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Barker teaches speed, power at TOSH

Adia Waldburger of the Record staff
Tyler Barker works with a client on her plyometric skills at the TOSH clinic.
1Sports

In a town all about being better, faster and stronger, Tyler Barker fits right in. The Salt Lake native, who recently moved back to the area to head up the Acceleration program at The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (TOSH) in Park City, appears to be the king of quickness and strength.

According to a statement prepared by TOSH, the Acceleration program is specifically designed for individuals with varying degrees of athletic ability to improve speed, strength and self-confidence.

For Barker, this means working with the full spectrum of Park City athletes, from the high school to the elite level to help them achieve optimal performance.

Barker is no stranger to helping athletes improve. He worked in strength and conditioning as an undergraduate at the University of Utah, and again as a graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach at Kansas State University. Now, he has moved away from a lot of the strength components and focuses on improving speed development.

Thus far, Barker has already worked with kids, high school sports stars and Olympic athletes. "It ranges from the whole spectrum of athletes bobsledders, skeleton, football players," Barker said. Barker designs different programs for each athlete depending on their sport and specific needs.

"We really try to make things as specific as possible to their particular sports, but its still designed to make athletes run fast and have more power," Barker said.

He illustrates his point with a bobsledding example. Bobsledders an attachment on the treadmill at TOSH, which is at the height of a regulation bobsled, to work on their push.

TOSH Acceleration, which has grown into an international program in the last 15 years, has helped a wide spectrum of athletes improve their power and speed. Barker, who worked at the Murray TOSH before heading to graduate school, said that he has personally watched high school kids improve to the point that they were recruited into a Division I collegiate athletic program, and coached college athletes to help them make it into the pros.

Already Barker says that he received feedback from the prep athletes he has worked with in the Park City area.

"High school students mention how they feel so much stronger and faster," Barker said.

Beyond physiological development, Barker also tries to create an environment in which students can feel comfortable.

"Outside of a performance standpoint, it’s nice to hear the kids enjoy coming," Barker said. "We try to establish a positive atmosphere from a physical and mental standpoint.

A typical week of sessions with Barker includes a mix of speed and plyometric (any exercise where the muscle is stretched before it is contracted) work. On a speed day, athletes will often run on the treadmill as well as on the ground. Mirrors surround the treadmill; so that the athletes can see how they are running and watch themselves make the necessary adjustments as Barker is instructing them. The treadmill also allows the athlete to work on sprint mechanics, such as knee drive, pelvic position, torso position, hip extension and upper body mechanics. Speed days also include time working to strengthen hip muscles on a hip-specific machine and another machine called the plyo-press designed to improve explosiveness.

On plyometric-focused days, Barker has athletes work on quick foot drills, jumps and more work on the plyo-press. Barker also incorporates flexibility and core strength into the workouts.

Of course, these sessions are not all the same and rarely last over long periods of time.

"It depends on their needs and time frame,’ Barker said. "We try to figure out a program that fits into their year plan and meets their specific goals and sports-specific skills."

Each session runs between $15 and $30 and Barker usually sets these up into sets of six or more. To keep the program accessible to all athletes, Barker will often train in groups up to six, or work with the athlete to find an affordable option.

"If someone is interested, we’ll talk with the parents and figure something out," Barker said.

Parents are another aspect of the training program for the younger athletes that Barker feels is key.

"I really like it when the parents come in and talk to me just so they can feel comfortable with who’s spending so much time with their kids," Barker said.

Parker has a vision for the future of the Park City program. He is embracing all of the sports that Park City has to offer and has already visited the Utah Olympic Park to watch some of the lesser known sports, like skeleton and ski jumping, to see how he could devise training plans to help each type of athlete.

"I look forward to working with a variety of athletes and sports," Barker said. "It makes me think of how to design a program to help them improve."

TOSH is the official sports science and medicine provider for the U.S. Ski, Snowboarding and Speed Skating teams, so Barker will definitely get to experience a little bit of everything.

He is also looking forward to working with athletes of all different ages. Barker said he first fell in love with Acceleration program when he was at the TOSH office in Murray five years ago, and was so excited when he found out that he could do the same work in Park City upon his return.

"I was nervous I wouldn’t find a job I enjoyed so much,’ Barker said.

Barker works under Dr. Jim Walker, who oversees the Acceleration program in Park City, Murray and at the Kearns Oval Ice Arena TOSH offices. He says he appreciates how well developed the program has become. He also likes the manner in which TOSH is set-up with coaches, athletic trainers and physical therapists all housed in the same office, so all the needs of athletes and non-athletes alike can be met at once.

Barker is now finishing up his post-doctoral work in sports science at Oregon State University. He has done extensive work in all aspects physiology and hopes that his knowledge conditioning as well as strength and diet will help him to instruct and direct athletes in all aspects of their performance needs.

TOSH is located at 1850 Sidewinder Drive. For more information about the Acceleration program, log onto http://www.ihc.com/toshacceleration.


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