Mitigate Risk of ACL Injury

I’ve been reading your articles and following you since day one, thanks for all the information you put out there.

I recently accepted a job to coach middle school girls soccer. Up to this point, I have only coached boys. Going into the season, I am worried about the ascending injury rate occurring with young women (specifically acl/mcl). Can you point me in the right directions for any exercises, drills, mobility work that can be done to help prevent these types of injuries? Is it a matter of strengthening these areas or mobility ? Are there specific movement I should have them avoid? Any input you have would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,


There are definitely multiple contributing factors in regards to ACL injuries.  Here are some things to focus on:

  1. Proper running mechanics
  2. Foot Strength/Mobility/Flexibility
  3. Hip Strength/Mobility/Flexibility

What we’ve noticed with some of females that have had non-contact ACL issues is quad dominance.  There are a few reasons for this to occur and some are listed above.

Fix running/playing mechanics.  Too many athletes are taught to run on their toes.  As a result of this, it causes quads/calves to be overworked and tibialis anterior & posterior chain to become underutilized.  Having athletes run with a more “whole footed” strike will do a multitude of things:

  1. Increase surface area – which will have a greater dispersal of force
  2. Facilitate tib ant & posterior chain recruitment

Foot Exercises – Here is an article I posted with some foot exercises for them to do.

Next, stay on top of hip health.  Here’s some exercises to perform that will help guide you:

Ground Based Hip Circuit Here is an article posted on a ground based hip circuit we utilize to improve hip strength.
Here’s some videos of stretches that we’ll have athletes perform:

Foot exercises

I was on a podcast a few weeks back and promised a post on different foot exercises we implement.  Here you guys go as promised:

You can perform these however you like.  Sets of 10, 20 or even a set duration.  We don’t perform these to exhaustion, the goal is slow and steady daily progress.

We also target certain areas to dig in and release.  Here is a pic of those areas.  We’ll use different objects of different densities at different points of training & exposure.

We’ll typically go from least to most dense.  10 rolls over each line with each object.  The goal isn’t typically to cause discomfort, we want fascial release, not bruising.

Good Luck Trigs!

Today marks a very exciting, yet sad day in my life as a coach.

9 years ago today, I was fortunate enough to have met this guy:

Over the years I was able to watch him grow and develop. We even posted his 8th grade highlight tape:

The kid beasted it as an 8th grader. After we posted this video, we got a lot of awesome feedback and support. But also got a few negative ones – we had to delete a few nasty ones. As most of you know, people on the internet can be dicks. We didn’t think it was necessary for a kid to get ripped on publicly like that.

But we left one up there –
Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 5.56.10 PM

Well Cyberpump! & everyone else hating on the kid, here’s some news – This kid just left for college on a football scholarship.

So on behalf of him, myself, Freak Strength & Defranco’s Gym:Middle_finger

This past offseason he’s been with me for 30ish weeks. We’ve performed very little actual weight lifting & very little max effort work.

During his summer, like many high school seniors, he took an internship.  Prior to his summer internship, at 180lbs he was able to trapbar deadlift 575lbs, floor press 295lbs & ran a fully electric 4.83 40y dash. For those of you that don’t know, a fully electric 40 is roughly .2-.25sec slower than hand time. Which converts to 4.5-4.6 40y dash. Which is pretty good.

Now, because of his internship, his only chance to workout was at 5am. I can honestly count on 1 hand how many times this unbelievably dedicated kid missed a workout. And it wasn’t because he was hungover, it was because he was dead tired from working all day and accidentally slept through his alarm. Not once did he show up hung-over or whiney because he didn’t want to be there. He came in and worked his ass off at 5am Monday-Friday. And most days, he beat me to the gym!

Due to his time constraint, we were barely able to perform much, if any weight work. Most days we had to skip weights because he had to haul ass home to shower and change before work. All we did was speed work, jumps & explosive throws.

By the end of it, he was able to run a fully electric 4.8 40y for 10 reps! Keep in mind, I cut it after any form deterioration, & that day, I actually had to cut it because he had to leave for work!

The other day we decided to hit some heavy floor presses as well & at a bodyweight of 182lbs he hit 310lbs with ease! He PR’d by 15lbs (with more in the tank) with minimal weight lifting for 2 months! I didn’t test his deadlift, because frankly, I didn’t care enough to. However, I doubt he can’t PR in that also.

Fortunately/unfortunately, now it’s time to say goodbye. Though I don’t need to, I’d just like to wish this kid good luck. I love you bro and I’m so unbelievably proud of you. We all know you’re going to kill it on and off the field. Keep making all of us proud!


Some Tips on Dealing With The Recruiting Process

A week or so ago I posted something on twitter about recruits committing to a school because of “how much love” they were being shown by the coaching staff and someone suggested I make a post about it. I thought that was a great idea with signing day about a month and change away, even though it has nothing to do with training, many of our athletes and readers are either going through the process or have children who are. I’m going to come at this from the perspective of a parent who’s child is going through the process now or how I would go through it now, as the process is a lot different than when I went through it myself 18 years ago.

The first thing I would do is make sure my child’s grades are in order and that their community and social media presence will not be a negative check mark. I can’t tell you how many kids think that just because they are good at sports they will automatically get into whatever school they want. Here’s a reality check: If you’re not one of the top 5 guys/girls in your state and in the tops in the country…schools will not take a huge risk on you! You may have the talent to play at a better school, but other things about you may limit you to a lower level school. This is a fact and you can take it to the bank. Are you a risk to fail out? Why would they waste the scholarship on you when they can take a kid who has the same ability and better grades? Are you a discipline problem in school and the community and a risk to get booted from the school? Why would they take the risk on you when they can get a kid who is just as talented and doesn’t have those issues? This is your first lesson in life that more talented people get away with more, and if you’re not one of those people you better get your act together quick.

In regards to social media, teams will move on from a player who is posting ridiculous things on line. Nobody needs to know your business at all times, and nobody needs to know your favorite line from the latest Joey BadA$$ album…no matter how hot that ish is! You never know who could be reading and might misconstrue it in the wrong way. Don’t believe me that teams are looking at your Twitter right now? Check it out:


The next thing I would do is make a list of things my child needs in order to be successful at the next level. I would need to know from coaches who his/her position coach is going to be. I’d want to know what their credentials are…where and what position did they play, whom were they coached by, how successful have they been in increasing the skill level of their players. And I don’t want to just hear about the 4 and 5 star recruits they’ve “helped” get to the next level, give me an example of a 2 star kid you developed and helped them reach the next level. That truly shows me the skill of a coach to develop players. I’d ask how they see my child in the system they run, so on and so forth. I would not ask them if they will be there all four years my child might be there, because 9 times out of 10 they’re going to lie to me. I’d also ask about academic support, how they will ensure my child takes the classes he needs to matriculate and so on.

My next piece of advice would be this: Don’t commit to a school because “they’re showin me mad love son!” Here’s the cold reality…that “love” they’re showing you right now is going to disappear as soon as you sign on that dotted line and you’re theirs for the next 4 years. As soon as National Signing Day is over and you’ve faxed your commitment…those coaches who were showing you all that love…you know what they’re doing? They’re recruiting your replacement! Go to the school that is going to help you reach your goals both academically and athletically. Pick a school because that school is going to set you up in every possible way to be successful for the rest of your life. Coaches will tell you whatever you want to hear to get you to sign. See the bigger picture and think long term! Pick a school because YOU love that school…not because coaches are pretending to “show you love”.

As always if you have any comments or questions hit me up via email: or you can hit me up on Twitter: @CarozzaStrength or check out my stuff on InstaGram: Carozza_Strength

Jump Training…Are You Doing it Right?

At Freak Strength we train a wide variety of athletes who play a wide range of sports. Since we’ve opened we’ve gotten a large female population coming through the gym…mostly volleyball, soccer, and softball with a few track athletes in there as well. Now we know that no two athletes are the same, and that holds true when one of the differences between the two is male and female. However…I have noticed an exception in a lot of cases to that “rule”.


The exception is when it comes to jump training. We have found that a large portion of our athletes have no idea how to jump. “How can that be?” you must be asking in shocked amazement. “Everyone can jump” you’re probably saying. And you would be correct…technically everyone CAN jump, but are they doing it correctly with proper technique? More importantly how are they landing?


Attaining more female athletes has given us the opportunity to hone in how we train all our athletes when jumps are involved. We’ve noticed even our male athletes are having issues with knees caving in both in the jump phase as well as the landing phase of the action. So what do we do?


Well for starters we don’t just have our guys jump without building the base. Just like you would with any movement, whether it is squat, bench, deadlift, we make sure our athletes are ready to jump. We build their eccentric strength to enable them to absorb the forces necessary to stick a good landing. We build their maximal strength to ensure they can apply higher forces and improve their capacity for a high rate of force development. We also ensure they have the mobility necessary to perform a good jump. Then we break the action down and ensure each part the movement is performed efficiently. We don’t progress until the athlete shows mastery.


This seems like common sense, no? But so often I see video’s of athletes performing jumps with terrible form and it makes me cringe. Does it look cool to have your athlete perform a 50 plus inch box jump? Sure does. But what good is it really if that athlete ends up injured eventually performing the action in a game setting because you never made sure they knew how to jump? So many people are focused on the end result that they ignore the little things. Any wonder why RG3 has had knee issues?



It’s not sexy to spend time with an athlete making sure their knees don’t cave in during the take off portion of a jump or during a landing, but it may help keep them playing and at the end of the day…THAT’S YOUR JOB! Make your athletes understand why it’s important and they’ll buy in. Don’t just have your athletes perform jumps, have them perform them correctly…train smarter!

Have you had knee problems? Are you rehabbing from injury? Come check us out. Our whole staff can help you get back better and stronger. We also have the NY Giants Asst. Head Athletic Trainer, Steve Kennelly, on staff and he is a master when it comes to ACL rehab and post rehab training.