Thursday, May 25, 2017

High School Athletes Need More Strength and Less Skill

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Weight training has become essential in American Football preparation.

A great article that makes the point that strength is the foundation of most sport skills. While the overused adage that "all things being equal, the stronger athletes will win" is faulty; all things are never equal and greater strength is not the determining factor in many contests. It is still true however, that greater strength allows for better skill development and execution. There is now such thing as "Too strong" and many of our youth are not strong enough to safely learn and execute many athletic skills. A solid foundation of strength will benefit any young athlete.

High School Athletes Need More Strength and Less Skill
I’ve just completed my 4th year as an athletic trainer at a pretty large high school and my eyes have been opened to the sports specialization problem with high school athletes.

I work as an athletic trainer at a school with over 2,000 students and 600-700 of them are student athletes. My guesstimation would be that around 50 percent of those athletes are also single-sport athletes. Many of these high school athletes playing year round on a travel or club team of some sort.

The ultimate goal for these athletes? College scholarships. Most of them yearn more for that first “O” (offer) than they do to pass their math class. Many of these athletes are specializing before they get to high school. That is a controversial topic that many have talked about before.

Check out these articles if you want to read more on the faults of early sports specialization.

Injury Rates Higher For Athletes Who Specialize In One Sport-NFHS.org
Early Sports Specialization: Roots, Effectiveness, Risks
Early Sports Specialization vs. Diversification In Youth Athletics-NSCA
My goal is to discuss the biggest trend I see in high school athletes, the lack of physical or strength training.

These athletes are often encouraged by their coaches to focus on skill training over their physical development and specifically strength.

Much of the time spent in the high school offseason is spent playing in a tournament every weekend or practicing with their “skills coach”.

High school athletes would see greater athletic development if they took some time to focus on strength over skill.

Why Do High School Athletes Need More Strength?
Before going into why high school athletes need more strength, you need to understand the definition of strength. Strength is the ability to withstand and exert force. Later on you will understand why I include both the words withstand and exert into the definition.

Strength Is The Basis Of All Athletic Qualities.
Want to be a better athlete? Get STRONGER!

Want to get faster? Get STRONGER!

Want to throw harder? Get STRONGER!

Want to jump higher? Get STRONGER!

Beginning to see a trend there?

Too many high school athletes focus on skill development and neglect their physical development. And the early bloomer who dominated in middle school wonders why everybody is catching up.

Strength Allows For Greater Expression Of Skill
Think about the baseball player with the sweet swing but has warning track power?

Or the volleyball player with proper swing mechanics but can’t get high enough to hit the ball over the block?

What is the common denominator that could help them take their game to the next level?

Strength. Getting strong will allow an athlete to hit the ball farther, jump higher, swing harder, or run faster.

Neglecting strength leaves a lot of athletic potential on the table.

A Stronger Athletes Is A More Resilient Athlete
“If you’re in the tub, you can’t make the club.”

This is a saying one of our older coaches at Dacula uses to stress the importance of athletes taking care of themselves.

The underlying meaning could also be interpreted as, “if you’re always hurt, you can’t play.”

A common thread in most injured athletes??? They aren’t very strong. Their bodies are not able to handle the loads that they are having to withstand in sports.

Take a look at soccer and their injury rates. One study showed an injury rate of 6.2 per 100 participation hours, one of the highest rates of injury across all sports. Guess who often neglects strength and loves skill work?

Strength makes an athlete more resilient. They are able to handle higher loads and speeds.

Sports activities (sprinting, jumping, cutting, etc.) use a percentage of an athletes absolute strength. Submaximal is another term to describe the nature of sport activities.

Greater strength levels leads to a decrease in the percentage of absolute strength that is used within a movement. Getting stronger creates a bigger buffer or gap between the sport movement and the athlete’s max ability.

The greater the buffer the “easier” the movement becomes for the athlete. By lowering the relative intensity of sports activities, the more volume the athlete can handle before injury occurs.

Most athletes, and especially high school athletes, would benefit from more strength compared to skill work. Want to be faster? Throw harder? Jump higher? Get stronger. Want to prevent injury? Get stronger. This is something that everyone in high school athletics needs to learn. Please share this with high school athletes, their parents, and their coaches.

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Volleyball and other sports train for strength and power as well.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Too Many Organs or Not Enough Drugs

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Good Health throughout the life span does not have to be complex or expensive.

It seems that hardly a week goes by without some sort of report supporting what we already know well. Exercise and good nutrition is the most effective and cheapest way to stay healthy and enjoy life. I saw this article in USA TODAY. I am not against modern medicine, qualified doctors do amazing things to save lives. But the saying " If the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail." comes to mind. As a local Native practitioner (medicine man) once told me, "Doctors in the clinic tell us that the reason we are sick is that we either have too many organs, or not enough drugs." "They either give us another bottle of pills or remove an organ." No doubt there are times and circumstances when that is the only alternative, I have seen much good come from alternative approaches in some cases. As far as" bang for the buck" you can't beat exercise and eating right for prevention and even treatment of most health problems.

BOSTON – Genetic researchers say they are getting closer to developing new drugs to help older people age well.

But two tested methods — exercise and good nutrition — continue to get the biggest kudos from aging experts for improving health and quality of life at the 64th annual Gerontological Society of America conference.
That's all good news on the heels of Census data showing the number of Americans living to age 90 and beyond has tripled in the past three decades to almost 2 million and is likely to quadruple by 2050. Staying healthy will allow them to remain independent and at home.
"It might never be too late to change life-long habits," says Dennis Villareal, an adjunct associate professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
A study by Villareal, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in March, found diet and exercise together improved physical performance by 21% in obese older adults. A lack of mobility in older obese adults puts them at greater risk for developing high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.
Exercise, combined with a diet high in fruits and vegetables, fish and healthy fats, over the lifespan has shown to decrease odds of developing diseases of aging, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Marco Pahor, director of the University of Florida's Institute on Aging, warns that researchers also must find out if sedentary people can safely start exercise. "Could there be a cardiovascular risk?" he asks.
Pahor is trying to find out. He is overseeing a $60 million study looking at long-term effects of structured physical activity on major mobility disability. His investigators examine the effects of physical activity on cognitive function, serious fall injuries, disability in daily living, cardiovascular events and admission to hospitals and nursing homes.
The study follows a pilot program that was the first intervention study showing risk factors for disability, such as loss of muscle mass, can be modified.
Millions of dollars are also being spent on genetic research. "Possibly within five years, if clinical trials in process work, there will be drugs on the market that can treat chronic diseases of aging,' says David Sinclair, a researcher at Harvard Medical School's department of genetics.
What doesn't make us live longer? Most hormone therapies are too dangerous, experts say. Plus, anything that promises to make you live to be 120-150 years old.
"It's quackery and causes financial and physical harm," says Tom Perls, director of the New England Centenarian Study.

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Prevention is always the best medicine.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Dr. Squat R.I.P.

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The Iron Game lost another legend last week. Fred Hatfield, universally known as Dr. Squat, passed on last Sunday. He was an amazing combination of physical and intellectual ability and by all accounts a great person as well. I never had the opportunity to meet him personally, but I have read hundreds of his articles and several of his books. He influenced my training and coaching a great deal. So far as I can tell, he coined the term "compensatory acceleration" which basically means move the bar as fast as possible. He was a promoter of POWER, (even writing a book by that title which I still have on my bookshelf) meaning increasing the rate of force development and shifting the force velocity curve. This really influenced me in my early years. He was an amazing lifter who started as a weightlifter under the legendary coach Joe Mills, then became a powerlifting legend after he squatted 1014 lb. at a bodyweight of under 250 lb. He was 45 years old at the time, had earned a Phd,and was a university professor. Hence the name, Dr. Squat. He was a living example of scholarship translated into performance.

Below is a short bio I got off of Wikipedia:

Frederick C. Hatfield (October 21, 1942 – May 14, 2017), nicknamed Dr. Squat, was an American world champion powerlifter and PhD holder in sports sciences and gaming.[3] He was also the co-founder and president of the International Sports Sciences Association,[4] an organization of fitness experts which certifies personal fitness trainers from around the world. He went on to make the ICOPRO bodybuilding protein and supplements for Vince McMahon's World Bodybuilding Federation and even after the promotion folded, Vince continued to market the product until 1995.
Hatfield was born in Williamstown, Massachusetts in 1942.[3] He was raised in a Connecticut orphanage until 1961, when he graduated from Cromwell High School. He served in the United States Marine Corps until 1964, when he enrolled in Southern Connecticut State University.
Upon graduating, Hatfield earned his Bachelor of Science degree in health, physical education and recreation.[3] He then attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he earned his Master's degree in the social sciences of sport. He went on to earn his PhD in psychology, sociology and motor learning from Temple University in Philadelphia.
Hatfield held positions at Newark State College, Bowie State University, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He taught undergraduate students, and conducted research in sport psychology. He has written over 60 books, some of them best-sellers.[5]
As a powerlifter, Hatfield won 2 IPF World Powerlifting Championships titles in 1983 and 1986.[4] At the age of 45, he set a squat world record by lifting 1014 pounds in the 100 kg weight class, becoming the first person to squat more than 1000lbs.[5]
Personal Records[6]
Squat     1014 pounds
Bench    523 pounds
Deadlift 766 pounds
Snatch   275 pounds

Clean and Jerk    369 pounds
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In his later years.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Kids' inactivity rises, creating 'health care time bomb'

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Active children will be healthier children.

Another article about children and activity. As we debate as a nation on health care, we need to realize that the best investment we can make is in the area of  promoting healthy habits. What a difference this could make in the prevention of so many of our health related problems.

Kids' inactivity rises, creating 'health care time bomb'

The percent of children aged six to 12 who were physically active three or more times a week had its biggest drop in five years and is now under 25%, new data show.

Making matters worse, households with incomes under $50,000 have much higher rates of inactivity than families making more than $75,000 annually, an analysis by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association and PHIT America found. In fact, low income Americans are getting more inactive while high income Americans are becoming more active.

The level of inactivity increased from about 33% in 2012 to nearly 37% in 2016 for families making less than $50,000 per year. Meanwhile, inactivity levels for those earning more than $75,000 dropped from 22% to nearly 19%.

"This is very concerning at several levels (with) long term implications for societal costs, including health care, but in my view it’s basically a moral issue," says Tom Cove, CEO of the Sports and Fitness Industry Association. "There is no reason lower income people in America should be more inactive than others."

Jim Baugh, a former president of Wilson Sporting Goods and founder of the non profit PHIT America, analyzes the Physical Activity Council's data every year to glean the trends beyond team sports. The increase in inactivity among young people is what he calls the "healthcare time bomb."

Children who have physical education (PE) in school are two to three times more likely to be active outside of school, Baugh found.

"PE is the grassroots program for all activity in America," Baugh says. "It's the real solution to the healthcare crisis."

Former National Football League players Herschel Walker and Roman Oben were doing their part recently on Capitol Hill to lobby for legislation that would give adults and children a financial incentive to be more active. The Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act would allow the use of  “Pre-Tax Medical Accounts” to pay for physical activity expenses for adults or children.

Walker, 55, won the Heisman Trophy as college football’s best player in 1982 and was a member of the 1992 Winter Olympics two-man bobsled team. Oben, 44, played offensive tackle 11 seasons for four NFL teams, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who won Super Bowl XXXVII.

Walker is now a business owner, whose holding include chicken processing plants. Oben is the NFL’s Director of Youth and High School Football.  They agreed to answer questions about diet and fitness, especially for young people.

Q: When should young people start trying to get healthy?

Walker: I started in high school doing 750 pushups and 2,000 sit-ups a day. I didn’t bother with the weights. I still don’t. So I’d say start as early as you can.

Oben: Playing football (in high school and college), you go through training from an early age. You don’t go through all that hard work to make poor health decisions later in life. So health decisions are a habit you get into. Good habits are important.

Q: How do you stay fit?

Walker: I expect this is different from what you will normally hear, but this is me: I eat one full meal a day, usually just at dinner time. I may have some soup, salad and bread, and that just works for me, along with my pushups and sit-ups. I’ve been doing this for a long time and no complaints.

Oben: I played (in the NFL) at about 305 pounds. I am about 6’4”. I try to watch what I eat, and if there’s something I want that I know may not be good I look for a healthy substitute. And I try to ride the exercise bike for about half an hour each day. That burns calories and helps the heart rate. But it’s tough. I’m at about 280 now. I’m trying to get down to my “prom weight.”

Q: How should a young person choose the best approach?

Walker: You have to find what’s best and works for you. Everybody, and every body, is different. So you may have to experiment. For instance, I’m always interested in finding alternatives to red meat.  You can really do a lot with chicken, if you don't get stuck on having it one way, like fried, all the time. There are plenty of alternatives to candy, like fruit. So always keep your eyes open for healthy options.

Oben: You’d be surprised what you can do in everyday life that will help you stay active and get fitter or stay fit. You can walk to the store instead of driving. Bike for a longer distance instead of a car. If you see a game of pickup basketball, you can jump in. It may surprise the younger players, but they’re gonna say, ‘Oh, okay, man, go ahead.’

Q: Any tips that might surprise high school students looking to get fit or stay in shape?

Walker: Sleep is very important and often overlooked. It keeps me sharp.

Oben: Eight hours of sleep a night is my goal. I find that that keeps my mind clear throughout the day, helps me focus, get done what needs doing. It may take some discipline, especially when you are young. But here’s a tip: turn your phone off! Give your mind a break.

Q: How should young people reach and maintain their best weight?

Walker: The best resources for high school students are everywhere. Doing anything other than sitting around is better for your body. I know sometimes it may be hard to find healthy food choices for a reasonable price, but getting some exercise like playing a sport with your friends will help you get to the weight you want.

Oben: I say the best resource is their schools. They are in schools most of the day and some students get two of their meals there, so trying to (get) their schools to have healthier food options to eat and trying to get physical education back in the high school setting will help them maintain and reach the weight they want.

Mitchell is a fellow with the Urban Health Media Project, which O'Donnell co-founded.

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All children can benefit from strength training.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Why is sleep so important?

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It takes quality sleep to lift like CJ
Below is another great explanation of why sleep is important and how to improve the quality of our sleep.

Why is sleep so important?
The quality of your sleep directly affects your mental and physical health and the quality of your waking life, including your productivity, emotional balance, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, and even your weight. No other activity delivers so many benefits with so little effort!
Sleep isn’t merely a time when your body shuts off. While you rest, your brain stays busy, overseeing biological maintenance that keeps your body running in top condition, preparing you for the day ahead. Without enough hours of restorative sleep, you won’t be able to work, learn, create, and communicate at a level even close to your true potential. Regularly skimp on “service” and you’re headed for a major mental and physical breakdown.
The good news is that you don't have to choose between health and productivity. As you start getting the sleep you need, your energy, efficiency, and overall health will go up. In fact, you're likely to find that you actually get more done during the day than when you were skimping on shuteye and trying to work longer.
Myths and Facts about Sleep
Myth: Getting just one hour less sleep per night won’t affect your daytime functioning.
Fact: You may not be noticeably sleepy during the day, but losing even one hour of sleep can affect your ability to think properly and respond quickly. It also compromises your cardiovascular health, energy balance, and ability to fight infections.
Myth: Your body adjusts quickly to different sleep schedules.
Fact: Most people can reset their biological clock, but only by appropriately timed cues—and even then, by one or two hours per day at best. Consequently, it can take more than a week to adjust after traveling across several time zones or switching to the night shift.
Myth: Extra sleep at night can cure you of problems with excessive daytime fatigue.
Fact: The quantity of sleep you get is important, sure, but it's the quality of your sleep that you really have to pay attention to. Some people sleep eight or nine hours a night but don’t feel well rested when they wake up because the quality of their sleep is poor.
Myth: You can make up for lost sleep during the week by sleeping more on the weekends.
Fact: Although this sleeping pattern will help relieve part of a sleep debt, it will not completely make up for the lack of sleep. Furthermore, sleeping later on the weekends can affect your sleep-wake cycle so that it is much harder to go to sleep at the right time on Sunday nights and get up early on Monday mornings.
Source: Your Guide to Healthy Sleep, The National Institutes of Health
How many hours of sleep do you need?
There is a big difference between the amount of sleep you can get by on and the amount you need to function optimally. According to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult sleeps less than seven hours per night. In today’s fast-paced society, six or seven hours of sleep may sound pretty good. In reality, though, it’s a recipe for chronic sleep deprivation.
Just because you're able to operate on six or seven hours of sleep doesn't mean you wouldn't feel a lot better and get more done if you spent an extra hour or two in bed.
While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most healthy adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best. Children and teens need even more (see Average Sleep Needs table below). And despite the notion that our sleep needs decrease with age, most older people still need at least 7 hours of sleep. Since older adults often have trouble sleeping this long at night, daytime naps can help fill in the gap.

Average Sleep Needs by Age

Age                                              Hours Needed                                     May be appropriate
Newborn to 3 months old             14 - 17 hrs                                            11 - 19 hrs
4 to 11 months old                         12 - 15 hrs                                          10 - 18 hrs
1 to 2 years old                             11 - 14 hrs                                            9 - 16 hrs
3 to 5 years old                             10 - 13 hrs                                            8 - 14 hrs
6 to 13 years old                            9 - 11 hrs                                             7 - 12 hrs
14 to 17 years old                          8 - 10 hrs                                             7 - 11 hrs
Young adults (18 to 25 years old) 7 - 9 hrs                                               6 - 11 hrs
Adults (26 to 64 years old)             7 - 9 hrs                                             6 - 10 hrs
Older adults (65+)                          7 - 8 hrs                                             5 - 9 hrs

Source: National Sleep Foundation

The best way to figure out if you're meeting your sleep needs is to evaluate how you feel as you go about your day. If you're logging enough sleep hours, you'll feel energetic and alert all day long, from the moment you wake up until your regular bedtime.
Think six hours of sleep is enough?
Think again. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, discovered that some people have a gene that enables them to do well on six hours of sleep a night. This gene, however, is very rare, appearing in less than 3% of the population. For the other 97% of us, six hours doesn’t come close to cutting it.
The importance of deep sleep and REM sleep
It's not just the number of hours you spend asleep that's important—it's the quality of those hours. If you give yourself plenty of time for sleep but still have trouble waking up in the morning or staying alert all day, you may not be spending enough time in the different stages of sleep.
Each stage of sleep in your sleep cycle offers different benefits. However, deep sleep (the time when the body repairs itself and builds up energy for the day ahead) and mind and mood-boosting REM sleep  are particularly important. You can ensure you get more deep sleep by avoiding alcohol, nicotine, and being woken during the night by noise or light. While improving your overall sleep will increase REM sleep, you can also try sleeping an extra 30 minutes to an hour in the morning, when REM sleep stages are longer. See The Biology of Sleep to learn more.
Signs that you’re not getting enough sleep
If you’re getting less than eight hours of sleep each night, chances are you’re sleep deprived. What’s more, you probably have no idea just how much lack of sleep is affecting you.
How is it possible to be sleep deprived without knowing it? Most of the signs of sleep deprivation are much more subtle than falling face first into your dinner plate. Furthermore, if you’ve made a habit of skimping on sleep, you may not even remember what it feels like to be truly wide-awake, fully alert, and firing on all cylinders. Maybe it feels normal to get sleepy when you’re in a boring meeting, struggling through the afternoon slump, or dozing off after dinner, but the truth is that it’s only “normal” if you’re sleep deprived.
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Morgan King eats well and gets great sleep

Monday, May 8, 2017

Speaking of Brains....

In the last post we presented an article that supported the fact that resistance training can facilitate brain function. The episode posted below however makes me wonder if some strength coaches even have a functioning brain. Please know, I am not against hard work, nor am I singling out any particular coach or program. It is the general attitude that seems to exist among many coaches associated with football. I played football for ten years up to the Div. I level and coached it for 23 years.I understand the need for mental toughness and team chemistry that comes from a mutual investment into doing hard things. But I also learned early on that hard work is never a substitute for smart work. I guess this comes from also having a track backround where success is measured objectively by a tape. Hard work and smart work are not mutually exclusive. You can have both. But really, what is the point of 100 squats with 240 lb. for a football player? The current state of the college game calls for a player to be on the field for 40-60 snaps that require a maximal effort for 4-6 seconds, interspersed with 30 seconds or longer breaks in between. When it is January and the first games will not be until late August at the earliest, why wouldn't we working on quality strength, power, and speed work now? What is the point of all of this over-the-top work capacity conditioning? Obviously this program crossed the line here, but why are so many programs following a similar lemming-like tact?  Like Oregon as recently reported. Any clown can get an athlete tired and sore, it takes a real coach to make one better. If you are reading this post, you are likely a thrower or lifter who has learned to think for himself. Be grateful you are.
Twelve University of Iowa football players have been hospitalized because of a similar kidney ailment, a newspaper reported Tuesday.
The school disclosed the athletes were admitted to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics on Monday night but declined to release the players' names or why they are being treated. The university said the players are in stable and safe condition.
The dozen players were afflicted with exertional rhabdomyolysis, The Gazette of Cedar Rapids reported Tuesday night. According to the newspaper, the condition could affect the kidney’s ability to clear toxins from the body and could potentially cause permanent kidney failure.
All 12 players were doing fine, a source close to the situation told The Gazette.
It's unclear whether the condition stemmed from the players' recent particiation in lower-body drills that included a series of 100 squats followed by sled work, according to the newspaper.
(You don't think there could be a connection?)Such winter workouts for football are permissible under NCAA regulations.
School officials said it's not clear when the players will be discharged.
Athletic director Gary Barta said the next step is to find out what happened (
Duh! !100 Squats and sled work?)so it doesn't happen again.
“Coach Kirk Ferentz is out of town recruiting, but he is aware of the situation and is being kept abreast of the progress being made,” Gary Barta, Iowa's director of athletics, said in a statement. “Our No. 1 concern is the safety of our student-athletes, so we are pleased with the positive feedback. Our next step is to find out what happened so we can avoid this happening in the future.”

On Jan. 20, however, Shane DiBona talked about a staggering workout on Facebook: "I had to squat 240 pounds 100 times and it was timed. I can't walk and I fell down the stairs ... lifes (sic) great." (
The typical "It was hard, so it must be good for me" attitude)Also on Jan. 20, the Facebook page for former Des Moines Lincoln star Jordan Bernstine, an Iowa defensive back, reported: "Hands Down the hardest workout I've ever had in my life! I can't move!" (Did it make you better?)Iowa offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde told the Associated Press that Iowa coaches are concerned about the safety and well-being of players.
"They are nothing if not concerned for the health of the players," Vandervelde said. "That's always the first priority, health and development. I mean workouts are never used to punish.
"It's always about improvement, and workouts are always well within the capabilities of the athletes asked to perform them."
(Then why are 12 hospitalized?)Tom Moore, a university spokesman, said university officials were still attempting to ascertain the exact cause of the problem.
"The cause is not completely clear," Moore said, "but the faculty and staff are doing an excellent job taking care of these student-athletes. We are still working on why this happened."
(Hint, look at the workout!)Calls made to the Iowa sports information office and Barta on Tuesday afternoon weren't immediately returned. (Too busy trying figure out what happened?)

Work Hard and Work Smart! It's Never Too Early to Start!