Thursday, April 28, 2016

Focusing on one sport ups a teen’s risk of injury

Naim Suleymanoglu in action

I have a mixed reaction to the article below. While I cannot and do not wish to disagree with the data presented below, I think we have to step back and put it all into perspective. No doubt, pushing kids into specializing in just one sport too early could lead to chronic overuse type injuries and inhibit overall athletic development. Many collegiate coaches here in the United States, Urban Meyer of Ohio State is one, have said they would rather recruit multi-sport athletes. On the other hand I remember when Angel Spassov, a Bulgarian coach, who toured the U.S. several years ago telling the story of a young Naim Suleimanov, later to become Naim Suleymanoglu, who was trained in the Bulgarian weightlifting system. Spassov said that when he was being trained as a lifter in the 60's that they included wrestling, table tennis, and a number of other sports in their training. He said that all Naim did was lift, as that is what the Bulgarian system of training evolved into. He said that while he could beat Naim in wrestling and about any other sport, he could barely back squat Naim's best Snatch. No doubt a young athlete will benefit greatly from participation in a wide variety of activities. But there comes a time when commitment to a single sport is necessary if the highest results are desired. I suppose the timing of the start of specialization would depend a great deal on the specific sports involved.

Focusing on one sport ups a teen’s risk of injury

“Fun is the number one reason kids play sports,” says David Bell. “And lack of fun is the number one reason kids quit.” Nothing takes the fun out of sports faster than an injury. That’s why Bell, an athletic trainer, conducted a new study to figure out why kids get hurt playing sports. And specializing in a single sport is a key risk factor, he and his team now find.

Their data are among the first to show such a link. And they'll share their findings soon in an upcoming issue of The American Journal of Sports Medicine.

Bell and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin–Madison surveyed more than 300 high-school athletes about the sports they took part in and any past sports injuries.

To probe how specialized these athletes were, the researchers asked if they had ever quit other sports to focus on just one. One question also asked if the students had spent more than eight months a year training for a single sport. Finally, the researchers questioned the teens about whether they thought their primary sport (whatever it was) was more important than others.

The researchers classified any athlete who answered yes to all three questions as highly specialized. Saying yes to two questions earned an athlete a rating as moderately specialized. Kids who answered yes to one or none were deemed  low-specialty athletes.

Fewer than a third of the students (30 percent) said they played just one sport. Yet more than a third (36 percent) still fell into the highly specialized group. That surprised Bell’s team. And, importantly, highly specialized athletes were more likely to have had a knee or hip injury than were kids in the other groups. Students with no injuries were most likely to be in the low-specialization group.

Sorting out the details
Students who played one sport were no more or less likely to have experienced a sports injury than those who played more than one. Some people consider anyone who plays a single sport to be a specialist. But this study showed that kids who play more than one sport also can be specialized. It also showed that how specialized someone was — not the number of sports played — upped his risk of injury.

“We found that kids might be more specialized than they actually think,” Bell says. That’s an important conclusion, he adds. Indeed, he notes that kids, parents and coaches might all be underestimating the risk of injury.

“This article confirms that early specialization in one sport leads to a higher incidence of overuse injuries,” says Marc Hilgers. A sports-medicine doctor with Advocate Dreyer in Batavia, Ill., he was not involved in the study.

Bell’s team is now hoping to learn more about sports specialization in student athletes. They already have completed one study of more than 2,000 athletes who were 12 to 18 years old. Their findings are due to be published soon and could provide important data on how common specialization in teen sports is. The researchers also plan to study how the amount of time athletes spend playing a sport relates to their risk of injury.

The goal is to help parents and young athletes better understand how to limit that risk. Says Bell, “We want people to have as much information as possible so kids can participate in sports as safely as possible.”

Maybe we should all play more chess.

Didn't get here by playing Soccer!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Tommy Kono R.I.P.

Tommy in a familiar place, on top of the victory podium.

To regular readers of our site, Tommy Kono is no stranger. We have featured and mentioned him many times over the years. He is one of the greatest lifters of all-time, a humble gentleman, and a great example of dealing with adversity. There is so much that I could write and still not do justice to his accomplishments. It was my privilege to meet and talk with him several times His early articles "The ABC's of Weightlifting" which appeared in Strength and Health Magazine in the late 60's and early 70's inspired and tutored a generation of lifters, myself included. He coached lifters in several nations including Germany and Mexico as well as the United States. Tommy passed away yesterday in Hawaii. Below is a bare bones outline of some of his accomplishments. I encourage you to read his two books on Weightlifting.
At the bottom is a piece he wrote on respect in the weight room.

Tamio "Tommy" Kono (June 27, 1930 – April 24, 2016) was a U.S. weightlifter in the 1950s and 1960s. Kono is the only Olympic weightlifter in history to have set world records in four different weight classes:[1] lightweight (149 pounds or 67.5 kilograms), middleweight (165 lb or 75 kg), light-heavyweight (182 lb or 82.5 kg), and middle-heavyweight (198 lb or 90 kg).[2]
Early life
Of Japanese descent, Kono was born in Sacramento, California, on June 27, 1930. Kono's family was relocated to Tule Lake internment camp during World War II. Tule lake camp was in a very isolated area in the desert in northern California.

Sickly as a child, the desert air helped Kono's asthma. It was during the relocation that Kono was introduced to weightlifting by neighbors including the late Noboru "Dave" Shimoda, a member of the Tule Lake weight lifting and bodybuilding club and brother of actor Yuki Shimoda and his friends, Gotoh, Toda, and Bob Nakanishi. After 3½ years they were released and Kono finished high school at Sacramento High.

Olympic weightlifting/bodybuilding career
Kono was a gold medalist at both the 1952 Summer Olympics and 1956 Summer Olympics, and a silver medalist at the 1960 Summer Olympics. Kono won the World Weightlifting Championships six consecutive times from 1953 to 1959, and set a total of 21 world records. Kono is also a three-time Pan American Games champion in 1955, 1959, and 1963.

In 1976, Kono was head coach of the United States' Olympic weightlifting team in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.

Kono was also a successful Bodybuilder, winning the Iron Man Mr. World title in 1954.

In the 1970s Kono moved to Hawaii, where he has lived ever since. On his home visits he holds workshops in weightlifting.

In 1993 Kono was elected to the International Weightlifting Federation Hall of Fame.  Kono is also an inductee to the Association of Oldetime Barbell and Strongmen (A.O.B.S.) Hall of Fame.

Kono died on April 24, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii from complications of liver disease, aged 85.

Achievements and titles
World finals       
1953 gold medal
1954 gold medal
1955 gold medal
1957 gold medal
1958 gold medal
1959 gold medal
Olympic finals   
1952 gold medal
1956 gold medal
1960 silver medal

by Tommy Kono
 If I had my way, the weightlifting area would be treated like a "dojo" as the martial arts students would use their area and equipment for training.

The entire area would be treated with respect from the bar to the barbell plates, from the chalk box to the platform.  The barbell bars would never have the soles of a lifter's shoe get on it to move or spin it, no more than you would place your shoes on the table top. The bumper plates would never be tossed or stepped on.

The barbell will always be loaded with double bumper plates on each side whenever possible to preserve the bar and the platform. The purpose is to distribute the load over two bumper plates instead of one with an assortment of small iron plates.

The barbell lifted would never be "thrown" down or dropped from overhead except for safety reasons. The hands will guide the bar down in a controlled manner as it is in a contest.

Anger from a failed lift will be controlled so no four-lettered words would be used. Instead the energy for the anger will be directed for a positive result.

A good Olympic bar will never be used on a squat rack for squatting purpose. There is no need to use the good bar on the squat rack where it could ruin the knurling or cause the bar to be under undue stress, damaging the integrity of the quality of the bar that makes it straight and springy.

When a lifter finishes using the area for training, it would be left neat and clean with the barbell bars and plates properly stored.

Imagine how it would be if you did not have the gym to work out in and had to go to one of the spas, health clubs or fitness gym to practice Olympic lifting.

Imagine if you did not have a "good" Olympic bar and bumper plates for training.

Imagine if all the equipment was your very own and you had to replace it if you or someone damaged it by abuse - the money coming out of your own pocket.

Treat the Olympic barbell bars, bumper plates, platforms and any items used for training or competition with respect. Development of a strong character begins with respect even for innate objects. 

Character Building begins with Respect and Responsibility.

Tommy Kono.jpg
A recent picture

In physique competition

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Not Everybody Gets to Get Old

Doing a few pullups with the Marines.

It's true. If you are smart enough, tough enough, and with some luck, you will live long enough to get old. Physical decline is inevitable, but you can choose to either "wear out", or "rust out". If our focus is only the numbers, then the process can be discouraging and even depressing. I mean weights that I used to warm up with, feel heavy now. There are many lifting positions I can no longer hit without my knees, shoulders, or low back protesting. But, I persevere, and I am better for it. Paraphrasing Toby Keith,(if you don't know who Toby is, then you are culturally deprived and need to listen to more country music) "I am not as good as I once was", (Sorry Toby, but I'm not as good once, as I ever was either)But, I'm still better than I would otherwise be if I gave up. I no longer worry about the numbers I lift, but find joy in doing the movements.
Here are a few video segments that show some of the inspiring legends of my youth dealing with the aging process.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Pressing Revisited, Over Your Head

Quite awhile ago we posted a comment on over head lifting as opposed to bench pressing. We commented a little on the history of the bench press and the sport of powerlifting.Prior to the 60's when powerlifting began to grow into a competitive sport, "How much can you lift?" meant over head. Not, "What can you bench?" We made clear the benefits of over head lifting as compared to lying on your back, although bench pressing does have it's place. We just think that benching should not be the exclusive upper body exercise, nor even the main one. Having said that, there are several ways of pressing the bar overhead.
Seated presses are common with body builders. They allow isolation of the upper body. This can be good in some cases, such as injury or for a change of pace. (Although be aware that if you have lower back problems, seated pressing creates greater pressure on the lumbar discs than standing) We believe that standing is the best type of press for an athlete. Barbells or dumbells both have their plusses. While dumbells usually require a lighter total weight; I.E.; If your max press with a bar is 100 kg., it is unlikely that you could press 2- 50 kg. dumbells. Dumbells require more stabilization as they must be controlled from drifting in all directions, where as a bar only needs to be stabilized from front to back. Kind of like the difference between riding a bicycle and a unicycle.
In the early days of weightlifting competition the press was performed very strictly with little lean back. Thus the term Military press, meaning straight up as in attention. Over the years the competitive press evolved (deteriorated) into a much different lift. The lifter above is using a pretty extreme back bend, although others of the era were even more exagerated. Below is Norbert Schemnasky, one of the all-time greats whose career spanned several decades and 4 olympiads. His style was fairly strict. When using the press as a training tool there is no reason for excessive lean. Stay straight as possible and drive the bar in front of your face. As you cross your forehead, then drive it back over your ears to lock out driving your head forward under the bar. This style protects the lower back and maximizes shoulder and upper back strength. Indeed, in 1972 the Press was dropped from weightlifting competition as it became too difficult to judge because of the excessive back bend. Since then, lifting meets include only two lifts, the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. Even though it is no longer a competitive lift, pressing in it's various forms is still a very beneficial lift for athletes and anyone who wants to get stronger and look stronger. It is the best all-around shoulder exercise in my opinion.

                               Oliver Whaley pressing 100 lb. Dumbells for 28 reps

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Motivating the Modern Athlete

The best athletes to work with bring their motivation with them.

Below is a very interesting article on motivation. There is no doubt that times have changed and young athletes respond differently and have different goals and aspirations than my generation did. While I can't vouch for the exact breakdown of data the author presents here, I can say that I am in basic agreement with his interpretations. The servant-leader model has always generated the most dedicated responses. I believe that young people are looking for guidance and inspiration as much as ever and a great coach will learn how to supply it in way that is understood and appreciated. I also agree that parents and their role in the process has changed the most over the decades. Intrinsic motivation has always been more powerful than extrinsic rewards or punishments. I'm not sure we can really improve intrinsic motivation for an athlete, but I do know that athletes who bring motivation with them are a joy to coach.

Motivating the Modern Athlete
By: Dr. Marty Durden, Athletic Director - Presbyterian School - Houston, TX

Today's athlete is different from years past. The much-publicized generation Y student-athletes (1980's-1999) have moved through college. Generation Z is presently being recruited to college, are members of high school teams, and number 23 million. These young people are easily bored, are socially connected to their peers, proficient in technology, and desire to be challenged by their teachers. Much about this group remains unknown and will emerge as their generation enters adulthood.

Coaches generally agree that athletes' perceptions of authority have changed in past decades. Years ago the coach was viewed as an authoritarian figure akin to a military leader. Paul "Bear" Bryant and Bobby Knight were able to achieve a high level of success based upon strict discipline and demanding leadership. The modern athlete seems averse to this style of coaching. Generation Z athletes desire much less direction from coaches and have access to the answers online. (Wiedmer, 2015) The culture of athletics continues to change and influences the perceptions that modern athletes have toward competitive athletics, teammates and coaches.

In years past we described the dynamics of coaching as a coach-player relationship. Today we have a "triangular relationship" consisting of coach, player and parent. (Craig, 1994)In a 2010 conference with Bobby Bowden, he responded to the question, "Coach have kids changed? "His answer was, "Kids have not changed as much as parents." (Bowden, 2009) In this changing environment, how does the coach retain his/her influence and relevance? Do coaches need to compromise their core beliefs to be effective in our present world?

In this modern sport climate, the concept of servant-leader coaching remains a relevant model for the contemporary coach. Evidence supports the notion that ethical core values have a significant positive effect on player motivation. Coaches still possess unique standing in our society and are widely viewed with respect. During these changing times, it is important that coaches retain this ethical sense of leading the young people of our nation. Coaches are positive influences in society when their leadership style is based on core values.

I undertook a study to gauge the effectiveness of servant-leadership coaching on the motivational level of high school athletes. The test group was comprised of 302 high school basketball players who were participating in summer camp. The sample contained an equal number of girls and boys. The assessment instrument was a simple survey administered to each of the athletes during summer camp. The survey was designed to determine what coaching traits served to motivate the athletes best. The study was an effort to determine a causal link between servant leadership behaviors and increased player motivation. The seven traits surveyed were: (listed alphabetically)

• Altruism - Giving to others with no motive to gain something in return; kindness.

• Empowering Others - Developing/mentoring others; teaching you how to play the game of basketball.

• Humility - Focusing on other people rather than oneself; meekness.

• Love - Placing unconditional value upon the individual as a person and not what he/she offers to enable the coach to win more games; maternal/paternal affection.

• Service - Willing to assist others; helpfulness.

• Trust - Demonstrating confidence in others to succeed; keeping promises.

• Vision for the Followers - Helping team members to imagine their potential to succeed; helping others to establish goals.

Results of the survey indicate the coaching trait that provides the greatest motivational value is trust (35%). Love (16%), empowering (15%), and vision (13%) form the second tier of motivational power. Service (7%), altruism (6%) and humility (6%) possess the least motivational value. (Durden, 2016)

An interesting conclusion from this study is that young people are motivated by people who they trust, who demonstrate love toward them, and who see their worth and seek to develop them. It comes as no surprise that trust and love remain timeless virtues in the modern world. It is an affirmation of servant-leadership to discover how research confirms that authentic core values are cross-generational constructs that remain relevant motivators for coaching the modern athlete. Servant leadership coaching in the modern sport culture of America remains a viable and compelling style that is proven as an effective tool to motivate athletes.

Works Cited

Bowden, B. (2009 February). FSU Football Coach. (M. Durden, Interviewer) St. Simons Island, Georgia, USA.

Chase, M., • Hammermeister, Jon. (2008). Servant leadership in sport: A new paradigm for effective coach behavior. Physical Education, Health and Recreation Faculty Publications. Paper 3.

Craig, S. C. (1994). Parents and coaches: Expectations, attitudes and communication. Physical Educator, 51 (3), 130-138.

Durden, M. (2016, March 18). The Resultant Motivational Affects of Servant Leadership Coaching on High School Basketball Players , 1-86. Daphne, AL, USA: ProQuest Dissertations.

Wiedmer, T. (2015). Generations Do Differ: Best Practices in Leading Traditionalists, Boomers, and Generations X, Y, and Z. Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 82 (1), 51-58.

Marty Durden - mdurden@pshouston.org - www.linkedin.com/pubmarty-durden

Marty Durden is a career coach who has obtained a unique professional standing as his teams have won multiple state championships in four different sports. Durden's teams have captured state titles in basketball (1980), baseball (1995), golf (2010-2011), and football (1983, 1987, 1988, 1989) over the span of five decades.

Durden espouses the philosophy of DzA Higher Standard than Winningdz that emphasizes effort, teamwork, and improvement above results. He teaches that success is the result of concentrated effort that precedes athletic accomplishments. Durden teaches that servant leadership is the most effective form of leadership for athletic coaches in modern society. Durden conducts research to validate the effectiveness of coaching leadership behaviors as they influence player motivation.

Marty is a lifelong advocate of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and has taught Sunday school to young people for 30 plus years. He founded the West Central Georgia FCA Chapter and has hosted numerous FCA camps, clinics and events. He currently serves as Athletic Director for Presbyterian School in Houston, Texas.

Marty is married to Diane. The Durdens have two sons, Chip and Tyler.

It's great to be able to coach athletes who know what they want from it.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Be Like Water

This was contributed by Leif Arrhenius, a world class throwing athlete, awhile ago and is worth repeating. Bruce Lee's influence on modern day training is not given as much credit as he deserves in my opinion. He is a legend for the ages, the likes of which we may never see again.
Bruce Lee has always been one of my hero's growing up. I have seen all of his films multiple times and even made a pilgrimage to his grave this year. I just wanted to share one of my favorite quotes of his and also post this video of an interview of his. I believe that his words not only apply to martial arts but can be used in all forms of life including athletics. Be like water my friends...

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Global obesity is pushing the world to a 'crisis point'

No obesity concerns here!

This is serious stuff, in my opinion. It's ironic that there are many in the world today (even in "developed" countries) who struggle to get sufficient food and nutrition, while others biggest challenge is controlling intake so that they don't get too much. In too many cases it is poverty on both ends of the spectrum. Obesity is no longer just a product of prosperity. Many low income families tend to choose the cheaper, calorie dense but nutritionally deficient foods which all but insures obesity struggles. Most of us are not in the position to change the world, but we can take care of ourselves and do our part to make the best choices possible.

For the first time, the world has more obese people than underweight, a new report says. The change presents health challenges for the two fattest countries — China and the U.S. — and threatens to divert resources from countries where low body weight remains a problem, the BBC says.

Reporting on the study published April 2 in The Lancet, the BBC said the number of obese people had risen from 105 million in 1975 to 641 million in 2014, creating a global "crisis point," according to lead researcher Majid Ezzati, a professor in the School of Public Health at Imperial College London.

If trends continue, a fifth of the world's population will be obese by 2025, researchers said.

"Global obesity prevalence will reach 18 percent in men and surpass 21 percent in women; severe obesity will surpass 6 percent in men and 9 percent in women. Nonetheless, underweight remains prevalent in the world's poorest regions, especially in south Asia," the report said.

The World Health Organization blames increased consumption of high-fat, energy-dense foods, coupled with inactivity caused by modern lifestyles, for the rise in obesity.

The number of underweight people has also increased, from 330 million to 462 million.

But calculated as a percentage of the population, underweight rates declined, from 14 percent to 9 percent in men, and from 15 percent to 10 percent in women, the BBC reported. "Being underweight remains a significant health problem in countries such as India and Bangladesh," the news service said.

Moreover, the obesity epidemic threatens to eclipse the health issues associated with the underweight and malnourished and create "a fatter, healthier, but more unequal world," wrote epidemiologist George Davey Smith of the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol, in an accompanying commentary in The Lancet.

"A focus on obesity at the expense of recognition of the substantial remaining burden of under-nutrition threatens to divert resources away from disorders that affect the poor to those that are more likely to affect the wealthier in low-income countries," Smith said.

Researchers at Imperial College London analyzed the body mass index of nearly 20 million adults in 186 countries and found that obesity in men tripled between 1975 and 2014. In women, obesity doubled.

China has the most obese people: 43.2 million men and 46.4 million women.

The U.S. is not far behind, with 41.7 million obese men and 46.1 million obese women, the BBC said.

But as a percentage of the population, more Americans are obese than Chinese, since China's population exceeds 1.3 billion compared to nearly 324 million in the U.S.

The lead researcher said governments must set policies to help reverse the trend.

"We hope these findings create an imperative to shift responsibility from the individual to governments and to develop and implement policies to address obesity," Ezzati told the BBC. "For instance, unless we make healthy food options like fresh fruits and vegetables affordable for everyone and increase the price of unhealthy processed foods, the situation is unlikely to change."

EMAIL: Jgraham@deseretnews.com

TWITTER: @grahamtoday
Or here!
Habits are best developed at a young age.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Edge, Not a Secret

The "edge" is in understanding and applying basic principles. There are no real secrets.

I found this awhile ago. Can't remember where it came from, but I liked it and saved it.
"I know many of you are seeking the edge in training. For many years I was doing the same. I was searching for secrets, the latest and the greatest, something special, that one or two percent that would make the difference. The more I searched the more elusive it became. Finally I realized I had the answer right in front of me, I could not see the forest for the trees. I had seen it time and again and missed it, in fact I had done it and rejected it several times as unsophisticated, too simple. So what is the edge, it is mindful deliberate practice that never strays from the foundations of physical literacy and the fundamentals of the sport. The problem is that to constantly stress fundamentals seems mundane. It is the fundamentals that make the difference between staying injury free and getting injured, it is the fundamentals that are the foundation, the fundamentals must be constantly reinforced. I find that as a coach I must coach the fundamentals daily, the outstanding coaches that I have seen do the same. I now feel with a high degree of certainty that the search for the 2% is almost an exercise in futility and that final 2% will come if I take care of the first 98%. This is not to imply that you should stop learning and experimenting, by all means keep learning and refining in order to keep the edge razor sharp. It takes time and correct timing of the application of all elements of training. Take another look at your training, stop looking for an edge, coach the basics and keep learning. You will be surprised at the results."I couldn't agree more. The "secret" is in understanding and staying with the basics.