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House of specialized training

Velocity Sports offers athletes a performance edge

Posted: August 2, 2009 10:34 p.m.
Updated: August 3, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Former Valencia High and College of the Canyons wide receiver Jason Engelberg works out at Velocity Sports Performance. The facility has attracted an impressive list of clientele, including former USC football standouts Mark Sanchez and Keith Rivers.

Former University of Southern California football standouts Mark Sanchez and Keith Rivers, United States Women’s National Soccer Team standout Cat Whitehill, Padres catcher Nick Hundley, former University of Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm and former Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji have something in common.

They are a sample of the athletes that Santa Clarita Velocity Sports Performance director Adam Johnson has worked with personally.

He, and the other coaches at Velocity’s local facility are using their expertise to build athletes in the Santa Clarita Valley.

“Instead of having kids go to the gym and mess around on their own,” Johnson said, “or train only the things they want to train — a lot of high school athletes, they just want to do bench press and do biceps curls — we will do some of those exercises here. But we want to make sure we develop the entire athlete.”

Some of the local athletes who have trained at Velocity include former Canyon High football players J.J. DiLuigi and Steven Wirthlin, former Saugus lineman Shane Watterson, former Valencia basketball player Chelsey Hastigan and Saugus graduate and Northeastern University hockey player Alyssa Wohlfeiler.

Brad Beale owns Velocity locations in Santa Clarita, Redondo Beach and Salt Lake City, which are among about 60 locations nationally.

Beale said it starts with the coaches.

“They are not personal trainers,” he said. “Our coaches are people who have dedicated their education and careers to training athletes.”

These coaches walk athletes through scheduled training sessions consisting of strength training, agility training and conditioning.

“The movement categories we work on are acceleration, or first-step quickness, multi-directional, or change-of-direction work, and max-velocity mechanics, where we are working on our top-end speed,” Johnson said. “Within those three main movement categories we can add dozens of workouts.”

Whether dragging sleds, shuffling through cones or lifting weights, athletes work out in groups of no more than eight, Johnson said.

“It’s a lot different that I expected,” said former Valencia High and College of the Canyons wide receiver Jason Engelberg, who will attend Kansas Wesleyan University next season. “It’s not kids training, it’s people of all ages.”

Like many other athletes, Engelberg wanted to get back in shape and attempt to ease the transition to the next level.

Another such athlete is Valencia’s Aly Drake, the CIF-Division I State Track and Field champion in the 800-meter run and a girls soccer standout.

“With some programs, coaches give out summer fitness packets,” said Drake, who is bound for the University of San Francisco in both sports. “But we have no idea what to do. It helps to have a trainer here that can show you what to do.”

One such way Velocity prepares athletes is through the use of video analysis on a program designed by video-editing software company Dartfish.

“We can record it. We can stop it. We can draw angles to show (athletes) whether or not they are getting their bodies in the right postures,” said Johnson of the program’s capabilities, as he pulled a clip of 2009 Green Bay Packers draftee Clay Matthews. “I can sit there and tell an athlete what they are doing wrong repeatedly, but they just might not be understanding it until they see it on video.”

The clip showed the former USC linebacker begin a sprint.

Johnson paused the video as Matthews began to run.

From there, Johnson drew lines onto the clip to emphasise the angles of Matthews’ legs and back for better visualization of how the start should take place.

With other capabilities including athlete overlap for technique comparison, timers and shading, Johnson can create a DVD to give to athletes for instruction and promotion, common for athletes headed to the National Football League Combine in Indianapolis, Ind.

Also the home of Legacy Volleyball Club, Velocity boasts volleyball courts, a turf field and viewing area for people to monitor each scheduled session.

Each athlete goes through an evaluation process to determine areas of imbalance and weakness so that workouts can be individualized within the small-group setting.

“We are going to focus on the things that (athletes) are either not doing at school within their weight-lifting program so we can complement their high school weight-lifting program,” Johnson said, “or if they don’t lift at all at school, we are just helping build them from the ground up to be a better athlete.”

Is it effective?

Drake thinks so.

“I’m sweating up a storm,” she said, with a mix of exhaustion and pride. “It was tiring, but it felt good.”


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