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

Sunday, July 27, 2014

VIDEO: Coach Rippetoe Puts PJ Media on Starting Strength (Part One)

Posted By David Steinberg On July 24, 2014 @ 9:19 am In Health and Fitness,Strength | 35 Comments
After spending a few hours with Mark Rippetoe and two members of his coaching team — John Petrizzo and Nicholas D’Agostino — I’ve learned that online strength training information, though often of high quality, takes a distant second to an in-person session from a top-notch coach. And you simply cannot find one at a corporate gym. Maybe you have found one, or thought you had, but my experience from this project has been that years, dollars, and perhaps time spent recovering from injuries could have been saved had I originally sought out the advice considered to be the best by those who train for a living.

For more detail on that, I asked Petrizzo why he was drawn to Rippetoe’s methods and chose to become an affiliated coach:
All through high school and college I read everything I could get my hands on in regards to training for enhanced strength and athletic performance. Starting Strength stood out. I had never seen a comparable level of analysis applied to the barbell lifts in terms of their application and execution. Prior to SS, everything I had read in regards to lifting technique was merely the author’s opinion. I had never read anything that applied a sound biomechanical rationale for every aspect of the movements included in the program, and why they should be coached and taught in the manner they were presented in the book. 
This was sorely lacking in my formal undergraduate education as an Exercise Science major.
Coach Rippetoe has been writing introductory strength training articles for PJ Media this year. I called him to suggest we do a “video coaching” project, wherein I would follow the advice from his Starting Strength, record each training session, and then send him the video to critique. He didn’t like that idea, explaining that top-level coaching needs to occur in-person.

A few weeks later, Rippetoe, two coaches, and a cameraman were in my lifting partner’s basement gym, showing us everything we’ve been doing wrong all these years.

There’s a reason potential Olympians move to Colorado Springs, and why talented youth tennis players move to Florida. Serious improvement comes from a trained eye watching your every move, giving immediate and correct feedback. This doesn’t happen online, and the trained eyes who can do this at the highest level are few. The difference between Rippetoe, his colleagues, and every other trainer I have worked with? They are meticulous: they always noticed flaws immediately, they gave me the proper fix, and I felt an immediate improvement in performance. If you want improve your strength for any reason — the best being long-term well-being — then you should consider a visit with the best.

We’re breaking the video from that training session into five parts, which we will publish over the next few weeks at PJ Lifestyle. On the following page is the first video: “The Squat, Part One.”
Topics covered:
Weight gainAs Rippetoe has previously covered here, the big, strong guy is both self-sufficient and healthier than the waif. You need to eat if you want to get consistently stronger on a strength program — sometimes those plateaus occur from an insufficient diet. What kind of weight gain might someone pursuing greater strength expect? 
Foot placement: How far apart, and at what angle? 
Back angle: Rippetoe displays, with a simple hands-on test, that a less vertical back angle instantly helps you move more weight. 
Eyes on the floor: With another simple test, Rippetoe shows that the typical eyes-forward squat taught by corporate gyms represents weaker positioning. 
Bar placement: You are probably placing the bar too high on your back, which can lead to that more vertical back angle. Dropping it down — where it doesn’t feel so comfortable at first — shortens the lever and gives you a mechanical advantage over the high bar position.

To see the video click on URL to article below:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Foundation for Coaching

This is the second in a series of articles discussing various chapters in Terry Pettit's book Talent and the Secret Life of Teams.  Mr. Pettit served as the head volleyball coach at Nebraska for 23 years and his teams won 21 conference titles and the 1995 NCAA national championship. The book is a collection of  "...essays, columns, poems, and letters (that) reflect my own journey into coaching. Each entry is part of a story of how I came to see the challenges in my coaching development."

By Jim Freeman
July 20, 2014

Penn State Volleyball celebrated their fifth national championship in the last seven years this past December. (NCAA)

"The first task of a leader is to keep hope alive." - Joe Batten (author)

I recently spoke at length with one of the coaches in our volleyball club about coaching philosophies.  She was doing research for a doctoral dissertation and I was one of the people interviewed for her paper.  We talked for more than an hour about what is important in coaching, what should be emphasized, what should be minimized, the relative importance of winning, and how to teach and inspire players to achieve success.

As I look back on that conversation I think much of it can be whittled down to the responsibility of the coach to create an environment that is attractive to players.  It should be an atmosphere where they know they are cared for, one of fairness, high expectations, and common purpose.  Mr. Pettit writes, "All great coaching and teaching is built on a DNA of hopefulness: the belief that if we commit to certain behaviors, if we work with enthusiasm and focus, if we care more for the mission of the team than our unwillingness to be uncomfortable, then great things will happen. This is the keystone that my coaching philosophy is built on."

Over the course of more than two decades of coaching I've seen all kinds of coaches and all kinds of teams. Some I've studied diligently. Some I've studied casually.  I've seen some coaches that I admired and some I did not.  I've seen players prosper in their sporting experiences and I've seen those who did not.  The coaches who create an atmosphere of hopefulness are the ones that I've chosen to believe in and emulate.  Pettit states, "It is a philosophy that has grown out of years of observing patterns that consistently emerge with exceptional teaching and coaching.  It is not what I think great coaching should be.  It is not what I have read exceptional coaching should be.  It is what I have witnessed whenever a group of talented individuals under the shepherding of an exceptional coach has moved beyond random focus and success to become a great team."

Fostering such an environment presents players and teams with a chance to reach their potential.  As a result, giving players and teams what they need as opposed to what I feel like giving them at any particular moment becomes paramount.  Over the years I've become more adept at controlling my emotions so that my competitive juices don't spill out all over the court.  Many times I'm forced to appear composed and positive when in reality I may feel the opposite. I've learned that what I feel is irrelevant.  What is relevant is how I make my team feel.  That doesn't mean that correction is not given or standards are low.  It means that as a leader I am responsible for the tenor of our practices and games.  I am responsible for promoting the idea that we can succeed if we band together and behave in a certain fashion.

Keeping hope alive can at times be fairly easy.  At other times it can be nearly impossible.  Regardless of the circumstances it is crucial to do so if we hope to create an environment that allows our players to have meaningful experiences on their journey to maximizing their potential.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Why I Coach Youth Sports

By Bob Cook
October 25, 2013
On Mon., Oct. 28, I hold my first practice for my seventh season coaching basketball through the Alsip (Ill.) Park District, a record of longevity, if not success, that makes me the league’s Jim Boeheim. This is a result of me having three kids go through the program (with one to go, if she’s interested). It’s also a matter of me really having a great time coaching kids, my own and others.
On this blog, I write a lot about the craziness of youth sports, including all the junk coaches take, justifiably or not. But for the most part, coaching my son, daughter and son was a great joy, despite the amount of work involved for a volunteer side job.
I certainly haven’t been immune from the nuttiness, such as when I celebrated my 40th birthday by getting rushed by an angry parent in the middle of an Alsip basketball game, with that same parent, upset her son had to take a turn on the bench, after the game screaming at me outside the building for the entertainment of everyone getting into their cars.
At one point, I admit, it did all seem to be too much. In 2010, I wrote a piece called “Why I Coach (?)”, which appeared in the middle of my toughest season since I picked up a whistle for the first time, coaching my oldest son in his Oak Lawn (Ill.) Park District second-grade basketball league in 2004. It was my youngest son’s 7-year-old baseball league, and things just didn’t click. It didn’t seem like I was jelling with the players, and I certainly wasn’t with many of their parents. I thought maybe I was burned out. I felt bad because after the season, my son wasn’t interested in playing baseball again. I felt like the experience, and my leadership of it, turned him off. I figured my coaching days were done.
Read the rest of the article:

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Book Review: 'The Big Fat Surprise' by Nina Teicholz

What if the government's crusade against fat fed the spread of obesity by encouraging us to abstain from foods that satiate us efficiently?

By Trevor Butterworth
June 4, 2014
In the great morality play of modern diet, the angels, we have been told by a host of experts, favor egg-white omelets and skimmed milk, while the devil gorges on red meat cooked in butter. For 50 years we have been warned to fight the good fight on dietary fats if we want to stay healthy. In "The Big Fat Surprise," as one might guess from the title, Nina Teicholz plays the devil's advocate—convincingly.
The road to dietary hell, she notes, was paved in the 1950s by a series of seemingly related phenomena. An epidemic of heart attacks fell upon apparently healthy middle-aged men, including President Dwight Eisenhower, who brought national attention to the problem. They all had high levels of cholesterol, thought to be the critical component of the arterial plaques that clogged arteries, restricted blood flow and triggered heart attacks. The cholesterol was coming from an abundance of meat, eggs, butter and cheese—foods that had all been rationed during the war.
The connection between a diet rich in saturated fats and cardiovascular disease was made by Ancel Keys, an American physiologist who, when visiting Italy and Spain in 1953, concluded that heart-disease rates among men there were low because they ate very little meat and dairy. It was a hypothesis that turned into a juggernaut of censure, not least because Congress was full of middle-aged men chomping down on red meat and eggs. "Eisenhower," notes Ms. Teicholz, "became obsessed with his blood cholesterol levels and religiously avoided foods with saturated fat." That his earlier four-pack-a-day cigarette habit might have had something to do with his coronary disease didn't seem to occur to anyone.
Eisenhower's personal doctor and America's most prominent cardiologist, Paul Dudley White, whom Keys had assiduously cultivated, described Keys's work as "brilliant" in a front-page New York Times  article. Keys became a media oracle, dispensing, as Ms. Teicholz puts it, "fiery language and [a] definitive-sounding solution" to America's new health problem. When the American Heart Association embraced his message, it was game over.
But, as Ms. Teicholz observes, there was a paradox in the statistical data. At the time, the Swiss ate a lot of animal fat; so too, the Swedes, the Norwegians, the Danes and the Germans. But there was no correlation with rates of heart disease. Why, Keys's critics asked, was he ignoring this data? In 1956, armed with a massive U.S. government grant, Keys embarked on "the first multicountry epidemiological undertaking in human history" to prove his hypothesis—the "Seven Countries study," as it came to be called. Critically, and appallingly, he excluded the "paradox" countries.

Ms. Teicholz, who has a gift for translating complex data into an engaging forensic narrative, explains why the "proof" that the Seven Countries study seemed to deliver was far from conclusive. One morsel: Keys had included data on the Greek diet taken during a 48-day Lenten fast in Crete, when participants were required to abstain from meat, fish, eggs, cheese and butter. Forty years later, researchers estimated that 60% of the Cretan population had been fasting at the time of the study, but no attempt had been made to separate fasters from non-fasters.
Yet when skeptics, including the National Academies of Science, weighed in on Keys's impoverished data, and on related claims that multiplied over the succeeding years, the media attacked the skeptics, heedless of statistical reasoning. Meanwhile, the food industry—apart from the protesting cattle and dairy lobbies—happily ministered to the new dietary wisdom. Government agencies weighed in with dietary guidelines that emphasized carbs and vegetables and warned that red meat was something one could only risk eating a few times a month. And when this miserable diet, shorn of taste, wearied its adherents, as it so often did, the pharmaceutical industry stepped in, offering drugs to lower cholesterol.
As the 20th century closed, the Owl of Minerva finally stirred in the light of unavoidable evidence: None of this advice was preventing heart disease. What was left, as Ms. Teicholz adumbrates, was a monstrous thought: What if the crusade against cholesterol had fed the spread of obesity by encouraging a population to retreat from the very foods that would have satiated its hunger more efficiently than the hallowed grains and fruits and vegetables of the great dietary pyramid? What if the low-fat mantra had driven a population into feeling perpetually hungry? What if you were better off eating meat, eggs and dairy than a diet bloated in carbs and vegetable oils?
It is a commonplace in public-health discussions of obesity to warn that the search for "perfect" or "better" evidence is the enemy of good policy and that we can't afford to wait for all the information we might desire when there is a need to do something now. Yet Ms. Teicholz's book is a lacerating indictment of Big Public Health for repeatedly putting action and policy ahead of good evidence. It would all be comical if the result was not possibly the worst dietary advice in history. And once the advice had been reified by government recommendations and research grants, it became almost impossible to change course. As Ms. Teicholz herself notes, she is not the first to point out that saturated fats have been sinned against by bogus science; and yet, the supermarket aisles are still full of low- and no-fat foods offering empty moral victories.
"The Big Fat Surprise" is more than a book about food and health or even hubris; it is a tragedy for our information age. From the very beginning, we had the statistical means to understand why things did not add up; we had a boatload of Cassandras, a chorus of warnings; but they were ignored, castigated, suppressed. We had our big fat villain, and we still do.
Mr. Butterworth is editor-at-large for STATS.org.