Clear Results, Full Data, Can’t Lose
How one gym is using science to redefine sports.
Trainer Rickey Jackson with athlete Tyler Mahkne
Photography by Weston Carls
Everyone knows football is king in Texas. Legends are born on these football fields and the dreams of players are as vast as the sky above them. So it’s no wonder that, when local high school team, Lake Travis Cavaliers took the 2016 State Championship title, that people paid notice and wanted to know what set these players apart. Were they simply eating their Wheaties? Or was there something more extraordinary happening on those practice fields? One answer is their work with Austin based gym, Xceleration Sports Performance Labs.
With athletes and coaches increasingly competing at cutthroat levels, the search is on to move the meter in any capacity. By redefining the way athletes train and measure performance, Xceleration Labs is doing just that—moving the meter.
When you think of a gym, what probably comes to mind is the clanking of heavy weights and the permeating smell of salty sweat stuck in the air. Complex equations, algorithms, angles, and data analysis don’t quite fit into the picture. But that is exactly what you will find at Xceleration Labs.
With the URL “WhyBeSlow.com”, it leaves little to the imagination what the masterminds behind this gym are after—high speed and big results. It’s the information age, and at a time when we can receive real-time data on just about everything, it makes sense that athletics would do the same.
Located here in Austin, this state-of-the-art facility is using technology, biomechanics, and robotics to change how athletes train and perform. And, based on their track record, it’s pretty evident that the madness in their methods works—and quite well. Behind their scientific approach are several precision-focused technology systems that pinpoint an athlete’s deficits, and identify where to make changes and improvements. Sometimes that change may be as small as modifying form by a few degrees, or as large as overhauling a complete workout regimen—but no matter the goal, the results are staggering.
Founder and director of Xceleration Labs, Matt Neel, is a renowned sports medicine therapist and trainer. He’s long been dedicated to revolutionizing the approach of training techniques, “applying biomechanics to achieve mind blowing results.” Matt has been successful in training athletes across a variety of sports, including football, basketball, sprinting, MMA, cycling, and more. Each year, athletes from around the world travel to seek his help in gaining an edge.
One of the most notable technologies Xceleration Labs employs is called 1080 Motion, a groundbreaking system that uses physics and advanced robotics system to manipulate sports physiology, biomechanics, and motor control.
Peter Holmertz, 1080 Motion expert, and Matt Neel talk shop on their unique approach to optimizing human performance.
How did you both land in Austin and working with this type of technology?
Matt: I first started working in sports medicine and training in Southern California, traveling on the USATF (USA Track and Field) circuit. We spent a decade learning about and developing performance programs with a heavy emphasis on the limitations of speed in humans. I came to Austin about 10 years ago with the intentions of doing the same thing and saw the demand explode, which ultimately pushed me to open Xceleration Sports.
Peter: I met the founders of 1080 Motion through a Swedish University technology incubator four years ago and I immediately understood that this technology would change the world of how we train and rehabilitate athletes and patients. Two years later we started the U.S. entity in Austin and began working with our first customers. Matt Neel at Xceleration Labs was one of them.
Matt, why did you start Xceleration? Were you looking for something that was not being fulfilled at other facilities?
Yes, absolutely. If you’re familiar with football programs (and other sports) in high school or college, you know that they strength train and condition profusely. Most facilities in our industry end up repeating the same workouts that are already over-trained within their programs. We are looking for the sweet spot in skill development, which so happens to be the biomechanics of speed. Precision and purpose are a must for us.
Is Xceleration Sports Labs geared more toward performance optimization? Or would your methods also suit someone trying to rehab an injury or correct form flaws, etc?
Whereas most people think of us for speed training, we actually do a lot more than that. There’s never really a point where rehab/prehab begins and ends when it comes to building performance. We are constantly adapting to feedback and data in order to have constant assessment to produce the most favorable outcome for the individual.
How would you guys say data drives your personalized programming?
Peter: Elite athletes must be explosive, fast and resilient to injury. Making elite level athletes improve those qualities is largely about identifying and systematically removing limiting factors. The desired outcome depends on the athletes training age, genetics and the position they play in their sport. The human body is complex. To be able to detect and evaluate limiting factors with objective data allows you to provide objective and motivating feedback to the athlete.
Matt: We start all training programs with a combine test: the same test you see in the NFL, with the difference being that we use the 1080 Sprint to collect data. The data we start with gives us a window into that athlete, giving us overall peak power numbers that we have found directly correlate to the level of raw athleticism. We also are able to determine mechanical flaws through the graphs, allowing us to determine direction of training and progress. The other difference from an NFL combine is that we video and record every test to determine mechanical flaws to improve results. The data collection is what allows us to determine success.
You both work with a number of athletes across multiple positions and sports. How does the technology translate from one to the next?
Matt: The technology transfers over to all our sports. Speed is the common denominator.
Peter: The 1080 Motion technology is used across various sports where explosiveness and speed are the Holy Grail to performance. The systems are used in elite level training all over the world, including National Olympic training centers, universities, and private training facilities. Sports include any team sport as well as more individual sports like track and field, tennis, golf and swimming. The core value is the precision with how much resistance you apply to the athlete and the high resolution measurements it captures. High precision enables better coaching decisions and therefore better individualization of training.
Matt, what is the process like for working with Xceleration Sports? Does the athlete come to you with a particular goal in mind and you help them accomplish it? Or do you...
Athletes typically come to us with some goal in mind. However, our experience and expertise puts us in a position to guide them often to new goals. So we help them not only achieve their original goal, but help create them as well.
Peter, how did 1080 Motion end up working with Xceleration Sports Lab? When we started 1080 Motion for North America, the 1080 Sprint system was only in the prototype stage. We had an agreement with the University of Kentucky football program to help us test it out in real action, but I was also curious to work with someone local here in Austin. By coincidence I stopped by Xceleration and met with Matt Neel. It took him about three seconds to realize the potential of the technology, and the rest is history. We are very fortunate to collaborate with this awesome team.
Matt, your website says your facility can make any athlete faster. How do you go about this? Yes, we can. Over the years we have developed a method that we have proven over and over that it works. I have a great team with some of the most highly skilled people in the country. We love what we do and the results speak for themselves.