–By Rayaan Jameel, Chief Performance Officer, Axon Ottawa
The anticipation was pretty big. It’s long been my dream to help athletes reach their highest goals, and I was about to get an inside look at a system that’s produced 17 Olympic medals, 9 world champions and 280+ scholarships across 10 different sports.
From the very first time I watched John Williams work with athletes in Atlanta, I could see his approach and mindset were different than anything else that’s out there. Every exercise and action he does is very purposeful, with an end goal in mind. Not one repetition is wasted.
By the end, it was very clear to me why John was sought out by national teams around the world to get their athletes ready for World Championships and Olympics, and why his system is now used all across the globe. I knew this was something big that would help me – and my athletes – realize their dreams.
Fast forward a little, and I am now thrilled to be leading Canada’s first Axon Sport Performance centre, here in Ottawa. Our whole goal at the Sports Training Academy is to produce a new breed of athlete, and Axon will allow us to do that.
I feel humbled that I am one of the few people John has entrusted to deliver this system, and I can’t wait to see the impact it will have on our local sports scene. Honestly, I don’t think Ottawa has ever before had this opportunity for athletes to maximize their potential and get them to where they want to be.
We’re tackling every aspect of athlete development to take the guesswork out of performance.
It starts with a head-to-toe Weak Link Assessment to pinpoint any deficiencies you might have. It ends with you getting the best program for your body and your sport.
One-on-one sessions are available for high-performance athletes. We also train in a small group setting with the Axon150 program. Training as a group makes it cost-effective for everyone, and it allows you to feed off the positive energy of other motivated individuals, but let’s be clear: this isn’t the type of generic program that’s all too common elsewhere.
Everyone is different, so you’ll still have your own program geared to get the most out of you, and you’ll be working with professionals who understand what you need to get to that level, and who have the expertise to guide you there.
We utilize technology like the i-Myo Pro, an Electrical Muscle Stimulator system John Williams developed. Our athletes use an app that lays out their workout protocols for each day, along with video demos. We can also connect with John wherever he is for sessions via Skype or Facetime.
The Axon150 program includes up to 4 complete sessions each week, with a general focus on strength and conditioning (lifting) one day, and mobility (speed, agility, power) the next.
“Train smarter, not harder” is a philosophy we follow. Since we started using the Axon system, I’ve noticed our athletes are able to get a lot more done in a session. We start with basic core and mobility work in warm-up. It may feel like a workout for the first few weeks after you join us, but it’s important to address these elements every day. Then we get into meat of the workout, which is a lot more specific. Within 90 minutes, you haven’t wasted any time.
We always encourage our athletes to come in for a recovery day at the end of the week. You can access comprehensive sports services all in one place at STA, including athletic therapy, ART (stretching), massage, chiropractic care, nutrition, and mental performance training.
A lot of people don’t realize the importance of the recovery day, but you’ve got to be healthy to show what you can do.
We’re very focused and driven to get the most out of our athletes. So it’s important to have a day where you can come in here to hang out, relax a little bit, and have a laugh.
And that’s what we want. We want you to associate that positive energy with this space. That’s key. There’s your mind, your body, and your soul. If we just keep working your body and your mind and don’t give your soul anything – it’s like asking someone to go on a diet, you’re going to start craving something and eventually you’re going to break. This is our way to make sure you’re always hungry and want to come back. If at the end of the week, all you remember is the great time you had, you’re going to come back next week ready to go after your dreams.
Rayyaan Jameel is the head trainer at Axon Sport Performance Ottawa, and the co-founder of The Sports Training Academy as well as CANI Athletics. He is also one of the bright young minds on the Canadian coaching landscape.
A very understated and humble individual, his coaching achievements are anything but. He has produced over 30 medalists provincially and nationally in track and field in his 8-year coaching career. He’s coached youth athletes all the way to Professional and National Team members.
Mr. Jameel holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Commerce from Carleton University, and athletic certifications in hurdles, jumps and sprints.
Weak Link Assessment at Work
We worked with a tennis player, and he didn’t know this was happening, but while he was serving, he’d come down and his left knee buckled. If it buckles on his serve, that means it buckles when he’s doing other things as well. He was doing workouts on his own, and he was so restricted in his movement that it caused a back injury and other issues, and no one realized. Many recovery/rehab programs target symptoms instead of the root cause of an injury, which leaves you at risk for re-injury. If your knee is buckling, a lot of people will automatically tell you that you have weak knees. But it didn’t have anything to do with his knee. The whole reason his injuries were happening was because of his hamstrings. They weren’t firing and they weren’t strong enough.
Another player came to us and he’d had really bad ankle issues in the past. Through the weak link assessment, we didn’t just figure out that he had stiff ankles, John Williams picked out the actual bone that was causing the problem. With that assessment, now he knows exactly what he needs to do to warm up before he gets on court. That’s how specific it can get.
Panthers pack perfect punch with pals from STA football
The Sports Training Academy joined forces with the Cumberland Panthers for this fall’s National Capital Amateur Football Association season. STA football program director Christo Bilukidi worked with the club’s Bantam team on a weekly basis, sharing some of the insights he gained as a past NCAA and NFL player.
“I want to build a good culture for football here in Ottawa, and same thing for the Cumberland organization, which has been doing a great job for quite awhile now,” explains Bilukidi, who played a season as a Panther himself before heading to the U.S.
How’d things go for the team? Well, the Panthers finished the regular season a perfect 8-0, with an average victory margin of 4 touchdowns. More specifically, Bilukidi has noted a big increase in game speed from the tape he’s watched.
“You can definitely see the difference now. Their mentality has changed. They’re playing a lot faster,” highlights the 5-year NFL veteran who retired in 2016 and now seeks to help the next generation back home in Ottawa.
“It’s just those small techniques they’ve learned – the little things I was taught when I was playing at the highest level,” he adds. “It should be the same – whether you’re playing Tyke football, or the NFL – those fundamentals will always be there, and that’s how you become a good football player, and a good football team.”
Come the conclusion of the campaign, players (from Cumberland, and elsewhere) will be welcome for off-season training at STA, while top high school athletes can learn what it takes to play at U Sports or NCAA schools, or join STA’s 7-on-7 travel team.
“There’s a process to get recruited, and to get themselves physically and mentally prepared,” Bilukidi notes. “We want to make sure they have access to everything they’ll need.”
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