Scotty Smith, CSCS, owner and founder of Synergy Sports Performance in Hobart, Wisconsin, was frustrated–and so were his athletes. With temperatures below freezing and winter in full force, the performance training company needed a tool to transform their outdoor running regimens into indoor ones.
“We have so many months of the year that aren’t conducive to running safely outside, and we don’t have a facility with a long track so athletes can run indoors,” he says. “I’m sure you’re going to find many athletic trainers throughout the country that deal with that same scenario.”
That’s when Smith turned to the S-Drive Performance Trainer, an innovation of Matrix. “During those times of the year, our athletes get frustrated with not being able to run outside, so they appreciate having access to the S-Drive without the worry of slipping on ice,” says Smith. “To have a unit that allows us to work on techniques we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise has been a huge, positive change for us.”
Smith, who has over 20 years of strength and conditioning experience and spent time with the NFL’s Green Bay Packers, primarily uses the S-Drive with his track and field athletes of all distances. “If we’re working with our 100-meter runners on starts, we’ve been able to do that indoors,” says Smith. “For our 200-meter and 400-meter runners, the S-Drive gives us the ability to do longer distance runs and allows those athletes to get up to mid-distance level speeds. We can then work on speed and mechanics at that level, without trying to find a place to run in the wintertime.”
What makes the S-Drive so effective, according to Smith, is that it provides a “much more realistic approach” to training on equipment indoors. “For example, if you put an athlete on an electric treadmill, you have to type the speed in, and that’s not too realistic. It’s tough to get a runner to maintain that exact same speed the machine is asking them to do,” says Smith. “The ability to have the athlete’s body weight being the force making that revolution turn is what makes training on the S-Drive as realistic as having them sprint outside.”
Smith outfitted his facility with six S-Drive Performance Trainers and now trains large numbers of athletes in an easy and efficient manner. He typically assigns four runners to each station, who rotate through sprinting drills that take 15 seconds or less per athlete. “They’re getting a maximum rest of about a minute so we can keep the intensity level high, and we’re also not having to waste time by waiting for five or six people to use one electric treadmill,” says Smith. “For us, it’s the perfect scenario.”
Athletes at Synergy Sports Performance found the S-Drive simple to operate from the first try, and they quickly learned that the performance trainers could be utilized for much more than just running. “We like having the athlete get on, push, and use it as a sled, so we can do group training in that regard as well,” says Smith. “They can also go right from a S-Drive to a lifting program relatively quickly. It’s a very easy transition.”
Smith has even innovated new workouts thanks to the durability and versatility of the S-Drive. “We’ve come up with our own things other than just the straight-ahead running sprint,” he says. “For example, we do hamstring curls with our athletes by laying on our backs on the floor. They put their heels on the S-Drive itself, straighten and extend the legs, and curl the legs back into their glutes.”
The S-Drive has also assisted Smith and his fellow coaches in analyzing the performance of their athletes. “If we want to film them, we can do so in place and hone in on the mechanics even more,” he says. “It’s easier for us to evaluate the athletes because they aren’t actually running away from us.”
When other athletic trainers and coaches ask Smith what his athletes think of the S-Drive, his honest evaluation is exactly what they want to hear. “My athletes hate it because of how hard it makes them work, which is good!” jokes Smith. “But in all reality, my athletes definitely understand that they’re getting value out of it as soon as they get off. Knowing that they can get up to those high rates of speed that quickly and for long periods of time, all while indoors, has definitely made their winter training sessions better—and a lot less stressful.”
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