Why Athletes Should Train Every Day

You don’t have to train physically every day, but if you have certain goals you need to be disciplined enough to continually “train” your mind as well. Professional athletes never have an off day because they are consistently working towards their goals both physically and mentally. Training daily can have many benefits for your body, and your mentality. If you want to be a successful athlete, you must be willing to put in the work every single day.

When you take a day off from training you are basically saying that “I’m not working on my goals or me as an athlete today.” You are telling yourself that your goals are not important, and they are ideas or things that would be cool if you accomplished them. If you have a goal you want to reach you must work for it every day not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. When you choose to not train you’re pushing your goals further away, and you develop excuses later that turn into habits.

Not every athlete can train every day due to different circumstances, and that is understandable. However, when taking a “rest” day you need to take the proper steps to continually grow as an athlete. Don’t’ be afraid to work towards your goals every day.

3 Ways to Break Out of a Slump

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We all go through times when things just don’t go our way. We try to break out of it, but no matter what we try we can’t seem to shake it. This could be in sports, in school, at work, or in the gym. It happens to even the best of us.

Here are three ways to help break you out of a slump:

  1. Acknowledge the Slump

Accept it, don’t fight against it. Like getting stuck in a strong current, fighting the waves only tires you and worsens your chances of making it to shore. Fighting it can make a slump last longer and feel much worse. Ask yourself, what are my body and mind telling me? Acknowledge that maybe this is its way to tell you to slow down. The best athletes learn how to take advantage of the adversity that they face and come out stronger as a result.

  1. Write It Out

Try a free-writing exercise where you spend 10 minutes writing whatever you want. The only rule is that you have to keep writing. More often than not, writing exercises like these can help you get to the bottom of any problem you might be having. It takes time to master, but having a daily journal like this can help you understand your habits over time. It is also quite valuable to look back and see if you have had this problem before, and how you dealt with it.

  1. Positive Mental Attitude (PMA)

Don’t throw yourself a pity party. The only people that want to attend are the ones that want to tear you down. When you’re in a slump don’t give into it. Have a positive mental attitude and surround yourself with other like-minded individuals.

Remember everyone gets in a slump. Acknowledging that it happens is the first step to breaking out of it. Try free-writing exercises to discover your habits. This will help guide you in making the right adjustments to break those bad behaviors. Attack your slump head-on with a positive mental attitude and surround yourself with others that exude that same positivity and you’re sure to be a success.

4 Signs of Dehydration to Take Seriously

No matter the season, it is important for athletes to stay hydrated in order to perform at their highest level.

However, during the warmer months, dehydration is a very serious topic for not only athlete performance, but general safety and well-being. As the temperature goes up, so too does athlete perspiration.

When an athlete sweats, they lose electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. When an athlete depletes their body of fluids and electrolytes without replenishing them, they put themselves in grave danger.

READ MORE: What Not To Eat Before Games and Training

Here are four dehydration warning signs athletes should take seriously:

Dark Colored Urine With Strong Odor

This is one of the easiest ways to catch dehydration at an early stage. If an athlete’s urine is dark yellow it is a good time to start drinking some water and stop the problem before it even starts.

Prolonged Weight Loss During Exercise

Weight loss of 2% or more during a training session is a good indicator of dehydration.  That would be approximately 2.5-pounds of weight lost for an athlete weighing 125 pounds. Weight loss during exercise is not fat loss — so stay hydrated before, during and after training and bring plenty of fluids to games and practices. 

Muscle Cramps

Muscle cramps can be another of the warning signs of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Consuming a sports drink like Gatorade during exercise bouts longer than four hours or when under extreme heat conditions can help prevent muscle cramps.  This does not mean an athlete needs a sports drink for one hour of exercise — water would be much more beneficial to them than Gatorade.

Dizziness, Nausea and Fatigue

If an athlete is experiencing dizziness, nausea and fatigue, it is important to immediately begin consuming water or a sports drink and rest.  Also, it is important to avoid caffeine, as caffeine will increase urine output.

When you recognize any of these four dehydration warning signs, tell a coach or parent and begin hydrating immediately. Have fun and be safe this summer during your training sessions.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES ON DEHYDRATION IN SPORTS:

National Athletic Trainers’ Association PREVENTING HEAT ILLNESS HANDOUT

National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Fluid Replacement for Athletes

STOP Sports Injuries: Heat Illness Prevention

How To Protect Against ACL Injuries

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Although Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries are not as career ending as they used to be, they are still significant enough to greatly impact an athlete’s season and future potential. Because of this, they are obviously best avoided. Although no injury is completely unavoidable, preparation prior to competition is essential to reducing the risk. 

Two primary causes for a non-impact ACL injury: inadequate deceleration and poor muscular balance. Deceleration is the ability to slow down and control force production. This is an extremely important skill for athletes to master during training. When athletes lack the ability to decelerate efficiently, they put themselves at risk for a non-impact ACL injury during rudimentary actions like changing direction fast or landing from a jump.

The following tips are essential to include in your comprehensive preventative conditioning program:

Proper Warm-Up: A proper warm up is key for preparing the body for activity.  By warming up your muscles first, you greatly reduce your risk of injury during competition of practice.

Strength Training: Strengthening of the hamstrings, quads, core and gluteus musculature can help to maintain upper and lower leg alignment, thus reducing stress and excessive rotation at the knee.

Improve Balance: Single-leg exercises and drills can help to eliminate imbalance differences between the right and left leg.

Controlled Plyometrics: Vertical jumps and plyometric exercises should be included but must be controlled, not allowing the knees to collapse together.  This inward movement (valgus collapse) of the knees is a predictor of ACL injuries. Start by using both legs and progress to single leg lateral jumps.

Injury Prevention Screening: Screenings can be a key to possibly identifying individual needs, thus further reducing the risk of injury.  Mobility (range of motion) and/or stability (strength-related motor control) asymmetries must be addressed. The Functional Movement Screen and similar objective standardized measures can be used to assess for possible impairment of proper functional movement.

Consistency is key to reap the benefits from a comprehensive preventative conditioning program. For best results, the above listed workouts and training methods should be completed at minimum three times a week.

 

Why Being A One-Sport Athlete Is Not A Good Thing

As a coach or parent of a youth athlete, we all want the same thing: To put them in the best position possible to be successful. We want them to have plenty of opportunities to be the best that they can be at whatever they decide to do.

Supporting your athlete is a great thing; however, sometimes that well-intentioned support can be detrimental to the athlete’s development. This applies to cases where coaches and parents pressure athletes into playing one sport. By focusing exclusively on that one sport, and even seeking private coaching, all in an attempt to get a leg up on the competition.

The Question

Should coaches and parents encourage their athletes to play only one sport or would it be better to play and develop skills across a diversity of sports?

Scenario 1

Before we can answer that question, let’s ponder this scenario: Your child enjoys math. They excel in the subject. In fact, they’ve even mentioned their desire to be a mathematician when they grow up. Does this mean your child should only learn math in school? Should they just not even bother with the other subjects like English, Science, Art, or Physical Education?

The answer is most likely, no. Instead, you’d want them to learn all of the subjects that any student their age needs in order to grow and develop.

Sports and athletics are no different from this school scenario. While focusing on one sport can get you much better at that sport, there are skills in other sports that are worth learning for any athlete.

Scenario 2

Here’s another scenario: When you’re applying for a job, what do you put on your resume? You list all of your previous experience. Employers are searching for a qualified individual with a range of experience and skills.

The number and past jobs, paired with your success in those positions, is an indicator of your quality as an employee. This same idea can be applied to sports. Playing one sport — like having one job — can limit you.

If you look at Olympic athletes, just about all of them played multiple sports early in their career before picking and focusing exclusively on one.

RELATED: Discover the Secret Elite Sports Organizations Know About Building Champion Athletes.

Olympians dedicate their life to excelling at one sport to the point of excellence. And if you ask them, the hardest part about competing at that level of competition is burnout. Without getting into the science and psychology of burnout, suffice to say that playing one sport can, and often does, get boring for athletes. Athletes can also burnout physically — playing one sport year in and year out can take a toll on the body. Using the same muscles to complete the same actions can lead to injury and exhaustion.

The Benefits of Being a Multi-Sport Athlete:

  • helps athletes avoid burnout.
  • forces athletes to use different parts of the body and learn new movements.
  • teaches athletes how to work with different types of people, navigate different team dynamics and learn new perspectives.
  • gives the body time to physically recover from the demands of the last sport.
  • gives your mind a break, so that when you return to your sport you are excited, engaged and prepared to give it your all.

At Velocity, we believe that athletes should play as many sports as they want, and can, through high school. When an athlete is done growing, that’s the time to decide what sport to specialize in. If they do this, they will be a passionate, fierce, and well-rounded athlete.

How to Keep Your Athlete Focused

Stay-Focused

When it comes to playing youth sports, the best predictor of success is not based off of an athlete’s physical abilities or skills. What really matters is which athlete is able to remain focused on the task at hand when they are tired. The more focused an athlete is, the more successful an athlete will be.

Look at a pitcher as he prepares to throw, he is focused on the catcher’s glove. Consider a weightlifter or gymnast, notice how calm they are before their event. They are totally locked into “the zone”.

So how do we teach our youth athletes to get into the zone and have laser sharp focus when they need it? Luckily, focus is something that can be trained.

As a coach, you must plan practices with the goal to keep athletes engaged. How do we do this? Here are some of our tricks:

Limit Distractions

One easy way to do this: NO CELL PHONES. Smartphones of any kind can dramatically decrease focus and productivity. To keep it simple, and increase focus, our rule is: Phones stay in the bags.

3 Words: Structure, Routine, Consistency.

Having a structured practice with little down time is necessary to keep athletes engaged and focused on the task at hand. When practices are consistently the same, athletes develop a routine. Routines are very important for helping an athlete increase focus. Let’s be honest, athletes are going to lose focus from time to time, so developing a strategy to regain focus is critical to help them get back into the zone. This is why a routine, or ritual, is important. For example: consider a baseball player’s at-bat routine. After each pitch, they step out of the box and adjust their gloves and helmet the same way before stepping back into the box. They consistently do the same thing over and over. This helps them maintain focus.

 Understand Different Learning Styles

Each athlete is different and they learn in different ways. There are three types of learning styles: audio (hearing), visual (seeing), and kinesthetic (doing). Coaches and parents need to be aware of the possibility that the information they are presenting their athlete might not be done so in the style of learning that they understand best. In this case, the athlete is less likely to pay attention. Engaging your athletes in all of the different learning styles helps them to remain focused.

Find a Balance

Challenge is an integral part of your athlete’s overall improvement. However, keeping these challenges in line with their skill level is important to keep them from losing focus. It’s impossible to stay focused on a task that is way too challenging. Coaches need to create attainable challenges their athlete’s in order to keep them focused on completing the task at hand.

Don’t Over-Coach

Many times as a coach we feel the need to tell our athletes everything they are supposed to do and exactly how to do it. This can be information-overload for an athlete. When there are too many things to focus on, the athlete is overwhelmed and breaks down. Giving them one task to focus on is the best way to see them succeed. Once they’ve mastered the initial task, you can begin to add more.

 Keep it Fun

Sports are fun. Plain and simple. Let’s keep it that way. If an athlete is not having fun, they will be less likely to stay focused and and more likely to disengage.

7 TRX Moves to Build Upper-Body Strength

The TRX Suspension System is great for providing exercises that are safe, functional and useful in preventing and recovering from injury. Essential to any strength-training program, an athlete uses their own bodyweight — adjusting resistance as needed — in order to target multiple muscle groups at once. The following exercises are just a few examples of how you can use TRX in your training. It is important to note that resistance is added by stepping closer to the TRX point-of-attachment, and reduced by stepping away. The row is a traditional exercise that targets the upper back and shoulder muscles. When compared to a traditional row, the TRX row is different in that it requires increased core stabilization.

How To: Begin with arms fully extended, pull elbows straight back and squeeze the shoulder blades together. Keep the core tight, and do not allow the hips to rise or fall. A great exercise for shoulder stability, the TRX Y targets the trapezius, deltoids and upper rotator cuff muscles.

How To: Bring straight arms up into a Y shape; be sure to point thumbs back. Keep the core tight, and body straight. The TRX T is another great exercise to target the upper back, including the rhomboids and rotator cuff muscles.

How To: Palms should be facing forward with thumbs pointed upward. While keeping arms straight, bring arms back into a T shape, contracting the upper back to bring the shoulder blades together. Keep the core tight, and body straight. The TRX A targets the lats, and other rotator cuff muscles. You can

How To: With palms facing forward, pull straight arms down to the sides in an A shape. Keep the core tight, and body straight. The TRX Tricep Extension targets the core and triceps, while also increasing shoulder stability.

How To: Begin face down, arms straight overhead, bent to 90 degrees with the palms facing upward. Extend the arms while maintaining an engaged core. A play on the traditional bicep curl, the TRX Bicep Curl is a great exercise to target the core and biceps.

How To: Begin with arms extended, as with the row, but palms facing upward. Without allowing the elbows to come close to the body, pull handles toward the shoulders. Keep the core engaged. The TRX Push Up Targets the pectoral muscles and anterior shoulder muscles. This exercise is great for shoulder and core stability.

How To: Begin face down in push up position, arms extended. Lower chest to handles, keeping the elbows close to the body, and then push handles away from the body until original position is reached. Do not allow the hips to rise or fall.Do you want to learn new ways to get stronger? Come find out how with the elite coaches at VSP South Bay. VSP South Bay makes athletes better. Click below to learn more about our programs and free trial.

Understanding the Functional Anatomy of the Shoulder Complex and How it Relates to Your Performance

Athletes shoulder pain
The shoulder isn’t just a simple joint. In fact, the shoulder is a complex of multiple joints and muscle groups. It is incredibly mobile and allows you to generate force to throw a baseball or spike a volleyball.

To maximize your performance and reduce the risk of injury, it’s imperative that you understand how the shoulder complex functions.

The Shoulder is Designed for Motion

To better understand the function of the shoulder complex, picture a golf ball sitting on a tee. This is the glenohumeral (GH) joint’s function by design—a full range of motion through many planes but little structural stability.

The rotator cuff muscles are responsible for providing stability (keeping the golf ball on the tee) to the gleno-humeral joint.

Stabilizing the joint is easy when your arm is immobilized. However, it requires a lot more work when you’re throwing a ball or swinging a bat.

Furthermore, the mobility and stability of the shoulder joint relies on muscle function. It will be compromised if there is a weakness or imbalance in the rotator cuff muscles.

Microtrauma Can Lead to Rotator Cuff Injuries

The rotator cuff consists of four muscles that pull the humeral head (ball) into the glenoid (socket) during arm movement.

When these rotator cuff muscles aren’t doing their job well, there is extra stress on the glenohumeral joint.

The repetitive microtrauma that accumulates over weeks, months and even years can lead to injury. This is common with baseball and volleyball players and even CrossFitters. The pain starts slowly and builds up over time.  

It’s not just overuse that causes microtrauma to the shoulder. A common problem is that athletes continue to perform after they are fatigued. This means they are exceeding their ability to control motion through the shoulder complex. This is why youth baseball leagues and even Major League teams use pitch counts.

Whether throwing, hitting or pressing overhead, doing so when you’ve lost the ability to control the kinetic chain can lead to injury.

RELATED:  Check out some shoulder strengthening moves in 7 TRX Strength Moves for Your Upper Body

Function is Key

Shoulder treatments will help reduce pain and swelling when dealing with an injury. Unfortunately, this is where many athletes fail at rehabilitation. They “chase the pain,” treating only the area that’s hurt. It’s a quick fix to relieve the pain, but it fails to address the source of the problem.
Instead, you’re more likely to eliminate the risk of re-injuring your shoulder if you focus on improving the function of the entire kinetic chain. This requires a greater understanding of biomechanics, physiology and motor control.
 
Yes rehab should eliminate your pain. Still, it also should focus on targeting areas of the body that you may not think directly correlate to the shoulder. That’s how you fix it over the long run.

Y Balance Test: What It Is & How to Use It

Following an injury, an athlete can experience significant changes to their motor control, which can affect their overall functional symmetry.

The Y Balance Test is one way to test an athlete’s risk of injury and functional symmetry. The test measures pre and post rehab performance, improvements resulting from an athlete performance program, dynamic balance and return to sport readiness.

Performed for both upper and lower body, the results take into consideration age, sport and gender.

When incorporated into the functional exam, the Y Balance Test has the ability to identify if an athlete is susceptible to risk.

Training smarter, which includes using the results from the Y Balance Test, can result in the reduction of re-injuries, as well as prevention of initial injuries.Click through the slideshow to watch Wes Rosner lead Angelina through the Y Balance Test. 

How to Do the Y Balance Test:

  • Start with right foot on center platform.
  • Use left foot to push reach indicator in forward direction.
  • (Note: The left foot cannot be placed on top of the reach indicator.)
  • Return left foot to center while under control, without touching down.
  • (Note: The left foot cannot touch down during the test.)

Repeat in each direction, switch feet.
Repeat with upper-body.

The Y Balance Test Addresses the Following Areas:

Upper: Medial, Infrolateral and Supralateral Reach
Lower: Anterior, Posteriormedial and Posteriorlateral Reach[/fusion_text]

6 Ways to Build Confidence in Young Athletes

Confidence

In order for youth athletes to make it to an elite level, they have to have talent, dedication and the drive to work hard and improve their skills. While ability and work ethic are very important skills for athletes to develop, the one skill that sets elite athletes apart is confidence.

By improving one’s confidence on the court of field, it benefits all aspects of an athlete’s life. On the other hand, a lack of confidence can have devastating results for an athlete’s performance in sport and in the classroom.

As a coach or parent, we want the best for our athletes. We want them to have faith and confidence in their abilities. We want them to know what they’re capable of achieving today and, with hard work and dedication, what they’re capable of achieving tomorrow. When an athlete is confident in their abilities, they are more aggressive and generally play harder and better.

Just like physical skills, confidence is something that can be developed with practice.

Here are 6 ways to develop confidence in youth athletes to set them up for long-term success:

Lead By Example

Kids learn how to react to situations by watching their role models. For example, when a young kid trips and falls, they pause for a second or two as they try to figure out how to react. Am I ok? Should I Cry? During those few seconds they are looking at a coach or parent to gauge their response. They search for cues in the faces of their coaches or parents, and will respond accordingly. If we rush over panicked and worried, they are going to be panicked and worried. If we respond by acknowledging the fall calmly and offer a bit of encouragement— “you’re ok, it was just a fall, dust yourself off” — they will usually pop right back up. It is important for parents and coaches to be role models constantly displaying the discipline, hard work, and self-belief that you hope to see in your athlete.

Practice Makes Perfect

Confidence is based on evidence and experience, which comes from practice. Practice is the time for athletes to work on their skills. If an athlete is constantly sharpening their skills and abilities, they are constantly reinforcing faith in their capabilities.

Start Off Easy & Develop the Fundamentals

A simple way to improve confidence is to start with something easy. For example, if you’re teaching someone how to hit a baseball for the first time, you won’t start by pitching a fastball from the pitcher’s mound. You wouldn’t do this, because it simply won’t be fun for a new player to constantly swing and miss. Instead, start them off hitting from a tee. They can learn how to keep their eye on the ball and make firm contact. As they get better, you can try tossing the ball under hand to them from a few feet away. Finally, as their skills continue to develop and their confidence grows, you can move back to the pitcher’s mound.

Break It Down

Anything you do well becomes enjoyable. That is the idea for starting on the tee and developing the fundamentals from the last example. It is important for coaches to break down the skills so the athlete can understand what they need to do. Once they have consistently shown that they have mastered the fundamentals off the tee, they will get bored of the tee. Once they get bored, a coach will introduce a slightly more complicated skill to develop. Putting in the time and working on the basics doesn’t appear glamorous — but athletes who constantly sharpen their skills, sharpen their confidence. MLB players warm up the same way by starting on the tee to make sure their fundamentals are dialed in and they are confident before they hit live.

Focus On Doing Your Best

In sport, the objective is to win. But the desire to win shouldn’t take away from an athlete’s most important goal: doing your best. The best team or player doesn’t always win, it’s the team that plays the best that wins. As coaches and parents we have to let our athletes know that there is no shame in losing if you do your best. Sometimes its bad luck, or sometimes the opponent is just better than you. If you know during practice that you put your best effort into learning and mastering the fundamentals, and focusing on doing your best instead of being the best, the wins will come as long as you play hard.

“Don’t Fear Failure”

Lastly, and perhaps more important, teach kids not to be afraid of failure. Confidence in youth athletes comes down to the battle between faith and fear. Fear of failure can really destroy an athlete’s confidence even to a point where they don’t want to participate so they don’t make any mistakes. As a coach, we have to recognize when athletes are afraid and nervous. When we recognize this, we must empower them, we must offer words of encouragement and remind them of their abilities. Understanding fear is the best skill you can teach a young athlete. Fear of failure holds us back from being the best we can be — not just in sport, but in all areas of our lives.