Slow Feet Don’t Eat

Regardless of which drills you are working, Focus On The Techniques & Fundamentals!

3 Quick Thoughts on Agility

Movement skills are essential for players at every position in the game. As a defensive back, I rely on my agility and change-of-direction skills to chase down shifty running backs in space and cover blazing fast receivers all over the field.

Agility ladder drills are my favourite, hands down.  I’ve used ladders and cones in my workouts for over 15 years to develop my speed, coordination, balance, and explosiveness.

A quick YouTube or Instagram search will return countless drills for developing quickness and stop-on-a-dime cuts. So how can you separate the helpful from the hype?

Try not to get caught up in the idea that you need to do something highly complicated to get the high-level results you need.

22’s Tip: “WHAT you do does not matter as much as HOW you actually do it.”

Regardless of which drills you are working, Focus On The Techniques & Fundamentals!

Here are 3 Tips that I keep in mind whenever working on my feet:

  1. Bend Your Knees
    Begin every drill in an athletic stance, just as you would if you were getting lined up to play.  Start with your knees bent and your head up. The goal is to maintain that same knee bend and posture all the way through to the end of the drill. Think “Compact & Comfortable”.
  2. Slow is Smooth & Smooth is Fast
    Do not rush! Give your brain a chance to learn the footwork patterns of the drill at a controlled tempo. This will go a long way in developing the coordination and muscle memory needed to take the drills to the game. Start slow.
  3. Arms!
    Naturally, every lower body movement is counterbalanced with movement in your upper body. However, when people are focussed on their feet they have a tendency to tighten up their upper body. If you want to move your feet quickly, your arms will have to keep up. Do your best to relax and be natural. Shake it out, drop your shoulders and pump your arms.

Work on these 3 things during your next workout or practice.

Do you have any agility tips? Leave your coaching points in the comments below.

– 22

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Gear Guide: 7 Things I Keep in my Gym Bag

The best results are reserved for those who are well prepared. So, why not set yourself up for success and take the time to build some positive routines?

“If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.” – Will Smith

I always keep my gym bag by the closet door, packed and ready to go.

All of my life I have loved playing sports and working out, but even as a pro athlete, sometimes the hardest part of being active is just getting started.

During my career, I have noticed that the best results are reserved for those who are well prepared. So, why not set yourself up for success and take the time to build some positive routines?

One of the most productive routines I have involves packing my gym bag long before my next workout. This lets me grab my stuff and go when it’s time to put in work, no hesitation, no procrastination, no time wasted.

Check out my gym bag gear guide and let me know what you think.

Do you keep all seven of these tools in your gym bag?

Gear Guide: 7 Tools of the Trade

Proper Footwear
Gym Workouts: The exercises that you do and the surface that you train on will determine which shoes you should wear. Whenever I’m in the gym lifting weights, jumping or changing directions I wear cross trainers because they offer more lateral stability than traditional running shoes. Running shoes are perfect for jogging, cardio equipment or anything that is only linear.

How can you tell the difference between running shoes and cross trainers? Running shoes have more of a curve at the front to help you roll off your toes. Most cross trainers, on the other hand, are flatter with a more rigid arch to better support your feet when you are changing directions quickly. (Don’t believe me? Ask Asics)

Field Workouts: When I am on the field doing football drills I always wear cleats. Anything else is going to limit the quality of the workout. Last season I wore the white and gold Nike Huarache Lacrosse cleats, but this year I’m rolling with the low cut Nike Vapor Untouchable Pros.

My Foam Roller
Stretching is great, but there are other great ways to get deep into your muscles and loosen them up. My Trigger Point Foam Roller is a life saver. I try to foam roll at least once every day because it helps to keep me feeling fresh and flexible.

An Agility Ladder
This is my secret weapon. I never leave home without it. The Agility Ladder is extremely versatile for training speed, agility, coordination, balance, and explosiveness. You can get one of these ladders in the sporting goods section of WalMart for about $30 and it will worth every penny.

A Stack of Disc Cones
Cones are used as landmarks in movement based drills. Since I play football, the majority of my workouts take place on the turf, so cones are a huge part of what I do.

Disc Cones are really good to keep in your gym bag because they are stackable and don’t take up much space. I usually bring more than I need just in case. The average drill will require six to eight cones, so bring 20.

A Shaker Cup filled with BioSteel “Pink”
If you have sports drinks, protein, or other supplements to mix then your best bet is to use a shaker bottle instead of a regular water bottle. That way you can mix up the powders completely, so they aren’t chalky or lumpy… yuck.

As for fueling your body, everyone has heard that it is important to drink water and stay hydrated while you exercise. This is completely true. However, when you sweat during a workout you lose much more than just water.

Personally, I like to drink BioSteel High Performance Sports Mix during my workouts. It replenishes the B-vitamins, BCAAs, and electrolytes that you need to make it through a tough workout. Also, BioSteel HPSM is sugar-free, made using natural flavours and non-GMO ingredients. Unlike Gatorade, which is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, “The Pink Stuff” is sweetened with a plant called stevia and coloured with beets.

Wireless Head Phones
I love to listen to music during a lift or run. It helps me block everything out and really lock-in on the session. For the last year, I have been rocking the PowerBeats2 wireless earphones. They are perfect for being active. I love em, but it’s almost time for an upgrade.

My next pair will probably be the completely wireless Apple Air Pods or the PowerBeats3. Not 100% sure yet.

A Football
Coaches and trainers make sports more complicated than they really need to be. With all of the high-tech equipment and expert strategies, we can easily lose track of the real goals we are working towards.

Football is a simple game when you really look at it. Get the ball, keep the ball, move the ball across the goal line. So, I like to catch the ball and practice carrying it whenever I get a chance. That’s why I never leave home without my football.


This is what my gym bag looks like. I always keep the essentials with me which helps me to get the most out of every workout. You might not be training for football season, but you should still take some time to figure out what tools can help you hone your craft.

Keeping my bag ready to go makes it easy to get up and go when it’s gym time. Try packing your gym bag before you go to bed so that you can hit the ground running in the morning. This trick always helps me avoid procrastinating.

Let me know what you think of my list. What other things do you like to bring to your workouts? Leave me a comment and let me know.

– 22

P.S. – For more fitness tips listen to Episode #2 of “The Come Up” Podcast here: How to Make Gains in the Gym.

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The Come Up Podcast (Episode 1)

It’s Here! Listen to my new Podcast “The Come Up: Steps to Success”

With the tools that are available on the internet these days, it has never been easier to share your story.

TheComeUp Logo

This year, I’m setting out to explore the world of podcasting with my man Jimmy Lawson. Together, we are launching a mini-series called “The Come Up: Steps to Success” on SoundCloudiTunes, and Google Play.

After listening to a bunch of podcasts myself, I realized that the best episodes provide useful information and helpful advice, not just small talk. So, on The Come Up, we are going to share valuable tips that you can use on your road to success.

The Come Up Podcast is all about personal development and becoming a better athlete, student, parent or professional.

Listen to our first episode on SoundCloudiTunes or Google Play right now.

This is my first time ever doing anything like this, so I’d really appreciate it if you gave me some feedback. Leave a comment on iTunes or Google Play.

For more information about The Come Up visit the Podcast Website.

– 22

 

Confidence: How to Perform at the Highest Level

During my career as a professional athlete, I have had to perform on all kinds of stages.

Whether you need to perform in front of 70 or 70,000 people, these four strategies will help you build your confidence like a pro.

Confidence is not found, it is created.

We have all felt those nervous butterflies in our stomach before, but have you ever stopped to ask yourself why?

Well, there is no need to worry since that anxious feeling you get right before the moment of truth is simply a sign that you care deeply about what you are doing.

And even if you don’t care much for what you are doing, the thought of the potential outcomes based on your performance always hold weight.

You may not feel overly confident right now, but with a positive perspective and enough hard work, you can learn how to will yourself to success at a very high level.

During my career as a professional athlete, I have had to perform on all kinds of stages. I have played in championship games when any second could be the one that decides the fate of an entire season. On the other hand, I have also delivered presentations as a brand ambassador to a room full of business owners and professionals. Believe it or not, these situations can be equally nerve-wracking.

Over time I have learned that the size of the audience doesn’t make much of a difference. The tactics that I am about to teach you can apply in any situation. Whether you need to perform in front of 70 or 70 000 people, these four strategies will help you build up supreme confidence.

4 Strategies to Build Confidence

Understand Your Body
You are the pilot of a very sophisticated vehicle, but you don’t really know how to drive it yet.

Continue reading “Confidence: How to Perform at the Highest Level”

How to Get CFL Schedules on Your Phone

I know you love the game, but do you honestly have the time to set calendar reminders for all 18 games in the CFL season? … Didn’t think so.

No need to worry, I’ve gotcha covered 😉

My Memory is shaky at best when it comes to dates and times, so I write everything down.

I know you love the game, but do you honestly have the time to set calendar reminders for all 18 games in the CFL season? … Didn’t think so.

No need to worry, I’ve gotcha covered 😉

Click the banner below to download your CFL team’s full schedule directly into your calendar.

cfl schedules

Continue reading “How to Get CFL Schedules on Your Phone”

6 Tips to Survive Training Camp

Training Camp Survival Guide: 6 things every football player needs to know

After spending all offseason preparing your body to endure the marathon style grind of the regular season there is only one thing standing between you and that opening kickoff of Week 1 – Training Camp.

No matter which league you play in, camp a beast! For two or three weeks you practice and compete once or twice per day and then you have a few hours of meetings. Once you add in three meals and possibly some therapy time, you’re left with only a few minutes to yourself each day.

This downtime is where the real battle is won and lost.  Ask any veteran player and they will undoubtedly agree.

By day three or four most first-timers (more affectionately known around the world of sports as “rookies”) will be begging for mercy. Lactic acid will set up shop in the legs, perma-fatigue sets in and dehydration can become a real threat. Meanwhile, savvy vets usually don’t hit the wall until days later, if at all.

Training camp is tough. That’s something everyone will admit. But, what are those upperclassmen doing to keep their performance peaking all through camp that the young guns aren’t? How do the more experienced guys maintain a razor focus in the early morning and late night meetings?

Well, I don’t know what you do, but here are 6 Training Camp Hacks that help me keep a spring in my step during the toughest part of the year.

How to Survive Training Camp

  1. Hydrate Often
    This one is simple. Ask anyone who studies the human body and they will tell you that it is made up of mostly water. Exercise makes you sweat – obviously. Why is that important to know? Well, most soft tissue injuries that I’ve seen (pulled muscles, strains, tears) tend to happen when you are dehydrated. With this in mind, you need to put an emphasis on keeping your body’s hydration level in the optimal range whenever you’re active.
  2. Eat Clean
    The energy that your body runs on comes from the calories that you take in when you eat. Let it be known, not all calories are created equal, so it’s really important to fill up efficiently.Try to refuel with nutrient-dense meals so that your body can recover from the stress of long, challenging practices. Your muscles need carbs and protein to bounce back after a hard workout, so if you want to maintain your strength during training camp make sure you focus on your food intake.
  3. Stretch & Foam Roll
    Most of us are not nearly as flexible as we could be, myself included.  I spend a fair amount of time working on my flexibility and mobility during the offseason, but during training camp, I always make a point to stay on top of it.On a regular day during training camp, I will stretch and foam roll on my own no less than three times. Once in the morning when I get out of the shower. Then again after practice before I leave the field. And again, one more time after I take a shower at night.I always try to stretch my muscles when they are warmed up. This is the best way to make sure that you don’t hurt yourself. A good stretch should be held for at least 20 to 30 seconds. Likewise, when it comes to foam rolling, think about spending a similar amount of time working on each muscle group. As an athlete your body is your “vehicle to success”, so you would be wise to give it a tune up regularly.
  4. Take Naps
    During my first four seasons playing in the CFL, I have mastered the art of the Power Nap. It is probably my secret weapon. Don’t be afraid to hit the pillow for a quick 20-minute snooze after lunch.Also, if you’re going to be napping just make sure that you bring your alarm clock. The last thing that you need is to sleep in and end up late for meetings or practice. You don’t want to make a bad impression on your coaches before the season even start.
  5. Cold Tub & Contrast Shower
    After a few days, you will slowly start to get sore from a build up of inflammation and lactic acid if you’re not proactive. Cold tubs are a classic way to refresh the body after a grueling day on the practice field. You don’t need to spend all day in there, though. I usually notice a good improvement after a quick 5-minute dip.The only thing that I like better than the cold tub is contrasting. Contrasting is when you flip back and forth between hot and cold. There are varying arguments for how long you should spend in each. Personally, I like two minutes cold, three minutes hot, back and forth for 2 – 4 cycles. If you don’t have access to a cold tub you can always do this in your shower too.One rule of thumb: If you are about to be active, finish in the hot water so that your muscles are warm and ready to move. If you are done for the day, end your session in the cold.
  6. Bring Seeds!
    Sunflower seeds are a tired man’s best friend! When you’re in a meeting and you feel each blink getting longer and longer, don’t reach for an energy drink. Instead, grab a handful of sunflower seeds and a paper cup. Eating sunflower seeds actually takes a lot of effort, so it’s an easy way to trick your brain into staying focused. Plus, if you don’t know too many guys on the team you will definitely make a few new friends once you bust out the package.
    If I can offer you some bonus advice on meeting room seeds, share wisely. Never hand over the bag!If you let them pour, you’ll be buying some more…

These are just a few tips from my experiences over the years. Hopefully, they will help you out when you report to camp this year. If you can think of any other keys to training camp success, definitely leave a comment and let me know!

– 22

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How to Master Your Habits

Our habits determine a large part of what we spend our time doing each day, so taking control over those unconscious drives can go a long way in helping us navigate towards our goals.

We all have habits. They show up in every facet of our lives; in our thoughts, our speech and of course, in our actions. You probably don’t even realize half of your habits because they are so deeply ingrained in your lifestyle. Yet, these unconscious drives play an undeniable role in shaping our reality and, ultimately, determining whether we find success or fall short of our mark.

Bad Habits vs. Healthy Habits 
Not all habits are created equal. If you are like most people, when you think of the word “habit” you can quickly generate several examples of harmful routines that don’t really bring us much value. These might include things like substance abuse, procrastination, excess spending, oversleeping, losing your temper, or any other acts that lead us away from our goals.

Poor habits, however, are not limited to our actions. Many of us (myself included) have had to work through self-destructive and limiting thoughts as well.  It is important to realize that the things we think about inspire the words we say and, in turn, what we say eventually becomes our reality. So, it is crucial that we not only focus on our physical habits, but also the thought patterns that shape our perspectives.

With all of this in mind, the difference between a good habit and a bad habit can be summed up like this: a bad habit is a reflex or thought that distracts you or sets you back.  A healthy habit, on the other hand, is something constructive that you routinely do in a given situation.

Habits don’t have to be extreme to have a significant impact. Some of the positive habits that I have been working on over the last 12 months are actually really simple; daily goal setting, packing my gym bag the night before a workout, and listening to audio books on my commute. All of these things, in some way or another, help me feel better about myself and make me more productive with my time.

10 New Habits
Here are some simple practices that you can try adding to your daily routine:

  1. Start your day by writing down one thing you are grateful for.
  2. Add 10 minutes of stretching to the end of your workouts.
  3. Make yourself breakfast before you leave the house each morning.
  4. Carry a water bottle with you all day.
  5. Spend 15 minutes reading each day.
  6. Instead of answering messages individually as they come in, set a specific time when you will read and reply to emails (or texts, etc.).
  7. Give someone else a compliment at least once a day.
  8. Write down your goals for the week each Sunday.
  9. Save $10 more from every pay cheque, just because.
  10. Add a new healthy food to your diet. Eat it once a week.

How habits are formed
In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg describes habits as a 3-part cycle he refers to as the “the habit loop.” In a nutshell, we are presented with a cue (also known as a “trigger”), we respond with an action (also called a “habit”), and then we are rewarded for taking that action. Trigger, habit, reward.

Example #1: You are walking through the mall and smell the sweet scent of cinnamon rolls (cue), so you forget about what you were doing and get in line (habit). Finally, after waiting in line for a few minutes you get your freshly baked treat, sink your teeth in and bang – satisfaction (reward).

Example #2: Your friend is on her way over to your house to hang out for the afternoon. While she is on the way you get a phone call, “hey, do you want anything from the coffee shop?” (cue). You aren’t actually thirsty or craving anything, but you automatically reply, “Sure! I’ll take a small regular, thanks.” (habit). Then, a few minutes later someone is at your door with a 315 calorie gift, just for you (reward).

Habit triggers come in all shapes and sizes. Your brain works like a giant network of ideas and memories, each one connected to another. Simply put, a trigger is a spark that initiates the chain reaction of neural activity which leads up to action.

Most triggers are either environmental (i.e.: driving past Starbucks), sensory (i.e.: the ringer on your phone, the smell of McDonald’s fries), or psychological (i.e.: boredom, loneliness, fear, anger, etc.). Of course, there are other types of cues, but regardless, they all serve the function of initiating that habit loop.

A reward is just what it sounds like. As mentioned, your brain is like a network of ideas. Whenever you notice a particular trigger, your mind begins to make assumptions about the things that will accompany or follow this cue. When your brain learns to connect a certain trigger with a particular outcome, we are then motivated to take action (habit). If this action leads to a reward the habit loop is strengthened and the cycle becomes more likely to continue.

So, here’s the cycle one more time.

Trigger, habit, reward.

Catalyst Habits
Knowing all of this great stuff about the formation of habits is cool, but how can we take that information and apply it to our lives immediately? Well, because our habits determine a very large part of what we spend our time doing each day, taking control over those unconscious drives can go a long way in helping us navigate toward our goals.

It can be overwhelming to think about overhauling your life to realign your personality with an ideal version of yourself that you are striving to become. So, instead of spreading yourself thin and taking on a ton of new challenges all at once, try focusing in on one or two catalyst habits.

There has been substantial research on catalyst actions (or keystone habits as they are called in The Power Of Habit). When put to good use, these catalyst habits have an ability to trigger a domino effect of productivity and efficiency. Simply put, a catalyst habit is a routine which generally leads to another constructive act, making all tasks that follow easier or more likely to be completed.

A simple example is making your bed in the morning. Making your bed in and of itself might not change your life, however, beginning your day with a ritual involving cleanliness and attention to detail can setup the rest of your day for more of the same. Carry that momentum with you into the kitchen and wash your dishes after you eat breakfast. Now with a clear kitchen table, you feel inspired to pack a lunch for the day. Then when you take that break around noon, you don’t have to wander around for 15 minutes deciding which fast food restaurant is the healthiest. All because you made your bed and started a wave of positive energy that carried you through the rest of the day.

Catalyst actions can be difficult to identify. In my experience, the best way to find them is by taking a little time to build some self-awareness. The key here is to reverse-engineer the momentum.

Think about when you are at your best. Times when you are most productive and most disciplined. Where are you when you feel energized and focused? What does the area look like? What items are around you? Who is there with you? What time of day is it? What were you doing leading up to this moment? Did you just eat? Were you taking a walk when a great idea popped into your head?  Did you have a particular song on in your headphones?

Try to isolate all of the variables in the scenario so that you can better understand how you got into that focus zone. Really take some time to think about what inspires you in great detail. If you can identify your triggers, you can create motivation on demand.

Creativity, dedication, and positivity can seem to come in waves. Some days the ideas are coming by the dozens and we have enough juice to hit the gym twice. Other days we just can’t get anything going. That is why it is so important to keep control of our habits.

Regardless of the goal, it is critical that we pick up on the patterns that put us at our best. As your awareness develops you will learn which buttons control your cues. If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be to build constructive routines around these triggers and truly make success a habit.

– 22

 

“The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg

For more on Habit Formation pick up a copy right here:

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