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"Ben Shear is not
only one of the most
knowledgeable people
in the industry with
regard to interpreting
3-D Biomechanical
data, he has also
proven thathe can
change the underlying
movement patterns
with his advanced
training techniques."

--Dan Parks,


Faculty staff member,
ICLUB, sponsorer
Better Golf through
Technology Series, MIT
PGA Professional with
over 10,000 lessons



When we have to explain what sets us apart from the many training options out there, we simplify the discussion to: "Building the Better Athlete."

To enhance performance, we must understand a sport's movement patterns

Q: Why should an athlete choose to train at AE over one of the larger franchise-type facilities, even when the larger places claim that they've worked with the Pros?

A: At the larger franchises, an athlete's workout is set before they even enter the building! Just think about how irrelevant the training that follows might be. While the facility may put the new athlete through an initial evaluation, the results have no bearing on the exercises that that athlete will be asked to perform. It is a one-size-fits-all mentality. At AE, on the other hand, we use a very comprehensive evaluation to design a customized program, specific to the athlete, his or her sport, and often their position. And that is how sports training should be conducted for results on the playing field.
The public is fooled by the allure of some of these franchises, because they misrepresent themselves by advertising the success stories of professional athletes. Many of these places were started by one trainer who did, in fact, train several professional athletes, working one-on-one with them at one original location. Years later, the franchise has twenty locations. Clients, then, are not working with the experienced staff who have had a hand in assisting the Pros. Instead, they are getting "instruction" from inexperienced personnel, working out of a basic manual.

Some of the larger franchises also try to take credit for the athletes who only go through Combine Prep-type programs, where soon-to-be professional athletes train for roughly six weeks, preparing for a series of tests before they get drafted into the Pros. These top athletes did not do any prior sports training there, and they were heading to the Pro levels anyway. While these franchise-type facilities run the Combine preps, they haven't helped those athletes get to the point of being able to turn pro. But they make it seem as though they have.

A thorough physical screen can unearth limitations affecting technique

Q: What does AE look for in its professionals on staff?

A: We try to have trainers with professional or collegiate experience, since most of our athletes are looking to break into one of those fields. AE trainers have experience with athletes from the NBA, NFL, PGA, MLB, MLL, etc. Too many facilities today accept minimal education and certifications as well, while we look to the highest certification in the industry—National Strength and Conditioning Association—as well as Master's Degrees in sciences related to sports. This level of knowledge and experience translates into the most thorough, creative and effective training programs for all level athletes.

Rotary sports, such as golf, can benefit from 3-D biomechanical analysis

Q: What is the most important aspect of the Athletic Edge facility?

A: Aside from having one of the largest private, sports training facilities in the state, we pride ourselves on the latest and greatest diagnostic and training technologies in the industry. Things like 3-D biomechanical motion analysis, the saccadic fixator sports vision tester and training device, and a computerized ground-force production tool allow our staff to start at the most informed point before creating sport-specific programs. The technology ensures that the body's range of specific sports motions are correct, and if they are not, our ability to do real-time 3-D biofeedback assists in getting them there. The equipment, whether for testing or training, is always being updated, according to the latest research in the field. This constant improvement is not the norm in performance centers, primarily because the reliance on continual research on all sports simply does not exist elsewhere.

Education, experience, innovation, and individualization are our cornerstones

Q: Since most sports training centers emphasize group training, why does AE put so much emphasis on individualized performance training?

A: Group training is much less effective, since the groups are not specifically comprised of athletes at the same playing level, training for the same sport, at the same point in the periodized training cycle. And while the facilities who offer group training are more economical, the end results are always poorer than individualized attention, actually making the cheaper option financially inefficient. Realistically, this might be the only option for some athletes who would get no training if not for their groups. When this is the case, parents must take great care to avoid training injuries. Athletic Edge does, in fact, offer group training, but athletes are teamed up with training equivalents whenever possible. And for large groups, or teams, this type of training becomes very economical.

Corrective musculo-skeletal strategies often propel athletic performance

Q: Why does AE put so much emphasis on sport-specificity, and often position-specificity, when just general strengthening and conditioning can translate into better playing results?

A: If someone comes in looking to be better at their particular sport, general strength and conditioning is a good base and will help to a point. Unless trainers are used to such pointed training, their attempts at general improvement will miss the mark, and their clients might miss making the team. A sport can be broken down into a series of movements, fueled by a particular energy system. Sports Performance Training makes those movements better, trains the specific muscle fibers needed, and focuses on optimizing the proper energy system required for a given sport. General fitness is always a good thing, but if an athlete truly wants to make gains on the playing field, sport- and position-specificity need to be the crux of the training.

A sophisticated understanding of the body must precede performance training

Q: What is it about AE's Sports Performance Training that sets it apart from other places?

A: The reliance on science and technology always give us more knowledge about a client. Of course, it is a given that our staff is sophisticated enough to understand what all the data means and which way to proceed. We also take a bigger picture look at the sport for which an athlete is training, whether it be the incorporation of sports vision training or reaction training, or performance nutrition. The periodized training we create, for instance, is also built on rest, recovery and peaking, so nutrients become a critical component to the end-result. In the end, our highly-educated staff is second to none.

Q: Is Performance Nutrition really that important, if an athlete eats a well-balanced diet?

A: An athlete might not be aware of what really creates that "balance" without the very in-depth analysis and fine-tuning that go along with the right nutritional program. And while caloric intake might be pretty good, chemical requirements of nutrients might be off. Our athletes have found Performance Nutrition to be the missing piece to an almost perfect training regimen, and the added benefit is optimal health, increased energy and concentration—which are crucial on the playing field, but paramount to a happy life as well.

Q: Many sports training centers have mandatory athletic evaluations. Are they really necessary, and is the one offered at AE any different from others'?

A: Without an evaluation, training begins in a very arbitrary fashion. Trainers need an athletic baseline and a roadmap for what training comes next. But while an initial test is necessary, just because a facility offers one, does not mean that it does what it should.

AE has a few different types of evaluations, all geared to outstanding program design. Even our most basic athletic evaluation is conducted in a way that differs greatly from those done by other facilities. Ours will not include aspects of the training that is to follow, since that would only be training to master the test (and re-tests). Instead, we use measures of strength, power, mobility, balance, conditioning, core strength, core stability, etc. in away that unearth strengths and weakness. This information is critical to designing the individualized sports performance programs that ensue.

In addition, we offer a Muscle/Mechanics screen, specifically to understand if limited ranges-of-motion and muscular imbalances are present. As one of the latest and most sophisticated physical evaluation around, this can pinpoint otherwise-undetectable problem areas, adding necessary corrective exercises to the training program as well.

Finally, our Sport-Specific Performance Testing offers the greatest level of analysis, as we are equipped to incorporate various diagnostic technologies, including 3-D Biomechanical Motion Analysis, Radar guns, electronic timing, sports-vision and ground-force production testing. When combined, our targeted evaluations give an athlete a total picture and the best starting point for success.

Q: What are the corrective techniques offered at AE?

A: Imbalances and weaknesses discovered in the Performance Tests must be addressed with corrective exercises before proceeding, not only because injuries will inevitably occur, but also because improper biomechanics will create performance problems down the road. Depending on the problem, trainers are able to use Sport-Specific Isometrics to increase stability, thereby improving range-of-motion and strength at the critical transition phases of sporting movements. Also, AE offers Muscle/Mechanics, which restores muscular imbalances and other muscular issues due to injury, trauma or protective compensation. Both methods are cutting-edge and proprietary to AE. Muscle/Mechanics, in particular, has been embraced only recently in one of several forms on the professional level.

Q: What are some misconceptions about training that AE is always explaining and correcting?

A: Sad as it may be, there are many. First of all, sports training must be periodized, or else it might be counter-productive. That means, picking when an athlete is supposed to peak, and working backward for pre-season, in-season, and off-season strategies. Secondly, endurance sports must have different conditioning requirements than sprinting sports, or else sprinters find themselves getting slower, and distance athletes don't have what it takes to finish. Thirdly, certain training terms are not interchangeable: power does not equal strength; it is actually strength with a speed component to it, and there are many different types of power. Speed and agility are not the same thing — agility is what allows for the change of direction during speed. Core strength and core stability are very different, and so are the methods to train them. The list goes on and on. And it's unfortunate that the ignorance is so prevalent in an industry that is finally getting sophisticated and respected by scientists.

Q: If you could give one recommendation to a prospective client, what would it be?

A: We would urge them to go into a few training centers and speak with the staff before making a decision. This process will be more educational (and eye-opening!) than any advertisements and marketing materials could ever be.

Titleist Certified Golf Fitness Instructor

Lowest Denominator
If a sports training center focuses on group training, its strength cannot be sport-specific or position-specific performance enhancement training. How can an athlete get the individualized attention necessary to strategize for the whole sports year when he or she is part of a disparate group which trains together at a convenient time? Athletes looking to improve their games should be aiming high and not satisfied with just fitting in.

Body Awareness
Trainers should know the body, not just drills. How comfortable are they with kinesiology, biomechanics, biochemistry? Can they identify faulty movement patterns and understand what muscular imbalances could have contributed to those compensations? Sports performance training relies heavily on science and today's technological advances. Without this body of knowledge, trainers are ill-equipped to make any lasting gains for their trusting athletes.

Knowledge Is Power
When deciding where to train, the best research one can do is to go into several of the facilities being considered and speak with the staff. This process will be more educational (and eye-opening!) than any advertisements and marketing materials could ever be.

Athletic Edge Saccadic Fixator

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  Athletic Edge Sports Performance Training Center 1718 East Second Street, Scotch Plains, NJ 07076 phone: 908.322.2003