|| Phelps: Training provides local athletes with 'the means to get better'
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Darren Phelps is a certified strength and conditioning specialist at Quad City Sports Performance.
MOLINE -- Darren Phelps matter-of-factly listed the strengths and goals of Quad City Sports Performance before finding the ultimate sales pitch.
"We try to provide the most comprehensive program for a young athlete," he said.
With the goal of developing the total athlete, Quad City Sports Performance (QCSP) supports the dream of local individuals looking for the edge. Now in its 10th year, the program has a long list of clients and a reputation of improving performance in nearly every sport.
The backbone of QCSP is the 36-year-old Mr. Phelps, a certified strength and conditioning specialist. Upon moving to the Quad-Cities a decade ago, he helped Rock Valley Physical Therapy create the program.
Mr. Phelps first heard about this type of training regimen while doing an internship with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim High-A affiliate in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. The first person to introduce him to it was current Angels pitching coach and United Township High School graduate Mike Butcher.
"Our goal -- as far as athletes who come down here -- is to prepare them for upcoming sports seasons," Mr. Phelps said. "We deal a lot with young athletes. ... We identify what they need."
Mr. Phelps said the goal of the training session, which lasts between 75 and 90 minutes, is improving conditioning, strength, speed and agility. Besides those aspects, an athlete will see better balance, coordination and general body awareness.
Yet, workouts involve much more than weight training and conditioning. Athletes will use medicine balls, plates, body-weight exercises, sleds and even open space as a way to improve.
"We're trying to create the best training atmosphere as possible," Mr. Phelps said.
Results are almost immediate. Mr. Phelps said within two weeks of a four- to six-week training session, athletes can see a change in their performance, whether it be flexibility, mobility or agility.
That may not sound like much, but that helps with endurance, explosion and, most importantly, performance.
As Mr. Phelps trains an individual or group, he takes pride knowing the sessions are helping others reach their dreams. He points to current minor-league pitchers Kirk Clark and John Peters as examples of the program doing great things for athletes.
The two pitchers already had talent, but QCSP enhanced their ability.
"That's one of the biggest rewards," Mr. Phelps said.
In order to achieve a maximum success rate, Mr. Phelps tailors each workout based on the individual. Athletes who need greater explosion and quickness will have different activities than someone needing endurance.
The principles are the same, but the overall work differs.
Workouts also are tailored to the individual athlete's physical level.
"I want to provide the best I can for our athletes," Mr. Phelps said. "Sometimes, there are circumstances you cannot control."
Overall, though, it's a rewarding experience.
Most of his time is spent with individual clients, but Mr. Phelps does train teams at schools such as Alleman High School and Augustana College. When he sees those groups have success, it makes this a worthwhile endeavor.
"I've been very fortunate to work with some very good teams in this area," he said. "When you see them be successful, if you're a small part of it, that's great." Last year, the Alleman football team finished as the Class 4A state runner-up. Part of what made the Pioneers a success was their ability to wear opponents down despite having two-way players.
They were disciplined and tough, a byproduct of their training sessions.
"I'd like to believe that's part of it," Mr. Phelps said. "Our summer camp up there is pretty tough. Those kids are up there for two hours, and it involves a great deal of training and conditioning. A lot of that is preparing those types of athletes to be two-way starters.
"Those kids work hard and go through a lot of stuff."
It's a sacrifice, both personally and financially, athletes make to better themselves. All the credit goes to the individuals, but Mr. Phelps understands he is helping them reach their goals.
"There is a pride factor that these kids are putting trust in you," he said. "We take great pride in that."
You could say Mr. Phelps is supporting the athletes' dreams.
"I'd like to believe we're a part of it," he said. "Ultimately, the athlete has to do the work. We get to provide them with a means to get better. ... If they're willing to listen and buy into what we're saying, that's good."
Supporting the dream
Who: Darren Phelps, certified strength and conditioning specialist at Quad City Sports Performance
Quote: "We get to provide (athletes) with a means to get better. ... If they're willing to listen and buy into what we're saying, that's good."