Skip to main content

Interview With Jim Kielbaso – Ultimate Speed Development

By April 26, 2011January 8th, 2014Interviews

1. Hey Jim, you’ve been around for quite some time. Tell me a few things that strength coaches should probably be paying more attention to when it comes to developing optimum athletes.

Wow, that makes me sound kind of old.  Haha.  There are a million things to consider when developing athletes, but I believe you should try to individualize things as much as possible and always strive to keep things as safe, productive and efficient as possible.  I always perform a pretty comprehensive evaluation with an athlete when we get started so I get a good feel for their needs, limitations, prior training experiences, goals, personality, etc.  Some people might question the personality part of that, but I really think you need to approach athletes differently.  You still need to be fair and consistent, but I think the best trainers out there are able to have a slightly different approach with each athlete.  In my opinion, the psychology and relationship building aspects of training cannot be understated.

To answer your question from a training standpoint, I think most athletes need a balance of strength and movement/speed work.  But, the movement work needs to be very productive – not fluff.  I see a lot of drills done that will have very little carry-over to sport.  This is a waste of time, and I think that’s irresponsible.  We need to focus on things we know are going to produce results, not just things that look cool or make an athlete tired.  I’m not saying you can’t throw that stuff in there, but it shouldn’t be the meat and potatoes of a program.

I recently had a conversation with a group of NFL players who were talking about trainers they’ve worked with who ask them to do all sorts of different movements they have trouble with.  When the athletes had trouble with them, the trainers said things like “You’re a professional athlete.  You should be able to do this.  You’ve got problems.”  My response was that if you have a group of athletes at the pinnacle of their profession who all have trouble doing an exercise/movement, maybe that exercise/movement isn’t very important to their sport.  If it was, the best athletes would all be able to do it.

So, I like to stick with things that I feel are directly applicable to a given sport and keep it simple.  There’s no need to over-complicate training in an attempt to feel extra smart.  To me, the best coaches I know make everything seem very simple and straightforward.

I also think we need to really be cognizant of rest and recuperation.  I’m not talking about methods of recovery like cold baths, massages, etc.  Those are all very important too, but I’m talking about being efficient in our training to ensure we’re not over-training or wasting time.  There’s nothing wrong with taking a day off from training to allow for recovery.  Sometimes we also need to take step back and allow for recovery between sets.  Especially in speed training or heavy strength work, it’s good to take time between sets so you ensure quality instead of turning everything into a conditioning session.  Conditioning sessions are great when that’s the goal, but we shouldn’t be confusing things like speed work with conditioning.  For certain things, quality is much more important than quantity.

 2. Great points Jim! Now tell me a few things that strength coaches should probably pay less attention to when it comes to developing optimum athletes.

I don’t think strength coaches should worry about chasing numbers in the weight room.  Unless you’re training powerlifters, Olympic weightlifters or strongman competitors, big numbers don’t really mean anything.  Of course, I think athletes need to be strong, and most need to improve their strength in some area, but focusing on big numbers is unnecessary.  They don’t mean anything on the field/court, so they should always be a secondary goal.

Like I said before, we should also stay away from things that don’t have a direct impact on an athlete’s performance.  Obviously, we’re only as strong as our weakest link, so we need to work on our limitations.  But, we also need to focus on what is going to make a direct impact on the field.  In speed training, fancy drills and training gadgets look cool, but often have very limited transfer.  We can throw in “fun” stuff, but there is nothing wrong with sticking to the basics.

 3. The “How Strong is Strong Enough” debate is very important to consider as a coach. There is certainly a law of diminishing returns and employing certain strength gaining techniques could actually diminish high speed force production. Moving on, you recently put together a new product on speed development. There are a lot of products out there on the market. What makes yours unique?

Good question.  Rather than focusing on WHAT to do, Ultimate Speed Development focuses on HOW to do things.  Of course, it also explains what to do, but I’d much rather get an athlete to do things properly than just go through drills for the sake of going through drills.  To my knowledge, my book Speed & Agility Revolution was the first book to break down speed and agility mechanics into easy-to-understand terms.  The book is included in my program, and the rest of USD focuses on proper execution as well.  Each of the videos included in the program break down different aspects of speed training – linear, agility, combine testing – so the user actually learns HOW to move.  How to place your feet and move your body are covered in great detail so that anyone can learn how to use effective mechanics.  The program isn’t about creating robots, but there are optimal and proven ways to perform certain movements.  As one of the testimonials I’ve gotten said, this system breaks down what great athletes already do well and teaches the rest of us how to move that way.

It’s a very comprehensive program that includes the book, four videos and a detailed 6-week training program.  I don’t think there is another product on the market that includes everything I put into Ultimate Speed Development.  And, it’s very reasonably priced so that anyone can afford to get great training.

 4. I concur! I thoroughly enjoyed your product and think it’s a must-have for strength coaches. I’m unaware of other products that really delve into technique/mechanics like yours does. I probably should have asked this question first, but why should my readers listen to you?

Because you said so, Bret, and you are always correct.  Haha.  Well, everything I’ve development has come from years of trial and error.  I have a MS in Kinesiology and was a college strength coach for several years.  I’ve been the director of a very successful private training center in Michigan (Total Performance Training Center) for almost ten years, and I’ve been fortunate enough to work with thousands of athletes during my career including youth, high school, college, pro and Olympic competitors.  I’m very results oriented, so I’m constantly evaluating whether or not my training methods are working.  If I don’t feel great about a result I’ve gotten, I always go back and take a look at what I could have changed.  Years and years of doing this has helped me develop systems that work.  There are a lot of things that have worked so consistently for me through the years that I’m confident they will work for other coaches and athletes.  I’m not the kind of guy who just says “Do this because I said so” either.  I feel that I have solid rationale for everything I do, and I always try to explain things whenever I’m working with a coach or athlete.

 5. Hard to argue with that! Thank you for your time Jim. Where can my readers buy your product, and where can they go to follow you and read more of your work?

They can purchase my speed program by clicking here, and I’m about to do a giant price drop for a very limited time.  I’m only doing this for week or two so that your readers can take advantage of it.  They can also follow me and other strength coaches at, a site that includes hundreds of articles and videos from a ton of great coaches.  You’re even on our Advisory Board, Bret, so your readers can count on quality information from the site.

I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me.  You’re doing great things for this profession, and it’s always an honor to spend time talking to you.

Jim just dropped the price from $77 to $39 for a limited time so you’d be a fool not to jump on it!


  • Peter Mundy says:

    I love Kielbaso’s utilitarian approach. It is definitely something that we need more of in this industry.

  • Nick Horton says:

    This was one of my favorite lines:

    “To me, the best coaches I know make everything seem very simple and straightforward.”

    Being able to “hide” or embed the complexity of the subject while teaching is a highly underrated skill for coaches.

  • James says:

    This was one of my favourite lines:

    “There is certainly a law of diminishing returns and employing certain strength gaining techniques could actually diminish high speed force production”.

    So where do we draw the line in regards to the optimal loads we need to employ for sprinting?. Ben Johnson could squat 600lbs+ & ran 9.79 at best.

    Bret, If Ben has the ability to squat 1000lbs, are you insinuating he could have ran slower?.

Leave a Reply


and receive my FREE Lower Body Progressions eBook!

You have Successfully Subscribed!