Acceleration program offers unique training opportunity

Monday, June 21, 2004

By David Wilson ~ Southeast Missourian

St. Francis Medical Center has been providing student-athletes with programs and facilities to increase their abilities for more than six years.

One program in particular has produced results.

The Acceleration program, designed in 1984 by exercise physiologist John Frappier, was first offered at St. Francis in 1998. The workout program uses a combination of agility drills, running on a "Super Treadmill" and sprintcord technology to increase an athlete's quickness, endurance and agility. The program has 130 outlets worldwide in the Frappier Acceleration Sports Training network.

The Carolina Panthers used Acceleration last year prior to their Super Bowl run, but according to Jason Strickland, the manager of Acceleration at St. Francis, it is used by nearly every professional sports team. Acceleration facilities are in place at the camps of most professional teams and each facility follows the same protocol designed by Frappier.

The program is not only revolutionary, it's evolutionary because each time an athlete works through the program, trainers input the athlete's information into a database. That information is studied to determine trends and design more effective techniques.

One thing that separates Acceleration from the other programs is the aforementioned patented Super Treadmill, which is capable of reaching an angle of 40 degrees and can run at speeds up to 29 miles per hour.

In addition, Acceleration trainers also use sprintcords, elastic cords applied to specific muscles to develop areas of the body and train the body to make specific movements.

A golfer, for example, would have the sprintcords applied to his hips and thighs, because a golfer's power comes from the hips. Then, the golfer would hit golf balls with the cords in place, in order to train the hips to make those specific movements.

"It's like going to the driving range with bungee cords on," Strickland said.

Athletes also are required to spend one day a week participating in plyometrics, an intense agility drills program specific to Acceleration.

Strickland stresses safetyStrickland said the intense program is safe.

"Injuries are just a part of athletics," Strickland said. "They're supervised here and we have physical therapists on hand so it's a controlled environment. And if they are hurt, there's no better place than here because we can take care of them."

Strickland said the program has strict stretching exercises prior to every day's activities. He said the worst injury he has seen since 1998 is a scraped shin.

The program has helped some prominent local athletes.

Loren Groves, a 15-time all-state track performer and a product of Scott City High School, participated in the Acceleration program twice.

Groves said she has steadily improved since entering the program in the winter of 2003, after she tore her anterior cruciate ligament. It was beneficial to her, she said, in overcoming that injury and keeping the one-sport athlete fit in the offseason.

"It helped me tremendously," Groves said. "It gave me a head start over everyone else."

She went on to win state titles in the Missouri Class 2 track and field championships in both the discus throw and 100-meter hurdles the following spring. Prior to 2003, her best finish in both events was second.

Groves again participated in the program in January, this time for eight weeks. This past spring, she eclipsed her own Class 2 state record in the discus en route to winning another state title. She received an athletic scholarship to Kansas State University.

Strickland says one of the athletes that stands out the most is Notre Dame High School graduate Tyler Cuba, who began the program when it was new to the area and participated in it for the duration of his high school career. He started the program running at top speeds of 17 or 18 mph but left the program running 25 mph.

The Acceleration program at St. Francis, which meets four days per week for six weeks, is offering a group discount through the end of the month to parties of four or more that train together. For information, call 331-5345.

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