The Summit: Developing new training techniques

James Evans

Some people might be in shock because of what they witnessed on Monday night, although not me after recently visited The Summit, a gym in Rosemont. This is where many athletes and teams go to train during the off-season. This past summer, the Saint Joseph’s men’s basketball team was one of the many that utilized the equipment, and it is no surprise that it is now off to one of its best records in school history, 16-3.

The Summit opened up two years ago and taking a tour of the gym would absolutely blow some one away. One of the most interesting rooms is where the ice skating treadmills are kept. This device is able to work like a regular treadmill, except that it is made of ice. The point of the treadmill is to increase the skater’s strength, speed and power.

“The treadmill works all the way up to a forty degree angle, so in terms of that its working your hips, your knees its causing a big leg drive, forcing you to take big powerful steps all the time,” assistant manager Jim Ferris said. “Everything you do on the treadmill is about six to 20 seconds, we train anaerobic, we’re not trained for long distance, because in hockey you’re only on the ice for about 45 seconds.” The skater is first harnessed in because as the skater goes along they might start to struggle, so the trainer will hold them on, but at the same time give the rope a tug. This forces the skater to work at something that their body is not used to and causes the skater to adjust his mechanics so he can take it to the next level. The treadmill can reach up to a speed of 18 miles per hour.

While the person is skating the trainers will tape it from all angles, to see if the skater is doing anything wrong and what techniques the skater can work on to become a faster and stronger skater. The Summit plays host to a number of professional players as well as the average child, looking to work on his skating ability. “The Flyers and Phantoms come in during the summer, their strength and conditioning coach is associated with us, so he’ll bring them out sometimes,” Ferris said. “Its actually good for the kids, because you could have an eight year old kid sitting waiting to go and on both sides of him are professional players, huffing and puffing from doing the same exercise.” The trainers moderate everything to the skater’s ability and will pre-test and a post-test the skater and then decide a program to put the skater on, depending on their goals.

The next stop was the regular treadmills. These treadmills seemed to be your basic run of the mill treadmills you would find in any gym, but it is how the Summit uses them that really makes the difference. Ferris demonstrated how using the treadmill in certain ways could be beneficial to building a players speed on the field. “You’re trained to run, in terms of how we get you faster, you’re watching a game, the play starts, it takes you a couple of steps to accelerate,” Ferris said. “However, the treadmill is going nine miles-per-hour, so once you step on your going nine miles-per-hour and your not building to it. So it helps you get off the block quicker.” He then turned the treadmill up to its maximum speed, of 28 miles-per-hour.

Just like the ice skating treadmill, the person is harnessed in when they step on the running treadmill. The trainers will then pull and tug at the runners hips, forcing the runner to work harder and to fight against the force pulling them. Also, they have people run backwards uphill, this is usually used for defensive backs in football or other sports that have players back pedal.

The next stop was to a small room that had a board with several small lights all over it and in the middle was a panel. This device forces the person to keep his head and eyes straight, facing the middle panel and use his peripheral vision to hit the lights that are rapidly flashing. The way they make sure that the person is keeping his head straight is that five-digit numbers appear randomly in the middle of the panel and the person has to read them off. “In terms of sports this is really important,” Ferris said. “In football, you could be an inch away from a tipped ball or an interception and in basketball, an inch away from a rebound, this trains you to be able to intercept the ball or be able to grab the rebound.”

The most impressive part of the tour was when the one o’clock karate class walked in. This class consisted of four-years-old. The children walked in and immediately started to run all over the place, the mothers than proceeded to chase the children all around and try to calm them down. Finally, the mothers were able to sub-due the children long enough to get their uniforms on. The children started running all over the room again, however, this time the mothers just left the room and walked away. Then the instructor walked in and without saying a word, the class immediately ran to the center of the room sat down Indian style with their hands crossed and in a line.

After the tour and after Monday’s game against St. Joe’s, I’ve decided to tryout for the basketball team. I usually would get cut right away, but after touring the Summit, I feel that I could be the starting small forward next year, if I trained at the Summit this summer. Read next week for athletes insight on the Summit.