The Eyes are Muscles Too

The eyes are muscles too!

Some of the most important muscles to help sports performance are often overlooked. Athletes become enamored with performing explosive exercises like squats and bench press and rarely even think about training their eyes. Just like other skeletal muscles the muscles that control eye movement can be trained. Imagine picking out the spin of a pitch quicker, locating an opponent coming towards you sooner, or seeing a punch coming towards you sooner. This can present a great competitive advantage. The following exercises can improve performance by enhancing the eye’s ability to track objects and to identify objects by quickly converging on the set target.

Read More

Make a Homemade Ice Pack

Ever wish you had an ice pack readily available? As much as we try to avoid sustaining an injury while playing sports, it is almost inevitable that an injury will occur. There is a level of risk associated with every sport, every time an athlete steps onto the playing field. Furthermore, there are some athletes who participate in weekend long tournaments, and/or multiple day meets, only increasing the likelihood of an injury like a muscle strain or sprained ligament to occur.

During these long stretches of activity it would be beneficial to have an accessible ice. The ice pack will be able to help with pain and inflammation from the injury. Here is how you can make your own homemade ice pack.

Read More

Foam Roll for IT band

The foam roll is a piece of exercise equipment designed to improve soft tissue extensibility. It can be viewed as a personal masseuse because she used properly it will alleviate tight muscles, trigger points, and spasms like having a massage. Being that the foam roll assist the muscles it can be used before a workout helping to prepare the muscle to work optimally or after a workout to allow for muscle recovery.

The IT band is soft tissue that is along the lateral thigh. It is connective tissue from musculature of the hip that inserts into outside of the tibia which interacts with the knee. It plays a significant role in connecting the hip and the knee. Lateral knee pain with running and sports related activity can be from IT band tightness.

To learn how to use use the foam roll for the IT Band, click on the link below to view the video.

Foam Roll IT Band

Use the roll over each IT Band for approximately 1-2 minutes. When starting out there may be areas of the muscle that are sore/ painful. This is indicative of tight points. Try to focus on these points. As the muscle loosens up and you continue to use the foam roll it will become less and less painful.

Foam Roll for quad tightness

The foam roll is a piece of exercise equipment designed to improve soft tissue extensibility. It can be viewed as a personal masseuse because she used properly it will alleviate tight muscles, trigger points, and spasms like having a massage. Being that the foam roll assist the muscles it can be used before a workout helping to prepare the muscle to work optimally or after a workout to allow for muscle recovery.

The quadriceps, the muscles in the front of the thigh are powerful muscles that help athletes run and perform sports specific movements. The foam can help in a couple of ways. First, when the quad muscles are tight it can alter the bodies natural mechanics and ultimately lead to injury. By eliminating muscle spasm and tightness the muscle can go through its normal range of motion. Second, the foam roll will help improve circulation to the muscle. Having lactic acid build up in muscles from a workout or even a spasm will lead to additional soreness and ultimately not the best working conditions/ environment for the body.

Here is how you can use the foam roll over the quadriceps. Click on the link to view the video.

Quad foam roll

Use the roll over each quadriceps for approximately 1-2 minutes. When starting out there may be areas of the muscle that is sore/ painful. This is indicative of tight points. Try to focus on these points. As the muscle loosens up and you continue to use the foam roll it will become less and less painful.

T-Test for agility

In many sports athletes have to be able to sprint forward and backwards, laterally shuffle, and quickly accelerate and decelerate. The T- Test is a quick and easy way to set up a test to measure athlete’s agility

Here is how to set up the T-test

1. Set out 4 cones according to the diagram below.
2. Starting on cone A sprint to cone B touching the base.
3. Turn left and shuffle to cone C also touching its base. Face forwards when shuffling (i.e. so the left foot leads) and do not cross your feet over one another.
4. Shuffle right to cone D facing the same way (i.e. leading with right foot) and touch the base.
5. Shuffle back to cone B (still facing the same way) and touch the base.
6. Finally, run backwards to cone A and stop the clock.

T-test

Take the best time of two trials to the nearest 0.1 seconds.

Compare your results to the chart below:
T-test chart

Images and comparative results from http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/powertests.html

Complex Training

Recently athletes have been asking me for a recommendation on how they should workout while in season. Training while in season can be a challenge. During the season, athletes can not devote as much time solely to strength training, the body is taking a beating during practice and competitions, and athletes still have to be in optimal condition to compete at a high level.

John Cissick wrote an article in Stack Magazine that summarizes Complex training and explains it benefits. Here is the text from the article:

Read More

Morel Lavallee Lesion

Ever hear of a Morel Lavallee Lesion? For all those that have experienced “rug burns” or “strawberries” after sliding on a court, turf, or field I’m sure you can identify. Named for the French Physician that diagnosed this rare condition a Morel Lavalle lesion, to put in simple terms, is a severe rug burn magnified by five. These injuries occur when a shearing takes place that separate layers of soft tissue while the top layer of the skin is not broken. The layers of soft tissue that become separated are then filled with fluid and perhaps blood.

Morel Lavalle Lesion pic

(pic from https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CAYQjB1qFQoTCIeIg7S148gCFQscPgodWK8BoQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Finnervate.exblog.jp%2F20671343%2F&psig=AFQjCNFjwwZcAXfNYW-ursI0tGsA7mTjrg&ust=1446061321916397)

Generally this takes place on the side of the hip but can also occur in the shoulder, lumbar region, or knee. If you see a pocket of fluid or swelling building it is imperative to seek medical attention and have the area properly drained. So for all those athletes playing on astroturf, diving for loose balls on the court, or sliding in the field be thankful for the small “rug burns” and if you do suspect a Morel Lavalle Lesion seek immediate medical attention.

Male Athletes do Yoga too (Part 2)

I previously posted an article that I found from Stack.com that talked about some of the more popular professional male athletes who use yoga as a training tool to improve their sports performance. The article was written in 2012 and some of the athletes may not be as popular. Here is an interview from USA Today with Kevin Love explaining how yoga has helped him.

 

video from http://usatodayhss.com/2015/is-yoga-the-secret-weapon-for-an-athletes-body

Male Athletes do Yoga too

I’ve been having a running discussion with one of my teenage male athletes. We’ve been working on his mobility and especially of the hips to improve his movement patterns such as squatting and even cutting/ acceleration and deceleration. I’ve encouraged him to try yoga and he laughed at the response. I since made it my mission to find examples of male athletes who do yoga. I came across this article from stack.com So this posting is not only to show that my patient that males can also benefit from yoga but there asome pretty popular male professional athletes who have included it in their workout routine. While this article was written in 2012 and some of the athletes have changed teams or roles, their comments are still pertinent.

“When you think of a person who practices yoga, you probably imagine an individual of petite stature, most likely female, who is flexible enough to pull her legs over her head while she’s flat on the ground. Although this type of person certainly exists, as a yoga stereotype it no longer holds true.

Lately, sports teams have been pushing their players to practice yoga. The Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants have even added yoga instructors to their staffs. Giant, hulking men holding steady in “crane” pose or stretching in “downward facing dog”are now a common sight in pro football training facilities. Here are 10 athletes who might surprise you with their yoga skills.

Shaquille O’Neal, former NBA player
Now retired, the 7’1”, 315-pound behemoth turned to yoga as his career wound down to help preserve his body. Shaq’s most famous yoga moment came as a Cleveland Cavalier during the 2009-2010 season, when he strolled into Cleveland Yoga and settled in for a class. The big man wasn’t too pleased with his performance though. He told the Associated Press that he was the “worst yoga student in the history of yoga.” When you are roughly the size of a cargo ship, you might get a pass on not mastering yoga on your first try.

LeBron James, forward for the Miami Heat
No small specimen himself, LeBron also began his foray into yoga during his time in Cleveland, and he brought the practice with him when he took his talents to South Beach.

“Yoga isn’t just about the body, it’s also about the mind, and it’s a technique that has really helped me,” James told the Cleveland Plain Dealer back in 2009. “I had some lower-back problems a few years ago and once I started to do the yoga, it has helped them go away for now.”

Rarely getting more than five minutes of rest per game during his career as a basketball player, James recently credited yoga as the catalyst for his incredible stamina. “Does it work for everybody? I don’t know. But it works for me,” said the King.

Ray Lewis, linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens
For over a decade, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has roamed the middle of the football field, daring any wide receiver to come galloping across his territory. When a collision occurs, things usually don’t end in the wide receiver’s favor. Although the menacing linebacker is one of the last people you’d expect on a yoga mat, Lewis has actually been practicing yoga for a few years now. He uses it not only to prolong his career, but also to broaden his horizons.

“I do it for a lifestyle, and that’s a better motivation,” Lewis told ESPN in 2010. “If you’re gonna be training for a lifestyle and to be a man, then you try all these different things.”

It’s nice to know that Lewis has some other interests besides annihilating receivers.

Victor Cruz, wide receiver for the New York Giants
The young receiver turned heads last year with an incredible season, ending in a Super Bowl victory for his New York Giants. As the year progressed, the undrafted receiver became Eli Manning’s favorite target, racking up more than 1,500 yards and nine touchdowns.

Cruz can thank yoga for at least part of his meteoric rise. The Giants have had yoga instructor Gwen Lawrence on their payroll since 2004, and Cruz regularly works with her. Positions like the hero pose with toes tucked help create flexible ankles and lessen foot pain, allowing Cruz to avoid injury and flourish into one of the game’s best wide receivers.

Mike Krzyzewski, men’s basketball coach
The legendary Duke and USA national team basketball coach is an intense guy on the court. He’s coached some of the best basketball players on the planet, from Grant Hill to Kyrie Irving to Kevin Durant. As he’s gone about racking up four national championships and two gold medals, Coach K has rarely shown emotion on the sidelines. How does he stay so calm? Well, over in London this summer for the Olympics, he was caught by USA point guard Deron Williams in one of his quieter moments. Williams snapped this picture of the 65-year-old in a relaxing yoga position.

New Zealand All Blacks, rugby team
“Rugby” and “yoga” are two words that rarely appear in the same sentence. Giant men slamming into each other and leaving the playing field covered in mud are usually not the same men doing “child’s pose.” The New Zealand All Blacks team is a prime example of how far the practice of yoga is spreading. Recently, after the Blacks had failed to perform in big moments, the club hired yoga instructor Lyndsey Benn to work with the players. Benn told MSN earlier this year, “They all really loved the relaxing aspect of the yoga. Anything that grounded them and could get them laid down, relaxed and doing visualizations of the game ahead.”

Evan Longoria, third baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays
One of the premier young hitters in the game, Longoria has embraced yoga with open arms. He was drawn to the practice both as a way to stabilize his body at the plate and to give himself peace of mind.

Longoria told MLB.com earlier this year, “To be strong in general doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be strong from a baseball standpoint . . . When you’re hitting, you want to be as stable as you can and use the three-dimensional aspect—the rotation in your core—to actually translate to power.”

Kevin Garnett, forward for the Boston Celtics
On the basketball court, the Boston Celtics forward is a whirlwind of adrenaline. He bangs his head against the foam padding on the basket stanchion. He slaps the ground emphatically when he switches off his man to pick up the point guard on defense. He even barks at opponents taking the ball out of bounds. His in-game intensity can be so high, it almost seems like KG is about to bolt out of the arena and run 15 miles. Fortunately, the nine-time All Star has a secret.

Turns out KG has been doing yoga since 1995, using it to focus his breathing and center his energy.

“Yoga helps me calm down and helps me center my energy so I’m balanced instead of going out there and just spreading my energy all over the court,” Garnett is quoted as saying in the book Real Men Do Yoga. “I’m zeroed in on the game and have my mind set on what I need to do.”

Vernon Davis, tight end for the San Francisco 49ers
The dreadlocked star tight end of the 49ers has come a long way since 2008, when then head coach Mike Singletary sent him to the locker room in the middle of a game because he didn’t like his attitude. Now the Maryland graduate is a focal point of the 49ers’ aerial attack. Davis is built like a tank and as manly as they come. But yoga, specifically Bikram yoga, is a big part of his life. Davis told Muscle & Body that Bikram, or “hot yoga,” keeps him mentally fresh during the grueling NFL season, along with meditation and prayer.

Kevin Love, forward for the Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves forward and double-double machine spends most of his time on the basketball court, banging down low and jostling for rebounds. But Love decided to add yoga to his training regimen, telling Yahoo Sports in 2011 that it has improved his strength and stamina, and saying, “There are so many aspects of yoga that can help you when you step out onto the hardwood.”

Love works with Kent Katich, who has also brought yoga into the lives of other NBA players such as Dirk Nowitzki and Baron Davis.”

Article from http://www.stack.com/2012/09/17/yoga-athletes/

Basketball Speed Training

I came across this article written by fitness and sports performance guru Lee Taft. In this article he explains the benefit of speed training in basketball and also provides coaches with a logical way to incorporate speed training with practice. He goes so far in depth that he outlines a sample week of practice. I hope you find this article beneficial…..

“Basketball Speed Training
Oct 18, 2015 / Comments Off on Basketball Speed Training / leetaft

A question I receive quite often is “How and when can I fit basketball speed training into my practice?”

Common Mistake
First of all, let me explain one of the common mistakes made when it comes to basketball speed training. Most coaches make the speed training session into conditioning sessions. In other words, they run far too long and allow little recovery. An example of this is running a suicide or doing a 30 second shuffle drill. Once the drill goes over 7-10 seconds it is now starting to become more of a metabolic conditioner rather than a neurological speed enhancer.

There is a definite time and place for conditioning, but when speed is the goal the short bursts and longer recover are the keys to success.

The problem is when to do basketball speed training during a practice. Should it be at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end? The answer is YES! Using this simple method of increasing basketball speed can be used anytime throughout a practice. If the goal is to get the purest and most effective speed when the player is least fatigued, it must occur at the beginning of practice or I should say, shortly after the warm-up.

Because the goal in basketball speed is to be as quick and explosive as possible in any situation, the practice of speed training must mimic that. If the coach wants his players to shuffle for 6-8 feet as quickly as possible to cut the baseline off, then why not practice that at 100% effort. Yes, I know a player must have the conditioning to be explosive all game, but I don’t care how good the conditioning level of a player is if he or she is slow. There is time to improve both.

The coach must fit speed training into the practice plan at opportune times. For example; just after the warm up session the coach can allow for 2-3 minutes of lateral speed training. This can consist of 5-6 reps of 5 second foul lane shuffles with 40 second rest. Foul shots can be part of the rest period to optimize time.

If the coach wants to work on speed and quickness with his or her players while under slight fatigue, a shorter rest period can be used (still keeping the work interval real short) or do the speed session toward the end of practice.

Basketball Speed Training
Below is a rough example of how you could include speed into practice.

This form of training has paid off for my athletes over the years. When I want raw court speed, this is what I use. If I need to condition my athletes, I will do that during full court drills or other forms of conditioning drills.

You will be surprised how your athletes become better players when they are faster.

Monday:

Skill- Lateral change of direction (shuffle)
Set up- Use all the foul lanes at each basket. Have 1-2 players perform the skill at a time. During the brief recovery period have the players shoot foul shots. Adjust according to number of baskets and players.
Execution- Shuffle from side-to-side across the lane with only the outside foot crossing the line. Focus on good plant angles and keeping hips level and controlling shoulder sway. The drill must be done at 100% effort.
Time frame- 5 seconds. Remember, it is about speed not conditioning at this point
Recover for 40 seconds. Shoot foul shots while resting,
Number of Sets- 5
Great time to perform this drill is after the warm up.
Tuesday:

Skill- “First Step” acceleration
Set up- Line all the players up on the baseline.
Execution- Have the players accelerate as hard as possible to the top of the key and gradually slow down and walk to the opposite baseline. Turn and repeat going the other direction.
Time frame- Should only take roughly 1.5 second – give or take.
Recover by getting to the opposite end of the gym
Number of reps- 8
Great time to perform this drill is after the warm up or before the first drink break.
Wednesday:

Skill- Retreating (opening up and shuffling, crossover, or running)
Set up- Starting at the center circle with two lines. The first 2 players will be facing the coach and all other players in the lines will be behind the coach.
Execution- The first two players will be in a good defensive stance waiting the “go” command of the coach. On “go” the players will perform a Hip Turn to quickly open the hips and shuffle to the 3 point line. These players will get to the end of the opposite line while the next two players get set to go. The next exercise the players will use the crossover move to get to the 3-point line, the third exercise will use a Hip Turn and run. Each player should perform each skill two times on each side (turning to the right and left). The line to the right of the coach opens to the right and the left line opens to the left.
Time frame- 2 seconds. Remember, it is about speed not conditioning at this point.
Recover for roughly 20 seconds.
Number of Sets- Each player does each skill two times on each side.
Great time to perform this drill is after the first drink break.
Thursday:

Skill- Lateral change of direction (crossover).
Set up- Use all the foul lanes at each basket. Have 1-2 players perform the skill at a time. During the brief recovery period- I would have them shoot foul shots. (Adjust according to number of baskets and players)
Execution- Crossover from side-to-side across the lane with both feet outside the lane. Focus on good plant angles and keeping hips fairly level and controlling shoulder sway. The drill must be done at 100 percent effort. The player needs to open the hips so the legs can run while the upper body stays oriented toward the top of the key area.
Time frame- 6 seconds. Remember, it is about speed not conditioning at this point.
Recover for 40 seconds (shoot foul shots while resting)
Number of Sets- 5
Great time to perform this drill is after the warm-up or anytime after.
Friday:

Skill- Combinations
Set up- Starting at the center circle with two lines. The first 2 players will be facing the coach and all other players in the lines will be behind the coach.
Execution- On the “go” command the player will open up and shuffle to the outside when the coach points back, crossover when the coach points to the right or left, accelerate forward when the coach point behind him. This drill is done as quickly as possible by the players. They must control each and every plant and body position in order to be quick. Be sure to switch lines. Each player does it once on each side.
Time frame- 8 seconds. Remember, it is about speed not conditioning at this point.
Recover for 40 seconds- depends on how many players are in front of them and before their next turn.
Number of Sets- 5
Great time to perform this drill is after the warm up, first drink break, or toward the end of practice.
These are examples of multi-directional speed skills can be used to maximize court speed during a practice.

Yours in Speed,
Lee Taft”

Basketball Speed Training