Bill Parisi speaks at youth football summit about speed, and most importantly, learning to stop.
Bill Parisi is the man who asks the question: “How high can you jump?”
If you are a high school coach or a Parisi client, his answer is you surely can go higher.
For 90 minutes Wednesday, an animated Parisi had 150 high school football coaches from across the nation stretching, bending and, most importantly, learning his training methods at the fourth annual NFL Youth Football Summit at Kent State University Stark campus.
To teach kids, Parisi said, is to empower and entertain them.
“Let them have fun,” said the founder of the Parisi Speed School, a performance training organization centered in New Jersey. “Fit is fun. Kids want to play sports. Do you want to be a factor?
“Ask someone if they want to condition. (Shrug). Then ask them if they want to be faster. Most kids have an interest in being faster.”
Being faster is about explosion and running technique, Parisi said. It’s not about age or strength. He had the predominately male coaching group stand and do a set of 10 crunches at their chairs, with proper head and spine alignment and rear ends not touching chairs.
It wasn’t physically taxing, but done right, it was noticeable.
“At (Parisi School), we only upper-body weight lift one day a week,” he said. “We only lower-body lift one day a week. That is in- and off-season. Eighty percent of the exercises, you can do with 10-year-olds.
“You can run faster at any age. Carl Lewis set the 100 meter world record at age 31.”
Learning how to run slower also is a Parisi edict. He said NFL all-time great running backs Barry Sanders, Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith might have finished in the top 10 in a team sprint, “but they definitely would not have won,” Parisi said.
“What they did have was the ability to stop better than anybody else.”
He teaches deceleration, emphasizing it’s more important than a great start. Case in point: “Would you get on a plane without knowing how to stop?”
“Taking off is simple,” said Parisi, doing his best pilot imitation. “Landing is when you get tense. Slowing down is where it’s at.”
Parisi told the coaches to keep their eyes open to new training methods. Condition before practice, not after when players are tired and uninterested. Warming up — the basis of his teachings — gets blood flow going, and practicing while fatigued is good, he said.
Finer points such as those are what make Parisi in demand.
“Parisi, that’s who I want to see,” said Bryce Bevill, coach at Bishop McNamara High School in Maryland. “He’s the man.”
Parisi asked: Why are you coaching? What is your vision?
“The secret to motivating kids is a big enough ‘why?’ ” he said. “Dreams are the seed to motivation.”
To prove his original point of “How high?”, Parisi asked the coaches to raise their right hands as high as they could. Everyone in the room raised their hand aloft.
Ten seconds later, those hands were another inch or two higher, as per Parisi’s request.
Reach Canton Repository sports writer Jim Thomas at (330) 580-8336 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org