Shaw works with teenagers and NFL veterans, but he believes the way to teach the high schoolers in his program is to treat them the same as he treats the pros — but on their level. “I don’t keep them away from the pros,” he says. “I want them to learn from them. It’s a great chance for a receiver like Santonio Holmes (of the New York Jets) to show these young guys how to do it. And not just on the field. He’ll give them thoughts about keeping their grades up, staying focused on what’s important. It means a lot for them to hear that.
“Different ages means different stages of development,” Shaw explains. “I figure out the top amount a pro and a high school guy can bench press, then have them train with 65 percent of that. For a pro, that could be 250 pounds. The other (high school player) it might be 90, maybe less.”
Shaw also stresses personal accountability, as he doesn’t believe in forcing players to rise at dawn or monitoring their every move or when they go to sleep. He laughs that he probably wouldn’t have to worry about the kids getting enough sleep, anyway — Steelers linebacker James Farrior, a regular participant at Shaw’s camp, will take care of that. “When a 15-year NFL veteran tells you to get more sleep, you will,” Shaw says. “And he tells them!”
Shaw’s program may be most famous for its quarterback arms, but he’s still most revered among players for what he does for legs. Keeping it simple, Shaw adds the kind of speed that’s the difference between a reception and a just-beyond-the-fingertips pass, between a loss on downs and a touchdown. “For explosive power, jumping with a 25- to 27-pound weighted vest can build it up fast,” Shaw says. He also likes mirror training: A player chases a cart equipped with a large mirror while watching his form and therefore has the chance to instantly correct it. “It’s like watching video, but where you don’t have to wait to make that change — it helps to have that instant feedback.” But it’s Shaw’s own feedback during these exercises that can make the difference. “He sees things no one else does,” Taylor says. “You work with him for a couple hours and you think, ‘How did he do that?’ ”
While Shaw has made a name for himself by working with incredible pro athletes, he was just as wowed recently by watching a 10-year-old go from being the slowest player on his baseball team to the swiftest. And he hopes he has built something that can outrun fast; he hopes his instruction builds family.
“I think of Ike Taylor just like my son and I’ve known him since he was a kid,” Shaw says. “Guys like Santonio Holmes don’t have to come back, but they choose to. They know how far they went and how previous players helped them get there. And, honestly, I just like seeing them — it makes me proud to come to work.”