FEATURE—Landen Broadhead has always been a decent athlete. But as a junior at Desert Hills High last year, he decided he wanted to be something more.
“I had a couple of older friends who had been some of the elite athletes at school before graduating and going on LDS missions (for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints),” Broadhead said. “I wanted to be like them.”
When Landen looked at how these friends had achieved their status, a common theme emerged.
“They had done acceleration training,” Broadhead said.
As Landen looked ahead to the role he wanted to play on the Desert Hills football team his senior year, “I decided I needed to do what they had done.”
Landen applied for and received a scholarship from Intermountain St. George Acceleration. St. George Acceleration provides young athletes with an intensive program of between 12 and 22 sessions of personalized training with certified sports trainers. The program, which is customized for each athlete’s sport, is designed to maximize speed, agility, and power, as well as minimize injuries.
On speed days, athletes run on a high-speed treadmill. Athletes like Broadhead are taught to run uphill sprints, jump off the treadmill, and then do it again. The idea is to simulate game conditions and teach them how to run and explode correctly. Correct body mechanics, foot strike, and posture are taught to enhance the athlete’s position for speed.
On agility days, players do plyometric exercises to work on foot speed, side-to-side movement, and agility. While the workouts generally last about an hour, Broadhead’s often stretched longer.
“The trainers encouraged me to do extra core or leg work, and I would always use their facilities to ice afterwards,” Broadhead said. “They were willing to do anything for me. The Acceleration staff is so great at what they do. They worked with my schedule and encouraged me in my sport.”
All athletes are assessed with a pre-and post-test in their acceleration training. “On average, an athlete will gain two inches in vertical jump and decrease their 40 time by two-tenths,” said Rhett Farrer, Physical Therapist and Sports Medicine Manager for Intermountain Healthcare’s southwest region. “With Landen, we worked specifically on his running mechanics and body posture and emphasized strengthening the right muscles.”
Broadhead saw significant gains in the gym, but like other athletes, his most important results became apparent at game time.
“I was faster and quicker,” Broadhead said. “I could feel major benefits on the field that wouldn’t have been there without Acceleration.”
Farrer attended several of Broadhead’s football games.
“Landen is a smart player,” Farrer said. “He’s also a tough player and a good kid. After acceleration training, he knew he had something the others didn’t have. He surprised people on the field with his speed, both defensively and offensively. Acceleration gave him that explosiveness and edge.”
Farrer pointed out that athletes at all levels and ages can benefit from the speed and agility that Broadhead noticed. Besides student athletes, “we have programs for everyone from weekend warriors to professional athletes in a variety of sports,” Farrer said.
In addition, the Acceleration FUNdamentals program focuses on youth who may not be considered athletes.
“We have taken kids who start out a little overweight or tripping over their shoelaces and get them to the point where they can run six miles in an hour.” Farrer said. “It changes them physically and gives them confidence to handle themselves in PE class and in life.”
The Acceleration ACL Bridge program takes people who have finished physical therapy after knee surgery and gets them back to peak condition. “We’ve had great success with everyone from volleyball players to police officers,” Farrer said.
Finally, Acceleration offers “tune-up” programs for athletes who have previously completed a full program and need to quickly ramp up for another sport. In Broadhead’s case, it was five sessions before basketball season.
Broadhead was ultimately offered a spot on the Dixie State University football team, but his immediate plan is to serve an LDS mission.
“Winning the state football championship with my Desert Hills team was a great way to end my football career,” Broadhead said. “But the lessons of perseverance and hard work he learned in his sport will last a lifetime.”
Written by Kristy Ann Pike for St. George Health & Wellness magazine and St. George News.St. George Health and Wellness and the St. George News
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