Virtually Painless

November 13, 2018

Want your players to feel like exercises are easier and less painful? A recent study at the University of Kent School of Engineering and Digital Arts in the U.K. suggests that virtual reality (VR) technology can accomplish just that. According to SportTechie, the study showed that donning a VR headset during challenging exercise could significantly lower a person’s perception of pain and fatigue.

To determine this, the study first asked 80 people to stand against a wall and perform a biceps curl through a full range of motion. Weight was increased to failure.

Next, participants were asked to sit in a chair. With their elbow supported, they were asked to hold their arm in a steady position for as long as possible while 20 percent of the maximum weight they achieved in the biceps curl was applied.

For this step, participants were divided into two groups. People in one group wore VR goggles that altered the look of the room and gave them a virtual arm to look at rather than their own. Those in the other group did not have the added VR component.

Researchers evaluated heart rate and time to exhaustion and also ranked each participant on pain intensity and perceived exhaustion. The VR group ranked significantly lower on both pain and effort, reporting 10 percent lower pain intensity one minute into the exercise.

A measure called “private body consciousness” or PBC was also used. PBC measures how tuned in a person is to their bodily sensations, and previous studies have found that individuals with high PBC experience more pain. Interestingly, the study found that the VR headsets reduced the perception of pain just as effectively in those with high PBC as they did in those with low PBC.

Maria Matsangidou, PhD, the head researcher on the study and a Graduate Teaching Assistant at Kent, says that VR may work to lessen perceived pain and effort because the brain, busy with the virtual experience, has less ability to notice discomfort. Matsangidou added that a pleasant virtual experience could also lessen anxiety. The fact that people were focused on a virtual arm and hand, rather than seeing their own arm, may have played a role, as well.

“One possibility is that VR reduces the amount of attention that is allocated to the sensory signal of pain,” Matsangidou said in a report on her research. “Our attentional resources are limited and to cope with the vast array of information that gets registered by our senses at any given point in time, we must select only the information that is relevant to our goal and ignore the rest. VR provides the senses of the user with a multitude of information while at the same time prevents access to his/her body. This allows the user to be immersed in the virtual environment and disconnect from the actual surroundings. As a result, attentional resources may be diverted away from the pain signal, reducing thus the experience of pain.”

SEARCH for Products
SEARCH for Vendors

A Rebounder With Versatility

Medicine ball exercises are a staple of many workout routines. Whether the goal is performance enhancement by strengthening the core or helping an athlete rehab from an injury, medicine balls are versatile piece of equipment that can get the job done. But most strength coaches and athletic trainers don’t have enough time available to catch … CLICK TO READ MORE...

Author and Strength Coach Mike Mejia Praises VersaClimber

“Over the course of the past twenty years I’ve trained hundreds of clients that run the gamut from average Joe’s to professional athletes and in all that time, I’ve never come across a cardio piece that comes anywhere near the Versa Climber!” says Mike Mejia M.S., CSCS, author of The Men’s Heath Better Body Blueprint, … CLICK TO READ MORE...

Indoor Pool Surface Solution

Mateflex has indoor pool surfacing that is safer and more enjoyable to walk on than concrete. Mateflex offers perforated tiles to allow water to drain through that can cover up old, unsightly concrete or just spruce up a new area with a colorful design. The interlocking tiles dry quickly while keeping your feet out of … CLICK TO READ MORE...

The Evolution of the Lifting Platform

The days of the above ground weightlifting platform may be a thing of the past. More and more high schools, colleges, and professional strength and conditioning facilities who are either building a new facility or renovating an existing facility are going away from the traditional above ground lifting platform and choosing the inlaid platform, which … CLICK TO READ MORE...

Teaching Principles: Neck Rotation

Coach Bill ‘Jake’ Jacobs goes back to the basic teaching principles with Neck Rotation. View his demonstration.  CLICK TO READ MORE...

VIEW MORE ARTICLES

November 9, 2018

Quick—what is the most important skill for a successful athlete to have? Many coaches would put “reaction time” high on that list. (How was yours on that pop quiz?) And better yet, what approach are you using to train reaction time in the student-athletes you work with?

Columbia Academy, a high school in Tennessee, has taken a high-tech approach to training its student-athletes' sensory processing, becoming the first high school in the country to add a Senaptec Sensory Unit to its toolbox. Through vision training, the unit attempts to improve athletes’ reaction time by helping them process information more quickly, according to an article in the Daily Herald.

Athletes interact with the Senaptec Sensory Unit via a “sensory station,” which involves a large touch-screen TV and a tablet. The instrument can be used to work on hand-eye coordination, peripheral awareness, reaction time, and focus ability, and tasks can be personalized for each athlete. Columbia athletes across all sports are using the program.

“Vision training is the primary use,” explained Columbia Strength and Conditioning Coach Rob Johnson. “We’re trying to increase what we’d call reaction time, processing time for your mind, through your eyes. We’re trying to develop our kids’ reaction time, reaction speed, their ability to process information faster.”

To accomplish that goal, student-athletes start out performing relatively simple tasks at the sensory station, and then Johnson adds element after element to raise the bar.

“There are different phases,” he said. “There’s hand-eye coordination, and then you’ve got to make a decision with your hand-eye coordination, and then there’s some using not just hand-eye coordination, but you’ve got to speak and process information at the same time.

“And then we throw in the Nike vapor strobes (goggles) where we start taking away some of their vision, we put them on the bocce ball and take away some of their balance, put in some music and take away some of what they can hear — just keep ramping it up and ramping it up, making it more difficult and they continue to process,” he added.

The technology has different applications for athletes across different sports, and even for athletes within the same sport playing different positions. Softball and baseball players are focusing on hand-eye coordination and reaction time, for example, while football lineman are getting a boost to their peripheral vision.

Since it started using the training modality in 2016, Columbia has put into the record books a semifinals appearance in the state football championship, a baseball state championship, back-to-back state basketball tournament appearances, and two sectional appearances in softball, and Johnson believes the sensory training deserves some of the credit.

“I think our coaches get their kids prepared,” he said. “Do I think (the Senaptec) assists in what those kids are doing? We do. As a school, we think it’s beneficial.”

November 9, 2018

Student-athletes tend to thrive when they have structure. And the best coaches learn early on that part of offering structure means clearly defining expectations. What are some ways to do this?

While different coaches have different strategies, most agree that repetition is key. “Not a single day goes by where I don’t reestablish what we should be doing and who we are,” says Paul Mainieri, Head Baseball Coach at Louisiana State University. “Before every practice or game, I talk to the whole team about our expectations. And I always finish by saying ‘Let’s have fun today,’ because that’s how I want them to approach the game.”

For Jeremiah Robbins, Head Baseball Coach at Lewis-Clark State College, working hard is important. He wants his players to have what he refers to as a “blue-collar mentality.” To make that happen, he constantly talks with them about using their time the right way.

“Every day, we try to teach them that building great relationships and developing a great program takes time and effort,” says Robbins. “We want them to focus on the daily process and investing their time, not just spending it. We constantly remind them that championships are a byproduct of working hard and having great teammates.”

Any time your team is gathered together is an opportunity to reinforce your goals and expectations. Sometimes repeating certain phrases or doing a specific activity can help structure these moments and make it easier to get the point across.

John Dowling, Head Baseball Coach at McLean (Va.) High School, understands the importance of these team times and has come up with simple, yet effective, ways to get the most out of them. One is starting each practice with a thought of the day. This could include a quote or mantra that aligns with his philosophies and reflects what he hopes to see from his team. To help set the stage, at the first practice of the season, he gives a longer talk about one of his core principles—the value of competition. 

Along with verbal communication, coaches have found that writing down their philosophy can also be very helpful. For example, Dowling gives each player a business card with the team philosophies written on it. He asks them to keep it in their wallets in front of their IDs so they look at it often. Mainieri supplies every player a written document titled, “The Philosophy of LSU Baseball.” Bullock distributes a parent-player handbook at the beginning of each year that features his philosophy, followed by a PowerPoint presentation to reinforce it.

There are a number of other creative ways to keep your philosophy front and center throughout the season. Brian Ash, Head Baseball Coach at Jefferson City (Mo.) High School, asks his players to come up with three or four bedrock principles to focus on each year. He then prints these on the back of t-shirts, puts them on posters around the locker room, and displays them on a sign at the entrance of their field. He encourages players to touch the sign whenever they walk by.

With today’s players so in tune with video, some coaches use the screen to communicate their philosophy. Jad Prachniak, Head Baseball Coach at West Chester University, uses it to provide examples of how he wants his players to approach the game. “We talk a lot about always doing the right thing,” he says. “But I also like to show them clear examples of what that means, such as sharing a clip of a football player giving it his all even when his team is losing by a lot so they can see what 100-percent effort looks like.”

 

 

November 9, 2018
By Scott Sinclair
Scott Sinclair, MA, MSCC, has been Director of Strength and Conditioning for Football at the University of Georgia since January 2016. Prior to that, he was the Director of Strength and Conditioning at Marshall University.
To read Part 1 of this article, click here.
To read Part 2 of this article, click here. 
To read Part 3 of this article, click here
To read Part 4 of this article, click here.
 
For the last three- to four-week block, we get back to our main lifts. On Sundays, we squat heavy, run, and perform contrast training with our squat and bench exercises.

Our back squat percentages during this stage range from 70 to 83 percent of 1RM. Once we get above 79 percent, I like using cluster sets. These are when an athlete performs one rep of a squat, racks the bar, rests for 15 seconds, and then completes another rep. The cluster sets allow players to handle heavier weights later in the season without sacrificing technique. I establish the threshold at 79 percent because I think anything higher than that starts to feel too heavy, considering the time of year.

Immediately following the squat cluster, our players contrast the lift with an accelerated squat jump. This aids the CNS in being explosive even when fatigued.

For the bench press, players perform a two-board bench and contrast it with accelerated plyometric push-ups. We use percentages ranging from 74 to 88 percent of 1RM on the bench, and total reps range from nine to 15. The higher the weight, the lower the total volume. So we may perform four reps at 79 percent, three reps at 82 percent, and two reps at 88 percent. We also complete three pulling movements for the back and posterior chain, a dumbbell shrug, a four-way neck exercise, and a banded Sorinex hamstring roller.

On Wednesdays, we continue with triple extension work. Instead of our typical cleans, we do medicine ball throws that mimic these exercises. This late in the season, the throws provide players with the hinging movement we’re looking for without the stress on the back or wrists that comes with Olympic lifts. We do five to six sets of two to three reps.

Another common Wednesday lift is the speed squat. I rotate the squatting movement each week among the front squat, back squat, safety bar front squat, and a one-quarter squat off the safety pins. Our percentages are lighter, ranging from 40 to 65 percent of 1RM, and the volume is low.

We finish the Wednesday workout with some dumbbell shoulder exercises, a trap bar bent-over row, and two neck exercises. One neck machine we use a lot during this phase is the Iron Neck because it allows for resistance in the rotational plane.

That brings us through our entire in-season training program. I believe our method of planning around games and practices is the correct way to train during the season. I always keep in mind that I am training football players to be fast, explosive, physical, and strong, but I know I must evaluate my team and understand when to back off. This ensures players are physically prepared to win on Saturdays.

 
 

Girls' Night

November 9, 2018

Performance combines for teenage athletes have become common, but Thibodaux (La.) Regional Medical Center recently put a new spin on the concept by holding one just for female athletes.   Hospital-sponsored performance combines for teenage athletes have become common. However, Thibodaux (La.) Regional Medical Center recently put a new spin on the concept by holding the first-ever Female Athlete Expo on April 12, which featured testing, talks, and empowerment all geared to young women.

“We felt like there was a need in the community to get female athletes information specifically relevant to them,” says Amelia Castell, LAT, ATC, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, TSAC-F, Assistant Coordinator of Sports Medicine at Thibodaux Regional. Castell was in charge of the performance testing at the event.

The expo also had other goals, such as preparing female athletes who might go on to play sports in college and highlighting the abilities of local girls’ sports stars.

“Male athletes and sports get most of the attention, most of the time, so it was nice to do something just for the females,” says Castell. “Plus, they were able to compare their assessment scores to peers instead of the opposite gender, as is often the case at similar testing events.”

To promote the expo, the hospital’s community relations liaisons sent invites to local coaches and arranged both print and social media announcements. In total, 80 female athletes in grades eight through 12 signed up.

“We do outreach athletic training at several area high schools, so this is the age group our sports medicine department predominantly works with and has the most contacts in,” says Castell. “We felt that if we expanded the age range too broadly, we would lose the focus of what really matters to those athletes.”

The free event began at 4:45 p.m. and ran until 9:00 p.m. During the first portion of the evening, athletes and their parents were assigned into groups and rotated through four different stations. At one, they listened to Dennis Guillot, PhD, RRT, Assistant Professor of Human Performance Education at Nicholls State University, who spoke about finding a goal motivation. Another speaker was Dori Murphy, DPT, PT, a Physical Therapist at the Thibodaux Regional Rehabilitation Center, who demonstrated exercises that can assist with proper biomechanics for injury prevention.

The final two stations were set up for performance testing with Castell and volunteer student athletic trainers from Nicholls State. Five assessments were completed: agility, vertical jump, body fat percentage, push-ups, and sit-and-reach.

“I wanted each station to test something different,” explains Castell. “We included the vertical jump because college coaches usually like to know that, but I chose the other tests based on equipment needs and the time required to administer them.”

The athletes received “below average,” “average,” “above average,” or “excellent” ratings for each metric. “For those who had below average results, we made sure they didn’t get discouraged,” says Castell. “We told them the tests were just intended to provide an idea of their abilities, strengths, and areas for possible improvement.”

After the four stations, everyone reconvened for dinner. The menu was created by Jamie Meeks, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, Director of Sports Nutrition for the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, who paired it with a talk on performance fueling.

“That way, the athletes could see what a healthy plate of food looks like that still tastes good,” says Castell. “Eating disorders are more prevalent in the female athlete, so this session was crucial to include at the expo.”

Meeks was followed by Jennifer Hale, sideline reporter for both the NFL on Fox and the Pelicans, who spoke about the keys to success.

“She’s an incredible role model, and I think the girls in the room felt inspired by what she had to say,” explains Castell. “The same was true with Jamie Meeks—female empowerment really came through with those two talks.”

The remainder of the evening included presentations on preventing ACL injuries and managing concussions—both of which require specific considerations for female athletes. To wrap up the night, Lindsey McKaskle, Executive Associate Athletic Director for Internal Affairs and Senior Woman Administrator at Nicholls State, addressed areas of NCAA compliance for those athletes who want to play sports in college.

Since the event, Castell and her colleagues at Thibodaux Regional have received nothing but positive feedback.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve, but we are happy with how our first Female Athlete Expo went,” says Castell. “The parents thought the information was great and that the speakers really connected with the audience well. As far as the performance testing, the girls loved having numbers to reflect on, and it seemed like something they’d be interested in doing again.”

SEARCH for Products
SEARCH for Vendors

A Rebounder With Versatility

Medicine ball exercises are a staple of many workout routines. Whether the goal is performance enhancement by strengthening the core or helping an athlete rehab from an injury, medicine balls are versatile piece of equipment that can get the job done. But most strength coaches and athletic trainers don’t have enough time available to catch … CLICK TO READ MORE...

Author and Strength Coach Mike Mejia Praises VersaClimber

“Over the course of the past twenty years I’ve trained hundreds of clients that run the gamut from average Joe’s to professional athletes and in all that time, I’ve never come across a cardio piece that comes anywhere near the Versa Climber!” says Mike Mejia M.S., CSCS, author of The Men’s Heath Better Body Blueprint, … CLICK TO READ MORE...

Indoor Pool Surface Solution

Mateflex has indoor pool surfacing that is safer and more enjoyable to walk on than concrete. Mateflex offers perforated tiles to allow water to drain through that can cover up old, unsightly concrete or just spruce up a new area with a colorful design. The interlocking tiles dry quickly while keeping your feet out of … CLICK TO READ MORE...

The Evolution of the Lifting Platform

The days of the above ground weightlifting platform may be a thing of the past. More and more high schools, colleges, and professional strength and conditioning facilities who are either building a new facility or renovating an existing facility are going away from the traditional above ground lifting platform and choosing the inlaid platform, which … CLICK TO READ MORE...

Teaching Principles: Neck Rotation

Coach Bill ‘Jake’ Jacobs goes back to the basic teaching principles with Neck Rotation. View his demonstration.  CLICK TO READ MORE...

VIEW MORE ARTICLES

November 9, 2018
By Jodi Wotowey

Jodi Wotowey, MS, ATC/L, is Head Athletic Trainer at Idaho State University. She can be reached at: wotojodi@isu.edu.

At 6-feet tall, junior Idaho State University women’s tennis player Hristina Cvetkovic knows how to deliver a hard serve for an ace. But a recent shoulder injury—and the ensuing arduous recovery—almost jeopardized this skill, as well as her future in the sport.

Hristina’s freshman campaign went well. She finished .500 at the No. 1 singles position in conference play and 2-0 when playing at the No. 2 spot. The team made the Big Sky Conference Tournament for the first time since 2004.

However, things took a turn at the opening fall tournament of Hristina’s sophomore season. She began experiencing an aching in her shoulder. The symptoms quickly worsened and included pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling through the right shoulder, upper arm, forearm, and hand. When her fourth and fifth digits went cold and turned blue, then white, she was alarmed and came to see me.

[Hristina] told me the biggest aid that I provided during [her rehab] was a belief in her. I never thought she would be unable to return to play. Rather, I focused on ways to help her accept rest as a good thing.

My initial evaluation led to positive signs for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS), with what sounded like a secondary presentation of Raynaud’s phenomenon. TOS results from compression of the neural or vascular structures of the upper extremity at the thoracic outlet. Due to the multifaceted contribution of symptoms, Hristina was referred to an orthopedic physician who specialized in the hand.

He then sent her to a vascular clinic, where she underwent an angiogram to rule out vascular abnormality, including formation of a clot or other damage to her vessels. Thankfully, there was no clot, but Hristina did have some impaired vascularity of the common digital artery between the small and ring finger in the fourth web space. These findings brought about a new diagnosis of Hypothenar Hammer Syndrome (HHS).

HHS is a rare vascular overuse syndrome characterized by post-traumatic vascular insufficiency of the hand from repetitive compression over the hypothenar eminence. Patients who repetitively use the hypothenar eminence as a tool are at high risk for HHS—such as a tennis player who swings a racket over and over again.

With a diagnosis, our rehab plan was to pursue therapy for TOS. This included stopping all overhead activities and limiting Hristina’s bench press in the weightroom. She began occupational therapy several days per week. This was complemented on “off days” in the athletic training room, where we focused on reducing hypertonicity of the scalene and pectoralis minor muscles, as well as postural retraining to correct Hristina’s forward head, slightly kyphotic back, and shortened pectoralis major/minor.

To address the HHS, Hristina was told to stop playing tennis for two months and take an aspirin a day. She was devastated by the prospect of two months without tennis but knew failure to follow these recommendations could lead to a complete occlusion of her vessels and the loss of digits.

Hristina spent even more time in the athletic training room to hasten her recovery and received treatments of myofascial release. As her condition improved, we progressed with therapeutic exercises to address muscle balance and mobility, along with scapular control and dynamic stability.

The emotional strain of Hristina’s injury was just as bad—if not worse—than the physical toll. She told me the biggest aid that I provided during this time was a belief in her. I never thought she would be unable to return to play. Rather, I focused on ways to help her accept rest as a good thing, and I reserved Kinder chocolates for the really bad days.

Eventually, Hristina bounced back and could resume tennis. However, her racket grip had to be modified to prevent recurrence of symptoms. She adapted well to this and was able to start light hitting. By the start of the spring season, she was playing again.

During the season, I tried to coach her to play smart and within her range—to see the early season as a building block for the conference tournament. I reiterated how important it was for her to communicate as she got back in the swing of things. We kept her healthy in-season with continued therapeutic massage—especially myofascial release—therapeutic shoulder exercises, and kinesiotape.

Hristina ended up making a full comeback for the spring season. With some schedule and training modifications, she competed in nearly all of the team’s matches, as well as its return to the Big Sky Conference Championship.

This article appeared in the September/October 2018 issue of Training & Conditioning.

To view the references for this sidebar, go to Training-Conditioning.com/References.

Image by the 2017 Canada Summer Games.
November 9, 2018

The GazetteXtra recently took a look at the use of e-cigarettes among student-athletes in Wisconsin high schools. It found that while most districts prohibit vaping, the practice remains on the rise. 

Tim Collins, Athletic Director for Big Foot High School in Walworth, Wis., said some students use e-cigarettes because they are easy to obtain, and the students may not believe that vaping is harmful.

“They’re so easy to conceal and so readily available,” Collins said. “From what I understand, you can go on the internet, click a box that says you’re 18 and buy it.”

The Food and Drug Administration's Youth Tobacco Survey reports that in 2017, 2.1 million youths used e-cigarettes. In the same year, Janesville (Wis.) High School students participated in an anonymous Youth Risk Behavior survey, which found that 22 percent of respondents used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days and four percent used them on a daily basis.

“I always caution kids who might say, ‘Well, everybody’s doing it,’” Ben McCormick, Janesville's Athletic Director, said. “That’s just not the case. Some of the people, maybe some of the so-called popular kids, are doing it, maybe it seems like everybody’s doing it. The data says most kids are not doing it. Is it increasing? Yes, but the vast majority of kids are still making good decisions.”

Punishments for e-cigarette use vary, but most Wisconsin school districts punish violators by having them miss 20 to 25 percent of a season. That translates to six games for a basketball player or two for a football player.

“At our school, we’ve made the general rule that you cannot possess one, period,” Collins said. “We’ve had them. We caught one because it fell out of their pocket, one that was caught in the bathroom doing it. But otherwise, it’s hard to detect. You can tell a smoker just by smelling them when they walk into the room. But these are so tiny and they don’t smell.”

McCormick said he has taken a proactive approach to combating e-cigarette use.

“I think you constantly work on educating,” McCormick said. “I encourage our coaches to talk to their players and encourage parents to talk to their kids about making good choices.”

Image by U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erica Crossen.
November 9, 2018
By Amber Giacomazzi

Amber Giacomazzi, MS, AT, ATC, CAT(C), is an Assistant Professor in the Health and Human Performance Department and Athletic Training Program at Concordia University Ann Arbor. She is one of only a handful of athletic trainers certified by the professional groups of two countries (NATA in the United States, and the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association in Canada).

You have been at your first job since graduate school for several years. You have gained valuable field experience and created a network of individuals, including several mentors, who can help you progress along the way. While this current position satisfies your needs, you have a lingering desire to move on. Then you get word of the perfect opportunity, and the want to apply gets even stronger.

While the transition from one position to the next may be easy for some, there are several important steps that professionals should follow. Consider the following:

Plan for your departure and arrival

Make sure you give notice to your employer and co-workers of your departure. To help alleviate stress, make sure you remain organized and start planning the transition. Make a “to-do” list. Are there things you need to prepare or do before you leave your current place of employment? Does your new job require relocation?

When I moved from California to Michigan for my current position at Concordia University Ann Arbor, a lot of planning was required. I had to make sure everyone at my previous job was aware of my departure and train my replacement in the roles and responsibilities they would be taking over. The most stressful part of my transition was the move itself. Making sure everything had closure in California, finding a new home in Michigan, renting a moving van, and booking flights and hotels were all required for me to start my new position.

Start before you start

Even if you haven’t started your new position yet, it is still possible to start building a foundation for a very smooth transition. Get in touch with your new boss and see if there is anything you can begin working on before you start. Are there any important documents you can read and become familiar with? Human Resources might have paperwork you can fill out early to save time on your first day.

For me, transitioning from a clinical setting to full-time teaching, I was able to start working on syllabi and labs for classes before I moved. I also researched the area around my new home to get an idea of where things were. This actually helped me greatly when the moving van—along with my car—arrived a week late due to weather during the first week of school.

Build relationships

When starting a new job, building new relationships can be difficult. It can be even harder when you are an introvert and meeting new people is a challenge. Being friendly, asking questions, and introducing yourself to as many people as you can will help.

I, myself, am a bit of an introvert. When I first started at Concordia, I shared an office with our now Program Director for one semester before we moved into a new building. It helped me greatly to have someone who was hired at the same time as me to share an office with. I felt comfortable enough to talk to him about work-related issues, we could learn together about the dynamics of the university, and, most importantly, he was a huge support when our department had to deal with a disgruntled employee.

Identify star employees

Identify the star performers and learn what makes them successful in their roles or what they did to get to that position. Again, in my current position, my immediate supervisor has become someone who I look up to and strive to be like. While I am perfectly aware that I will never have a work ethic exactly like him, or be able to juggle as many tasks as he can, I can certainly try to improve each day and accept new challenges that will help me grow in my career. I can honestly say I wish he could have been my mentor earlier in my career, but I am lucky to work beside him now. I also have another co-worker who is very prominent in her field. I feel that when you have a team that works well together and has similar goals and work ethics, the department can run more efficiently and be successful.

Keep in touch with contacts

Lastly, it is important to keep in touch with your professional contacts/network. Reach out to those who helped you get your new position and let them know how things are. Succeeding in the field means not only doing well at your current location, but also in the profession at large.

November 9, 2018

Smelling salts are not an uncommon find on the sidelines of many professional sports teams. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott says he uses them before every game, and former NHL star Jeremy Roenick was also a fan during his playing days. But what do sports medicine professionals say about the salts?

“In the medical community it is not something that is used. It’s more like folklore medicine,” Erin Manning, MD, Assistant Attending Neurologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, told USA Today. “People think it helps them, and sometimes that’s enough to help somebody.”

Though Scott Anderson, ATC, Head Athletic Trainer at the University of Oklahoma, knows of teams who utilize smelling salts “to get guys hyped up,” he told USA Today that it’s not a common practice among medical staffs.

“I don’t know anybody in sports medicine who uses ‘em,” Anderson said.

Dr. Manning further explained that the use of smelling salts is highly inadvisable in cases of concussions, which is a reason for its unpopularity in the sports medicine community.

“It’s not going to change the underlying process of the concussion,” she said. “It’s possible that there could be mild symptoms in the beginning and it could make them harder to find. If it was going to mask symptoms it would be for a very brief period of time.”

Ryan Yelle, DPT, PT, OCS, Regional Clinical Director of Professional Physical Therapy in New York City, seconds Dr. Manning’s notion, explaining that smelling salts could prohibit an athletic trainer or medical professional from knowing the full extent of a player’s injury. According to Yelle, that’s exactly why first responders don’t use them.

“If someone is unconscious and has sustained a more serious injury, possibly to (his) spinal cord,” Yelle said, “having him wake up suddenly and having a jerky (awakening), might injure him further.”

However, not all medical professionals are totally against players using smelling salts. Stan Wong, ATC, a former 16-year athletic trainer in the NHL who now works with USA Hockey, keeps at least 20 smelling salt capsules on hand because his players will often ask for a “sniffer.”

“Put your nose by an open bottle of ammonia and that’s what it’s like. It’s like a hit of Mr. Clean,” Wong said. “Some guys get bug-eyed. It’s a routine pattern, not an addictive pattern. It’s an emotional wake-up (call).”

Roenick agrees, citing his experiences as a player who used them.

“They jolt your mind, your brain. It gets you into the moment,” he said. “It happens a lot in the (NHL).”

Regardless of where people stand on the smelling salt habit, the good news for players who use them is there doesn’t appear to be any negative lasting impact.

“In terms of long-term effects, there really shouldn’t be any,” said Dr. Manning.

Image by Elliot from Castro Valley, Calif.

 

November 8, 2018

In-season strength and conditioning training can be tricky. For one thing, maintaining strength can be essential to your athletes’ staying healthy and finishing strong. But at the same time, in-season training is often toned down and can be boring and repetitive. So, how do you mix things up keep players engaged? Mike Gentry, former strength coach for the Virginia Tech University football team and contributor to HighSchoolStrength.com, has some suggestions.

Let Players Lead

By letting athletes choose some of the exercises, they are more likely to focus and stay engaged. As a coach, it can be easy always stick with the same routine, so asking athletes to pick some of the exercises can help mix things up. Gentry recommends doing this on the spot in front of the other players. He also says to give this responsibility to a variety of players, not just seniors or team captains.

Along with letting them occasionally pick exercises, you can also include athletes by picking someone to lead the group through a certain drill. For example, if you’re jumping rope, have everybody shadow the leader throughout the exercise. The point isn’t to embarrass anyone, so try to choose a player that has some skill or is proficient in the exercise. This will help the rest of the group see the proper way to perform a certain movement, and you may even be surprised to see how good of a leader one of your athletes might be. Giving your athletes these opportunities can also help to lighten the mood and might provide a laugh or too.

Strength Competitions

Late in the season, training can often become repetitive and slow. Adding some competition can be one of the best ways to liven things up, and it requires only a minor adjustment to your regular routine. Gentry suggests picking a low-risk exercise, such as bodyweight pull-ups, body weight dips, or dumbbell bench presses, and creating three to four clubs that the athletes can strive for. The top club can be for those “elite” athletes who can lift the most weight or perform the most reps, while the rest of the clubs will descend from there.

The goal is to have fun. Gentry has found that printing out photos that represent each club or having each club choose a theme can keep things light and provide some laughs. During the competitions, you and your staff can get involved by rooting athletes on, being judges and spotters, and providing commentary. You don’t necessarily need to award any prizes to the winners, competing with their peers is often enough motivation, but writing or posting the names of the winners somewhere in the locker room or weightroom can be a good way to celebrate their achievements and give other athletes something to strive for.

Conditioning Relays

A relay race can be just as effective as your typical conditioning work, but it’s likely to be much more fun and exciting for your athletes. Here’s a sample relay race that Gentry has used:

1. Form eight person teams, grouping players together as similar position types.

2. On a football field, place four players behind the sideline between the five-yard marks. Across the field behind the opposite sideline are the relay team’s other four players, who are also between the sidelines.

3. You will be using most of the practice field to set this up. Have your assistants and managers help get this organized.

4. On one sideline of the field give the lead runner a football (or another ball depending on the sport).

5. On your command, the player sprints across the field and hands off or tosses the ball to his/her counterpart on the opposite sideline. The ball transfer should happen between the sideline and the numbers.

6. The new person sprints across the field to hand off the ball and keep the relay going. After handing off, the sprinter goes to the back of the four-person line. The relay continues until the prescribed number of reps are met by each member of every relay team.

Pages

Stay at the Top of Your Game!
x
Receive articles like this by signing up for our newsletters