Many products and services over the years have promised budding young athletes that their stuff can make them top-tier, elite, the best …
Unfortunately, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Here are some products and services that are, in reality, scams (and a waste of an athlete’s time and money):
#1 – Jump Shoes
These ridiculous pieces of footwear claim that by simply wearing them during practices will increase your vertical jump height.
There’s absolutely zero evidence that these ugly shoes are capable of providing any benefit, for anything.
Sure, they’re awfully effective at making your calves sore, simply due to the fact that they force you to stand/walk/run on your toes (but if sore calves are that important to you, you can just stay on your toes WITHOUT the aid of “special” shoes).
Want to improve your vertical? Improve the strength and power of your triple extension (e.g., when you straighten your hips, knees, and ankles – which occurs when you jump, sprint, etc.)
With squats, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, and prowler sprints, you can improve the strength and power associated with the same muscle groups that allow you to jump.
#2 – Speed Schools
“Speed schools” have popped up all around the country in the past 10-20 years as an alternative to commercial gyms. They’re typically geared towards young athletes looking to become faster and more explosive.
While they’ve got the right intentions, these so-called “speed schools” are usually flawed in their program design – meaning, they don’t actually provide the best results for athletes, even though they claim they do.
You see, these speed schools focus on tons of of agility work and conditioning – and that’s it.
Agility work is completely necessary for someone looking to become more quick in real life athletic movements (e.g., cutting, turning, shuffling, change of direction, etc.) and by all means is important to develop. As is conditioning.
But without other aspects of training, such as strength and power, an athlete is only short-changing his or her development and can only go so far.
The few private athletic facilities that focus on everything – strength, speed, agility, power, conditioning, etc. – are worth their weight in gold. Unfortunately, speed schools do not fall under this category.
#3 – Running Parachutes
These special devices are anchored to an athlete’s torso, and as the athlete runs, the parachute deploys and adds resistance to the run.
The idea is, with running parachutes, that you can make your running/sprinting more difficult, in which you’ll adapt and become a faster runner.
Two problems with this …
First, when the parachute tugs at the athlete’s body, it alters the running technique.
This means when the athlete is training with the parachute, he or she is learning how to run differently, which means that the athlete is actually getting worse instead of better (because this “new” technique isn’t really optimal for regular running/sprinting.)
Second, the parachute has only one set amount of resistance.
What if you wanted to constantly increase resistance, allowing you to continue getting stronger and faster? With parachutes, this is impossible.
On the other hand, prowlers and sleds allow you to continuously add weight (and resistance). Additionally, they involve a significantly different technique than standard running and sprinting (due to the fact that the arms are involved with the pulling/pushing of the device).
This is important because it won’t teach you how to run differently. The parachutes only alter running mechanics slightly, which can most definitely carry-over to actual running (and negatively affect it.)
#4 – Supplements
Supplement companies claim their products can do everything – increase muscle mass, burn fat, improve mental cognition, improve recovery, whatever.
Here’s a fun fact: supplements aren’t FDA-approved, meaning that they may or may not work. So, if there’s a product out there that you want to take, you’re going to have to find all the studies out there on those ingredients, and read them from cover-to-cover to make sure you’re taking the right product for the right reason.
But 99% of the time, you can get all that you need with fruits, vegetables, healthy sources of protein, intelligent training, and enough sleep.
You can be healthy and perform your best with just those things – and they aren’t supplements!
Sometimes, young athletes struggle to get enough calories and protein in their diets, so protein powders make it easier to get these in each day. They’re cheap, tasty, and you can find certain brands that have no extra ingredients added to them (outside of some sugar or a sweetener to make them palatable).
You can achieve tip-top performance without these things, and be glad you saved your time and money in the process.
Hard work, a properly-designed training program, and the right nutrition are more important for athletic performance that any of those “scams” out there.
To see what our coaches and programs can do to take you to the next level, click the links below!