Competing at the next level

Here at Shaffer Strength & Conditioning, our goal is to help athletes become as complete and as strong as possible in every way, in order to prepare them for the demands of their sport and the next level.

Our training is designed to strengthen the athlete to help them perform at their highest level, while minimizing their chance for injury.  Our approach is simple. Build a complete athlete from head to toe, front to back and side to side. With 20 years of coaching, playing and training experience, our staff understands the demands that high level athletics place on the body.


Hear what Christian Hartford, assistant strength and conditioning coach at the University of Maryland has to say about this.


  1. What is the typical volleyball athlete like coming in as a freshman?

My freshman athletes are usually coming in with good frames and a lot of Volleyball experience. However, they usually have a low training age; meaning they have not spent a lot of time in the weight room doing general strength training and conditioning. Therefore, most of them suffer from some sort of overuse injury.

I have seen labrum issues in both shoulders and hips, bad lower backs, unstable knees, and immobile ankles. These issues are almost always caused by too much time on the court. As the strength coach, my job is to alleviate these issues while still focusing on increasing strength, power, and performance.


  1. What are some important tips you would give a volleyball athlete who wants to play in college?

My general piece of advice would be to prepare your body to compete at the highest level. This goes far past the small arena of on-court performance. There is one thing that is guaranteed at the collegiate level; every high level athlete trains hard in the weight room, during conditioning, AND on the court. Therefore, a young athlete must be experienced in all those areas. I have had freshman come in with 0 training experience and some others with 4-5 years of training experience. The ones with more experience always get off to a better and healthier start at the collegiate level.

The second tip I would give is do not be afraid to play another sport. For some reason, people now a days think they have to specialize in one sport in order to be great at it. Research shows that this is what often leads to overuse injuries, especially in female athletes. I always look to Abby Wambach when I talk about this. She played basketball along with soccer, and she credits rebounding in basketball for her great ability to jump above everyone else and head the ball in the net. Playing other sports allows an athlete to learn athletic skills that are transferable across all sports.


  1. How can an incoming freshman be more prepared for strength and conditioning training at the college level?

Simple; do it. I am not someone that believes that young athletes necessarily NEED to be doing a ton of barbell work. However, they need to be doing something to get stronger. They need to focus on building foundational strength through proper movement patterns in all different planes. They also need to focus on injury prevention by working on mobility, flexibility, and balance.

Lastly, they need to work on their conditioning. A lot of Volleyball athletes just play volleyball to stay in shape. All athletes need to have some sort of aerobic base. This will allow you to better maintain power levels throughout an all-day tournament. A great conditioning choice for Volleyball athletes is spin class. Spinning is low-impact, but still very challenging on the legs and cardiovascular system.


  1. A lot of kids come to us with knee or shoulder injuries that we view as overuse injuries. Do you see this at the college level and how do you deal with it?

We see this all the time at the college level. This is where, as strength and conditioning coaches, we must make adjustments. I try to program all my exercises on a progression/regression continuum. Therefore, if the main group is doing a barbell front squat, I can easily have the one athlete with chronic knee issues do a goblet squat. Our strength and conditioning programs must be adaptable and we need to put the athletes in a position to succeed. Also, anytime I modify an exercise because of an injury, I also implement a corrective exercise to help the issue. Lastly, an overuse issue can be relieved by decreasing the amount of time spent playing Volleyball. A lower body issue can calm down when a player jumps less, and an upper body issue can calm down when a player swings less. 

  1. What kind of exercises do you put your athletes through for volleyball?

I implement a very holistic strength and conditioning program that focuses on mobility, balance/body control, strength, conditioning, and power. We start every session with a 10-15 minute warm-up that involves total body mobility and muscle activation. Before practices, we do a lot of work with mini-bands as well as practice double leg and single leg landings.

In the weight room we work the lower body through a Squat progression, Trapbar Deadlift progression, and RDL progression into Clean Pulls.  We do goblet squats, front squats, Zercher squats, and back squats. We always do single leg work such as forward, backward, and lateral lunges, single leg squat variations, and single leg hinge variations. We also work our calves in order to increase elastic strength and jump higher.

For the upper body, we make sure to do a lot more pulling than pushing in order to maintain shoulder health. We go through a thorough pull-up progression that focuses on eccentric strength, then positional strength, and then full range of motion pull-ups. Any sort of vertical pressing is done with kneeling and standing landmine presses, kneeling and standing kettlebell presses, single arm Dumbbell push presses, and lastly barbell push press with very light weight. We also implement a lot of upper back & rotator cuff exercises like band pull-apart variations and banded external/internal rotation variations.

In order to work on touch height, we do various forms of Box Jumps and Hurdle Jumps. When starting off with box jumps, we keep the height low (around 20-24 inches) in order to focus on technique and landing mechanics. We progress our hurdle jumps from pause reps to reactive bounce reps and then to dynamic jumps. We will never progress a jumping exercise if the technique is not perfect.


Maryland Volleyball Strength & Conditioning implements a balanced program that aims to make our athletes strong, powerful, and well-conditioned while minimizing the risk of injury by also focusing on mobility, flexibility, and balance. All of these characteristics are necessary for a young Volleyball athlete to take their game to the next level.


Banded Shoulder Warm Up

If you are on the go, in the gym, at a tournament, before a practice and have a theraband or some similar band.

Here is a nice way to warm up and strengthen the shoulders to get them ready to go.


42 Things to Know

 by John Welbourn

1. Know what you are training for.

You need a goal, a destination for your journey. Pick a goal, chart a course, keep your head down and don’t come up for air until you meet it.

2. The squat is the foundation of any good program.
A program that does not involve the squat is incomplete. Any coach that tells you, you shouldn’t squat as it is bad for your back and knees, but if it is done you should not squat below parallel needs to be punched. Email me and I will send someone out who specializes in punching people who need a punch. And when I say squat, I mean the one where you put a heavy bar on your back. If I were talking about the front squat or overhead squat, I would have said front squat or overhead squat.

3. Be a performance whore.
Your only mark for progress should be performance and success. Don’t get caught up in dogma, realize all that matters is performance. Don’t get married to one philosophy or stuck in one circle. Look to expand your training arsenal and realize your only master is getting better.

4. “Know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em.”
When you start hitting the weights, certain days you feel like the weights are made of foam and you could lift the gym. Other days, the weights seem to be made of adamantium. Realize on the days when the weights are light, go for broke and set a new personal record regardless of what the program says. On the days when the opposite is true, all you need to do is survive and realize the weights will be there tomorrow.

5. Don’t fall prey to the Secret Squirrel Program.
This is what happens when late at night while scanning the internet you decided to hybrid CrossFit Football’s strength WOD with CFE’s running 2 days a week with CrossFit’s hero WODs and Outlaw’s Olympic programming just for good measure. All the while doing 23 hours a day of ketogenic interment fasting. If you think this secret squirrel program will help you become the fittest man on the planet you are delusional. All that will happen is you become a massive ball of injury, end up doing nothing but Mobility WOD for 2 years with the testosterone levels of a 14-year-old eunuch.

6. You need to warm up.
Warming up is key to raising core temperature and getting the muscles, tendons and fascia warm. You are warming up because you are preparing to train. Take the old boxing proverb to heart. “If you go into the ring cold, you come out cold.”

7. Use Lacrosse balls
If rolling out with a soft foam roller is painful, you have led a life of luxury and share the energy expenditure with a veal. Real athletes roll out with two lacrosse balls and Kelly Starrett sitting on your body part adjacent to it.

8. Static Stretching is great way to cool down. Period.

9. The first movement at the beginning of your training week needs to involve a heavy bar on your back.

10. All the machines and praying in the world will not build a physique like the one crafted from lifting free weights over 85% of your 1 RM.

11. Weighted Pull Ups can cure world hunger.

12. Isometric holds build stability and strength.

13. It is better to live like a farmer than a bartender.
Farmers go to bed when the sun goes down and wake when the roosters crow. Bartenders hang out with drunks, don’t go to bed till 3 or 4 in the morning and sleep all day. Be a farmer.

14. Heavy prowler pushes cleanse the soul.

15. Sleeping 8 hours or more a day makes you bullet proof.
Yes, if you sleep more than 8 hours a day, bullets will not harm you and you will be able to control the minds of those around you.

16. Shower in ice-cold water in the morning. Hot shower before bed.

17. Vitamin D is the most important vitamin of all, so go outside and get a tan. As George Robert’s dad once said, “Georgie, even fat looks good tan.”

18. The only proteins that count are the ones with faces, souls and a mother. I do not care how you process hemp and peas…it is not real protein.

19. Earn your carbs.
Don’t get lulled into thinking a primal or Paleo diet is low carb diet. If you are a hard charging athlete that lifts heavy weights, sprints and moves, eat some carbs. Low carb diets are for fat people and sedentary people with metabolic disorders. If you are training for the CrossFit Games, playing football or trying to run a hundred miles you have earned your carbs.

20. I don’t care how far or often you run, running slow will never help you get fast. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and marathon runners. I am not impressed that you finished a marathon in 5 hours. I am more impressed that it took you 7 hours to sprint 421 100-meter repeats.

21. Percentages are a waste of time for beginners.
Why you ask, because to efficiently lift a true 1 RM you need an extremely well training central nervous system. And efficiency in the CNS comes from prolonged training. Hence, how could a beginner have enough control over their body or their CNS to put forth the ability to lift a true 1 RM? They can’t. So don’t do it.

22. Every man should own a slow cooker and a grill that uses lump wood charcoal.

23. Meat from grass-fed cows should make up the bulk of your daily food consumption.

24. Drink water.
Anyone who tells you they don’t like to drink water needs to grow the fuck up. How much…at least 1 ounce per 2 lbs of body weight.

25.  Dont let fear be your limiting factor.
Louie Simmons told me, “To master kung fu, the training must be severe.” What Louie means is, don’t take the easy way out. Winners and champions are forged in the crucible of competition and hard work. Don’t let fear of not meeting your goals be your limiting factor when it comes to training or success.

26. Full Fat Greek Yogurt is an excellent source of protein and probiotics. Anyone that tells you dairy from pasture raised animals is bad, should be pushed in the mud.

27. Have the talent to rest.
If you think taking a rest day is weakness, you have never really trained hard. And you definitely have low testosterone levels.

28. The Second Amendment was put in place to guarantee the First Amendment. Problems arise when we allow our leaders to suspend the First Amendment and many other rights given to us in the Bill of Rights because of fear. When terrible things happen in society, we are so quick to give away our rights so the government can protect us and make it so it never happens again. It is impossible to stop bad people from doing bad things, but you can train and prepare for the day when good men are called upon to stop evil men. That is Edmund Burke.

29. Guns are inanimate objects that can be used to do harm. Much like cars, airplanes and knives, all these things can be turned into weapons if someone so chooses. Banning the sale, use or ownership of inanimate objects will no better cure the world of evil, and then eating low-fat food will cure a fat ass.

30. Lift heavy and awkward implements.
The power from picking up and lifting awkward and heavy objects creates a strength not found in a weight room. Anyone that grew up on a farm or wrestled or played football with farm kids knows what I am talking about. We also call this Field Strong.

31. Having kids puts everything into perspective.
My wife and I had twin girls in late 2011; I just came up for air in late 2012. Kids put things in perspective. The things that mattered so much, seem small and unimportant. What is important is raising your kids, providing a positive role model and keeping your wife happy and loved so she doesn’t drive the whole train off the tracks.

32. Learn to cook.
Even if it just involves adding meat, water, salt and root vegetables to a slow cooker or burning meat on a grill. Learn to cook. Nothing is as unimpressive as someone who cannot or will not learn.

33. Stop posting on message boards. If you have more than 100 posts on any message board, kick your own ass.

34. Twitter rocks.
If you can’t say it in a 140 characters, it doesn’t need to be said.

35. Training Vs. Testing.
Learn certain days are training days other days are testing days. Have a plan each day and realize professional athletes don’t compete everyday. They save that for when the money is on the line and the crowd is in the stands.

36. Read. Real. Books.
In this Internet age, digital books, periodicals, websites and blogs consume us. I feel something is missing, hard copy books.

37. Bacon.
I started eating bacon in the 70’s. I am not sure when many of you found bacon, but if it was last two years, I am sorry. Up until recently for many, bacon has been a mystery. But upon finding it, it is all they talk about. I am proud of you for finding bacon. I am sorry your dad didn’t make bacon on Saturdays when you were growing up. I believe it makes you feel primal and talking about bacon on social media is your way of thumbing your nose at society, but enough. Welcome to the party and guess what? We are serving bacon.

38. I don’t care that you are 100% Paleo; if a friend offers you a beer, drink it. Nothing says “FU” like not accepting a drink from a friend because of a diet. Grow the fuck up.

39. Work the tissue.
Active Release Therapy. Graston. Deep Tissue Massage. Mashing. Do something to mobilize tissue and speed recovery.

40. Move the bar as fast as possible.
When lifting weights, you should move the bar as fast as you can at all times. Think compensatory acceleration. If you have never head the term “compensatory acceleration”, go google it now. I will wait. Slow reps are akin to the splinters in your ass from sitting on the bench watching the explosive guys play. The only thing moving slow did, was make me slow. Fuck slow.

41. Don’t be a cartoon character.
In today’s age of social media and virtual existence, people are not held to the same standards they were so long ago. Individuals are more cartoon characters than real people. Be a real person that can be depended on and does not take every opportunity to take advantage of those around you. Being a man involves more than growing a beard and drinking whiskey…even those things do help.

42. High testosterone levels = nice guys.
I read a study a while back that related mental wellness and all around nice guys having higher testosterone levels than their male dick head counterparts. Next time you meet a douche bag, instead of cursing the day he was born, realize he is a lesser male and just has low testosterone levels. Pity him, because there is nothing worse for a man than having low testosterone levels. If you are reading this and think you might have low test levels, go see a doctor.

Put in the work

Someone is always has more to do than you, less money and time than you, sleeps less than you. Someone is working harder than you right now. It’s simple, how bad do you want it? Put your head down and do the work. No one is going to feel sorry for you, or give you something you don’t deserve. The people that put in the work day in and day out will take your spot and come out on top. So get up and go put in the work.



Don’t stop

What did you do over the holiday break?

Are you better now than you were 2 weeks ago?

Did you train?

Did you work on your weaknesses?

Did you get one step closer to your goal?


I can tell you this. Your competition did.

And when they beat you, you will wish you had worked harder.

Don’t rest on what you can do today or you will regret it tomorrow.

Ask yourself, “what’s the next step? can I be better?”




Success Is Not An Accident

Are the habits you have today, on par with the dreams you have for tomorrow?
Success Is Not An Accident !
Do you show up early? Do you stay late?
Do you strive for perfection even when it’s hard or you are tired or your friends are going out?
Or are you doing just what everyone else is doing?
What is the level of excellence do you hold yourself to?
Is it “just good enough” or is it so good that you have to work at it every day?


If you want to be better than the competition than you must be willing to do things they are not. Not just the competition you are better than now or beat this year. That’s easy. But are you better than the competition that awaits you tomorrow or a year from now when you go to college or pro?


Just talk to some of the alumni here at Shaffer Strength & Conditioning.
Hudson Bates, Kristin Carpenter, Robert Chilcoat, Maddie French, Rachel Stanford, Morris Cephas, Kayleigh Moody, Courtney Hott, Amy Wongsdottir, Nick Allen to name a few.


They will tell you the truth about what we do here and the reality of what awaits you through the next door. 99% of you are not ready. But we can change that. It won’t be easy and you won’t always want to do it or understand it. But I can emphatically promise you, it will be worth it if you trust the process and do the work.


There are no magic pills, no 3 easy payments of $9.99, you will have to work and sweat and sometimes bleed for it.


If you are ready to do the hard work and do things you have never done before and reach heights you never knew existed and be pushed to new limits, all so you can be ready for tomorrow, then drop us a line.


5 Questions with Robert Chilcoat

Coming to Shaffer Strength & Conditioning (SSC) and being a member of the Athlete Training Program (ATP) is the first step in becoming a better athlete.  It also makes you part of the family.
Today we will be checking in with ATP member Robert (Rob) Chilcoat, two time NCAA National Champ at Loyola University of Chicago.
Rob recently traveled “across the pond” to continue his volleyball playing career after finishing college and spending time training at SSC.

12119018_10153155899115849_2946137878735744952_nUniversity of Essex Volleyball – #9

Shaffer :  What is the most challenging thing about being in a different country?
Rob : The most difficult part about being in England is learning to understand all the lingo the British use. They make a lot of jokes about cricket that go right over my head, so I’m starting to learn about this knock off game of baseball called cricket.
Shaffer :  What was the biggest difference going from college to pro?
Rob : In college we had a lot more support staff. Here you have to look after yourself and manage injuries and other things on your own.
Shaffer :  How did you prepare for this new season?
Rob :  I spent the months of August and September and some of October with you at SSC to work me through conditioning and strength circuits to get me ready for the season.
Shaffer :  How are drills different than in college- more complex? Or is it just a lot of playing?
Rob :  The drills have some variation but for the most part it is all stuff I have seen before. First half of practice is drill oriented, second half is 6v6.
Shaffer :  What’s your new favorite thing about the culture that you are in?
Rob :   British really do up Sunday Roasts. I thought I had eaten one before I came but my teammates have opened my eyes to a true English Sunday Roast and it is delicious!
 Thanks Rob and good luck on the rest of your season.
If you are interested in learning more about SSC and our Athlete Training Program, send us an email – or just stop by. You can also find us on Instagram and Twitter – @shafferstrength
We will be happy to talk about what we do and how we can help you reach your goals.

ATP logo

There is no off season

We say it all the time here at Shaffer Strength & Conditioning, and I’m sure you have heard it before elsewhere.

There is no off season.

But it couldn’t be more true. If you are not working hard to get better, then you are actually losing ground and getting worse, in comparison to those that are working hard around you every day.

Don’t settle for what you were able to do yesterday. Your competition did not take today off. Your competition did not laugh and chuckle and lose focus while squatting or sprinting or jumping. Your competition is not making poor nutrition choices to fuel their bodies. Your competition does not think they don’t have to work hard today.

If it were easy then everyone would be playing for a D1 team and making money in the pros. But it’s not and it won’t get any easier by you not training or striving to reach your goal. It won’t get any easier by avoiding doing the tough things or the things you need to work on.

Do you really want it? Or do you just want it when ……….

  • you don’t have a boy / girl friend wanting you to spend time with them?
  • your favorite show is not on?
  • you don’t have a football game to watch?
  • you are playing well and winning?

Here are 10 great tips from one of the best in the world at his sport.

Karch Kiraly – 10 things you should know

Even the best work hard all the time.

Do you truly want to be the best ??


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Success Must Be Earned



Andy Frisella – –

When Ford announced the GT back in 2004 I was broke, 60k+ in credit card debt and earning $695 a month working 100+ hours a week.

In fact here is how my paychecks worked out the first 12 years of my 16 years in business.

Year 1-3: $0
Year 4-9: $695 a month
Year 10-12: 40k A Year.

Now a days people look at where they are and think “I can never get there”…because in todays society all you hear about is instant gratification and overnight success stories.


Think about that for a minute and let set.

Think about something you have dedicated your life to for 16years. Besides eating, sleeping, breathing…most people have a hard time coming up with an example when asked that question.

And THATS precisely the problem.

Society will have you believe that there is such a thing as “overnight success” or “luck”. We are bombarded by it daily in the media.

Movie stars, lottery winners, reality shows its all we see anymore.

What they dont show you is the TRUTH.

The small business started by two 19 year old kids with 12 grand the earned from painting the stripes on parking lots.

The sleeping in the back of their first store.

The struggle.

The pain.

The sacrifice.

The loss.

The heartbreak.

The fear.

The loss of sanity.

The anger.

The hate.

The bitterness.

No…all they show is the after effect.

The cars.

The big house.

The expensive vacations.

They show the gourmet prepared steak, but they dont show the butcher doing his work.

So when looking at all these successes…BE INSPIRED…but be aware of the “butchering” (WORK) that goes into making that steak!

Beware of the trap of instant gratification.

Nothing thats truly worthwhile can be had “now”. The “The American Dream” is not given, its EARNED.

Worthwhile results take time and are the cumulative result of all your little “victories” over the course of that time.

Whats easy & fun now is often what leads to frustration, disappointment and failure later.

On the flip side, what seems difficult and frustrating now will often lead to enjoyment, fulfillment and success later.

There is a price on everything.

Will you pay it?


Andy Frisella



Learning from the struggle

Sport is about competing.

Competing against an opponent, a team, a clock or even yourself.

The best part about competing is the struggle and the potential to lose. If you truly love sports, you love to root for the underdog who never stops competing, struggling trying to win.

If you truly love competing then the struggle and the potential to lose is what drives you to do better, work harder and never settle. You may or may not win, but in the end it’s the struggle and the loss that are the best teachers. If you want to find out who someone is, truly, put them in a situation where they have to struggle or face losing. Then step back and watch. What they show you in those moments are who they truly are.

This is exactly why in our training at SSC we place athletes in situations where they have to struggle and may fail. So much is learned by this process. And so much of everyday life is way to easy and not much these days is ever earned.

— Shaffer


“What fun would sports be if we knew that we were going to win every time anyway?”


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