if you want……….or not! Nobody really cares. This is not only the domain of the HIGH INTENSITY trainee. Many also use it that don’t consider themselves to be of the “HIT” Camp. It is just a tool. In the old days we continued an exercise until we couldn’t move…….by any means. Today I stop a set for most of my clients when their form starts to break down. It is a judgment call for me and I prefer to keep my clients training as safe as possible. Now and then I find someone that can push like we used to and for those rare clients that’s what we do. Easier to do with machines but can be done with free weights, especially if you have a “Power Rack”.

Pre Exhaustion

Using an Isolation or “single joint” movement preceding a compound or “multi Joint” movement for a muscle group. Example: Leg Extension then Squats or Leg press. Or Side Lateral raise then Standing or Seated Press. You are “Pre Exhausting” the target muscle group then finishing off that group with a compound movement.


Immediately after reaching failure remove some of the weight and continue for a few more reps. Don’t overdo this one. One or two Breakdowns for an exercise are good.

Negative Only

Your training partners raise the weight or do the “concentric” part of the movement and you lower it. Lowering the weight is the negative or “eccentric” portion. You’ll be using quite a bit of weight for this. Research says you are 40% stronger lowering a weight than you are raising it. Make sure you are lowering under control. This is a hard way to workout. It is especially hard on your partners.

Negative Accentuated

Raising, pulling, or pushing the weight with two limbs and lowering it with one. An easier way of doing negative training. You don’t need help.


Pick three exercises. One for the legs and hips, one for the upper back, one for the chest and shoulders. Train one right after another in circuit fashion and repeat a total of three times. Usually done to failure with no rest at all. Example: Squat or Leg Press or Trap Bar deadlift. Then Chins or Pullovers (or pulldowns) or a rowing movement. Third movement could be Dips or overhead presses (standing or seated) or bench press. Check your shorts when your done!

Rest Pause

Find a rep range that you like doing and complete that set by pausing from time to time to finish that set. Another words you normally wouldn’t be able to complete the reps without pausing.

30′s Day

Pick a half dozen or so exercises that cover the whole body. Use your normal weight or close to it. Now all you have to do is complete 30 reps! One set each exercise. With most people this is a “rest pause” effort. However, I have one client that can go through a full workout doing straight sets! No rest! No she doesn’t use baby weights. She looks like a model and has Bull Dog determination. She won’t quit. I can’t do it!

50′s Day

Same as above only this time you have to complete FIFTY reps. Oh, By the way! She does this with out a pause also. Who says Women are the weaker?

100′s day

Never done it. Have heard that some have. Same as above only 100 reps. Call in to work and tell them you won’t be in for a while!

Forced reps

Similar to a breakdown set except the weight is not changed. At failure your partner supplies enough help for you to complete three or four more reps. This technique has been around as long as dirt.

Slow training

RenX (formerly known as “Super Slow” training) is a very effective protocol and it’s not easy. If you have an opportunity to learn from a certified RenX Trainer, do it. Check with Renaissance Exercise under Ken Hutchins. Their website can explain the details. There are many.

1 ¼’s

In each rep pause at the contracted position and then lower it a quarter of the way down. Then all the way back up to full contraction before lowering to start position. This is one rep. Do each rep like this.


Do one rep and take a full deep breath. Then do two reps followed by a full deep breath. Then do three reps followed by a full deep breath. Then do four reps following the same breathing format. Then five reps. Then six reps all using a pause with a full deep breath. You can also start with six reps and go to one. I guess you could call this “Regressions” but the same people that get their shorts in a knot over the term “Failure” would probably get in a hissie over this term also. Oh, please get a life.


Three consecutive sets followed by a 30 second rest between sets. After the first set, 10 pounds are added for the upper body exercises and 20 pounds for the lower. For the third set remove the added weights.

1 ½’s

Do a full rep and then a half rep. That counts as one rep.

30 second Hold

On the first rep pause in the contracted position for 30 seconds before continuing the set.

10 Second holds

Pause for ten seconds in the contracted position for every rep in a set of exercises.

7 Up set

A set where seven normal speed reps to failure are followed by a 30-45 second pause in the fully contracted position.

15 Second Reps

Five seconds to raise the weight, followed by a five second contraction, then a five second lowering of the weight. Do each rep of the set this way.

30 Second Reps

Same as above but use 10 seconds for the raise-hold-lower sequence.


Used primarily by the competitive Strength Athlete. Means simply to do sets using single reps, double reps, or triples. You will be using max weights doing this, so the force will be high. Can be dangerous, but if you accept the danger use it to your benefit! If you are worried about what the force may do to your joints over time, then avoid this.

Manual Resistance

Your partner or trainer/coach provides the resistance in these movements. I usually use it for the neck. (Manual Resistance for the neck can be done by yourself) The pressure or resistance is supplied by you or your partners hands. Can be done for many muscle groups, such as shoulders (laterals) Chest (flys) Thighs (abductor/adductor) Biceps (manual curls) Triceps (pushdowns/ tri press) Use your imagination and you can come up with several exercises. Can be a very intense way to work out. I don’t like it for to many workouts in a row but is fine from time to time. It can be hard on your partner, they usually get worn out before they workout.


Done at the end of a workout to squeeze every last ounce of effort you can supply. Farmers Walk for distance, Sand or sawdust bag carries for distance or time, Sled pull for distance or pushing some kind of weighted object for distance (car, sled, etc.) I use a two minute nonstop punching drill on a hanging heavy bag. Great for conditioning! I don’t use it for every workout just from time to time. Well, that’s all I can think of for now. Use what you think you can. This is by no means a complete list. I’ll probably think of some more as soon as I turn this article in. But it’s time to stop.

Strength Training is a journey, so enjoy the trip!

Train Safe….Train Hard….Train Smart

Thanks to: Arthur Jones, Kim Wood, Dr. Ken, Mark Asanovich, Matt Brzycki, Jim Flanagan and John Szimanski.


Another awesome article from my friend Jim Bryan. Thanks Jim!

Variety is the Spice of Life (part 1)

We all know the age-old adage “Variety is the spice of life”. Many of us also have first hand experience with this concept as we have made simple changes to some aspect of our daily lives at one time or another and quickly noted the renewed enthusiasm that often accompanies such changes. In many instances some simple changes to your fitness routine are just what the doctor ordered to breath new life and progress into an other wise dull, stale routine.

If you have been consistently and regularly exercising for six to eight months or more, your body has become accustomed to the stress of exercise. Many of us notice rapid improvements when we first begin a fitness routine only to see those improvements dry up and disappear in just a few short weeks or months. Why dose this occur? What can we do about it? Read on and I’ll tell you.

First of all lets hear it for our bodies. They are amazing marvels of biomechanical design. To see and feel them functioning at their peak is truly an experience of splendor. We don’t always treat them as well as we should and yet they continue to try their best for us no questions asked. If we give them good fuel, keep up with some basic regular maintenance and get out and move them around a bit they will reward us with years of hassle free service. Just about any physical challenge we humans can dream up can be overcome by these amazing machines we call our bodies.

Modern society is one of convenience. Exercise literally used to mean life or death for us. Now it has become just one of many activities we are trying to find time for in our busy lives. If you are reading this then you have probably found at least a little time for fitness in your hectic schedule. But are you having fun? Are you branching out and trying new things? Does your workout routine have any spice? If you answered no to any of those questions, fear not for I am here to help. Getting spicy is a lot easier then you may think.

Lets back track for just a second. As I said above, the body is amazing. It likes us to be able to accomplish our tasks with energy to spare. This is a self-preservation tactic. If our bodies did not find ways to maximize efficiency then we would use up too much of our valuable energy resources trying to accomplish the most basic daily tasks. Instead, our amazing bodies continue to increase the ease and efficiency of executing these tasks and finds ways to use less and less energy to accomplish them. When we are learning a skill such as a racquetball serve or throwing a right hook punch, we want our bodies to become better and more efficient over time. This allows us to execute the skill with maximum efficacy. For fitness however, we want to avoid this process. If we stay on the same old routine our bodies will get better and better at accomplishing the task while expending less energy to do so. In other words, the longer we stay on the same fitness routine, the less effective it will become for us. So, how do we fix this problem? How do we keep our bodies from adapting to our routine?

Step one; try something new. This seems like a no-brainer but so many of us have become creatures of habit. We plod along in the same old routine, day in and day out…Blah. On a side note, if you have been doing some routine for three months and it is not producing the results you expected or desired, it will not suddenly and miraculously start producing results in the fourth month. Trust me it wont. So, it is time for a change.

If group exercise classes are what you enjoy, try a new one. Don’t just stick with the same old Monday Wednesday Friday schedule. If you always do Step class try a boot camp or total body conditioning class. Try a dance class. Challenge your self to break out of the mold. Remember just because your do three different classes every week, does not mean you are getting a varied workout routine. Have you been doing the same three classes for six weeks, six months, or six years? When you are doing a class and the teacher says “Grab some Dumbbells” do you always grab the same weight(s)? Try something heavier next time. There are several reasons why so few gym members seem to make long-term changes to their bodies and not having variety is one of them

If you love to do cardio training and always walk on the treadmill, branch out. Try using the rowing machine or jumping rope. Use a different stair machine then usual. It could be something as simple as trying a different program on the same machine. If you always do the “Fat Burn” program try “Cardio” or “Intervals” for a change of pace. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll get far more benefit from increasing your intensity then from increasing your duration. So, go on up to level 10 instead of adding another ten minutes to your workout.

If you are a strength-training zealot, then the same applies to you. Change your routine frequently. Use a different angle for the same general body part (going from flat to incline on your bench press). Use a different machine. Change the order of your exercises. Change your repetition range. If you always do 8-12, try 6-8 or even 4-6. As with the cardio training it is better to increase intensity rather then increase volume and or frequency of training. If you have been stuck at a plateau for some time, it is likely you need to take a few days off from training and then come back at it with a new and different approach. Try training harder but less often. Split your routine in a new way or switch to whole body workouts for a change. Remember, to get the most from your strength-training routine it should be brief, intense, and infrequent.

If you consider yourself a cross-trainer and mix things up between weights, classes, cardio etc, you must still take a close look at your daily, and weekly “routine”. If it is routine, then as I mentioned above, it’s time to shake things up a bit. In part two of this article we’ll dig a little deeper into how to add variety to our training routines.

To be continued……


How To Get Better In Your Sport

TAKU’s NOTE: This week features an excellent article from my good friend Steve Mckinney. Steve is an awesome Personal Trainer, and runs studios which offer personal fitness training in the following areas:  St. Louis, Clayton, Ladue and St. Charles, Missouri. Along with Edwardsville, Maryville, and Glen Carbon, Illinois. I highly recommend that if you have the chance, you book a session with him, and don’t forget to tell him TAKU sent you.

By Steve McKinney

Every athlete wants to improve performance in their particular sport, that’s why we play. The question is, “How do we do it?”

The answer is quite simple, probably so simple you can’t believe it. Here it is¡­..are you ready?…. PRACTICE! (I know Allen Iverson may not agree with me)

Think about it. If you want to be a great 3 point shooter in basketball what should you do?

A) Practice Free throws

B) Run sprints or

C) Practice 3 Pointers.

If you said A or B please don’t read any further there’s no help for you! Just kidding. It just should be obvious the correct answer is C.

To me it just seems obvious, to get better in my sport I must practice that sport particularly/specifically over and over and over again.

In my 20’s slow pitch softball was big in the Midwest. I played on some local teams but there was a team based in St. Louis that paid their players. I wanted in on that! So here’s what I did. Every chance I could I recruited guys to practice with me. I got about 50 balls and I would make sure I had 3 guys, a pitcher, a hitter and an outfielder. We all changed positions. 1-2 hours per day, 4-5 days per week of hitting and catching and then playing games every night. Guess what? Within 2 years I was like, “show me the money!” For the next 5 years I traveled all over the country playing the best players’ week in and week out.

I know the evidence I just gave you is anecdotal but that’s how I learned. I became my own trainer by experimenting. I still do. I then advise others and track the results making adjustments when necessary.

The question then is, “Are there other things I can do to help?” I’m glad you asked! There are. You should know I’m an advocate of High Intensity Training or H.I.T. for short.

High Intensity Training (HIT) is a form of strength training popularized in the 1970s by Arthur Jones, the founder of Nautilus. The training focuses on performing quality weightlifting repetitions to the point of momentary muscular failure. The training takes into account the number of repetitions, the amount of weight, and the amount of time the muscle is exposed to tension in order to maximize the amount of muscle fiber recruitment.[1]

My suggestion to improve for your sport is to get stronger by using H.I.T. that is if your sport involves strength. (ping pong isn’t going work)

Strength training using H.I.T. methods while practicing your sport will really make a difference in your training. It allows for more time to specifically practice your sport. This specific training is called motor learning.

Motor learning ideally transfers positively to your game. This concept of transfer can have different affects on your training. However it can have a negative affect also.

Allow me to explain. I’ve seen people jumping rope to improve coordination or throwing a lead ball to help strengthen your arm, etc. In my experience the only thing jumping rope improves is ones ability to jump rope! Same with the lead ball throw, it makes me better at throwing a lead ball. But not a better pitcher, it would actually make me worse. That’s negative transfer. My softball example above is what I consider positive transfer.

Arthur Jones wrote something that really provoked thought: Skill in basketball (for

example) is produced only by playing basketball¡­ and the level of cardiovascular ability required for basketball is produced by the same training.(2)

Ellington Darden writes about 3 types of transfer: Positive, negative and indifferent.

    • Positive: When the activities of practice and competition are identical
    • Negative: When the activities of practice are almost the same as those in competition. Almost the same activities cause the neuromuscular pathways frequently to cross
    • Indifferent: When the activities of practice are totally unrelated to what happens in competition. (3)

Positive transfer helps your sport whereas negative transfer hinders it. Indifferent transfer is just that, indifferent, and has no affect on your game.

That brings me to strength training. Strength training is indifferent in that it has no affect on the skill levels of your game. It will only enhance your game, if, while your strength train you practice the skill part of your game. If you just strength train without skill training you’ll get stronger but your skill levels will diminish.

In conclusion let me give you some simple tips on improving your game.

    1. Practice your game specifically. If its basketball shoot then shoot, shoot and shoot some more. If baseball, then hit, hit and hit some more.
    2. Enhance your game by getting stronger using H.I.T. methods of strength training.
    3. Critically think about any advice given to you by experts. Don’t accept everything told to you. Most people try to add everything to their training except training itself.


    1. Philbin, John (2004). High-Intensity Training: more strength and power in less time. Human Kinetics. ISBN 9780736048200.
    2. Arthur Jones, Total Fitness, the Nautilus Way, Chapter Titled, “Improving Functional Ability… In Any Sport”
    3. Ellington Darden, (2006) The New Bodybuilding for Old School Results, page 108

Intro Interval Program – H.I.I.T

This interval program is designed to be performed 2 – 4 times per week on a Treadmill.

Work intervals should be performed at 80-90% Max Heart Rate (MHR)

If applicable, adjust incline and speed accordingly to achieve proper MHR results

Click the thumbnail below for a full-size view:

Intro Interval Program – H.I.I.T

Sport Specific

The term “sports specific” gets thrown around a lot in the fitness industry these days, but what exactly does it mean? To some it means doing certain exercise that they have deemed are “functional” for their sport. For others it may mean trying to move their bodies in similar planes of motion that they encounter in their sport while at the same time working against some form of resistance. On the surface it may seem to make sense to attempt to train movements in the gym that are similar or appear the same as those performed in your chosen sport. Unfortunately, there really is only one way to replicate the movement patterns associated with a given sport, and that is to play the sport itself.

You see skills are specific and when you add weight to a skill you are actually creating a new skill. This is true whether you add weight to a skill that normally has none, or you increase the weight of the implement used in the skill like swinging a heavier then normal baseball bat in hopes of more bat speed. Any of these subtle (or not so subtle) changes will adversely affect the skill in question. Those well versed in motor learning theory (or perhaps brimming with common sense) will be nodding their heads in agreement with this statement others may be feeling their heads fill with a dogmatic counter argument.

To be helpful, movement patterns need to be specific. Every sport be it boxing, soccer or baseball, has its own specific skill sets with specific movement patterns. To quote Brian Johnston, “There are no degrees of specificity. Either something is specific or it is not. Specific means explicit, particular, or definite not “sort of” or “similar to”.

As an example, taking dance classes (no matter what kind) to enhance your boxing footwork, will not make a difference in how well you box. In this case your time would be much better spent working on boxing specific footwork such as shadow boxing, live sparring etc. Now to some this may seem like a silly example however this is a mistake many coaches and athletes frequently make. The only real benefits to a boxer taking dance lessons would be:

1: He/She may become a better dancer.

2: He/She may notice an improvement in one area (dancing) and feel it must have a positive carry over to another area (boxing).

Another common misconception among some strength and conditioning coaches is that certain strength training tools or movements are somehow superior to others because of the “transfer” or carryover to sporting movements. An example here would be that the triple joint extension that occurs in Olympic weightlifting movements will have a direct and positive impact on any other sport movement that has a triple joint extension component for example jumping or sprinting. If you have been paying attention thus far then hopefully you are starting to see that this is not the case. The skill of lifting a heavy barbell from the ground to overhead is totally unique and specific. It is in no way the same as another, even seemingly similar skill.

Let’s take another example and look at the many tools and gadgets available to improve foot speed. Some coaches will use agility ladders, parachutes and a myriad of other toys in an attempt to improve individual foot speed. Unfortunately what actually occurs for the most part is an improvement in the new and very specific skill with essentially no positive carry over to the sport itself. Ask your self this question, if you are a youth soccer coach with limited time to improve your kids skills, would you rather they spend more time using drills that utilize an actual soccer ball in realistic situations and movements, or spend time learning how to move quickly through a ladder lying on the ground in a sort of high speed game of “Hop-Scotch”? Hopefully you are having a little light bulb moment and starting to realize that playing your sport is the only way to improve your specific sport skill.