Today, we continue our Training Day series with Joseph Potts, founder of Top Speed Strength and Conditioning just outside Kansas City. Joe brings a rich history of speed training on the professional sports level, including time with the hometown Royals as well as time spent training NFL athletes. His work bringing down 40 times by avoiding fads and relying on proven methodology is one reason we invited him to be part of the ITL family.
Read on for Joe’s insights on training and the combine prep space.
Top Speed Strength and Conditioning is based just outside of Kansas City, which is well outside the Sun Belt where most top combine prep facilities operate. How is this a challenge for you? Are there any benefits?
“Obviously, the winter weather can be a challenge, but outside of that, there’s not much difference. We’ve got a good hill for uphill sprint work as well as access to local football fields and track facilities. With agents sending a high majority of prospects to train in warmer states, one benefit is that guys who train here get more one-on-one interaction.”
Your resume includes extensive work with the Royals, where your speed techniques led to incredible success stealing bases in the team’s farm system. What are the parallels between teaching speed in baseball vs. football? Are there differences?
“In baseball, a majority of our start work was from the “base-stealing stance,” which is similar to the setup for the 5-10-5 shuttle. Outside of that, there isn’t much of a difference. It’s all about coaching for maximal movement efficiency and increasing force output into the ground. That’s pretty applicable across the spectrum of all sports when it comes to speed development.”
What’s the greatest challenge facing the modern speed trainer? Is it gaining a player’s trust? Is it getting his attention? Is it educating him on what it takes to really polish his skill-set? Something else?
“The biggest modern-day challenge is probably educating prospects on what to avoid. Social media has made it easy for trainers, ‘footwork’ gurus, and apparel companies to put together hype videos and shove a load of (crap) down a prospect’s throat. A few years ago, it was altitude training masks, which have since been debunked, and nowadays it seems to be ‘speed ladder gurus’ working as modern-day snake oil salesmen. What many young prospects don’t realize is that time is a precious commodity, and time spent practicing inefficient or ineffective training methods can impact the returns from the overall training. That’s why we try to stress smart training practices to our guys. It certainly paid off this year as guys like (Top Speed clients) Albert Wilson (Chiefs), Terrance Mitchell (Chiefs) and Dexter McDonald (Raiders) all had career years.”
Having trained dozens of NFL players as well as MLB players, what do they have in common besides outstanding physical traits?
“The ones I’ve worked with who were highly successful seemed to carry a chip on their shoulder. My theory is that this helped them avoid complacency. Many of them are also hyper-competitive, which, again, helps to avoid becoming complacent. One of the worst things an athlete can do is feel like they’ve ‘made it’ and relax, because in sports, there’s always someone out their gunning for your spot.”