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Beth Cooper

Tony Sands: Unconventional Training for Athletic Excellence


“Train like an animal, play like a beast” is legendary former NFL Arizona Cardinal football running back turned dynamic athletic trainer Tony Sands’ trademarked motto.

For aspiring high school and college athletes, distinguishing oneself as a superstar can be a daunting and lonely goal. Tony Sands of Get Sandsational athletic training, makes that superstar goal a reality for many high school and college athletes.

Sands has a no nonsense, unorthodox and speed oriented personal training and conditioning program for high school, college, and adult athletes. His unconventional methods have made him a fixture in South Floridain high school and college training programs.

Breaking the mold: Sands' unconventional yet highly effective coaching approach.

Forging Greatness in South Florida's Football Heartland

Football was literally in Sands’ DNA as a child growing up in Fort Lauderdale in the 1970s. Sand’s father, who played in the band in high school and a Dillard High School football fan, introduced Tony to the game in 1977 at Holiday Park, where Tony played with the Fort Lauderdale Dolphins. They won the little league Superbowl that year.

Tony, along with his uncle Michael Irvin, the famous Dallas Cowboys football receiver, grew up adoring football in little league and high school. Both Tony and his uncle Irvin attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School, a school with a renowned football program. Sands earned the all time rushing leader at St. Thomas during his high school career and made varsity team as a mere freshman at STA.

Post high school, Sands was recruited by the University of Kansas, where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in exercise fitness. During his tenure as a Kansas JayHawk, Sands shattered the NCAA record for the most rushing attempts, 58 carries, in a single game.

After high school graduation, Sands continued at University of Kansas as a running back coach until his recruitment by the Arizona Cardinals. Sadly, Tony’s diminutive stature shortened his pro football career as a Cardinal, as taller players were typically preferred. Sands stayed on at University of Kansas as a running back and weight training coach.

A glimpse into Sands' football journey.

Turning Personal Struggles into Coaching Inspiration

Sands recalls suicidal thoughts and pervasive sadness after his short lived professional football career. He recalls the disappointment of returning to regular life after his time in the pros. In fact, 35% of retired pro athletes report depression or sadness from loss of status, health care and other mental health issues.

When Sands returned to Fort Lauderdale from Kansas City, his own intense personal workouts were his mental health therapy. He launched his speed training business in 1993, with emphasis on proper sport, fitness and high tech strength, speed, conditioning, agility, balance, coordination, resistance-resistance training, running mechanics, vertical leap, and sport specific drills. His first clients were uncle Michael Irvin, of Dallas Cowboys, and Al Harris, of the the GreenBay Packers. Sands firmly believes that mental focus and resilience are key to an athlete’s success, and he regularly advises and coaches young athletes both on and off the field.

UVA womens’ lacrosse team player and client Lily Spyredes says, “Coach Sands has gotten me faster, stronger and fitter, and more mentally prepared and mentally sound for playing my game over the past 2 years. He has never given up on me.”
Eventually, youth, high school and college athletes sought out Sands for his out of the box, speed focused training methods.

Elevating Training Standards with Unique and Varied Methods

Sands trains soccer, football, tennis, wrestling, lacrosse and golf athletes for speed enhancement. He distinguishes himself from other personal trainers and coaches with his use of unconventional training devices and equipment.

Currently Sands is a brand ambassador for Vertimax, a vertical jump method for explosive power for basketball and other sports. He utilizes agility ladders, horizontal ladders on the ground for “quick feet”, as Sands describes. Curve treadmills with adjustable speed allow elite athletes to adjust track to simulate roads or running tracks are also utilized by Sands. The Zoid, another speed device for Sands, is a multi-function agility product similar to an agility ladder that promotes quick, lateral and front to back explosive jumps.

Reflexion is a cognitive, neuro training, digital sports hand eye device, similar to the 1970’s boardgame Simon, in which players quickly touch light in rapid sequence. Such hand eye training devices improve speed, reaction time and agility for lacrosse, soccer and other sports.

Sands blends these unconventional training devices with standard free weights and field running drills to optimize his athletes’ performance.

Empowered by Sands: Lily Spyredes testifies to coach Sand's influence.
Sculpting champions on the field.

Charting the Course: Sands' Enduring Impact on South Florida

Sands plans to increase his motivational speaking tours in the future. He regularly travels to his own summer sports camps located in Texas, Kentucky, Atlanta, California and also here in South Florida to oversee athletic training.

He wrote a book in 2017, motivated by his father’s death and a beloved student athlete’s suicide, called “I was before my time”. The book details Sands’ pro football career, post career mental health challenges, the loss of his father and the ups and downs of teen athletic coaching. He also heralds his own supplement line that includes protein, glutamine and other pre and post workout nutrition.

In addition, Sands’ non profit organization, Sandsational Community Outreach offers South Florida community youth motivational speaking engagements at St. Thomas Aquinas, food giveaways, fatherhood programs, and free camps for economically challenged families.

Sands’ summarizes his mind focused, personal training program as follows: “Technology has made life easier for my athletes to physically master the games they play, but I train and fatigue my athletes’ brains to achieve mastery.”

Tony Sands is dedicated to providing top-tier training. He conducts extensive sessions at the Zoo Gym located on Commercial Blvd, ensuring a dynamic workout experience. Additionally, Tony extends his expertise to local high schools. For inquiries or to schedule a session, feel free to reach out to him at 954-691-7804 or drop an email at info@getsandsational.com.


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