Education and Tidbits

Speed Exposes Flaws

Posted in: Speed Training

DX3L1 (63 of 73)Mechanics produce efficiency, and efficiency produces speed. There is a caveat to this: Speed exposes flaws. Recall one of the most fundamental training formulas:

Speed x Strength = Power

This article addresses the first factor, speed. In our experiences, we have observed that speed without control is inefficient and subsequently not productive. The challenge in training is to maintain proper mechanics at the highest rate of speed possible. In sports terms, the challenge is to do everything at game speed.

NOTE: Speed training begins the moment you first say “go.” When athletes are warming up, watch to see that they have good mechanics. Some athletes get lazy during the warm-up, but we value the development of good habits throughout training. If athletes flop their arms or stay on their heels while jogging, these bad habits may carry over into sprinting.

Two places to start exposing flaws are the hurdles and ladder. With proper correction these flaws can be minimized or eliminated from an athlete’s form, which leads to greater speed on the court or field.

Hurdles: Start here and keep it linear.

From a logistical standpoint, observe your athletes from near the first hurdle. This gives you a good look at their start and their finish from behind. Keep it simple and instruct your athletes to do “1 Step” with a sprint off the end. Their start should be from a set position with an explosive first move, this trains them to be explosive on the court or field as well. Never let them jog into a drill or start slow, this trains their body to start slow. Since we are talking about speed exposing flaws, look for two things as they go through and off the end of the hurdles.

  1. Watch for arm position. Are they wild? Arms should be down at their side, with elbows bent near 90 degrees and “thumbs through the belt loops” as the arms pump.
  2. Watch body posture. Are they upright? Athletes should maintain the fall-tall position not bending at the waist. They should be tall with a forward lean.

Ladder: Move here for more lateral movements as well as a greater demand in cognitive skills. From a logistical standpoint, observe from next to the middle of the ladder. Keep it only as simple as necessary, mixing up straight-ahead and lateral drills.

  1. Watch for arm position and usage. Are the arms used? Are they wild? Arms should still be down to the sides with elbows bent near 90 degrees, but they tend to vibrate in place instead of actually swinging like on a run. If the arms are under control the feet will be better controlled and faster.
  2. Watch the feet. Is the drill executed correctly? Are boxes skipped or repeated? Make sure the pattern is being completed properly and that steps outside the ladder stay close to the ladder.

The best way to correct these errors is to have your athletes “Slow Down to Speed Up.” All training should be done as fast as you can with the qualifier “under control.” If there was ever such a thing as too fast, it is when an athlete is wrecking an apparatus. Athletes should start slower and speed up as they master the mechanics and movement pattern. Teaching athletes the proper technique and attentively correcting flaws in a controlled environment will lead to faster, more agile play and greater success.

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Power is in the Hips

Posted in: Speed Training, Strength Training

DX3L1 (49 of 73)Do you want your athletes to run faster or jump higher? Then get their hips right. Do you want them to hit farther or kick harder? Then get their hips right! It’s all in the hips. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to dunk or spike, go yard or upper 90, if an athlete wants to get up, they’ve got to get down (load the hips).

Developing the hips in the athletic context is about developing power. If power is the rate of doing work, or for athletes strength times speed, then we are trying to go as fast as we can, as hard as we can. An athlete has to be able to transfer power from the hips. If an athlete can’t transfer power, then they will struggle to deliver their skill.

The glutes are the key part of the hips. The gluteus maximus is the most powerful hip extensor. Too many athletes fail to utilize their posterior. This could be a strength deficiency issue or a technique issue and these deficiencies lead to sub-maximal play and possible injury.

Ensuring athletes understand that their hips need to go back as well as down will help with technique issues. Proper lifting technique is crucial for athletes to understand how to more effectively use their hips on the field or court. Be sure to teach good technique and be cognizant of it while training.

Remember the 4 T’s: Take Time to Teach

If it’s a strength deficiency issue, one way to develop the hips inside the weight room is through power lifts like squat and dead lift. Some coaches avoid putting a barbell on a girl’s back altogether. However, like most lifts, just teach properly then use moderately. Deep squats with light weight while focusing on exploding up under control can improve vertical.

The dead lift is simply lifting dead weight, whether a barbell, kettlebell or dumbbells the technique is the same. Coaches tend to like this because it is about as safe as power lifting gets. For those who avoid it due to lumbar worries, we promote teaching the lift properly first and then using your discretion as to how you wish to proceed. Just follow the principle “use it, don’t abuse it.”

There are several ways to develop the hips outside of the weight room. Body weight exercises, mini-band work and change of direction (COD) drills can all be used to strengthen the hips and increase explosiveness. But with all exercises be sure to teach proper technique. When changing directions athletes should squat as they stop which teaches them to sink their hips and transition their body weight efficiently. However, COD drills are more intense than most linear speed drills and the reps should be counted accordingly.

Sometimes, your athletes just need a coaching cue. Tell them something to the effect of, “you need to bend to extend” or “you need to load to explode.” Keep them conscience of their technique until it becomes second nature. Then watch as their added strength and proper technique take their play to the next level. Just imagine if your athletes ran faster and jumped higher.

“Skill is important but the speed and strength it is delivered with determines the level of play!”

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Winter Training Tips

Posted in: Winter Training

Winter is here and it provides its own set of unique challenges. Cold weather, holiday meals, and vacation time disrupt our schedules, workouts, and typical calorie intake. We all have to take steps to make the disruption as minimal as possible.

Tip 1: Don’t take a vacation on your diet!

There are plenty of occasions to use as excuses to over-consume. However, you need to maintain healthy eating habits because food is fuel, and if you put bad in you’ll get bad out. Eating properly will allow your body to regulate itself. The inevitable “cheat meals” should involve consuming a moderate portion of your favorite indulgence, not over-eating. Most importantly, the right diet gives you the fuel to optimize any training.

Tip 2: Water isn’t just for the summer!

Just because the weather isn’t triple digits you should still be consuming a large amount of water. Dehydration can creep up on you in the winter when it’s so cold you can’t sweat if you tried.

Tip 3: The principle of accumulation: anything is bigger than zero!

Be encouraged by the fact that not every workout has to be epic. Aim to break a sweat then go from there. If you’re not feeling it, then focus on less intensive sessions on what we call Cuff and Stuff. This consists of core work and joint work like strengthening the secondary yet important stabilizer muscles in the knees and shoulders. Light band and abdominal work does more benefit than you may realize. Worst case scenario, just jump on a piece of cardio equipment, start going light and see what happens.

Tip 4: Acclimate…Adapt…Prepare

Do not avoid the weather, just prepare for it. As temperatures drop, spend time in the cold, breathe the air and let your body acclimate. If you avoid the cold your body will not be prepared to do the work you ask it to do. The more active you are in any climate the more normal it will seem to your body. If you’ve committed to getting exercise, then be smart doing it.

Tip 5: Take more time to warm up and warm down in the winter.

As temperatures drop, so does your core, muscle and oxygen temperature. Cold muscles are at greater risk of injury due to their tension and lack of blood flow. Dynamic stretches before and static stretches after is always a good rule of thumb. You should be breaking a sweat and your heart rate should be up before engaging in your actual activity.

Tip 6: Cold weather training burns more calories.

If you are maintaining relatively the same activity level in the winter as other months, you are burning more calories in the colder months. You burn more fuel just keeping your body warm (calories are a unit of heat). Popular belief says that we lose more weight in the summer. This is only true because we are more active in the summer, we tend to eat less when it is hot and we lose more water in the heat. Watch what you eat and maintain your activity level and the winter months can be just as beneficial to weight management.

 Tip 7: Don’t take a vacation on your sleep!

Rest and recovery will forever and always be a crucial. When you get quality sleep, it facilitates your day, your work, your play and most everything in between.

Enjoy the winter and keep working hard!

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Connecting Training to Sports

Posted in: Speed Training, Sports Training, Strength Training

Perception is reality, youth athletes often lack the passion for training. And often females struggle more with the training aspect of playing a sport than males.

Two of the biggest challenges we see in athletes during training:

  1. The Question: “Why are we doing this, we would never do this in a game?”
  2. Lack of effort in a training exercise due to lack of understanding of its role in a game.

Both of these are obviously of the same nature yet sometimes as coaches we lose sight of the importance of understanding why we do things and how athlete’s psychologically choose to apply their efforts accordingly. In other words, if an athlete doesn’t see how a particular training element applies to their sport they are more likely to not try hard. youth strength training

Remember when you were in school, or in a professional development class, and you thought to yourself that whatever you were learning was a waste of time and stupid because it would never be used in your life or job? Well, athletes are no different when it comes to training. They feel they just need to practice and play more to be better at their sport.

Athletes should be taught with vertical, horizontal and synergistic alignment for both clarity and motivation. Just as we hope the middle school and JV coaches are aligned with specific varsity skills coaching (for a smooth transition, reduced learning curve time and increased IQ) the same thing applies in Athletic Development.

It is our job as coaches to teach our athletes the importance of training so they become passionate about it as part of their athletic career. Most athletes love to play their sport(s), great athletes love to train because they understand the benefit and they have made it an important part of their program.

Some aspects of training are obvious yet others are seemingly just unnecessary work… and sometimes they are if the program curriculum has not been appropriately planned according to need. We call all aspects of training and practicing “stress” bouts. If each of these bouts of stress are not calculated and playing a role in reaching a goal, they are a waste of stress and should be re-thought.

In 2016 we are now seeing a tremendous shift in the paradigm of training and how important the role of year-round athletic development is for youth athletes. It is crucial we properly educate athletes to understand the benefits of training to remain healthy, reduce the risk of injury and adequately progress athletically to simply keep up.

Here are a few simple techniques we have found extremely beneficial when teaching the correlation of training to sport application:

  1. Language: Use language that correlates certain movements directly to a movement in their sport, even using the same coaching cues you would use in practice.
  2. Time: Use time periods of rest-work ratios that are directly proportionate to those in a game.
  3. Dexterity: Associate dexterity in training to that of an offense/defense position to better understand the deficiency of being dominant on one side or losing the directional first step.
  4. Repetition: Explain that practice makes permanent, training multiple reps instills the neurological movement pattern to ensure the 1, 2, 3, or more times they may have to execute a movement in play they will be perfect at it.
  5. Speed: Again, practice makes permanent and the only way to go fast is to train fast so if your kids are jogging or only giving 50% effort during training drills, that is how they are training to execute.

Remember, the more creative you become in teaching your athletes why and how training is important, the better, healthier athletes you will have.

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First Step Quickness

Posted in: Speed Training

first step quicknessA legendary strength and conditioning coach asked an aging professional basketball player how he would know when it was time to retire. His immediate response was, “when I lose my first step.”  Speed starts with the start. Like drinking plenty of water, first step quickness is essential.

Training for first step quickness must not be neglected. In most sports if your first step is too slow you may not have enough time to recover. A misstep too often translates into a missed opportunity.

A couple things to consider:

  • Do you let your athletes walk or jog into it drills, hurdles, ladders, etc.? Or do you require them to get set before they start?
  • Are your athletes always on the whistle or do they sometimes start themselves?
  • Do your athletes have adequate time to get set before they take off?
  • Do you focus on and insist their first step is fast?

The way athletes train determines how they play. If they practice with a slow first step, they will play with one as well.

We often don’t start our athletes with a whistle. We like to put the onus on them to start when they are ready. Not only do we teach them how to set up and load their body from a static position, we lay out training principles that nurture a culture of patience. Most kids want to rush the technique and they end up neglecting details. Encourage your athletes to take the time to do it right.

A fun way to work on first step quickness from a dynamic position is hopping and landing on two feet then transitioning directly into a sprint. This can be done off a box, over equipment like a speed hurdle, or just in space. Take it up a notch by going into sprints from a vibration which brings in the element of reaction where the transition happens on the coach’s command. Whether forward, backward or lateral, put your athletes in a position to be athletic where they must get out fast.

In the weight room, consider the benefits of Olympic lifts like hang cleans, power cleans, and split jerks. Remember, focus on the speed of the rep, not the speed of the set. Quality always trumps quantity with Olympic lifts. Millions and millions of reps aren’t necessary. Explosive strength training correlates directly to the use of fast twitch muscle fibers for a quick start on the court or field of play.

We have alluded time and again to the general consensus that the most significant change from one level of play to the next is the speed of the game. This leads to a simple conclusion: the speed of the training changes too. You have to train fast to get fast. So if you want to train fast, start fast.

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Pre-Pubescent Athletic Development and YES…Strength Training!

Posted in: Strength Training

The paradigm of the past said pre-pubescent children should not perform strength training due to the load, risk of injury, spinal compression and fears such as stunted growth or damaged joints. Even further back it was thought that strength training was not good for certain athletes as it would actually hinder their ability to be athletic and perform certain ranges of movement.

pre-pubescent athletic developmentAll of this can be true or false depending on how, what, when and why you are training. The difference today is the amount of research, development and practical knowledge we have gained in truly understanding biomechanics and the role they play in all stages of a child’s life. What we know now is that when Athletic Development training is done safely and age-appropriately, it can be extremely beneficial to children long term.

The Mayo Clinic, an authority in health research, has stated that kids should start age-appropriate strength and Athletic Development training as early as 7 or 8 years of age. (www.mayoclinic.org, Tween and Teen Health, January 2015, Strength Training) Beginning Pre-Pubescent Athletic Development training at these early ages will have a longer positive effect on a child than just playing sports. Why? Because not only is the child developing appropriately physically, but they are instilling habits and a positive association to training early on which will continue in their life, long after sports have ended.

If we think about the physical development of a toddler, we as parents are continuously stimulating their motor skills and physical activity to advance their neurological movements, hand-eye coordination, balance and physical strength. The mobile in their crib, their bouncing walker, climbing and jumping off obstacles, and banging on things, are all Central Nervous System (CNS) and physical developmental exercises.

Food for Thought: Jumping off a chair 18” high and landing with bent knees yields an impact of 1.3Gs to the body. Jumping off the same chair landing with locked knees yields an impact of 4.2Gs. (www.deusrescue.com, June 2011, Understanding Shock Load, part 2) Change that chair height to a swing, fence, roof, etc. and the results of improper technique become more apparent and dangerous.

The need for proper technique and training applies to running, stopping, changing directions, lifting weights and many other athletic movements that involve gravity, force, momentum and impact. With pre-pubescent athletic development, if a child is taught proper mechanical movements and has increased strength, they develop efficiency and with efficiency comes speed, agility and reduced traumatic impact.

So why do we lose sight of these activities as our children get to the next early stages of their lives? We become dependent on their day to day activities, recess, PE, sports and outdoor play to fulfill this need. Unfortunately, in this day and age kids are not getting enough activity. We must understand that sports and athletic development are two very different things with different demands, modalities and progressions.

pre-pubescent athletic developmentWe have reversed the process of development. Think about it, we have our kids play sports starting as young as 2 years old and as they reach a level that becomes more competitive or challenging, we then decide maybe training will be a good idea. Now we are faced with the reality that our child’s mechanics, strength and movement is poorly developed with terrible habits that need correction. That’s like sending soldiers to war and when they start getting their tail kicked we bring them back and train them.

It only makes sense that pre-pubescent athletic development occur when kids’ CNS is the most active, receptive and developmentally capable of instilling process. Understanding early child development accentuates the importance of training before, during and after sports to make training a staple in their lives. These early habits will properly prepare, develop and continue to advance their bodies physically, mentally and neurologically to adapt to the conditions they face.

Parents always say, we are too busy with sports to train. Unfortunately, it isn’t until their child is no longer able to compete at a desired level that they then make training a priority.

The reality is pre-pubescent athletic development and strength training should be viewed as the staple of safe, proper and effective long-term development. This includes several key factors such as:

  • Establishing the importance, benefits and fun of training
  • Building confidence and empowerment through healthy physical activity
  • Taking advantage of the most crucial time of CNS and muscular development
  • Mitigating the risk of injury due to weakness or improper movements
  • Teaching proper neurological movement patterns instilling good athletic habits
  • Improving athletic IQ for continued correct repetition
  • Safely preparing the body to perform and develop most effectively
  • Giving your child the greatest chance for athletic success

If we invest the time to properly teach, train and develop our children now, we are maximizing their chances of long-term physical, mental and developmental success. When puberty, competition and challenge comes into play, your child’s mind and body will be prepared.

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Injury Mitigation

Posted in: Injury

injury mitigation for youth athletes - DX3 Athlete

Injury Mitigation for Youth Athletes

The possibility of injury always weighs on our minds as we watch our athletes perform their sport or simply the craziness of youth. As coaches and parents we often forget that we, too, were once fearless and bulletproof! Injuries can’t be prevented, however injury mitigation and management can be substantially improved through three simple practices:

  1. Proper Preparation (Warm up, Flexibility and Activation)
  2. Proper Training (Techniques and Volumes)
  3. Appropriate Recovery (Nutrition, Active De-loading and Sleep)

In the current times of athletic, academic and social demands we must all remain aware and informed of the mental and physical stress that our kids are expected to endure. Our mind and body can’t necessarily determine the difference in the type of stress, so it is important to be appropriately conditioned and recovered, accounting for all bouts of stress regardless of its origin.

Assess + Learn + Plan + Execute = Success

The old analogy of more is better does not always hold true, and usually hurts if not properly balanced. Too much is simply too much, and we can be overloaded beyond capacity without proper recovery. What is too much? That’s the million dollar question. Everyone has a different capacities, but regardless of capacity overload leads to mental fatigue, muscular fatigue, muscle and joint injury and lost confidence. We often see the signs of these in our athletes and want them to just power through, that isn’t usually the best solution.

An injury can be the result of many factors, some preventable, many not. Generally we have found that an injury occurs for 5 main reasons:

  1. Improper training (Overtraining, undertraining or no training)
  2. Lack of strength (Neuromuscular process and functional)
  3. Improper load or impact (which can be greatly improved with technique and strength training)
  4. Mental and/or Physical Fatigue (often due to too much stress and not enough recovery)
  5. On field/court contact (sometimes avoidable, but not always)

All coaches and parents must understand the level of stress our youth are in, it isn’t the same as it was for us. With a proper understanding coaches must incorporate a proper rest/work ratio that allows athletes to progress and develop so they can perform at their best. During rest phases athletes must focus on getting extra sleep, drinking a lot of water, and eating healthy. With adequate rest athletes will perform more and at a higher level during the work phase.

Regardless of what activity or sport our athletes (any child age 7 and up, based on the Mayo Clinic) are participating in, they should learn proper preparation and warm up, correct movement patterns and have strength training as part of their weekly schedule. All three should be non-negotiable as they lead to injury mitigation and maximized performance.

As coaches and parents it is our job to prepare, protect, and enable our athletes to be better prepared for sports and for life. Teaching kids what it looks like to properly balance work and rest will serve them well long after sports. And it will serve you well as they perform at a higher level and last longer on the court or field.

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Rotational Athlete Development

Posted in: Off-Season Training, Speed Training, Sports Training, Strength Training

Proper Training Programs for the Rotational Athlete (ex. baseball, softball, tennis, golf, swimming)

Athletic Development and Sports Performance has to be approached from a developmental standpoint based on level, age, gender and purpose. It must be age-safe and age-appropriate. Basic Athletic Development fundamentals remain constant yet there are specific factors to be considered directly related to individual sport demands. These factors should be calculated and strategically implemented in order to safely meet the demands for the current and upcoming activity.

Training athletes for rotational sports requires a greater emphasis on balance in the development of the limbs, joints and core. Power is generated from the hips yet delivered to and by the limbs through the core and joints, which has to be accounted for when implementing a strength and speed training program.

We must keep in mind that different sports have different requirements to meet the specific rigors of that sport. Athleticism and speed can be taught, learned and practiced just as any motor skill yet the process of development should be carefully implemented based on anticipated competition, tests or performance.

The directional rotation adds another specific element of challenge for the rotational athlete as he or she becomes imbalanced due to the nature of their “one sided rotation” (right or left focus). This MUST be calculated and addressed through training protocols that begin with the proper warm up transitioning into training variations that build the necessary rotational capacity. Balancing rotational bouts and load has to be directly compensated for by performing equal and proportionate work on both sides of the body.

What all this means is if a baseball player throws and/or hits 200 times on their right side we absolutely must balance the body on the left side with adequate preparation, load and repetition. Injury frequently occurs for two primary reasons, overuse or lack of balanced training (undertraining) creating weakness and deficiency on one side of the body or a particular area. Over compensation due to weaknesses can be directly linked to overuse and/or opposing failure.

All of these factors must be considered when designing and implementing a training program for rotational athletes. Programs for the rotational athlete (baseball, softball, tennis, swimming, etc.) should include:

  • Proper Warm Up – addressing the entire body
  • Consistently developing fundamental strength and flexibility
  • Dynamic Stretching – maintaining correct posture and rotation
  • Start with the core, joints and fundamentals
  • Rotator and scapula emphasis prior and post-training – rotations with bands
  • Alternating position angles and stressors during training – front/back, left/right, push/pull
  • Balancing single/double limb exercises – avoiding overloading
  • Unloading the hips and shoulders post-training
  • Weak-side compensation – addressing weak-side rotation with additional bouts as needed
  • Wave loading periodization while maintaining year-round strength and conditioning
  • Diversified training – keeping it interesting while training all aspects of the body thoroughly
  • Maintaining athleticism during training at all times

At the end of the day, take time to teach, train smart and develop athletes with proper timing, form and progression understanding their exact needs. “It’s not about how much you know, it’s about how much you don’t know that is the issue.”

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Genetics and Nutrition (part 3 of 3)

Posted in: Nutrition

There are 3 body types each with unique differences and demands, though slight variations may exist due to genetic inheritance. It is our genes that determine our body type, and it is important for athletes to know the three body types so when they compare themselves to others they have a realistic perspective. We want athletes to compare “apples to apples” not to oranges. An Endo morph will never be an Ecto morph, and the opposite holds true as well.

Type 1: Ecto Morph

Long and lean; difficulty gaining weight; generally need a tremendous surplus of calories to gain weight and train moderate to heavy with maximal rest periods (distance runners)

This body type is more prone to needing to consume more complex foods and higher quantities of proteins and fats (scale up calories). These people have a naturally high metabolism and face the opposite problems of the Endo morph, though both should avoid sugars. The Ecto morph is fueled by sugar and desensitized to it, making sugar speed up metabolism as empty calories losing the body’s ability to recognize a positive glycemic response. Glycemic response is responsible for weight gain thus making it difficult for the Ecto morph to gain weight.

Type 2: Meso Morph

Optimal athlete; muscular; gains muscle easily; stays lean; X frame; maximum control over composition with slight adjustments in food and activity (sprinters)

Meso morphs are the most efficient and usually only need to make slight adjustments in consumption and activity to make immediate changes in either direction (direct control of calories). Their bodies metabolize food more efficiently and utilize it to maximum benefit.

Type 3: Endo Morph

Thick girdles; big bones; broad; gains weight easy; difficulty losing weight; naturally strong (power lifters, linemen)

Endo morphs generally struggle with weight gain and must maintain a regimen of reduced fat and carbohydrates with regular cardiovascular activity to manage weight (scale down calories). Endo morphs are highly sensitive to sugar with big insulin responses, which are responsible for weight gain and fat storage. They have to watch high GI foods and over-consumption of carbohydrates.

With an understanding of the body types an athlete can better apply the following standards:

Foods to Eat: (80-85 percent good = balance; 20 percent bad = 7 bad meals per week; based on 5-6 meals per day)

  • Keep it clean — Consume natural foods as much as possible; prepare your own foods and/or be specific when ordering out. The cleaner the fuel, the more efficient the burn.
  • Substitutions — Make simple substitutions, such as whole grains for white products; low- and no-fat products for full fat; lean sources of proteins (fish, chicken, eggs, etc.) for high-fat proteins; and reduced sugar or sugar-free products (Stevia or Splenda) for full sugar products.
  • Key nutrients — Eat quality foods with abundant sources of nutrients including: vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants
  • Limit processed foods — Limit or avoid foods in a box, bag, can, etc. and stick to natural foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, lean dairy and meats/poultry/fish.
  • Antioxidants — Protect the body against disease, infection, illness, free radicals and toxins; help bodily functions, immune system and sensory organs.
  • Foods to avoid — Sodas and most sports drinks (contain 3 evils: sugar/aspartame, caffeine, carbonation), processed foods (have a high glycemic index, contain fillers and preservatives), fast food, fried food, sweets, poor ratio foods (imbalance of fats, carbs, proteins)

When to Eat:

  • Frequency — Approximately every 3 hours, 5-6 times per day, starting first thing in the morning and concluding approximately 2 hours before sleep
  • Never full/never hungry — Never allow the body to get too hungry or too full, which causes binging, unstable blood sugar levels and metabolic slowdown.
  • Ratios/composition — Follow ‘Eat It When You Need It.’ Higher amounts of carbs should be consumed before activity to provide fuel, and a well-balanced meal should follow, including low GI simple carbs, such as a piece of fruit and lean protein or protein shake.
  • Portions — Consume larger portion of calories early in the day and smaller portions with fewer calories later.
  • Timing — Follow ‘Eat It When You Need It.’ Consume in accordance with demand and output. Do not eat carbohydrates before relaxing on the couch, watching TV or sleeping unless blood sugar levels are a problem or stores were depleted just prior.
  • Activity based — Proper fuel and recovery are essential to obtain a safe and effective performance at every level, including day-to-day activity.
  • Breakfast — Most important meal of the day to get metabolism started, blood sugar stable and fuel for the day; should be well balanced and proportioned in accordance with agenda.
  • Fix food with food — Do not justify or correct poor eating with more exercise. Doing so creates an ineffective dependency cycle of acceptability. Correct poor eating with quality eating; make caloric and nutrient adjustments to compensate and balance previous poor choices.
  • Calories (too many/not enough) — Over-eating creates a surplus of stored calories, and under-eating slows down metabolism, creating a “starvation mode” storage of calories and decreasing energy levels.
  • Insulin Response — Insulin is responsible for shuttling nutrients and plays a big role in body composition and determining food destination (store it or burn it). Insulin responds primarily to sugar, as most food is converted to fuel. The glycemic index (GI) determines the rate at which food turns to sugar and how fast insulin responds. Higher = Faster. Insulin also plays a role in determining fat storage, hypertrophy (muscle growth) and metabolic rate. Over-eating causes over-excretion, and under-eating causes low excretion. Balance is key.

Conclusion

Athletes tend to be all over the map when it comes to eating habits and food selection. The fuel we give our bodies helps determine our play. We can’t expect a car to run without proper fuel, just like we can’t expect our bodies to perform well without the proper food. The more balanced and regulated an athlete’s diet the better prepared they will be and the better they will feel and perform.

Coaches have the opportunity to help their athletes become not only better athletes, but also better, healthier individuals. Taking the time to talk to your athletes about nutrition is crucial. It affects not only their mental state but also the amount of effort and work you get out of them on the court or field. A properly fueled athlete is one of the keys to success.

We hope you have gathered important information from our three part series on nutrition, and that sharing this information with your athletes proves beneficial.

We wish you all the best and thank you for all you do for the betterment of your athletes.

Note: Participants should always consult their physician or certified/licensed specialist before beginning any nutritional program. The previous information is not a prescription or intended to cure, treat or relieve any problematic symptoms and/or health-related issues. The information was written by a weight management consultant and wellness expert and was influenced and co-written by dietitians and nutritionists.

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Macronutrients – Feed Your Body for Greatness (part 2 of 3)

Posted in: Nutrition, Uncategorized

Macronutrients are the primary components that make up nutritional intake.

  1. Proteins — contain 4 Calories per gram; 25 percent of the Calories are burned during assimilation (digestion); least likely to be stored as fat; contain amino acids (building blocks for tissue); Sources: whey, soy, fish, beef, chicken, dairy, seafood, pork, legumes
  2. Carbohydratescontain 4 Calories per gram; primary energy source; burn nominal amount during assimilation; turn to sugar as energy source at a rate dependent upon glycemic index (GI) rating (how fast it turns to sugar); if over consumed will store as fat; Sources: oatmeal, brown rice, whole grains, multigrain bread (gluten free is best), whole grain or wheat pasta, sweet potatoes (white potatoes only after workout)
    • High GI (Glycemic Index) Carbs: All carbs turn to sugar and the faster it converts the higher the GI. It is beneficial to keep GI mod-low <70 with the exception of after workout recovery. Example GI rates below:
      • Sugar =100
      • White potatoes/breads/rice = 75-90
      • Corn/corn products = 80-95
      • Chips/crackers = 75-90
      • Fruit juice (only drink diluted or small amounts, 4 oz) = 80-100
  1. Fatscontain 9 Calories per gram; depending on type of fat can stimulate or slow metabolism and assimilation rate; deep store energy source; good fats are Omega 3s (fish, flax, nuts) and Omega 6s (vegetable oil, seeds); Sources: Olive or flax seed oil, Nuts, Avocados, Fish oils

Ratios for Macronutrients

When assessing the intake of macronutrients, take into account the athlete’s activity level, lifestyle, expenditure and BMR. Several other factors also play an important role: age, gender, body composition, physical limitations, health issues, hormones, medications, disease and illness.

Percentage of Total Daily Calorie Intake Guidelines (Protein%–Carbs%–Fats %)

  • Endurance: 20%-65%-15%
  • Sprinter/anaerobic: 30%-55%-15%
  • Lean weight lifter: 40%-40%-20%
  • Growth: 35%-45%-20%
  • Weight loss: 45%-40%-15%
  • General fitness: 40%-45%-15%
  • Performance: 40%-45%-15%

These guidelines reflect the percentage of each macronutrient in relation to total daily caloric intake composition. When assessing caloric needs, consider all factors for accuracy. These assessments are approximate and should always be documented, tracked and reassessed for accurate goal orientation.

The numbers can be skewed according to need — generally, tweak carbs and fats, subsidizing calories with protein to avoid lowering overall calories too far and causing metabolic slowdown.

Remember: If macronutrients are not appropriately assessed and allocated, the body does not function properly, which has adverse effects on goals and can cause health issues. Balance is key. A steady, well-balanced diet maintains health and long-term success.

Establishing Caloric Intake

1 lb of body weight = 3500 Calories

The body uses three energy systems:

  1. ATP & CP (quick, 1 to 20 seconds work) — burns adenosine triphosphate & creatine phosphate
  2. Glycogen (30 seconds to 3 minutes work) — burns sugar
  3. Aerobic (20+ minutes, steady state work) — burns fat

Calculating Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

Calories are needed for bodily function. Calories can be adjusted based on individual assessments, physical assessments and goals, including weight loss, gain or extended performance accounting for excess expenditure.

Mifflin Formula

W = weight in kilograms [lbs. divided by 2.2]; H = height in centimeters [inches x 2.54]; A = age

Male: 10W + 6.25H – 5A + 5 = Resting Metabolic Rate

Female: 10W + 6.25H – 5A – 161 = Resting Metabolic Rate

To determine total daily caloric needs to maintain body weight, multiply BMR by the appropriate activity factor, as follows:

  • Sedentary (little or no exercise): Calorie Calculation = BMR x 1.2
  • Lightly active (light exercise or sports 1-3 days/week): Calorie Calculation = BMR x 1.375
  • Moderately active (moderate exercise or sports 3-5 days/week): Calorie Calculation = BMR x 1.55
  • Very active (hard exercise or sports 6-7 days/week): Calorie Calculation = BMR x 1.725
  • Extra active (very hard exercise or sports and physical job): Calorie Calculation = BMR x 1.9

Adjust Calories 300 at a time when establishing weight management. Do not create too drastic of a surplus or deficit to avoid shocking the system and interrupting the body’s adjustment and function process. Establish base lines and adjust accordingly without making too hard of a shift to allow the body to adjust. Additionally, learn what works, how, why and at what pace for the most effective long-term results.

Conclusion

Athletes need to understand how calories affect their body and establish a healthy relationship with food. Eating too few or too many calories, eating infrequently, and eating the wrong foods can adversely affect their performance, body image, and self-esteem. The more information and encouragement coaches can provide in this area will benefit the individual athletes and the team as a whole.

Remember that to maintain balance and avoid cravings, eat frequently, 5-7 times per day, and include all macronutrients while avoiding caffeine and consuming plenty of water.

We are all fallible human beings and creatures of habit and comfort. We all make mistakes and have poor judgment at times. The objective is to be consistent and learn, grow and gain strength — not to focus on perfection.

We hope you look forward to Part 3 “Genetics and Nutrition.”

Note: Participants should always consult their physician or certified/licensed specialist before beginning any nutritional program. The previous information is not a prescription or intended to cure, treat or relieve any problematic symptoms and/or health-related issues. The information was written by a weight management consultant and wellness expert and was influenced and co-written by dietitians and nutritionists.

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