“Seek opportunities to show you care. The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference.”
John Wooden

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Why You Should Make Strength Training Your New Year’s Resolution

By Mark Rippetoe
November 26, 2014

The “New Year’s Resolution” must be one of the most ridiculous of human customs. You identify a problem you’re having, and then you wait until January 1 of the next year to address it, in the spirit of a group-participation event that nobody completes and nobody approaches seriously. You decide that you’re going to quit eating chocolate or stop scratching your feet. You stop until January 5. You’re typical.

In the gym business, New Year’s Resolution business used to be a bigger factor than it is now. Twenty-five years ago, fewer people participated in the fitness industry during the regular course of the year, so more people were free to buy memberships in January they weren’t going to use. Back then, New Year’s business was a significant percentage of the year’s gross, and the leveling off of this spike is really a good thing for everybody. The gym isn’t as crowded with amateurs for the three weeks after their hangovers are gone, and more people are using the gym more of the year.
But if you fall into the category of die-hard NYRers that insist on giving it a shot this year — again — let me suggest a different approach this time: strength training.
Training is the systematic approach a person employs to improve a physical ability. Preparing for a marathon, a football season, or a weightlifting meet are examples of training. They require an analysis of the specifics of the task, an assessment of where you are now in relation to where you want to be, and a plan for getting there. The plan and its constituent components are the training. The constituent components are theworkouts, and each workout is important because together they produce an accumulation of increasing physical capacity. The plan that controls and directs the process is what makes training different than what you did last year.
Exercising is what you did last year.
When you stop by the gym after work, change clothes, go to the dumbbell rack and do some curls or sit on your favorite machines and wiggle the levers around, ride the treadmill for 20 minutes while you watch the news, take a sauna and a shower, get back in the car and go home, you’re Exercising. If Training is a process, Exercising is what you do without a process in mind.
Exercising is what you do for today — for the way it makes you feel when you get through doing it. Hot. Sweaty. Out of breath. Tired. The “pump.” It’s about the positive feelings of accomplishment it produces Right Now. Exercise is the act of penance for your urban sins on the way home from work, and no plan/process/goal need be involved. The only thing it really requires is that you punch the ticket. Do the time. Get something — anything — done.
The problem with Exercise is the absolutely incontrovertible fact that it stops making things change almost as soon as you get used to the idea of doing it.
Adaptation (sorry for all the vocabulary words, but we must be precise) is the change that happens to your body when you push it harder in a direction it hasn’t been pushed before. The pushing-part is called stress, and a stress event is the stimulus that makes an adaptation occur. Recovery is the process of biological change within the body that allows the adaptation to occur. It’s the healing made necessary by the stress. The adaptation is the change that enables your body to withstand the stress next time. Adaptation is a feature of all living things. Basic biology in action.
Training harnesses the power of the stress/recovery/adaptation cycle. It allows the adaptation to follow a specific direction, one that produces the physical result you want, when you want it.
Planning your workouts is all it takes, and a little planning prevents both a lot of wasted time and the failure of your New Year’s Resolution, again. Here’s why.
Most people have something in mind when they start going to the gym. Nobody actually plans to get nothing accomplished. That just happens because no plans have been made. The process of stress, recovery from the stress, and adaptation to the stress must be managed so that it continues in a definite direction, because once an adaptation occurs, it takes a bigger stress event to make the process continue.
Messing around on the machines and riding the treadmill for 20 minutes is not training, because after you do it the first time, you adapt to it. It’s not hard the second time, because it wasn’t really very hard the first time. Repeating it over and over causes nothing new to happen, even if you still get sweaty, hot, and tired, because sweaty, hot, and tired (SHT) happens as a result of just burning calories at a higher-than-baseline rate.
It happens at work for years on end, if you have that kind of job.
This is very important: SHT doesn’t necessarily mean that an adaptation is taking place. SHT just means that you’re working hard enough to activate the adaptations that have already taken place.
Face it, kids. Getting SHT may only mean that you live in Houston. If you don’t do more work at the gym than you did last time, nothing is going to change, because you haven’t made it change. You can go to the gym every single day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, get SHT, and still not make anything adapt. I know this, and so do you. I’ve been in this business for 37 years, and you’ve been in this business every January since you got out of college.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Christa Harmotto returns to Hopewell with a new kind of medal

By Bill Allmann 
Beaver County Times Sports Correspondent
November 18, 2014

Hopewell's Christa Harmotto
Hopewell, PA native Christa Harmotto Dietzen, right, spikes the ball for the United States against China's Junjing Yang during the women's Volleyball World Championships in Milan, Italy, Oct. 12. (Emilio Andreoli/ The Associated Press)

HOPEWELL TWP. -- Ten years ago, Christa Harmotto brought gold medals back to Hopewell High School from both the WPIAL and PIAA Volleyball championships.
When she returned Tuesday night, she brought a different gold medal back – one from the world championships that she won as a member of the US National Team.
“After winning those gold medals in high school, I had no idea how far my career would have gone,” said Christa, who also brought a new last name back to Hopewell. After her recent marriage, she is now Christa Harmotto Dietzen. “I knew I was going to college but I didn’t know about anything beyond that.
“Wherever I’ve gone, I’ve been thankful for the support of everyone who has helped me along the way.”
Along the way, Christa has built on the three WPIAL and one PIAA titles from Hopewell, winning two national titles at Penn State and while being named an All-American four times while there, and won a silver medal as a member of the 2012 Olympic team.
Before talking to local volleyball players for an hour about setting goals and values, Hopewell gave Harmotto Dietzen another honor – her number 20 was retired with a plaque to go alongside other Hopewell greats such as Tony Dorsett and Joe Colella in the Hopewell lobby.

“I didn’t know that was going to happen,” said Harmotto Dietzen. “My roots mean so much to me. They’ve been so important in making me the person I am, that blue collar work ethic and the values that were instilled in me.”
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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Learning to Play Outside the Box

By Karch Kiraly
I’ve often said that forearm passing is the cornerstone of volleyball, and I believe it more than ever now that I’m a coach. If you want to elevate the play of those around you, indoors or beach, you have to be able to make the ball go where you want by using your forearm platform.
When you think about it, every player on the court is required to pass. In the indoor game, even middle blockers have to set a hittable ball when a dig sprays their way – either overhead or with their platform. They also have to pass free balls, down balls, short serves or those that dribble over the net, and they have to cover their outside hitters when they get blocked.
The U.S. Women’s National Team faces these situations in every practice and every match. With such a fine margin between winning and losing, any one of these plays can determine the outcome. And, of course, beach players face the same thin margins and the same demands to make the ball go where they want.
During a game, players almost always have to receive a ball from one direction and make it go another – that is, they have to make an angle with their platform. There are very few game opportunities where you play a ball right back to where it came from, though that’s exactly what we do in partner activities like traditional pepper. If you can’t find a partner, a better way to practice making angles is to stand in the corner of two walls and repeatedly hit a spot on one wall, then the other. But even that drill has its flaws because the objective of a passer is to make the ball go to a teammate, not the next spot on the wall.
I prefer it when a player practices with two other people – friends, parents, siblings, anybody who’s willing. One person tosses or serves a ball over a net-high rope, and another is a catching target a few feet away from the “net.” (This is a drill you can do in the backyard or any place you can tie a rope.) This drill makes the passer take serves from various places around the court and pass them to a target.
Of course, the best way to practice – spoiler alert here – is to play this game called volleyball: doubles or with three players, indoors, on grass, on sand, wherever you can find a net.
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