Sep 18, 2018
Marian University Finds Solution for Improving Athletes’ Speed

With the winter months approaching and no indoor facility for training, Vernon Smith, Director of Strength and Conditioning at Marian University in Indiana, needed a solution. With few other options, Smith began searching for ways to enhance the Knights’ weight room. 

“The big thing I was trying to accomplish with my athletes was getting them faster in the wintertime when we didn’t have that ability,” Smith said. “We didn’t have an indoor facility, and running outside when it’s 20 degrees and below is not good for the body.”

Luckily, Smith discovered Matrix, and for the last three years, the Knights have been improving their speed and performance during the winter with the S-Drive Performance Trainer and S-Force Performance Trainer. “Everything that they needed to do speed-wise, we were able to do and accomplish with these units,” Smith said. “We’re able to use them indoors and were still be able to get the speed development we want out of these athletes. They’re unbelievable.”


The first addition Smith made to Marian’s weight room was the S-Drive Performance Trainer. Matrix developed the system with feedback from numerous strength coaches, who were searching for one space-saving tool that would combine the benefits of self-powered treadmills, weighted sleds, resistance parachutes, and harness systems. For Smith, being able to “bring the outside in” was also important. 

“Without an indoor facility, the S-Drive makes it possible to do our sled pushes, overspeed development and training, and energy work–all within the comfort of our weight room,” Smith said. “That caught my eye and was a big reason why we wanted to have this piece in our weight room.”

Smith also enjoys the its versatility, and with no batteries or need to plug in, the S-Drive easily integrates into any circuit program or routine and can be placed anywhere for convenience. “You can go from sprinting uphill to doing a sled push on the low end,” explains Smith. “You can get on all fours and be able to push a sled and mimic that motion, or come all the way up and do a full sprint.”

Smith’s favorite feature is the S-Drive’s ability to hold his student-athletes accountable. “The thing is, our athletes are using their bodies to move the weight. It’s not like a treadmill where you have a motor helping you get fast,” Smith said. “This is built on your speed and on your count.”


When the S-Force was being developed, Smith was one of the trusted strength coaches Matrix reached out to for input, and he knew then that he would eventually bring them to campus. “Now with the S-Force, everyone respects it, everyone wants it, and everyone needs it,” he says.

The S-Force features two active positions and magnetic resistance, creating optimal workouts for building even more speed and power. The upright position targets the calves and hamstrings, and the acceleration position places emphasis on the shins and quads.

“We can understand stride lengths, running mechanics, and the biomechanics behind it all. It’s probably one of the best units I’ve ever used that really focuses on stride development,” Smith said. 

The tool’s magnetic resistance increases the harder the athlete works, creating challenging progressive workouts and keeping them motivated put forth their best effort. “With the S-Force, it almost doesn’t matter that we’re training in a confined area,” Smith said. “We can do different variations of interval training and other things to make sure our athletes are still getting a quality workout and really developing their neuromuscular systems to adapt to running.”


After using both the S-Drive and S-Force for the last three years, Smith’s student-athletes are thanking him for introducing these products to campus and for the opportunity to train on them. “They love these systems because they’re able to get their workout in whether it’s rain, snow, or shine,” says Smith. “They don’t have to be on the field or track to get the work in–especially when it’s freezing outside.”

For Smith, his relationship with Matrix is one that continues to evolve and notes that their customer service is second to none. “The great thing about Matrix is that if something doesn’t seem right, they’ll fix it for you. 

“As a coach, it’s been very easy to rely on them,” Smith added. “I will be the first and the last to recommend these tools to any other coaches. These units are a lifesaver and gamechanger in the strength and conditioning industry.”

Matrix Fitness

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