Honing Athletes' Running Techniques

Sandra Speier helps to mold teens and athletes lives and sport careers with positive coaching.

Subject:Sandra Speier

Company:Precision Performance Inc., Miami

Her Specialty. Speier used to work for Xerox®, but became a personal trainer because she wanted to harness her passion and experience as a runner to help athletes with their running techniques. “Coaches don’t have time to teach athletes how to run properly,” she says. “I saw a tremendous need for someone to help athletes learn to run correctly and enhance their speed, agility and quickness. No one was targeting sports training in my area, so I chose to specialize in that niche.”

Types of Clientele. Seventy percent of Speier’s clients are professional, collegiate or high-school athletes, while the rest are nonathletes. (She also trains a core group of adults in a variety of modalities, including Pilates, at locations such as Paradise Gym.) She teaches proper running techniques largely to groups, whether with a certain high-school team or a group comprising athletes from different teams. “I found that young female athletes were an emerging market. One of the coaches at Florida International University referred me to other coaches and clients, and I now train several young women, including girls’ soccer teams.”

Training Pro Athletes. Speier has helped several pro baseball players with their running techniques and has worked with some of them from their high-school years through their pro careers. “Top athletes are paid to be in top shape, and they continually strengthen their weaknesses,” she says. “They are very serious and focused on how I can help them. I am extremely busy December through February helping baseball players prepare for spring training.”

Helping Improve Athletes’ Self-Esteem. While Speier is known for correcting athletes’ biomechanics and teaching proper running techniques, she also subtly works on instilling a positive attitude. “Teenagers, especially boys, aren’t always confident,” she says. “They need to believe that they can excel. I’ll work with some teens who may never become pro athletes, but if I can help them improve their skills and build their confidence, I’m happy. I’m also glad I can help them develop a strong work ethic and discipline that will assist them in sports—and life.”

Tips for Breaking Into This Market. Speier says that you need to have a good eye for spotting why an athlete is running inefficiently. You also have to know running techniques and how to run properly yourself. “You need to be able to look at an athlete’s biomechanics and be able to help him or her change form. Do you know how to correct arms or feet position? I’d suggest getting the USA Track & Field Coaching Education Certification, along with personal training certifications.”

Biggest Challenge. Speier says working with athletes often means communicating with parents and coaches as well as clients, including lots of phone and interaction time. “You’re not just answering to your client,” she says. “Another challenge is when I’m working with a group of kids and one is disruptive or doesn’t really want to be there.”

Why She Loves Her Work. Speier is grateful that her work can make such a difference, especially with teens. “It’s so rewarding to help mold a child’s life in the right direction with positive coaching,” she says. “I worked with one client who was an overweight 13-year-old. Kids used to call him ‘marshmallow,’ but now he’s solid muscle. He worked really hard, is playing college baseball, and the college loves him.”

A Shift in Hours. Although she loves her career, Speier is no longer willing to work 12-hour days in her business. Why? Her 16-month-old baby. “I made a decision to cut my hours until my son goes to school,” she says. “I want to spend time with him and watch him grow. I often work a split shift, training in the morning, spending time with my son in the afternoon and then working a few hours in the evening when my husband returns from work. I’m finding that this work/life balance is right for me now.”

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April Durrett

IDEA Author/Presenter
April Durrett is a contributing editor for IDEA Fitness Journal.
September 2005

© 2005 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

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