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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 3, 2006

Getting back to basics helps fill need for speed

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 •  Sports notices

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawai'i Speed and Quickness clinic participants go through one of many drills that will help them improve their agility.

JOAQUIN SIOPACK | The Honolulu Advertiser

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QUICK FACTS

WHAT: Hawai'i Speed and Quickness clinics.

WHERE: University of Hawai'i athletic complex.

COST: $10 per session. Scholarships are available.

TIMES: 8:30-10 a.m. for ages 7-12; 10:30 a.m.-noon for 13 older.

SCHEDULE: Tomorrow, Sunday, March 11, 12, 18, 19. April 1, 2, 22, 23, 29, 30.

CALL: 739-5444.

WEB SITE: www.hawaiispeedandquickness.com.

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ADVICE FROM THOSE IN THE KNOW

VICTORIA PRINCE

Victoria Prince, who was a two-time All-America volleyball player for the University of Hawai'i Rainbow Wahine, recommends the T-drill as a basic exercise.

The drill requires three cones to be placed 5 yards apart in a parallel line. The athlete starts at the middle cone and runs to either the left or right cone. Going in the right direction, the athlete sprints 5 yards and touches the base of the right cone, then sprints 10 yards to touch the base of the left cone, then sprints 5 yards to touch the middle cone. UH athletes take between 4.1 and 4.5 seconds to complete the drill.

"It's great in measuring quickness, explosiveness and change of direction," Prince said. "It forces you to have a quick start. If you're not explosive out of your start, then you'll have a bad time. You can't start off slow and make up for it because it's such a fast drill."

The best part of the drill, Prince said, "is you can do it anywhere. You don't even need cones. All you need is to place objects 5 yards apart."

CHAD OWENS

Before every session, Chad Owens, a former All-America football receiver/returner at the University of Hawai'i, gives a pep talk to the campers.

"I always tell the kids to work hard, to put as much effort into the classroom as they do into their training.

"My other advice is to always have fun. That should be the No. 1 thing: have fun. Time flies. Here I am, about to be 24 in April. I look back at all the good times in elementary school and intermediate school. It goes by so fast. I stress to them to enjoy the moment. You never can go back to yesterday."

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Former University of Hawai'i volleyball player Victoria Prince takes speed and quickness participants through drills.

JOAQUIN SIOPACK | The Honolulu Advertiser

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On a recent Sunday afternoon, Mighty Mouse was Spider-Man.

It was an inevitable progression in the ages-old need for speed.

Since the first food hunt, competitors have sought ways to become quicker.

The ancient Greek runners covered their bare bodies in olive oil to keep off dust that might become speed impediments.

In the Middle Ages, the sons of noblemen used leaping techniques to strengthen their legs.

In modern times, athletes have shaved their legs and forearms, worn outfits as tight as an athletic director's budget, and invested in equipment that can reshape bodies into Gumby.

"If you're an athlete, you want to get faster," said Mel deLaura, co-founder of the Hawai'i Speed and Quickness clinics. "But all you need are the basics. Take advantage of what's already there. Run up a hill. Run up stairs. Jump on a park bench. Those things will make you faster."

And that is how the professional football player known as "Mighty Mouse" Chad Owens, a former All-America receiver/returner at the University of Hawai'i and current member of the Jacksonville Jaguars was on all fours, like a "Twister" player, in the "spider walk" drill at the Blaisdell Center.

As part of a recent Speed and Quickness clinic promotion, Owens crawled from one end of the exhibition room to the other.

"It's a good exercise," Owens said. "It really helps with my flexibility. I do the spider drill all of the time."

The spider walk is one of scores of drills deLaura and Rich Miano, the other clinic co-founder, culled from conditioning programs across the country through the years.

"The goal (of the spider walk) is to give you more hip flexibility and range of motion," Miano said. "That elasticity helps your legs turn over faster, and it gives you explosiveness spring and it helps you run faster. There are a lot of simple drills that pay big dividends."

Miano and deLaura were average athletes who improved through intensive training.

Miano entered UH as a non-scholarship football player in 1980. Tutored by strength coach Terry Albritton, who once held the world record in the shot put, Miano increased his quickness through explosive-movement drills, such as plyometrics. Only back in the early 1980s, plyometrics was simply jumping on and off a weight bench.

Miano went on to earn All-Western Athletic Conference honors and play 11 seasons in the NFL.

DeLaura said that until his sophomore year at Damien Memorial School, his athletic experience was "playing in the driveway."

"I didn't play any organized sports," he said.

As a receiver on the Damien football team, deLaura often went to Ala Moana Park to train.

"I would run in the park, and every time I'd come up to a bench or picnic table, I'd jump on it. I guess it was the same thing as working on step-up box. Back then, it wasn't called plyometrics. I just knew it was a good workout."

DeLaura played football at UH and Portland State, and was invited to two NFL camps before retiring after injuring his quadriceps. He returned to the Portland area to coach, eventually serving as a personal trainer to NBA players Kermit Washington, Jerome Kersey and Kevin Duckworth.

In 2000, deLaura returned to Hawai'i, joining UH as the football team's conditioning coach. Miano, who has coached the UH defensive backs since 1999, and deLaura decided to start the Hawai'i Speed and Quickness clinics, a non-profit organization.

ALL-AMERICA CAST

Miano and deLaura assembled a faculty of guest instructors with AA All-America degrees. Owens, volleyball's Victoria Prince and soccer's Natasha Kai take turns offering tips.

Miano and deLaura said clinics are based on the belief that speed comes from strength.

"The only way to get faster is to get your legs stronger," deLaura said. "You can strengthen your legs by running every day or doing jumping exercises or weight training. You need to get stronger or you'll stay the same."

DeLaura tells students that "running is a series of jumps."

"Think about it: when you're running, both feet aren't on the ground at the same time," Miano said. "Running is a form of jumping. You're jumping from one step to another. There's a correlation between vertical jumps and broad jumps. That's why we have so many jumping drills in our camps. My favorite saying is: If you jump high, you jump fast."

Prince said that all sports "are about your first step and being explosive. ... In any sport, if you're quick and explosive off the start, you're going to have an advantage."

Miano and deLaura said they try to find affordable alternatives For instance, Vertimax, a multiple-resistance device, retails for $2,045. Similar exercises, Miano said, can be performed with a $20 elastic strap.

"People get caught up in all the new stuff," deLaura said. "Sometimes it takes so long to put together one of the machines, you're too tired to work out. The main thing to do is get out there."

DeLaura recommends simple drills such as the split jump. An athlete stands in the lunge position, with the right foot in front, and jumps as high as possible.

Such workouts have helped Jessie Hathaway, a member of Pac-Five's Division II state champion softball team.

"I came out here because I wanted to work on my legs," said Hathaway, who attends all of the clinics. "I'm trying to build them up. I do lunges and squats and jumps. I'm definitely getting a lot faster. I'm able to get to balls that I wouldn't get to a year ago."

Aaron Dudoit, another clinic regular, said he hopes to increase his speed enough to move from defensive line to linebacker on the Punahou School football team.

"It's really helped," said Dudoit, who weighs 220 pounds. "I'm faster than I've ever been."

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.