Saturday, December 31, 2016

LaVell Edwards R.I.P.

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Coach Edwards about the time I first met him.

We've lost a lot of people in 2016. We were surprised to hear about the passing of Coach Edwards this week. We had not heard that he was having any major health problems, although I have since read that he was dealing with some issues. So much has been and will be written about Coach Edwards that I have nothing new to add. Only my witness that he really was a good person who tried to do the right things. When I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints back in 1974, he took part in that ordinance that changed my life forever.  I can also tell you that his full name is Reuben LaVell Edwards as that is the name on my baptismal certificate. Coach Edwards understood that it was never about him. He was all about giving responsibility and credit to those around him, which in turn made him great. He leaves behind a great posterity and a stadium with his name on it. Below are a few of the many stories and quotes about him.

5 reasons why LaVell Edwards was great
By Lafe Peavler@LafePeavler

LaVell Edwards was a giant among college football coaches.

His impact on the game of football at every level is astounding. His legacy on the gridiron will live on for generations to come. But most important of all, his impact for good on the people he associated with has changed the course of many lives and families and will continue to do so long after he's gone.

Here are five reasons why Edwards was great:

1. He put BYU on the map

Before Edwards came to Provo, BYU was a mediocre football program, at best. The Cougars had won just one conference championship, had never been to a bowl game and had an overall record of 173-235-23. BYU had just 14 winning seasons in the 50 years between 1922 and Edwards' debut in 1972.

Name one head football coach who inherited a program like this and the added challenge of being a religious school with a strict honor code and turned it into a national power. Most legendary head football coaches coached at programs that were already big names. Edwards took a small-time Utah school and elevated it to an astounding measure.

His record at BYU speaks for itself: 257 wins, 19 conference titles, 22 bowl games, 31 All-Americans, four Davey O'Brien Trophies, seven Sammy Baugh Trophies, two Outland Trophies, a Heisman Trophy and a national championship.

While other coaches may have better records or more trophies, nobody did more with what he had than Edwards.

2. He revolutionized the forward pass in college football

Edwards didn't invent the forward pass in college football. He revolutionized it.

Most college football offenses, BYU's included, depended almost entirely on a good rushing attack before Edwards came to Provo. Nobody built their offense around a passing attack. BYU's version of the West Coast Offense took the nation by storm and led to big wins for the Cougars, including Jim McMahon's 1980 Holiday Bowl comeback to Ty Detmer's win over then No. 1 Miami.

When you turn on a college football game today and watch teams try to pass the ball rather than running the old wishbone offense, remember Edwards helped bring the forward pass to the national stage. Little wonder Edwards holds a place in the College Football Hall of Fame.

3. He impacted the NFL

His mark on the pros is visible still today. Mike Holmgren was a quarterbacks coach for Edwards before he served as a quarterbacks coach and later the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. He would go on to become the head coach at Green Bay and in Seattle and won a Super Bowl ring.

Brian Billick got his start as a graduate assistant on a career that would lead him to the head coaching job for the Baltimore Ravens and winning the Super Bowl. Andy Reid also started as a graduate assistant and he's still coaching the Kansas City Chiefs. Edwards' coaching tree is truly impressive even at the NFL level.

Steve Young is on just about everybody's list of the best NFL quarterback of all-time. He won three Super Bowl rings and won the league's MVP award twice, not to mention the many other former BYU players who left their mark on the game.

Who can doubt Edwards' impact on the highest levels of football?

4. He elevated the BYU-Utah rivalry

The strong dislike between BYU and Utah predates Edwards by a lot. The Utes absolutely dominated the Cougars as they led the series with a record of 41-8-4 before Edwards took over.

All that changed as BYU would win 19 of Edwards' first 21 games against its arch-rival. But by the time Edwards retired, the Utes elevated their play and made this into one of the more competitive rivalries in college football.

Edwards' success at BYU was one of the best things to happen to Utah in a round about way. The Utes raised their game under Ron McBride to compete with the Cougars and now they are part of the Pac-12.

And if you want to see how to act with class within this heated rivalry, check out Edwards' many appearances with McBride, including this video with KSL.

5. He changed the lives of those who knew him for good

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While many of Edward's accomplishments can be quantified in terms of wins, titles and trophies, his impact on the lives of those who played, coached and worked with cannot. When just about anybody talks about their time with Edwards, a common remark is how Edwards made them want to be better people together with his wonderful wife Patti. This couple worked together to improve lives, and not just stats on the football field

Perhaps former BYU President Dallin H. Oaks said it best: "LaVell's success as a football coach has given pride to the university community. But, more importantly, his success as a leader, mentor and role model has blessed the lives of thousands of young men and women and their families."

Given how many people have been touched by BYU football over the years, Edwards' impact has touched millions of people. While he'll be remembered nationally as a great football coach, it's impossible to measure the good Edwards has brought to this world by simply elevating those around him and making them want to be good people.

And even though Edwards has passed on from this life, his influence will live on for years and generations to come.

How LaVell Edwards always kept things in perspective
By Dick Harmon@harmonwrites

In 1979, LaVell Edwards and BYU football were on the cusp of their heyday and in the middle of a remarkable run of conference titles, national rankings and All-American quarterbacks, and I had a couple of years under my belt covering the Cougars as a fledging sports writer for the Provo Daily Herald.

LaVell's wife Patti wrote a column for our sports section once a week. In the profession I'd chosen, I hoped I could make my mark someday and worked hard doing everything I could, but the truth was I was nobody and my byline meant very little to anybody.

On Oct. 9, my second son, 2-year-old Jeff, was hit by a Utah Power and Light truck and killed in front of my mother-in-law's home on 1200 West in Orem, and my oldest son Brandon witnessed it all. This took place a few days before BYU played Utah State.

As my little family recoiled and tried to make sense of this loss, we were at the funeral home in Provo standing in front of the casket the night before Jeff's burial as friends and family shuffled by and offered condolences. I looked up and to my surprise there was LaVell Edwards and Patti next in line, dressed in their Sunday best, there to be supportive, mingling with our parents and siblings, and I was a little stunned. Surely during game week with an instate foe, he'd have had plenty of excuses to not add one more thing to his agenda that night. On the other hand, in his mind, and that of his wife, this was a priority.

A decade later, standing outside BYU's locker room at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, the University of Hawaii had just spoiled a day filled with BYU celebration over a Heisman Trophy for All-American and future Hall of Famer Ty Detmer. The Warriors had thumbed BYU good, humiliated the team. But standing outside that locker room, Edwards was calm and collected and had compartmentalized what had happened. He was prepared to move on with remarkable perspective.

If there's one thing that's stood out all these decades of watching Edwards up close and from afar, it was his perspective. He gets it. He controls it. It never controlled him.

LaVell Edwards’ legacy will forever be the feat of creating an iconic football brand from something that had always been so much less. He was a man known for his remarkable insight into the souls of young men. An innovator and visionary, he made friends as easily as the rest of us breathe. He will be remembered as a tremendous example, a pillar among his peers.

Edwards, the head football coach at BYU from 1972 to 2000 who led the Cougars to the college football national championship in 1984, died Thursday, Dec. 29. He was 86.

Edwards fell several times inside his home this past week, according to friends. His health rapidly declined following those incidents. On Christmas Eve, Edwards fell and broke his hip. He was attended to by his son John, an Ogden orthopedic surgeon, right before his death. According to former player Jeff Blanc, a running back in the '70s, Edwards had planned to meet him in St. George for golf before BYU's bowl game in San Diego. "He said his feet were hurting him and he couldn't make it. But he could still shoot his age on the golf course."

He was a man who players, family and friends remember with unfettered adoration. The tales told of his life and times bring both smiles and tears. His victories are part of college football lore, and the heroes he ushered into football sainthood in Provo are legion.

Edwards’ style inspired a generation of coaches, including Utah’s Kyle Whittingham, BYU’s Kalani Sitake and Washington State’s Mike Leach, and he was an early model for the NFL’s Andy Reid, Mike Holmgren and Brian Billick.

Edwards was a megastar at making and retaining relationships, an art he excelled at throughout his life.

Edwards was born Oct. 11, 1930, to Philo and Addie Edwards and spent most of his life in Utah County.

His parents owned 80 acres in Buckhorn, Utah, but decided to move one summer before his birth. They couldn’t sell, trade or give the land away until someone agreed to pay Philo $10 an acre. He took the $800 and put a down payment on a 17-acre orchard in Orem.

Being from a big family didn’t exempt LaVell from chores. He learned to work hard, often milking cows and picking fruit. His parents said they never heard him swear, and he was a dependable son.

Edwards graduated from Lincoln High in Orem before attending Utah State University.

In Logan, Edwards became a football star. He played linebacker and center and was soon named team captain. He was an all-conference lineman before serving a two-year commitment in the Army. “He wasn’t elected. It wasn’t a democracy under coach (John) Roning. But LaVell was a leader,” said teammate De Van Robbins, a San Francisco dentist.

It was in Logan he met Patti Covey from Wyoming, who would become his wife and lifelong sweetheart. He and Patti have three children, Ann (Cannon), John and Jim.

LaVell and Patti once accepted an invitation from their friend Sy Kimball to go fishing in Alaska.

Edwards liked to fish, but it wasn’t as big of deal to him as it was to Kimball, a veteran of numerous deep-sea fishing trips off Baja, California, and the owner of a giant yacht. Kimball wanted the trip to be a special experience for his buddy, the coach.

The first morning, Kimball waited for Edwards to arise, and finally had to wake him up. Not exactly raring to go, LaVell would have slumbered through the entire outing.

Once onboard and out on the water, everyone was outfitted with tackle, poles and gear, but the salmon weren’t biting. After a long wait, Kimball noticed LaVell’s pole wiggling. He nudged the coach and asked him to test the line. Sure enough, Edwards had a lunker.

Kimball tells this story with a laugh because LaVell Edwards is a man who is so easily loved and such a magnet for success — just like the way that big fish came calling for the guy who was barely interested.

That’s the type of banter that follows Edwards, who in his own part of the world (and a few others) is a legend.

Former BYU quarterback, San Francisco 49er and Super Bowl MVP Steve Young is a legend in his own right. The current ESPN commentator likes sharing the story of his recruiting trip to BYU the first decade of Edwards' coaching career. He remembers sitting in a line of guys outside Edwards’ office who were waiting to see the head coach. He was the last guy.

“LaVell knew my name but not much else," Young recalled. "I didn’t know if he was going to offer me a scholarship or not. In his office he was sitting in his chair, and I saw a bunch of spiritual books on the shelves behind him.

“A coach with spiritual books. I was pretty impressed. I didn’t think the two could mix," Young continued. "As I sat there, I thought for a second he had fallen asleep. He started chewing on his tongue, like he was looking for inspiration. Then he said, ‘I think we’ll give you a scholarship.’ I’m grateful he gave me, an option quarterback, a chance. He sees more in you than you can see in yourself. That is the greatest compliment you can give a coach."

“He is like a father to the players,” said Steve Sarkisian in 1996, a player who quarterbacked Edwards’ 1996 team to a 14-1 record. “He really cares about us individually, and while he’s low key and sometimes looks like he’s bored in games, nobody wants to win more than he does. He has a fire inside of him and he loves the game.”

After 29 seasons and 257 wins at BYU when he retired, Edwards ranked as the sixth all-time winningest coach. His peers in this regard included the top echelon of all college coaches, including Bo Schembechler, Tom Osborne, Woody Hayes, Bobby Bowden, Joe Paterno, Amos Alonzo Stagg, Pop Warner and Bear Bryant.

When hired at BYU, the Cougars had won just 173 games the previous 49 years, with just one conference championship and no bowl invitations. By his retirement, BYU had 22 bowl appearances and 20 league titles. His teams passed for 57 miles in his 29 seasons.

“LaVell’s consistency from one year to another has been incredible and unbelievable,” said former University of Utah coach Ron McBride, who became lifelong friends with Edwards despite a rivalry that has been heated and called toxic by some.

Edwards’ final game at BYU took place on a November night in 2000 at Rice-Eccles Stadium, a game in which his 6-6 Cougars battled for their lives and saw Utah outscore them 17-0 in the fourth quarter to take what looked like a final lead. A controversial no-call on what some say was a fumble by a BYU running back led to a last-gasp chance to finish a late scoring drive and send Edwards out a winner. A series of unbelievable pass plays from quarterback Brandon Doman to Jonathan Pittman extended that drive and brought the Cougars inside Utah’s 4-yard line where Doman dove over the goal line for the winning TD in the closing seconds.

“It was almost like a miracle,” said Pittman. “Somebody was looking down on us. Somebody wanted us to get him (LaVell) that victory.”

From the time he took over at BYU in 1972 through the 1985 season, Edwards’ teams won 122 games while losing just 36. From 1979 through ’85, the Cougars were 77-12 and won seven consecutive conference championships. Over two-and-a-half decades, 10 of his players were consensus All-Americans. He also coached seven Sammy Baugh Trophy winners, five Davey O’Brien award-winning quarterbacks, a Heisman Trophy recipient and two Outland Trophy winners. He saw one of his former players on the NFL’s Super Bowl championship team every year from 1980 to 1992.

Six of Edwards’ players, Ty Detmer, Gordon Hudson, Steve Young, Jim McMahon, Marc Wilson and Gifford Nielsen, have been inducted with him into the College Football Hall of Fame, now located in Atlanta.

Edwards never held a job outside the state of Utah. His first coaching job was at Granite High, where he coached eight seasons without a winning record. Hal Mitchell hired Edwards as an assistant coach at BYU in the mid-1960s because, as Edwards tells it, he was the only Mormon who knew how to run the single wing. Oklahoman Tommy Hudspeth replaced Mitchell in the mid-1960s, and in 1972 BYU asked Edwards to take over the program. By his own admission, he had no groundbreaking ideas and he wasn’t a dreamer looking for a throne or pot of gold.

Edwards had some ideas. He thought he could take some weaknesses in BYU’s athletic stock and turn them into positives. He also believed in loyalty, friendship and the potential of young men. He believed if he hired a coach, he’d let them do their job. He was the first BYU head coach to see missionary service as a potential advantage instead of a stumbling block.

In time, Edwards became the winningest coach in the western United States and revolutionized the college passing game. “We got lucky with the pass because people weren’t used to seeing what we did,” he said after retirement a few years before his death. In his heyday, five of the top 11 single-season passing efficiency performances in NCAA history belonged to BYU quarterbacks in Edwards’ system. Two were by Detmer and one each by Sarkisian, McMahon and Young.

Edwards’ teams led the nation in passing offense eight times, led the nation in total offense five times, and led the country in scoring offense three times.

One of Edwards’ first hires in 1972 was a former Tennessee quarterback named Dewey Warren, who helped install a passing philosophy to put defenses on alert. But, ironically that year, his running back Pete Van Valkenburg ended up winning the NCAA rushing title.

As Edwards continued to tweak his idea of using the pass in the 1970s, he hired Doug Scovil, who had worked with the famed Sid Luckman out of California, and a graduate assistant named Norm Chow. Later he added Mike Holmgren and then Ted Tollner — all of whom joined Chow in developing what became BYU’s famed air attack. It all took off with a junior-college transfer quarterback named Gary Sheide, who, in 1974, led the Cougars to their first-ever bowl appearance, the Fiesta Bowl, against Oklahoma State.

Edwards’ roots were right in BYU’s backyard. His parents, Philo and Addie, were salt of the earth, God-fearing, simple people who taught basic principles of honesty, charity and ethics.

In 1984, Philo Edwards stood up on his old legs before his church congregation and bore a witness of God before his neighbors — thanking his maker and expressing love for his petite wife Addie, then 87, for his full life and his 14 children. Included among those was No. 8, the celebrated LaVell.

A big, handsome, athletic looking man, Philo told church members he had experienced so much in his life to be thankful for. And there were things he hoped to still do in his life. Asked by a neighbor afterward what exactly he’d like to see before he died, he said, “I’d like to see my boy win a national championship,” he replied.

In a few months, Philo’s wish came true. In the 1984 season, national contenders Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Washington lost games and undefeated BYU climbed to No. 1 in the polls. When none of the contenders would break their respective league’s bowl ties to face BYU, the Robbie Bosco-led Cougars played and defeated a 6-6 Michigan team in the Holiday Bowl. Afterward, AP and UPI voters unanimously crowned the Cougars national champions.

That feat triggered a political movement among power legacy football programs across the country, and it led to the creation of the Bowl Coalition, the BCS, congressional hearings about anti-trust claims, and then the College Football Playoffs we have today. “Never again” was the talk in the back room of the nation’s major conferences. “Never again” would a program outside of the blue bloods rise to that lofty rung. And that charge has held true politically as the NCAA has evolved since 1984.

“Everyone out there knows what LaVell’s accomplished,” said former Syracuse coach Dick McPherson in 1984. “He’s done the impossible.”

“He is one of the most honest men I’ve known” said Grant Teaff, former Baylor head coach and athletic director. “And you can’t separate the coaching from the man.”

Edwards knew the life of a fruit farmer. He sold shoes in a Salt Lake City Sears store, worked for city recreation departments, and taught physical education at the high school and college levels.

“It’s hard to imagine him not being a football coach,” said Robbins, his former teammate, in an interview in the mid-1990s. “He always wanted to be one. He never had any other aspirations that I know of.”

The late Penn State coach Joe Paterno called Edwards one of the “true giants in our game,” and praised his integrity. “He is a magnificent human being and has done a fantastic coaching job. We have had some great games. We beat them up here, and they kicked our ears out there. When you played him, you played against a man in the program that had a lot of class.”

The late Dick Felt, once a defensive back at Lehi High, went on to play at BYU and the NFL before working as an assistant coach for Edwards for more than two decades. Felt remembered Edwards as the same guy he knew in high school and college as a rival player, then as his boss and lifelong friend.

“The way he handles young men is outstanding,” said Felt. “He’s honest and patient with players, and genuinely likes these young men. He teaches that there’s more to life than football and that, in my opinion, separates him from other college coaches.

Trevor Matich, an ESPN sportscaster and former center on BYU's 1984 national title team called Edwards a father figure.

"LaVell loved his players like a father loves his children," said Matich. "You felt that. And you didn’t even realize how much it mattered at the time. The wins, the trophies and championships are important because it’s hard to win at such a hard level with so much consistency like LaVell did. You look back now and you realize how much LaVell helped you to grow up in the right way. That, to me, is his real legacy.

“His players respect him," Matich continued. "You see that after years and years when they return. You don’t acquire that respect just by being a coach. You have to earn it.”

Two of the living BYU presidents who presided over the LaVell Edwards era are on record with their praise. Both are members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“When we named Coach Edwards to be the new head football coach at BYU in 1972, we knew that he was the popular choice of the players,” said Elder Dallin H. Oaks in a statement at the time of Edwards' retirement.

“We knew he was a sound tactician. He knew the game. … He also believed in the mission of Brigham Young University. He believed right off the bat that returned missionaries could play football. Before LaVell, we had no more than two or three returned missionaries on the team.

“After a couple of years under Coach Edwards, those numbers shot up significantly. That was a good thing for the university and the team. He was way ahead of his time in that vision and in many others. LaVell’s success as a football coach has given pride to the university community. But, more importantly, his success as a leader, mentor and role model has blessed the lives of thousands of young men and women and their families.”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland echoed those sentiments.

“Coach Edwards was always an example of what you would want your football players to observe, then emulate,” said Elder Holland. “One of LaVell’s many admirable characteristics is his constancy, his stability. If we won, he was happy, but his delight was always modest. And if we lost, life was still good because he had Patti and his children, he had his players, and he had his faith.”

Edwards’ official record as a college coach was 257-101-3. His quarterbacks threw over 11,000 passes for more than 100,000 yards and 635 touchdowns. He took BYU football to where many said it could never go.

But if you ask those who knew him, he was always about so much more.

Funeral plans are pending and will be announced soon. A family friend said a public funeral will be followed by a family funeral. In lieu of flowers, the family asks contributions be directed to the Utah County Boys and Girls Club. For more information go to bgcutah.org.

Monday, December 26, 2016

AGGRESSION!! Start the New Year right!

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Aggression is vital when pushing to the max.

Below is a great article I read in AMERICAN TRACK AND FIELD by John Godina. John really hits the mark. Our public education system here in the U.S.A. has become a monument to political correctness in many localities, fortunately there are also some exceptional areas of excellence also for those who are willing to fight back. In throwing and lifting technique is so important that we sometimes forget the role of pure aggression. For years the Russians and Bulgarians dominated the international lifting arena as the Asian nations are now. It was not and is not their superior techniques that set them apart, but their unworldly strength and mental attitude. Never forget that throwing is a combat sport with it's roots in warfare. It is menat to be performed with aggression. How this is personified will vary greatly among individuals and cultures, but aggression is the spark that sets off the explosion of power that is applied through efficient technique. Thanks for the reminder John! I will insert some commentary in yellow.
The Key to Success in Throwing is... AGGRESSION!
The common perception of non-contact sports is somewhat distorted with regards to the need for aggression, and nowhere does this hold more true than in the throwing sports. Unlike any other non-combat sport, success in the throwing events is directly proportional to the amount of controlled aggression an athlete can put into the throw.
(You bet!)Unfortunately for athletes (although fortunately in the case of the general population), most of society’s rules, regulations and policies are designed to limit aggressive behavior in people. This education in emotional control is a benefit to society as whole since we don’t really need people being indiscriminately punched in the face; but for athletes, learning to release aggression at opportune times and in productive ways can create incredible and often unexpected performances. (I have seen amazing things happen when an athlete has said, "I'm Mad". Of course anger is no substitute for preparation, but it can enhance it)Many young athletes have been overtaken by a steady, lurching flow of timidity that has eaten away their competitive edge. Because of the constant influx of competition-crushing, never-feel-bad, pad-every-corner-and never-keep-score leadership, young athletes today actually need to be taught to compete and not feel bad about winning. Strangely enough, the powers that be seem to be doing a great job of teaching young athletes to not feel bad about losing. ( Pretty perceptive for someone who does not work in the "system", unfortunately, he is right.)Three simple rules can really help a young athlete learn to compete. 1. Create a competition every day. 2. Try your hardest to succeed. 3. Fail every day until you succeed.
That may sound simple. But putting it into practice and making it work is demanding. It requires constant, intense effort during every minute of every workout, from the coach as well as the athlete. This can take some getting used to. Read on:
1. Create a competition every day– To begin learning to compete you must have a competition in the first place. This is easy enough. Each week an athlete’s training ebbs and flows according to his or her training program. Some days are designated for hard throwing. Some days are designated for hard lifting. Some days are for running or jumping. Likewise, each day usually has components of all of these activities integrated at some point. What if at every possible point we create a challenge? Whether it be how far you can throw a shot over your head or how far you can jump on three consecutive single leg hops, each challenge you face as an athlete – no matter how small – teaches you to prepare your mind for the moment and to not fear failure.
(This simple key can change the whole complexion of the workouts)2. Try your hardest to succeed– This rule creates, sometimes for the first time, the need for self-awareness in the athlete. Athletes have to be able to truly know themselves and assess their effort, plan of attack and focus. A coach can encourage, challenge or create stress to help an athlete succeed, but only the athlete can know if he or she has done everything in their power to succeed. At first, most athletes will accept inferior effort and performance as maximal. Usually this is because almost everyone else has accepted—or even applauded—that level of commitment from them (see column 1, paragraph 3) therefore it is comfortable to be sub-maximal. Maximal effort is difficult. It takes concentration, commitment to the moment and investment in the process. It also explores the boundaries of the athlete’s abilities, which most people are not comfortable knowing. However, the only way to move beyond a personal limit is to know your limitations. Without this selfawareness, progress is subjective and
Control of a competitive situation is merely a psychological construct grounded in the shifting sands of momentary feelings of ill-conceived self-satisfaction. So how can athletes be sure they have tried their hardest? They fight. Every day, in every challenge, during every set, on every sprint, in every bound, on every throw they have to fight with all their mind and body to accomplish the goal of the moment. They learn where their boundaries are today and break through them tomorrow. How do they find the boundaries?
(In throwing and lifting measurement is inherent, it's all about kilos and meters)3. Fail every day until you succeed– Without failing every day in something athletes will never know themselves or teach themselves to succeed. The goal is to mark the distance, record the weight, check the time and beat it. Record the results today and beat it again the next time. Two weeks of trying will only make the victory sweeter. Investing in victory is dangerous to the meek of heart. There is always the chance that an athlete gives everything they have in the pursuit of a dream and comes up short. However, the reward for their efforts is not found in the victory or the record. The reward comes from going out on a limb, putting all their eggs in one basket, bravely risking dreaded failure and, above all, learning to give all of themselves. With so many young people today learning to not compete it’s nice to know that what we learn in sport will serve us so well in life. (Great insight. We need to eliminate the fear of failure, not by lowering expectations, but by teaching the rules of success)John Godina is a three-time world champion and two-time Olympic medalist in the shot put and the best shot put–discus combi- nation thrower in history. He founded and operates the John Godina World Throws Center at Athletes’ Performance in Phoenix. Reach him at www.Worldthrowscenter. Com, www.Athletesperformance.Com or (480) 449-9000.

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Koji gets after it Samarai style!!!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Arnold Schwarzenegger Admits He Struggles with Self Esteem: ‘When I Look in the Mirror, I Throw Up’

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Most of us would be glad to see something like this in the mirror.

Interesting article that appeared on mainstream media a few days ago. A couple of lessons here, I suppose. One, is that never being fully satisfied leads to ongoing progress. Another lesson is that when we look in the mirror, what we see is the results of our efforts and behavior. When we can't be trusted by those closest to us, we will likely not like what we see.

Arnold Schwarzenegger may be an action hero and a bodybuilding champion, but he still struggles with self-image.

“When I look in the mirror, I throw up,” The New Celebrity Apprentice boss, 69, says in the February issue of Cigar Aficionado. “And I was already so critical of myself, even when I was in top physical shape. I’d look in the mirror after I won one Mr. Olympia after another and think, ‘How did this pile of s— win?’ ”

“I never saw perfection,” he continued. “There was always something lacking. I could always find a million things wrong with myself and that’s what got me back into the gym — because I started out with that mentality.”

Schwarzenegger says he currently works out every day.
 “My day cannot start without doing something physically,” he told the magazine. “And I work out at night before bed — cardio, weight-training. I want to stay in shape as long as I can.”

Schwarzenegger says he uses his self-esteem issues as fuel for his workouts.

“I do lack confidence, but I do the reps and do them enough that the thing itself will be doable when it’s time,” he says. “When I was competing at bodybuilding, I did so many hours of reps — on the weights, practicing the poses — that when I got onstage, I was comfortable and confident. The more reps you do, the more you look smooth and convincing. The more you do it, the better you get.  That’s how you gain confidence.”
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Maybe not so much this....

Monday, December 19, 2016

Finding a Way

Ranaivosoa, Roilya - Weightlifting - Mauritius - Women's 48kg - Women's 48kg Group A - Riocentro - Pavilion 2
When you are from a small country, I think you work harder to represent.

I love this. I love seeing people who find a way to improve in spite of  whatever obstacles are in their way. Here are a couple of great examples of that.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Ditch the Leg Press

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You don't have to squat this much to benefit from doing the movement.

In our weight room I don't have my athletes leg press unless they are injured or otherwise can't squat. But, as this article shows, there are other squat variations that generally can be used with better effect.

Most lifters use the leg press as a substitute for the squat when their backs hurt. Not smart. Here's what to do instead.

by Lee Boyce 

Leg Press vs. Squat

Injured lifters gravitate towards the leg press machine as a substitute for the squat until things get better. But these two lifts are not biomechanically similar.

The leg press starts in a hip-flexed position and simply goes into a flexion so great that (ideally) the thigh is pressed right up against the torso with a knee flexion angle of around 90 degrees.

As an example, stand up and squat to mimic that exact position and you'll see how unfavorable it is for the low back. Though there's a minor save in the fact that the lifter has the load on his feet rather than his back, it's not enough to offset the fact that the lumbar spine likely goes into some deep flexion under heavier loads, especially if proper care isn't taken to watch form and technique.

Even with good form, we shouldn't forget that constant tension and shortening of the hip flexors, paired with the absence of hip extension due to the mechanics of the lift, creates residual low-back discomfort.

Do These Instead

Here are some better squat-free alternatives to the leg press that allow you to get a good lower body workout even if your back is getting cranky:

Monday, December 12, 2016

Some Thoughts From a World Champion on What is a Rep and Using Straps

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                       Joe Dube doing pulls at the 1970 World Championships

On another site, GOHEAVY.com, there was a discussion recently about what constitutes a repetition and also the use of straps in training. Many lifters who claim to be doing reps with a weight, actually take significant pauses between each rep, adjusting the bar, resetting,...etc. as compared to consecutive non-stop reps. I think both methods have their place. Obviously Squats, benches, presses and general strength/bodybuilding type lifts are best served by consecutive reps, although the "cluster singles" as I term them have a place also when the goal is maximal strength. When the "quick lifts" such as snatch, cleans, jerks, and their variations are involved, I am not a fan of consecutive reps. I believe that singles or "cluster singles" are the only way to go. Trying to do those types of lifts non-stop fashion is counter productive in my opinion, although many "strength coaches" prescribe such lifts in higher reps. Joe Dube, who was a world champion in weightlifting in 1969 weighed in on the discussion this way,(Although my credentials pale next to his, I will insert some commentary in blue)"I viewed the video of Kendrick (Kendrick Farris whom we have featured in earlier posts)doing the Jerks from the boxes and must say he is a very strong young man. Not to be taken away from his exceptional strength and abilities I would say those were, in my opinion, three quick singles. My definition of reps would be that a lifter would do reps, 2 or more, without releasing the bar back to the racks or boxes from the shoulders. Also, I have viewed many video's of lifters doing snatches, cleans, pulls, etc., bringing the bar back down to the platform after doing a rep then stop and re-adjust the plates, step back then approach the bar and re-grip the bar for another supposingly rep. These are not reps in my way of thinking! My definition of reps would be to continue each rep (whatever movement your training) without releasing the grip and bar back to the platform or racks, doing each rep one right after the other.(I am in agreement) This is the way I did reps back many years ago when I was training, mostly in my earlier years. (Joe trained mostly in a small shed in his backyard in Florida and became one of the world's strongest men) Although I did do many reps in the squats. I am a firm believer in doing many many singles attempts in training on the actual O/L's and any other assistant movements is the best for the lifter to develop explosive speed and power. The problem with continued rep afer rep only slows down that explosive speed and which is not in the best interest of the lifter. ( or thrower, or almost athlete for that matter) It can also throw off the lifters technique and cause possible injuring of the lifter. (I agree, injuries are usually the result of too many reps, not maximal effort, reps lead to fatigue, which leads to technical breakdown, which leads to injury) I do believe that doing reps just to warm up with the lighter weights is alright to do but when the weight increases significantly stop doing those reps and do singles. (great advice)
While I am on this subject I have another issue to bring up. I continue to see from video's I view all the time lifters using straps all the time in their training. Does anyone use their hook grip anymore in training? To me this is not a very good practice! I think it is very important for the lifter to use their hook-grip as much in training as they can. Also, doing some extra gripping exercises to strengthen their grip would help considerably. (Tommy Kono recommends doing lifts without the hook grip also, to strengthen grip ability) To finish this post I have must say that all lifters who compete in competition DO NOT use STRAPS on the competition platform nor do they DO NOT do REPS on that platform.
Anyway, this is just my thoughts on this and would like to hear other peoples views on this subject."
Joe Dube

Many top lifters use straps more often than that nowdays. Mainly because they are training frequently and want to save their hands. What about throwers or other athletes? I believe that straps can help one to learn to relax their arms and focus on the explosive extension movement. This can be valuable for throwers, although grip strength is also important. I advise my athletes to use straps for pulls, but not for the full lifts. I hate seeing athletes who use straps for everything, from lat pulldowns to dumbell lifts. Like belts and gloves, some think straps are a fashion accessory useful in trying to look like a lifter. A strong grip allows more force to be applied to the implement. Don't allow your grip to be the weak link in the kinetic chain as force flows from the ground, through the feet, through the core or torso, to the implement. Don't become "strap dependent." 
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Joe Squatting

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Joe Dube World Champion 1969

Joe squatting at the same meet in 1970

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Speaking of Brains, A Look Back

It's been a few years now since this event happened. Thankfully rhabdomyolysis has not been in the news lately, so hopefully some lessons were learned.
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. This is January,the first games will not be until late August at the earliest. Why aren'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? 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 smart! It's never too early to get started!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Lift Heavy To Get Smart

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The connection between the physical and the mental is not new knowledge, but it is still nice to see articles like this. It’s amazing how we continue to “discover” what the Greeks knew centuries ago. No child should be left on their behind.
The below was recently posted on the NYtimes website:

January 19, 2011, 12:01 am
Phys Ed: Brains and Brawn

It has long been a cliché that muscle bulk doesn't equate to intelligence. In fact, most of the science to date about activity and brain health has focused on the role of endurance exercise in improving our brain functioning. Aerobic exercise causes a steep spike in blood movement to the brain, an action that some researchers have speculated might be necessary for the creation of new brain cells, or neurogenesis. Running and other forms of aerobic exercise have been shown, in mice and men, to lead to neurogenesis in those portions of the brain associated with memory and thinking, providing another compelling reason to get out at lunchtime and run.

Since weight training doesn't cause the same spike, few researchers have thought that it would have a similar effect. But recent studies intimate otherwise. Several studies involve animals. It's not easy, of course, to induce a mouse or a lab rat to lift weights,(
But kids seem to love it!!!) so the experimenters have to develop clever approximations of resistance training to see what impact adding muscle and strength has on an animal's brain. In a study presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in November, researchers from Brazil secured weights to the tails of a group of rats and had them climb a ladder five sessions a week. Other rats on the same schedule ran on a treadmill, and a third group just sat around. After eight weeks, the running rats had much higher levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (B.D.N.F.), a growth factor that is thought to help spark neurogenesis, than the sedentary rats. So did the rats with weights tied to their tails. The weight-¬bearing rats, like the runners, did well on tests of rodent learning and memory, like rapidly negotiating a water maze. Both endurance and weight training seemed to make the rats smarter.

In somewhat similar fashion, researchers from Japan recently found that loading the running wheels of animals improved their brain functioning. A loaded running wheel is not strictly analogous to weight lifting; it's more similar in human terms to a stationary bicycle with the resistance dialed high — in this case, quite high, as the resistance equaled 30 percent of the rats' body weights in the last week of the monthlong study. By then, the rats on the loaded wheels could run barely half as far as a separate group of rats on unloaded wheels, but the rats on the loaded wheels had packed on muscle mass, unlike the other rats. The animals that were assigned to the loaded wheels showed significantly increased levels of gene activity and B.D.N.F. levels within their brains. The higher the workload the animals managed to complete, the greater the genetic activity within their brains.
This "study demonstrates for the first time that voluntary wheel running with a load increases a muscular adaptation and enhances gene expression" in the rat brain, said Min-Chul Lee, a researcher at the University of Tsukuba in Japan and lead author of the study, which was also presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. Even more striking, he added, his findings indicate that "this kind of exercise may have the identical or even more useful effects than endurance training (e.g., treadmill exercise) on the rat brain."

Whether the same mechanisms occur in humans who undertake resistance training of one kind or another is not yet fully clear, but "the data look promising," said Teresa Liu-Ambrose, a principal investigator at the Brain Research Center at the University of British Columbia. In results from her lab, older women who lifted weights performed significantly better on various tests of cognitive functioning than women who completed toning classes. Ms. Liu-Ambrose has also done brain scans of people who lifted weights to determine whether neurogenesis is occurring in their brains, and the results, still unpublished, are encouraging, she said.

Just how resistance training initiates changes in cognition remains somewhat mysterious. Ms. Liu-Ambrose said that "we now know that resistance training has significant benefits on cardiovascular health" and reduces "cardiovascular risk factors," which otherwise would raise "one's risk of cognitive impairment." She speculates that resistance training, by strengthening the heart, improves blood flow to the brain generally, which is associated with better cognitive function. Perhaps almost as important, she added, resistance training at first requires an upsurge in brain usage. You have to think about "proper form and learning the technique," she said, "while there generally is less learning involved in aerobic training," like running.

The brain benefits from being used, so that, in a neat circle, resistance training may both demand and create additional brain circuitry. Imagine what someone like Einstein might have accomplished if he had occasionally gone to the gym.

Guess what? He did!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Elder S. Gifford Nielsen and Valerie Adams Christmas Message

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Great Christmas message from two great athletes. Elder Gifford Nielsen is a former All-American quarterback from BYU who went on to a career with the Houston Oilers (now the Texans) of the NFL. He is now serving full time in Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. A New Zealand native, Valerie Adams is one of, if not the greatest female shot putter of all-time. A multi time world and Olympic champion, she is an amazing athlete.

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