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

Saturday, November 21, 2015

U.S. weightlifter Mattie Rogers talks about body image, power

, USA TODAY Sports6:20 p.m. EST November 19, 2015


Mattie Rogers (Photo: Special to USA TODAY Sports, Bruce Klemens)

When Mattie Rogers wasn’t seeing the results she wanted in weightlifting, she knew she had to let go of something. The former cheerleader and gymnast would have to give up a seemingly perfect body and put on weight to reach her goals.
The 20-year-old from Florida moved up from the 69 kilograms (152 pounds) weight class to 75 kg (165 pounds). She became stronger, and has improved her personal best to 202 kilograms (445 pounds) for the combined total of snatch and clean and jerk. Once she did it, Rogers found herself looking at her body differently.
“When you get to weightlifting, your body needs to look like what it needs to look like for you to perform at its best. You need to fuel it the right way. You need to take care of it, recover, train the right way to be able to perform at your best,” Rogers said. “Whatever my body looks like is just a result of what it needs to look like for it to perform at its best.”
On Black Friday, when much of the country will be focusing on holiday shopping, she will be competing at the International Weightlifting Federation World Championships in Houston. It’s the first time a combined worlds, with both men and women competing, will take place on American soil. Three London Olympians, Holley Mangold and Sarah Robles on the women’s side and Kendrick Farris for the men, will compete.
Click on the link below to read the rest of the article:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Changing the Game Project: Our 2015 Books of the Year

Posted In Book reviewsCoachingMessages for KidsSports Parenting

By John O'Sullivan
November 18, 2015
All great leaders, great coaches, great athletes, and great parents are lifelong learners. Every great coach I have met has been a lifelong student of coaching, leadership, psychology and more.  Here at the Changing the game Project, we are always looking for the latest and greatest information on talent development, leadership, building culture, and being a great parent. This year was no different, and it was very difficult to cull this list down to a few books.
Below are the best books I have read in 2015, divided into categories of books for parents, for coaches, and for athletes. I hope you are able to find a book or two on this list for your holiday reading, and as gifts for the coaches, parents and athletes in your life. Click on any of the images or links and they will take you to Amazon (full disclosure, they are affiliate links, so the Changing the Game Project makes about .30 if you buy a book). Also, in the comments below, feel free to share any books you read this year that you would add to this list.

2015 Book of the Year for Parents

St Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny gained notoriety in the youth sports world a few years ago with his famous 5000 word letter to the parents of a little league team he was about to coach. This book takes that letter to a whole new level, and is fantastic for both parents and coaches to read. It details Matheny’s time as a youth player and the important lessons learned from his coaches, especially those who focused on developing him as a player instead of winning a specific game. He discusses how his parents created an environment to follow his dreams, and how he took those parenting and coaching lessons and brought them to a group of youth baseball players (and now, many of them to the Cardinals as well). This book may be the single best book I have ever read on how to be a great parent and coach for young athletes, and is deserving of our book of the year!

2015 Book of the Year for Coaches

The most successful sports team in the professional era is not the Yankees, or Real Madrid, or the Celtics; it’s the New Zealand All Blacks Rugby team, with an astonishing 87% winning percentage. In November 2015, they also became the first nation ever to win back to back Rugby World Cups. Their secret sauce: CULTURE! I don’t think I have ever read a book where I dog-eared or underlined so often. I eventually gave up because there is a gem on every page. Every team has a culture, whether you are coaching 6th grade basketball or college football, and coaches who intentionally create a great culture and develop good people win a lot more championships than those who leave it to chance. If you want a blueprint for success for your team, read Legacy!

2015 Book of the Year for Athletes

Jon Gordon’s books are easy to read stories that teach valuable lessons about life, teamwork, and leadership. I was introduced to Jon this year, and as you will see on the list below I devoured his work. Training Camp is the story of an undrafted rookie trying to make the NFL, a classic “little guy with a big heart” story. It is also a tale of a friendship with a transformational coach who shares eleven life-changing lessons that help take players to the next level, on and off the field.

Click on the link below to read the rest of the article:

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Secret Ingredient of Great Coaching

By John O'Sullivan
November 4, 2015
Wisconsin volleyball coach Kelly Sheffield talks to his team during a timeout.

“I just can’t figure it out,” an exasperated coach said to me recently. “One day we are flying around the field, and the next it looks like we’ve never played together before. Why does this happen?”
“Do you think your players lost all their skill?” I asked? “Do you think they forgot how to play?”
“Of course not,” said the coach.
“Too many coaches think that performance is all about X’s and O’s,” I responded. “It’s much more than that.”
Many coaches think that coaching is an X’s and O’s business, but in reality it is a relationship business. The secret to great coaching and a successful performance by one’s team isn’t simply technique, or tactics, or fitness.
In fact, it comes down to a simple formula:
Performance = (Potential + Behavior) – Interference
(I came up with this equation after combining the definition of performance from two highly recommended books, Timothy Gallway’s The Inner Game of Tennis and James Kerr’s Legacy, which details the 2x defending world champion New Zealand All Blacks’ incredible success in rugby.)
Most coaches only look at potential and behavior (genetics, hours and quality of practice, attitude, coaching, fitness, etc.). These are incredibly important components, but they are not the whole equation.
Far too many coaches ignore the second half of the equation, interference.
Think of interference as the static on the radio during your favorite song. You know the song is great because you have heard it before. The lyrics are the same and the rhythm has not changed, but the song is not being heard in its best form. It is not the song’s fault- it is the radio station connection. In that moment you lose faith in the station’s ability to deliver the song in it’s best form.In other words, you no longer trust the radio station.
How does this relate to coaching to parenting, and to developing high-performing athletes?
Trust is the secret ingredient of great coaching.  
It is foundation of all great teams and all great relationships. Players cannot consistently perform their best if they do not trust their coaches, their parents and their teammates, and in-turn feel they are trusted.
Coaches cannot get the most out of their athletes and teams unless they trust them to perform and earn their athlete’s trust in the process.
Click on the link below to read the rest of the article:

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Difference Between Winning and Losing

By James Leath (this first appeared on his blog at www.JamesLeath.com)
October 9, 2015
distance between win and loss
A former student athlete of mine was awarded a full ride to play NCAA D1 football and he called me recently, just to talk. Calls from former athletes are a huge highlight in any coach’s day.
“Coach, what is the difference between winning and losing?”
I think for a moment, and the scene from the movie White Men Can’t Jump pops into my head, when Gloria Clemente says: “Sometimes when you win, you actually lose, and sometimes when you lose, you really win, and sometimes when you win or lose, you actually tie, and sometimes when you tie, you actually win or lose. Winning or losing is all one organic mechanism, from which one extracts what one needs.” [LINK]
Clearing that from my head, and knowing that this must have been on his mind for a long time to be asking me so early in our conversation, I respond:
“Three inches.”
There was silence on the other end of the line. I waited. I would have waited as long as it took while he tried to figure out what his old coach was trying to tell him.
“Okay, coach, I give in. What does that mean?”
“What does it mean to you?”
“Well, if I know you well enough, you are getting deep on me right now and it doesn’t have anything to do with the scoreboard.”
He knows me well.
“When was your last practice?” I ask.
“Early this morning.”
“Did you run sprints?”
“Yeah, lots.”
“Line to line?”
“Yes, I always touch the line.”
“Does everybody touch the line?”
“No, some guys get close, but they get lazy.”
I wait. I can almost hear the light bulb go on through the phone.
“Three inches is about the distance they get to the line!”
“You got it. Winning and losing is not in your control,” I explain. “Instead of concerning yourself with the score, be a competitor. Who is coming in first during the sprints? Beat them. Who stays after practice to catch a few more throws? Catch more. A competitor does not worry about the scoreboard or stats or social media fans. A competitor shows up to be the best they can be and their hunger for improvement is never satiated.”
Read the rest of the article by clicking on the link below:

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Expecting Scientifically Sound Nutritional Guidance from the Feds? Fat Chance.

Nina Teicholz, critic of a federal dietary guidance committee, talks about her work.

 | October 7, 2015

Congress will hold a hearing this morning that will discuss the contentious recommendations made by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC). The hearing, which will see both USDA secretary Tom Vilsack and HHS secretary Sylvia Burwell appear before the House Committee on Agriculture, is an important one, as DGAC recommendations are used to inform national dietary policies—including everything from food labels to school lunches.
As I described last year, the DGAC is a federally mandated group made up of fifteen academics, culled from fields like nutrition, public health, and medicine. The mission of the DGAC, which has met every five years for the past 25 years, is to come up with recommendations "to help people choose an overall healthy diet that works for them." Much of the DGAC's work has been intrusive and meddlesome.
For example, I previously blasted the DGAC's work for suggesting the federal government send scolding text messages to obese Americans and its call for what I termed "a steady diet of taxes and other intrusive policy recommendations."
I'm hardly the only critic of the DGAC's work. Earlier this year, for example, I interviewed a prominent DGAC critic, Dr. Edward Archer, who argues, in a Mayo Clinic Proceedings article, that the DGAC is the latest federal government construct to present "anecdotal evidence as science."
Some or all of that may sound innocuous. But today's committee hearing comes in the wake of a recent article in the British Medical Journal by journalist and author Nina Teicholz that is highly critical of the DGAC's findings. Teicholz, author of the award-winning book The Big Fat Surprise, argues that the DGAC's conclusions are based on scant evidence, and that the committee willfully ignored evidence that might contradict those conclusions. "The omissions seem to suggest a reluctance by the committee behind the report to consider any evidence that contradicts the last 35 years of nutritional advice," Teicholz writes in the BMJ.
Teicholz's article has gotten lots of press and has found equally vocal supporters and detractors. This week, I asked Teicholz about her BMJ article, and why it's proven so controversial. My questions and her responses (both sent by email) are below.
Reason: Tell me about The Big Fat Surprise. Why did you write it? What is your argument? Who loved it? Who hated it? Why?
Nina Teicholz: I did not intend to write this book. In 2003, Gourmet magazine assigned me a story on trans fats, which got a lot of attention and which eventually led to a book contract—on trans fats. Diving into the subject of dietary fat, which is the subject that our nutrition recommendations have most obsessed about—good fat, bad fat, low-fat, non-fat—made me realize that there was a much bigger story, on how our nutrition policy had seemingly gotten it wrong on all fats. That was 10 years ago. I spent nearly a decade researching the topic and wrote a book on the history, politics, and science of dietary fat. My book makes many discoveries about different diets and fats, about vegetable oils, trans fats, the Mediterranean diet (olive oil), and tropical oils, but its main argument is this: that the hypothesis that saturated fats cause heart disease has always been based on weak, inconclusive science and does not hold up. This is part of the argument that the fat overall has been unfairly demonized and has been a distraction from the real cause of nutrition-related diseases. When I began my book, I had been mostly vegetarian for more than two decades. It was quite a personal transformation.
(Note: the book has been called "pro-meat," but this is inaccurate. The book does not make an argument for meat. It makes an argument for saturated fats, and meat is just one of the foods that includes this type of fat. Dairy, eggs, coconut oil and palm oil are others, and it's important to note that all these foods contain a mixture of fats, not just saturated.)  
I was lucky in that many people loved my book. It was named a *Best Book* of 2014 by theEconomist, the Wall Street JournalForbesMother JonesLibrary Journal, and Kirkus Reviews. It got strong reviews in the British Medical Journal and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It served to inform quite a few magazine cover stories worldwide, including a now-iconic one featuring a picture of a butter curl for TIME. The subject matter was ground-breaking, and I think people loved it, too, because the book explained why they didn't need to feel guilty about eating these foods that had long been a part of their cultures—a Swedish grandmother's recipe with butter, for instance. Also the foods containing these long-forbidden fats are delicious, so many people tell me that it's been a great pleasure to welcome them, guilt-free, back into their lives. I also get a lot of emails from people telling me that after a lifetime of struggling with their weight, they effortlessly lost it after reading my book and switching to a higher-fat diet.
The people who hated the book were the institutions and people who had invested themselves in the idea that saturated fats cause heart disease, which is pretty much a clean sweep of the establishment. Most notably, this includes the American Heart Association and scientists close to the Dietary Guidelines process. These researchers have launched no end of attacks against me, mainly ad hominem and personal in nature. Strikingly, there has been no serious scientific critique of my book by any serious scientist.
Read the rest of the article by clicking on the link below:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Pain and Gain

By Cassidy Lichtman
September 15, 2015

To see me on the court as an outside hitter with the USA National Team, you’d never detect anything out of the ordinary. The truth, though, is that I’ve been in pain every day of my life for over 16 years.
I woke up one morning when I was nine years old with a constant, unrelenting pain in my lower left leg. It has never gone away.
It’s not the kind of pain that disappears after a round of physical therapy or the kind that goes away with painkillers. It’s chronic. The best way I can explain it is having the worst shin splints ever, permanently. Many Americans live like I do, in silent pain.
Worst of all, maybe, the source of it is still a mystery. Since age nine, I’ve been on a mission to find out what causes it and a journey to learn to live with it. At first, I didn’t walk for seven months. Following failed treatment after failed treatment, the doctors had decided I probably wouldn’t walk ever again. I was the only fourth grader who used crutches every day. On the last day of fourth grade, I remember I decided not to bring my crutches to school. It was exhilarating, painful, terrifying and probably ill-advised. It was the single hardest thing I’ve ever done. But one step at a time, quite literally, I learned how to walk again.
I didn’t just want to walk, though. I wanted to play volleyball. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the sport. I’ve been hanging around gyms since I was a little kid. My mom is a coach and my older brother has always played. At home, my dad would sit in the living room with us, and set the ball back and forth during commercial breaks. The game has always been a part of me. I wasn’t about to give that up just because my leg caused me pain.
I played on my first club volleyball team when I was 10 years old, and never stopped. Eight years later, I had a scholarship to Stanford. We played in two National Championship matches, won four PAC-10 Championships and I was named an All-American. Now I put on the red, white and blue for Team USA. I get to live my dreams every day.

Read the rest of the article by clicking on the link below:

Saturday, August 29, 2015

How to Increase Mental Toughness: 4 Secrets of Navy SEALs and Olympians

By Eric Barker | 08/27/15 

Know what’s really interesting? Learning how Navy SEALs build mental toughness to handle deadly situations. 

Know what else is really interesting? Learning how Olympic athletes deal with the pressure of competition when the entire world is watching. 

Know what’s the most interesting of all? When you find out they do a lot of the same things. 

“Mental Links To Excellence” is a research study of what Olympians do to prepare for their big day. And so much of it lines up with what I learned researching SEAL training and talking to former Navy SEAL Platoon Commander James Waters. 

The best part is you and I can use these methods to perform better at work and in our personal lives. 

Let’s find out how… 

1) Talk Positively to Yourself 

Your brain is always going. It’s estimated you say 300 to 1000 words to yourself per minute. Olympic athletes and SEALs agree: those words need to be positive. 

One of the Olympians said: 

Immediately before the race I was thinking about trying to stay on that edge, just letting myself relax, and doing a lot of positive self-talk about what I was going to do. I just felt like we couldn’t do anything wrong. It was just up to us. I said, “There’s nothing that’s affecting us in a negative way, the only thing now is to do it, and we can do it…I just have to do my best.” 

SEALs use the same method—and they do it in a far more terrifying scenario. How terrifying? 

You’re underwater with SCUBA gear. An instructor suddenly swims up behind you. He yanks the regulator out of your mouth. You can’t breathe. Then he ties your oxygen lines in a knot. 

Your brain starts screaming, “YOU ARE GOING TO DIE.” But you have to keep cool, stay underwater and follow procedure to get your gear back in working order so you can breathe again. 

And this happens over and over—for 20 minutes. Welcome to the dreaded “pool comp” section of SEAL qualification. 

You get 4 attempts. 

Why? Because you need them. 

Only one in five guys can do it the first time out. 

Read the rest of the article by clicking on the link below:


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Megan Hodge Easy: Spiking for the USA

By Matt Goisman
August 8, 2015


U.S. Olympic volleyball star Megan Hodge Easy relaxes with her husband, former NFL player Omar Easy, and their nine-month-old son Easton at their summer home in East Falmouth. Megan won a silver medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games and is a 2016 Olympics hopeful. STEVE HAINES/CAPE COD TIMES

EAST FALMOUTH - When you’re an Olympic indoor volleyball player like Megan Easy, you travel. A lot. The Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) World Grand Prix alone took her to Turkey, Russia, Hong Kong and finally Omaha, Nebraska, for the final round, in which the U.S. won gold for the fourth time since Easy joined the team.
Next up for the U.S. is the FIVB World Cup in Japan starting August 22. Easy left last week for two weeks of training with USA Volleyball in Anaheim, California, and then heads to Japan for the 2016 Olympic Games qualifier.
Between competitions, Easy is happy to relax with her husband Omar Easy and 9-month-old baby Easton in their summer home at The Golf Club of Cape Cod.
“It’s where we come to just kind of take our minds off of everything and enjoy it,” Megan said. “That’s kind of what this home, what this area, symbolizes for us, is peace and quiet and time away from everything and everyone. It’s just a beautiful place.”
Omar and Megan bought their home, the backyard of which overlooks the 10th hole, in April 2013, two months before they were married. Megan, 26, was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands and grew up in Durham, North Carolina, before accepting a volleyball scholarship to Pennsylvania State University. So her familiarity with the Cape was limited prior to purchasing the property.
Omar, however, has been coming to the Cape for decades. His guidance counselor at Everett High School, Richard Aliberti, owned a summer home in Cotuit, and Omar would often visit Aliberti.
The two remain friends to this day. Aliberti introduced Omar to golf - Omar won The Golf Club of Cape Cod - championship in 2014 and volunteers with Aliberti’s youth golf program in Hyannis - which in turn helped bring Omar and Megan together.
Omar, 37, was a star football player during his two years at Everett, then went on to play for Penn State until he was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2002, the start of a four-year NFL career. Omar later returned to Penn State to earn a Ph.D. in education administration and work for the Nittany Lions, and one of his hobbies in State College was playing golf with women’s volleyball coach Russ Rose.
Megan Hodge (her maiden name) played for Penn State from 2006 to 2009, tallying a kill on the final point of the 2009 national championship against Texas, her last collegiate match. The win, PSU’s third national title in as many years, stretched the Nittany Lions’ winning streak to 102 matches, and the team went on to win the first seven matches of the 2010 season before finally losing.
Rose, Omar said, would often talk about Megan when they golfed together. Rose would then often talk to Megan about Omar.
“I actually knew that I was going to marry her after the first date we went on,” Omar said. “We sat in the car and talked for about three or four hours until the battery on my car died and I had to get roadside assistance to come get us started again.”

Read the rest of the article by clicking on the link below:


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

How Old School Are You?

By John Kessel
May 23. 2015

There are long time players who reminisce about the way volleyball used to be played in the days of sideout, not rally, scoring. Having played for years, I remember the competitions which started at 8 am and went until 4am the next day, or speaking to parents about their child still playing in an event after midnight. Sideout scoring, when you only got a point when you served, at times meant the score would still be 0-0 after 10 minutes of play. Still, players fondly remember those battles and even play the game by “old school” rules.  If you really want to play by the old rules, you can read William G. Morgan’s rules from 1897, and play on a 6 foot 6in net, with “air dribbling,” a 25 foot court, and even games of 1 vs 1.
A doctor friend was recently listening to my frustrations in the ways coaches simply keep teaching the way they were taught. So many coaches don't think they need to attend any clinics because they feel they are already good coaches, since they either played (no matter if jungle ball or college ball level) or have watched the game.
As we observed these self-anointed "coaches" who either lacked any formal training, or who have not taken time to learn the facts,  science, research and lessons from IMPACT, in favor of their own opinions, he made comment that hit home with me – “If I practiced medicine the way I did just ten years ago, I would be sued for malpractice…” Then we sat and watched who "coached" by making kids run after losses or even do push-ups during a match after some sort of error.
We looked over to another court where the coach was acting disgusted, slamming a clip board even, as if the players below average performance was somehow done on purpose and a personal insult to their coaching "expertise." 
Behind us was another court where we did not even have to see the court as we heard a coach yelling at her young players about not caring enough to win and for missing so many "stupid serves."
What will it take for these supposed coaches to get with the times? To begin being a teacher rather than a sports talk commentator?  To give specific positive feed forward rather bailing out on the job of teaching and simply making kids run? To “coach” in the roots of the word, taking valuable cargo from one place to another SAFELY.  I bet few of them even know about the ongoing development of safe sport by the US Olympic Committee, but I will share it here www.safesport.org  for parents and players may know more than the coach, and have to teach a lesson.
Read the rest of the article by clicking on the link below:

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Weight of the World

When Chevi Peters felt his weakest, he wanted to "end it all" -- until Special Olympics powerlifting helped him find his strength.

By Tom Friend
July 27, 2015
Chevi Peters
There once was this 90-pound weakling with scars on top of his scars. Liver transplant, kidney transplant, strokes, brain surgery -- you name it, he'd been in the O.R. for it. He always told people he was a jock underneath it all, but at 5-foot-2 with no discernible muscle, nobody ever took him seriously. In his dreams, he was a firefighter, a ladies' man, a halfback, an Adonis. But those dreams couldn't possibly come true, not when he was stiff-legged, the butt of jokes. Odds were that he'd never see the world, that he'd end up right where he started: as a wisp of a man in a mile-long southeast Kansas town.
Chevi Peters tried all his life not to succumb to the hopelessness. Along with bagging ice at the local convenience store, that was his job -- to laugh everything off, to hang in, hang in, hang in. In other words, he had to flip the switch. Even if he felt weak because of his 38 operations or inadequate because of his crooked teeth or melancholy because of his parents' divorce, he decided he could never show it. Flipping the switch meant smiling when he felt lonely or people-pleasing when he felt ostracized. He pulled this off for 20-something years -- a minor miracle -- until, one August night in 2008, he climbed into his car and decided to drive it into oncoming traffic.
THERE ONCE WAS this 300-pound mental health worker who refused to leave his apartment. What a waste of talent. Years before, John Lair had attended his first Special Olympics track meet and found his calling. He was a gentle giant, a former high school nose tackle the children with disabilities instantly flocked to. He was this bear of a man with a surprisingly soothing voice. He would listen to their stories, would be quick with a hug. He knew right away he was perfect for the job of coach.
He shared his hopes and dreams with his best and oldest friend, Chad Oehme, whom he had spoken with every day since kindergarten. Lair told Oehme he wanted to help Special Olympics athletes feel part of the community, and Oehme told Lair he wanted to be a big-city policeman. They were inseparable. They were in their 20s. Their whole lives were ahead of them -- until, in September 2000, Oehme collapsed and died of a heart attack.
Doctors couldn't tell Lair why his friend was dead. Autopsies were inconclusive. Lair went into a tailspin, took a leave of absence from his job at an adult care home. He pulled the shades on his apartment windows and rarely ventured outside. He diagnosed himself with depression. "Loneliest I've ever felt in my life," he says. He wasn't thinking of hurting himself, but he needed a pick-me-up, a change.
He fortuitously landed a job at New Hope Services, a support center for people with intellectual disabilities in his hometown of Pittsburg, Kansas. The director asked him to start a Special Olympics program from scratch -- right up his alley. His dream was coming true, yet he still felt a void in his life. Something was missing -- until, one August night in 2008, he climbed into his car to stop Chevi Peters from killing himself.
Read the rest of the article by clicking on the link below:

Saturday, July 11, 2015

3 Reasons Volleyball Players Should Lift

By Christye Estes
June 3, 2015

Blair Brown, Katie Slay and Deja McClendon block in Penn State's 2010 NCAA semifinal sweep of Texas.

If you look at a pro volleyball player, you’ll see some serious muscle. Strong quads, flexible and functional hamstrings, and powerful glutes—male and female players alike, good volleyball players are so strong, it shows. Volleyball is a tough sport, demanding speed, agility, and explosiveness all in one athlete. Ask any pro where they built those traits, and they’ll tell you: in the weight room.

Strength training is beneficial for most sports, but essential for volleyball athletes. Even though there are many specific skills necessary for success, you cannot build these skills without a solid foundation of strength. Lifting—even for young athletes just starting their athletic career—is a crucial training tool for building that strength foundation needed to out-jump, out-cut, and out-sprint opponents. Here are my top 3 reasons volleyball players should spend more time in the weight room—now!

1. Strength and Power

It may seem like a no-brainer, but if you want to be a strong and powerful player, resistance training is how to do it. Lifting weights stimulates muscle fibers to grow in size (hypertrophy), to produce more force per contraction (strength), and to fire at faster rates (power). How does lifting do this?

Not to get too technical, but there are several changes that take place within muscle cells (also called fibers) after beginning a strength training program. The first (and arguably most influential) changes that occur are neuromuscular, involving the connection between your muscles and your brain. In order for your biceps to contract, for example, your brain must first send a signal to all the individual fibers in the biceps muscle to call them into action. When you first start strength training, only some of your muscle fibers will respond to your brain’s request for activation. But as you continue to challenge these fibers through strength training, more and more muscle fibers will be activated.

Read the rest of the article by clicking on the link below:


Friday, April 24, 2015


By Courtney Thompson on March 30, 2015

Olympics Day 11 - Volleyball
Courtney Thompson #17 of the United States sets the ball as Prisilla Altagracia Rivera Brens #14 of the Dominican Republic watches during Women's Volleyball quarterfinals on Day 11 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Earls Court on August 7, 2012 in London, England.
(Elsa/Getty Images Europe)
Most of us respond to fatigue by getting frustrated and feeling bad for ourselves. We let our fatigue take us out of our game and into a mindset that isn’t helpful to us or our team.
Luckily, I have a few tips you can use to help get out of that destructive thought pattern and back to focusing on becoming the best athlete you can be. It may sound harsh, but here are



The fact of the matter is you play a team game, even if it’s an individual sport, and as a teammate one of your jobs is to serve your team, to do whatever it takes to make the teambetter. Doing so requires selflessness and a commitment every single day you show up.
If you’re tired, if you’re sore, if you’re sick, you have to choose to not let that stop you and move past it. In that moment, it doesn’t matter how you ‘feel’ because it’s not about you; it’s about making the team the best it can be. In order to do that you have to show up every day with the intention of giving it everything you have.
Put the team ahead of your ‘feelings’ and get it done!


As athletes, we’re in a perpetual state of becoming. There is no finish line; even if you win the championship one year, your training for the next year will quickly follow. The only way to truly improve, learn, and take your game to the next level is to push the limits.
Pushing the limits can be physically, mentally, and/or emotionally tough, but that’s the beauty of sports! Pushing those limits on a daily basis is necessary to become the best version of you. It’s inevitable that in pursuit of your best YOU, you’re going to get tired, so change your attitude towards fatigue. When you feel tired and want to stay in bed—or just want to get through practice without giving it your all—remember that this is what you work for, this is what all champions feel when they’re trying to reach their full potential.
In short: embrace your fatigue. No one said success would be easy.


You train the brain to perform just like you train your muscles. We’ve all had days where you feel more tired than usual and in that moment you have a choice: you can marinate in those negative thoughts (‘It’s too hard’, ‘There’s no way I can do this’, ‘I didn’t sleep at all’, ‘I’m not feeling my best’, et cetera) OR you can take a long, deep breath, reconnect with yourself, and start thinking right. You can choose to put your energy and your thoughts on something that will help you rather than something that will distract you.
You’re an athlete. Being tired is a part of that, so accept it and move on.  Choose to think about what you need to do to help the team in that moment.
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Friday, April 10, 2015

Why “Clean Eating” is a Myth

By Armi Legge

Grilled Filet Mignon with Herb Butter & Texas Toast

Your favorite foods are poisoning you.
Even foods that you thought were safe are actually destroying your health, making you fat, and shortening your life.
That’s what you’ve been taught to believe.
If there’s one mistaken idea that’s become more embedded in the fitness and health industry than any other, it’s that certain foods are bad for you.
This myth is so entrenched that it’s promoted by everyone from gym rats to doctors to public health authorities.
Most diet books are based on the idea that “bad” foods will keep you from losing weight or slow your progress.
There’s no doubt that what you eat can have a massive impact on your health, performance, and body composition. However, there’s no evidence you can’t achieve all of these things while still enjoying any food you like.

Clean Eating Doesn’t Exist

These are the words people use to describe foods they believe you should eat. On the other hand, these are the words for foods you should not eat:
“Double-plus un-good.” (1984, 1)
The biggest problem with the idea of “clean eating” is that “clean” has no objective definition. Everyone believes different foods are “unclean.”
Vegetarians: Animal meat.
Vegans: All animal products.
Bodybuilders: Milk, fruit, and white bread.
Paleo: Grains, legumes, dairy, refined oils, added salt, sugar, alcohol, and some vegetables.
USDA/United States Government: Saturated fat, cholesterol, red meat, eggs, trans-fats.
Low-carb: Sugar and other carbs.
Hippies: Artificial sweeteners, processed foods, cooked foods, packaged foods, BPA.
It’s safe to say that for every food, there’s someone saying it’s dangerous.
There’s no way to define clean eating, which means there’s no way to measure or quantify what effect this concept might have on your health. There’s also no way to objectively compare a “clean diet” to other diets.
Throughout this article, I’ll use examples from all of these categories and let you decide which group I’m referring to.
The one thing these ideas have in common is that there are “bad” foods that should be avoided or limited, and “good” foods that you can eat. This broad definition can be further classified into two forms.

The Two Kinds of Clean Eating

  1. There are good and bad foods, and you should never eat any of the bad foods.
  2. There are good and bad foods, and you should only eat a small number of the bad foods to limit the damage.
In this article, you’ll learn why both of these ideas are irrational, unscientific, and unhealthy.
We’ll start by looking at the three potential ways a food could decrease your health, lifespan, or body composition. Then we’ll see if any foods actually meet these criteria for being “unhealthy.”

Why There are No Good or Bad Foods

There are three ways a food could negatively affect your health, longevity, or body composition.
1/. Contributing to a caloric excess which leads to negative health problems from being overweight.(2)
2/. Causing nutrient deficiencies by diluting the nutrient density of your diet.(3)
3/. Directly interfering with your body’s functions, causing specific diseases, increasing fat gain, or accelerating aging.
Let’s see if any foods meet these criteria.

Excess Calories Can be Bad for You — From Any Food

There is no evidence that any food will cause more fat gain than the excess calories it provides. There is also no evidence that eating a certain food will help you lose fat.
Fat loss is ultimately about calories in versus calories out.
Any food that has calories can technically be bad for you — if consumed in excess.
This includes chicken breasts, sweet potatoes, whole grains, and even vegetables. The reason many people consider these “clean foods” is because they tend to be harder to overeat than things like cookies or ice cream.
For this reason, some people refer to things like sweets, baked goods, soda, and other junk food as “fattening.”
This is an inaccurate and myopic viewpoint. It assumes that you will over-eat these foods — regardless of the rest of your diet.
If your diet has enough satiating power to keep you satisfied and happy, then there’s nothing wrong with also consuming some less-filling indulgences. This idea also assumes that people can’t moderate their food intake,which they can.
For some people, eating enough to gain or maintain their weight can be a struggle.(4-6) In these cases, higher calorie/more palatable foods can be extremely useful for meeting their calorie needs — not to mention being more enjoyable. Yet you don’t find people saying ice cream and cookies are life-saving for an anorexic, or muscle building for someone who’s trying to get bigger.
People look at these foods in isolation and assume they’re unhealthy regardless of the context.
Remember these two points:
  1. The potential to over-consume a food does not mean that you will.
  2. Some people need to eat more — and higher calorie, more palatable, and less filling foods can be an advantage — even a necessity.
However, you’re also concerned with your long-term health. You want to make sure you’re giving your body everything it needs to perform optimally, and you don’t want to deprive your body of essential nutrients.

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