Welcome to Thunderbolts MD!  At Thunderbolts MD, we have one priority: help developing athletes get faster.  Here we dive into why speed matters to us, and how we organize Thunderbolts Speed School to help teach athletes the basics of speed.

Check out our video here.


The best athletes in any given sport are usually the fastest ones. There is no technique you can use to stop a ball carrier downfield from you that you can’t catch-up with. Fast players require opposing teams to alter their strategy, using things like double-teams to neutralize fast players. Fast players steal bases and beat throws, changing outs into multiple bases. Just the presence of a fast player changes the game, before they even take the field.
Nothing prepares the body – for anything you want to do – like maximal speed!


Aside from the sport-specific advantages, there is nothing that prepares the body like maximal speed. Sprinting requires propelling the body through the air off of one leg in around 100 milliseconds while absorbing many times your own bodyweight in momentum … and while switching limbs at many times per-second. There is nothing in the weight room, and no plyometric exercise that comes close to the muscle fiber recruitment times, pre-contraction and fast relaxation or single leg power production that sprinting requires. Fast movements are usually where athletes get hurt the most: because those movements require the most from the body, and high speed, maximal intensity training is almost never done in normal team-sport settings. It’s easy to make kids tired, but it’s hard to help kids get fast!


Because of its potential game-breaking power, and because of its ability to prepare the body for any intensity, we believe speed and power training is the most important type of training an athlete can do. Speed training is an important synergist with any team sport program, as it prepares athletes to be lethal to opposing teams, and prepares them to be on the field healthy, and ready in the championships.
Check out our video on this topic here.


Thunderbolts Speed School is a multiple week program that is divided into 5 main training areas:
  • Raw speed testing and performance
  • Acceleration ability
  • Top end speed ability
  • Basic strength
  • Change of Direction Ability

Each class will have one of the above themes, with testing and monitoring occurring throughout.  Within each theme, we have activities that are designed to challenge the athletes to learn how to use their bodies effectively in order to solve the movement challenges we present, and navigate the cues we give.

Check out a video on this here.

In order to help someone get faster, we need to understand what makes someone fast, and then look at what an athlete is doing that is limiting them from being as fast as they can. Since all forms of speed require movement, we start with movement basics.


We perform the following tests in order to get a sense of where an athlete is at before, during and after Speed School:
  1. 40-yd dash.  We measure this using automated timing, with a 10-yard “fly zone” to separately capture the athlete’s top-end speed – a key performance indicator in all of the sprint events, and in speed measurement in-general.  By seeing how many “miles per hour” an athlete reaches, they can compare themselves to a car, and have a direct way to measure their speed, which translates to higher levels as they progress. Also, a lot of kids know 40 times from famous athletes, and can see where they stack up.
  2. Vertical Jump.  Top-end speed is highly correlated with vertical jump ability, as both require athletes to explode off of the ground as quickly as possible and generate a lot of vertical force in a short period of time.  Sometimes when developing speed, you will see an athlete’s jump go up before it fully translates to faster sprint times, as sprinting is a highly coordinated effort over many steps, and takes longer to develop.
  3. Standing Broad Jump. Acceleration ability is highly coordinated with an athlete’s ability to take a single, huge leap forward.  Athletes who produce force well horizontally will have a good result in the standing broad jump, often before they learn how to efficiently accelerate.
  4. Illinois Agility Test.  This test is a lot of fun for kids, since they get to run in and out of cones at high speed.  As a measurement, it can give us a good idea how well an athlete can accelerate, maneuver and change direction, all rolled into one test.
Check out a video on this topic here.

Each Speed School class will be structured as follows:
  • Warmup: where athletes raise their core muscle temperature to a level ready for speed, activate the muscle firing patterns they will need in training, mobilize their joints to allow them to create bigger and more powerful shapes, and potentiate their ability to perform their best in training, so they can maximize their speed.  This may be the only time you ever hear a coach explain what a “warmup” is for.
  • Stations: athletes will be divided into 3 small groups of similar age / ability.  The groups will rotate through stations – lasting around 10 minutes each – where we present movement challenges for the kids according to the theme of the day.  Kids may push sleds, throw medicine balls for distance, or try to run through an obstacle course, among other activities.
  • Testing: sometimes athletes will perform one of our tests – either in the first or last session, or throughout.  Testing gives us an idea of who is improving, as well as who might be getting slower.  Sometimes a kid gets slower when they do *too much*, or are injured or sick. And sometimes the best plan of action here is to go to “Plan B” and have a kid do something easier than what was originally planned.
  • Cooldown: at the end of more intense sessions, the athletes will learn some ways to cool their body down by practicing active relaxation or doing mobility drills

Check out a video about the leaderboard.

During our multi-week Speed School, athletes will compete on a leaderboard.  The leaderboard is designed to get kids to be more engaged in our sessions, and – importantly – to continue to develop their speed and physical abilities outside of Speed School.  It takes thousands of hours to master a skill, and we only get to spend 7 hours with our athletes.  Most of their development is going to happen somewhere else.
Athletes can get points by taking the following actions, and the athletes will be grouped based on the top third, middle third, and bottom third of their class, with custom Thunderbolts medals awarded accordingly.
  • 200 points: show up to a session.
  • 100 points: do one of the movement achievements.
  • 100 points: do all of the work in a session.
  • 50 point awards will be handed out on coaches’ discretion (if someone does something much better than they ever have, something positive towards others or something helpful, etc.)
  • 200 points for each test improved on

See more about Movement Achievements here.

Movement achievements are an opportunity for athletes to develop their real life “skill-tree” just like they would develop a character in a video game. Skilled movements at high speeds require a progression of mastery of movement building blocks all the way up to coordinated high speed efforts. In order to earn a movement achievement, an athlete must come early and show a coach that they have mastered the skill, or they must demonstrate it during Speed School when given an opportunity.  Athletes are not going to be able to do all of our drills or activities well the first time, and we will provide coaching feedback, video review, or answer questions outside of Speed School for those who want to earn achievements.
Each sub-item under the 7 achievement categories will be an individual achievement that can be unlocked.  Each achievement awards 100 points for the leaderboard.  Unlocking all achievements in an area earns the athlete a custom pin that they can attach to their Thunderbolts Speed School medal.  Let’s see who can get the most decked-out!
At the first tier, we have 7 movement achievement categories:
See our video on this here.

Each week, we will send out an email before the week’s session detailing the specific schedule for the day, and making any relevant announcements.  Coaches are always available via email (jeremy@thunderboltsmd.com | gary@thunderboltsmd.com | info@thunderboltsmd.com) and are happy to answer any questions you may have!

Feel free to browse this site, and check out our YouTube Channel.  We are constantly updating both, so keep checking us out for more in the future!

See our video on this topic here.

  1. Bring yourself, and have a good attitude!  Speed School is fun, and high speed and efficient movement requires athletes to feel good.  Tired, sore, injured athletes are welcome to come, but the fastest athletes are always the healthiest ones, so take care of yourselves: eat right, drink water, get plenty of sleep, and stay positive!.
  2. Bring fast shoes.  Indoor soccer shoes, racing flats, or tight athletic shoes are great.  Shoes that slip off, Crocs (even in “Sports Mode”!) and flip flops are not going to cut it!  Athletes can always run barefoot if they need to and are used to it.  Going barefoot is not recommended for athletes who spend most of their time in shoes.
  3. Bring Water.  There is a water cooler in our space, but it is far away, and there aren’t always cups in easy reach.  Bring a water bottle, sports drink, or a keg (… of water!).  Whatever you prefer.  Coaches will not be able to provide drinks, and hydration is important!
  4. Wear Layers. Athletes will get hot in Speed School, and the facility is a normal temperature year-round.  Athletes bundled up for the cold winter might get way too hot unless they can strip off the warm stuff.  Athletic clothing is important here too.  No jeans or fancy dresses.

We do our best to keep kids engaged and active, and rarely have any issues with behavior.  But we do have some ground-rules:

  1. Be positive, encouraging and respectful.  This goes to actions towards coaches and other  kids.  One warning will be issued, and then your athlete will be asked to leave and not come back without an apology and commitment to do better.  This is not a behavioral rehabilitation program, and there is a large waiting list.  Space is reserved for athletes who follow the rules.
  2. Don’t touch anything in the gym unless told it’s OK.  There is a ton of cool equipment in the gym, and kids’ eyes light up when they see it.  But it doesn’t belong to us (unless we tell them!), is probably very expensive, and probably won’t develop speed.  We will have stuff set up for kids to play on; and we will tell them which stuff that is.
  3. Follow the rules of speed school: no baby giraffes, no Donald Ducks, YES big smile.  The kids should be able to tell you what these things mean … or you can ask us   . This is best-effort and meant for fun; not grounds for adverse action.
  4. Don’t try hard if you are injured.  “Grinding” your way to success is a myth.  Fast athletes are healthy, and happy, and they work *smart*.  Rest is just as – if not more – important than effort.  We can work with athletes to provide Plan B activities, but they shouldn’t try to “keep pushing”.

Email us:

Coach Gary: gary@thunderboltsmd.com

Coach Jeremy: jeremy@thunderboltsmd.com

General Contact: info@thunderboltsmd.com

Check us out on YouTube, Instagram (@ThunderboltsMD), or Facebook.