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Positive People Are Healthier

26 Jun

Abraham Lincoln reputedly said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Do you expect the best or think the worst?  For most of us, optimism and pessimism are on a continuum.  And, while no one is necessarily on the extreme end of either side, we all gravitate one way or another.

Your state of mind affects your health, according to a recent article in Men’s Health.  Negative thoughts are like parasites that can adversely affect your health and wellness.

According to research from the University of Pittsburgh, compared to optimists, pessimists tend to have:

  • higher blood pressure
  • higher triglyceride levels
  • higher odds of heart attack
  • higher odds of early death

Jeffrey Huffman, MD, director of cardiac psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, believes that “Happy and hopeful people are more likely to exercise, eat healthy, and stop smoking.”  Simply stated, a positive outlook empowers you to take control of your health.

Staying positive can also reduce the secretion of a hormone linked to multiple sclerosis and heart disease.

It’s been said that “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll

It’s never too late to start looking on the bright side and improve your reaction to situations you encounter in your life.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

You Have to Do the Hard Things

12 Jun

I found this gem, posted by a friend on Facebook.  It’s a blog post that was shared by an organization with a commitment to continual self-improvement.  The original author is Dan Waldschmidt.

19 Hard Things You Need To Do To Be Successful

You have to do the hard things.

  • You have to make the call you’re afraid to make.
  • You have to get up earlier than you want to get up.
  • You have to give more than you get in return right away.
  • You have to care more about others than they care about you.
  • You have to fight when you are already injured, bloody, and sore.
  • You have to feel unsure and insecure when playing it safe seems smarter.
  • You have to lead when no one else is following you yet.
  • You have to invest in yourself even though no one else is.
  • You have to look like a fool while you’re looking for answers you don’t have.
  • You have to grind out the details when it’s easier to shrug them off.
  • You have to deliver results when making excuses is an option.
  • You have to search for your own explanations even when you’re told to accept the “facts.”
  • You have to make mistakes and look like an idiot.
  • You have to try and fail and try again.
  • You have to run faster even though you’re out of breath.
  • You have to be kind to people who have been cruel to you.
  • You have to meet deadlines that are unreasonable and deliver results that are unparalleled.
  • You have to be accountable for your actions even when things go wrong.
  • You have to keep moving towards where you want to be no matter what’s in front of you.

You have to do the hard things. The things that no one else is doing. The things that scare you. The things that make you wonder how much longer you can hold on.

Those are the things that define you. Those are the things that make the difference between living a life of mediocrity or outrageous success.

The hard things are the easiest things to avoid. To excuse away. To pretend like they don’t apply to you.

The simple truth about how ordinary people accomplish outrageous feats of success is that they do the hard things that smarter, wealthier, more qualified people don’t have the courage — or desperation — to do.

Do the hard things. You might be surprised at how amazing you really are.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

The Effects of Alcohol on Athletic Performance

26 May

GREAT read from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and Coach Claire Siekaniec.

The effects of alcohol on athletic performance vary depending on quantity, demographics, and type of exercise, making it difficult to determine specific recommendations. From an athletic performance standpoint, the acute use of alcohol can influence motor skills, hydration status, aerobic performance, as well as aspects of the recovery process.

Alcohol use is widespread in the realm of sports. Consumption ranges from the weekend warrior guzzling a beer after completing a 5-k run to elite athletes popping champagne in the locker room after a championship win. Alcohol is often used as a means of celebration or relaxation, and athletes frequently consume drinks without much thought of the acute and chronic effects on performance and health. Alcohol’s path to oxidation is complex, and both short- and long-term use affects most systems of the body. Factors such as genetics, gender, amount of alcohol ingested, body mass, and nutrition status help explain the large variance in effects that alcohol has within and across individuals (1,4). From an athletic performance standpoint, the acute use of alcohol can influence motor skills, hydration status, aerobic performance, as well as aspects of the recovery process; consequently, influencing subsequent training and competitions (2,9). Chronic alcohol use can lead to difficulty in managing body composition, nutritional deficiencies, and depressed immune function, resulting in increased risk of injury and prolonged healing and return-to-play (2,17). While the acute and chronic effects of alcohol are largely dose-dependent, chronic and heavy intake can increase one’s risk of long-term health effects such as cardiovascular disease, liver disease, and cancer (4). The drinking habits of athletes, as well as the effects of alcohol, are highly variable, making a one-size-fits-all recommendation difficult and impractical. Furthermore, current research on the effects of alcohol on athletic performance is limited due to ethical concerns. This article will discuss the available evidence related to alcohol and athletic performance.

Alcohol Ingestion Prior to Exercise

Blood alcohol concentration increases upon ingestion of alcohol. Soon after, the acute side effects begin to take place, which can result in depression of central nervous system activity. While the effects are dose-dependent, this can lead to compromised motor skills, decreased coordination, delayed reactions, diminished judgment, and impaired balance (3,9). These effects on the body may not only contribute negatively to athletic performance, but may also increase an athlete’s risk for injury. The effects of low to moderate doses of alcohol on anaerobic performance and strength are equivocal, but an aid to performance is not evident (9). Conversely, research has shown that even small doses of alcohol ingested prior to exercise led to a decrease in endurance performance (10). It appears that alcohol may affect aerobic performance by slowing the citric acid cycle, inhibiting gluconeogenesis, and increasing levels of lactate (12). Additionally, the body preferentially metabolizes alcohol, thereby altering the metabolism of carbohydrates and lipids, which are the preferred energy sources during endurance exercise (12). Although alcohol may have been viewed as an ergogenic aid in the past (likely for psychological reasons), the scientific evidence shows that alcohol hinders athletic performance, and ingestion prior to training or competition should be avoided. Alcohol is currently a banned substance for National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rifle competitions, and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibits alcohol consumption during air sports, archery, powerboating, and automobile competitions on the basis of it being considered an ergogenic aid (11,18).

Alcohol Ingestion after Exercise

The ingestion of alcohol prior to or during exercise is not very common. However, the intake of alcohol following an event is a much more likely scenario. To recover properly from exercise, it is important to replenish glycogen, stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS), and restore fluid balance. Alcohol and the behaviors associated with intoxication can interfere with many aspects of the recovery process. Beverages containing greater than or equal to 4% alcohol can increase urine output, ultimately delaying recovery from a dehydrated state (15). Beer has been plugged as a post-workout recovery beverage because it contains carbohydrates and electrolytes, but in actuality, the typical beer does not contain nearly enough carbohydrates or electrolytes for proper recovery from a long workout with a large sweat loss. It is reasonable to conclude that the negative effects of alcohol consumption after a workout outweigh any potential beneficial effects. To adequately replace lost fluids, it is important for athletes to drink rehydrating beverages such as sports drinks, or consume water with salty foods, prior to alcohol consumption. If immediate alcohol intake is inevitable, athletes should strive to only consume small volumes of alcohol.

Replenishing glycogen stores is another essential component to recovery, especially when the turnaround between training and competition is short. It is unclear if alcohol consumption after exercise directly affects glycogen synthesis; however, alcohol can indirectly displace carbohydrate and protein intake (5). When protein-rich foods are displaced with alcohol during the post-exercise recovery period, MPS is not optimally stimulated, which can potentially inhibit muscle growth and repair. Furthermore, there is evidence for a direct effect of alcohol on MPS. Researchers have found that alcohol significantly decreases MPS even when adequate protein is consumed (13). This effect has been investigated on resistance exercises, as well as exercises commonly carried out in team sport training (6). Overall, when an athlete chooses to fill up on alcoholic beverages during the recovery period they are less likely to follow optimal nutrition guidelines for recovery, resulting in a prolonged recovery period, inadequate recovery before the next training session or competition, or lack of desired muscular adaptations.

Alcohol’s Effect on Sleep, Injury, and Hormones

Beyond the energy storage and MPS implications, alcohol can also negatively affect sleep, recovery from injury, and the production of hormones associated with muscular growth (2). Athletes need adequate sleep to aid in recovery and to be able to perform at their best, both physically and mentally. Ingestion of alcohol before going to bed may help induce sleep, but has been shown to disrupt restorative sleep cycles throughout the night, decreasing quality of sleep (7). To compound this, when athletes enjoy a night out drinking, they may stay out later than normal, reducing their duration of sleep. These two factors combined may impact recovery, energy levels, and performance in upcoming training and competitions. When athletes experience soft tissue injuries, the body employs

an inflammatory response. Alcohol has been shown to limit the inflammatory response via an increase in the production of anti-inflammatory molecules and a decrease in pro-inflammatory molecules (2). In addition to an imbalance of the inflammatory response, alcohol also acts as a vasodilator, increasing blood flow to the injured area, which could possibly increase the severity of the injury and prolong the recovery (2). Therefore, consumption of alcohol is generally not recommended if an injury has recently occurred.

There are a number of hormones that affect muscle growth. For example, cortisol stimulates protein breakdown while testosterone increases protein synthesis. In recreationally trained athletes, research has found that high doses of alcohol intake after resistance exercise increased cortisol levels and decreased the testosterone-to-cortisol ratio, which can interfere with the adaptive process of long-term resistance training (8). Additionally, alcohol decreases testosterone secretion; therefore, excessive intake during the recovery period should be avoided for athletes striving for muscular hypertrophy or for those with hormonal imbalances (4).

Exercise and Hangovers

The effects of alcohol do not simply wear off when signs of intoxication are gone. Heavy drinking can lead to an array of symptoms commonly referred to as a hangover. Athletes are not immune to hangovers, which can influence their training and competitions. The hangover symptoms produced by alcohol have many intra-individual variances. However, the main effects of hangovers include electrolyte imbalance, hypoglycemia, gastric irritation, vasodilation, and sleep disturbances (14). These effects cause an array of physical symptoms, which may leave an athlete feeling drained and unable to train as hard as normal. Research has shown an approximate 11% decrease in aerobic capacity in those exercising with a hangover (12). Effects of a hangover on anaerobic performance remain unclear, but overall it is probable that athletes training or competing without a hangover will enjoy a competitive edge over their hungover opponents.

Chronic Effects of Alcohol

There is evidence supporting health benefits from moderate alcohol consumption, but regular heavy consumption and binge drinking can take a toll on the body. Athletes are susceptible to the health effects associated with excessive alcohol consumption, which can also affect performance. Alcohol is calorically dense, providing seven calories per gram, with a standard drink in the United States containing 14 grams of alcohol (16). If other substances are present, such as soft drinks and sugar-based beverages, the caloric value of an alcoholic drink rises even higher. As a general reference, the following are common drink sizes and their average alcohol content: 12 oz of beer (5% alcohol), 5 oz of wine (12% alcohol), and 1.5 oz of 80-proof distilled spirits (40% alcohol) (16). The calories from alcoholic beverages can add up fast and contribute a significant amount of calories to an athlete’s overall caloric intake. Additionally, behaviors associated with heavy drinking, such as irregular eating patterns and increased consumption of unhealthy foods, may lead to increased caloric intake. Over time, this combination can affect an athlete’s body composition.

Heavy intake of alcohol can also lead to nutritional deficiencies. Athletes require a sound nutrition plan to promote optimal athletic performance, and may already be at a higher risk of nutritional deficiencies than their non-athlete counterparts due to the physical demands of training. Alcohol affects absorption and utilization of many nutrients. Excessive alcohol intake can reduce the intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients such as vitamin B12, thiamin, and folate. Additionally, liver cells can become inefficient at activating vitamin D and the metabolism of alcohol can destroy vitamin B6 (4). Nutritional deficiencies present many different problems to athletes and can have serious health and performance implications. In addition, long-term misuse of alcohol is associated with a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, liver disease, and cancer (4). It can also compromise the immune system and increase susceptibility to illness (2).

Conclusion

Overall, the effects of alcohol vary dramatically from person to person with many different contributing factors. The effects of alcohol on athletic performance vary depending on quantity, demographics, and type of exercise. Therefore, it is difficult to determine specific recommendations, but it is suggested that athletes follow the same recommended guidelines for safe and responsible drinking as the general public. Binge drinking is never recommended due to the side effects that interfere with desired athletic adaptations. The cumulative effects of binge drinking episodes may leave an athlete unable to perform at the expected or desired level. After an athletic event, athletes should be encouraged to follow recommended nutrition and hydration guidelines for recovery prior to alcohol consumption.

References

1. Alcohol metabolism: An update. Alcohol alert. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. 2007. Retrieved 2016 from http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AA72/AA72.htm.
2. Barnes, M. Alcohol: Impact on sports performance and recovery in male athletes. Sports Med 44(7): 909-919, 2014.
3. Beyond hangovers: Understanding alcohol’s impact on your health. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. 2015. Retrieved 2016 from http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/ Hangovers/beyondHangovers.htm.
4. Boyle, M, and Long, S. Personal Nutrition. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth; 251-263, 2007.
5. Burke, L, Collier, G, Broad, E, Davis, P, Martin, D, Sanigorski, A, and Hargreaves, M. Effect of alcohol intake on muscle glycogen storage after prolonged exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology 95(3): 983-990, 2003.
6. Duplanty, A, Budnar R, Luk H, Levitt D, Hill D, McFarlin B, et al. Effect of acute alcohol ingestion on resistance exercise induced mTORC1 signaling in human muscle. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research Published Ahead of Print, 2016.
7. Ebrahim, I, Shapiro, C, Williams, A, and Fenwick, P. Alcohol and sleep I: Effects on normal sleep. Alcoholism, Clinical & Experimental Research 37(4): 539-549, 2013.
8. Haugvad, A, Haugvad, L, Hamarsland, H, and Paulsen, G. Ethanol does not delay muscle recovery, but decreases the testosterone:cortisol ratio. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 46(11): 2175-2183, 2014.
9. Koziris, L. Alcohol and athletic performance. American College of Sports Medicine Current Comment. April, 2000.
10. Lecoultre, V, and Schutz, Y. Effect of a small dose of alcohol on endurance performance of trained cyclists. Alcohol & Alcoholism 44(3): 278-283, 2009.
11. National Collegiate Athletic Association. 2016 – 2017 banned drugs list. Retrieved September 7th, 2016 from http://www.ncaa. org/2016-17-ncaa-banned-drugs-list.
12. O’Brien, C, and Lyons, F. Alcohol and the athlete. Sports Medicine 29(5): 295-300, 2000.
13. Parr, E, Camera, D, Areta, J, Burke, L, Phillips, S, Hawley, J, and Coffey, V. Alcohol ingestion impairs maximal post-exercise rates of myofibrillar protein synthesis following a single bout of concurrent training. PLoS ONE 9(2): 2014.
14. Prat, G, Adan, A, Sanchez-Turet, M. Alcohol hangover: A critical review of explanatory factors. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental 24: 259-267, 2009.
15. Shirreffs, S, and Maughan, R. Restoration of fluid balance after exercise-induced dehydration: Effects of alcohol consumption. Journal of Applied Physiology 83(4): 1152-1158, 1997.
16. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 (8th Ed). Retrieved 2016 from https://health.gov/ dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.
17. Volpe, S. Alcohol and athletic performance. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal 14(3): 28-30, 2010.
18. World Anti-Doping Code International Standard. Prohibited list: January 2016. Retrieved September 7th, 2016 from http:// http://www.usada.org/wp-content/uploads/wada-2016-prohibited-listen.pdf

About the Author:

Claire Siekaniec, MS, RD, CSSD

Claire Siekaniec is a Sports Dietitian at the Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (TOSH) in Murray, UT. She is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. She completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of New Haven and a Master of Science degree in Sports Nutrition from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. She has spent time working as a Clinical Dietitian at the Alaska Native Medical Center and as a Sports Nutrition Intern for the University of Virginia Athletic Department.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Celebrate the Small Victories

12 May

I saw this recently in Men’s Health, and really liked it.  It further resonated with me because of a recent conversation I had with one of my daughters.

A nutritionist and author offered “life” tips that were not necessarily limited to nutrition, including the title of this post.  His grandfather used to say, “Life is full of challenges, and when something good happens, you should pause to enjoy it.”  His grandfather’s advice reminds him to celebrate the small victories that lead to larger ones.

While I believe it’s important to keep your eye on the big picture, it’s equally important to remember that it’s the day-to-day, step-by-step successes that enable the big victory.  Ultimately, there are no big victories without practice, preparation, and a fair amount of small victories.  Take a moment to appreciate and enjoy the smaller accomplishments, along the way.

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller

Just a few years ago, my youngest daughter was a basketball player on our local high school team.  She was fortunate to play on a team that earned and experienced a good deal of success during her playing days.  She and her teammates were focused on achieving goals like winning a conference and district championship.  In talking with her over the years (and before I ever saw the Men’s Health piece), I encouraged her to take a moment after each victory and reflect upon how special that particular moment was.  I didn’t necessarily want her to spend a lot of time dwelling on what soon became the past (good or bad), I just wanted her to absorb, cherish, and learn from the moment because I know how fleeting success can be — and I certainly know how quickly time passes.  I also know that, sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in the “end justifies the means” mentality.  Championships may or may not happen, but you can’t always let that define your season.  Additionally, although the core of her team played together for three years, there was no guarantee that they would replicate the success of any given season.

Take a moment to savor your daily accomplishments, no matter how small they seem.  Develop an appreciation of the small victories and their cumulative effect on your larger victories and accomplishments.

We may never pass this way again.” – Seals and Crofts

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Don’t Take Yourself Out of the Game

21 Apr

As an athlete, consistency is important.  Consistency of effort, preparation, and practice leads to consistency of performance.  But, despite our best efforts, athletes at every level experience performance slumps.  There will be  some games when your shots are just not falling.  How will you deal with it?

There are some things that are under your control every time you take the court.  Attitude is one of them and, perhaps, the most important.  You decide if and how you let a missed shot or turnover affect your next possession, or the rest of your game.  Although it may be easier said then done, a positive mental approach (and, sometimes, a short memory) is critical to athletic performance success.

Effort is another area that shouldn’t be impacted by your level of play.  Keep hustling.  Continue to “play hard, play smart, and play together” (Dean Smith, former University of North Carolina men’s basketball coach).  Don’t allow a missed shot or bad pass to be an excuse to give anything less than 100% when you’re on the court.  Focus on the aspects of your play that aren’t susceptible to slumps, like defense, boxing out, and rebounding.

Don’t allow a performance slump to take away your aggressiveness, confidence, or energy.  You’ve worked hard to get to this point.  Keep believing in yourself and maintain a high intensity level.  Draw on positive past experience to fuel your thoughts.  Keep working hard, stay positive, and good things will happen.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Does Kinesio Taping Really Work?

12 Apr

If you’ve watched sports recently, you have probably noticed athletes wearing kinesio tape (at the 2016 Olympics, women’s beach volleyball comes to mind).  This trend has trickled down to the college and high school levels, as well (I think it has become sort of a fashion accessory).  I’ve even seen a few of our local high school athletes wearing kinesio tape.

Functional taping is nothing new, mostly to stabilize injured joints.  The specific goal of kinesio taping (KT) is to improve sport-related muscle contraction.  It is assumed that KT can facilitate and stimulate muscle function, if applied properly, due to the elastic properties of the KT.

A recent Journal of Strength and Conditioning study evaluated the effect of KT on college athletes, as it relates to vertical jump strength, power, and balance.  According to the study authors, “The KT technique was not found to be useful in improving performance in some sports-related movements in healthy college athletes; therefore, KT… should not be considered by athletes when the sole reason of the application is to increase performance during jumping and balance.” (Nunes, et. al.)

Here’s what does work for improving vertical jump strength, power, and balance:  Strength training.  Forget about the gimmicks and shortcuts.  Consult with a qualified strength and conditioning professional about a program that incorporates core and lower-extremity strength, power, and balance training.  The impact that a well-designed strength training program has on your performance will be considerably greater than wearing kinesio tape.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Opportunity is Just the Beginning

7 Apr

Opportunity, and — more specifically — what you do with it, is the key to growth and development.  Think of it in these terms:  “Point A” represents who, what, and where you are today.  “Point B” is your aspiration, destination, or goal (who, what, and where you want to be, tomorrow).  The path between these two points represents opportunity.  Sometimes the path will be obvious.  Other times, it may not.  Regardless, your ultimate success in any endeavor will depend on how effectively you navigate this path.  Here are 4 strategies, as they relate to opportunity (with some added basketball analogies):

Look For It

Sometimes you can’t wait for opportunity to knock at your door.  You will have to open the door, walk through the doorway, and search for it.  In basketball, your defender isn’t always going to provide you with a clear path to the hoop.  Think with the end in mind.  Make sure your goal is clear and specific.  The means to your goal attainment will be more clear if you know and understand what success looks like.  Seek advice and guidance by consulting with others who have experience and expertise in your area of interest.

Recognize It

Opportunity isn’t always obvious, nor is it always in plain sight.  If you are a student of the game, your opponent’s tendencies will reveal themselves, over the course of the game.  You have to be willing to think broadly and “connect” your development plan with your goal.  Once again, it all begins with goal setting.  There may be some trial and error, along the way, but that’s okay.  Build some “checkpoints” into your plan.  This will make it easier to recognize whether or not you’re on the right track.

Take Advantage Of It

When you do find and recognize opportunity, take action… don’t procrastinate.  The window of opportunity sometimes closes very quickly.  In basketball, boxing out your opponent to get a rebound is important, but you have to go after the ball, too.

Create It

There will be times when you just have to do it yourself.  Leverage your strengths and talents.  Use the information you have gleaned from scouting your opponent, and other past experiences, and create your own opportunity.  Calculated risk-taking will be part of the equation.  As the old proverb states, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Prepare Like You Intend to Perform

10 Mar

A few days ago, I published a blog post titled, You’ve Got to Practice at Game Speed.  Today, I’d like to address practice and preparation from a different angle — specifically, the athlete’s focus and intensity level.

I must admit, once again, my thoughts and observations are based on having watched my daughter’s — and our high school girls varsity basketball team’s — scrimmages.  And my comments don’t just apply to our team.  To some extent, I saw this in each and every one of the five teams that participated in the scrimmage.

Some of the pre-game warm-up activity was just awful.  I’m not referring to the drills, themselves, but rather the effort with which the drills were performed.  Many of the players’ focus and intensity level was variable, at best.  Some of them didn’t even look like they took it seriously — half-hearted passing, shooting, and overall execution.  Moving through the drills at half-speed.  Laughing, joking, and fooling around.  Do you really believe there’s no carry-over into the game?  I’m not suggesting that the student-athlete experience shouldn’t be enjoyable.  But once you lace them up and step on the court, it’s time to focus your attention and effort on the task at hand.

Representing your high school on the basketball court is a privilege… not an entitlement!  Same goes for any other sport at any other level.  Show that you respect the game, your teammates, your coaches — and yourself — by taking your decision and commitment to play a little more seriously.

The same principle applies to school, work… and life.  How do you study for your upcoming exam?  How do you prepare for your business presentation?  Are you setting yourself up for success, or sabotaging your own efforts?

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Embrace the Journey

8 Mar

e00010819“The journey is the reward.” – Steve Jobs

We all have goals.  Long-term goals, short-term goals – things we aspire to accomplish or achieve.

Some of the things to which we look forward are “milestones” – like turning 21 – and don’t require much preparation.  It’s just a matter of time.

Most of our goals, though, require some planning, preparation, and effort.  There’s a process – a journey – involved in the eventual achievement of these goals.

And, although achievement may be the pinnacle of the process, the journey is the enriching, character-building part.

In sports, it’s not winning a championship that makes you better; it’s all the time you devoted to daily practice and preparation as a player and teammate.

In school, it’s not the high grade on your test or report card that makes you better; it’s all the time you spent doing homework and studying – learning – along the way.

At work, it’s not the promotion – or the raise – that makes you better; it’s all the work you put into your job – your daily commitment to excellence as an employee, entrepreneur, supervisor, or co-worker.

If life, it’s not where you get that makes you better; it’s what you did to arrive at that point.

Accomplishment is great, but the self-improvement that occurs along the way is the real prize.

Embrace the journey.  Enjoy the ride.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

The Relationship Between Preparation and Performance

17 Feb

589031400-300x200I am blessed with the opportunity to work with hundreds of athletes, teams, and organizations, ranging from young boys and girls to elite professional athletes.

Obviously, the work I do with athletes is primarily performance training – Strength & Conditioning, Speed & Agility, etc.  Other areas of performance training, such as sport-specific skill development (e.g., basketball ball-handling and shooting), are equally important.

In addition to training these athletes, I try to get out and watch them (as many as I can) compete.  Watching them play provides me with invaluable insight into two key areas:

  • The impact our training has on their performance, and
  • Areas of improvement where we can enhance/modify our training to further improve performance

But there’s also something else I’ve learned from watching these athletes in a competitive setting: The attitude, effort, and work ethic they bring to our training sessions is directly reflected in their performance.

Recently, I had the opportunity watch several, high-level club volleyball teams play, all of whom participate in our organizational team training.  These opportunities are rare, since most of these teams travel considerable distances to compete – regionally and nationally, and don’t participate in many local tournaments.

As far as I’m concerned, there were no surprises, regarding the level of their performance.  The teams that routinely bring a high level of effort and work ethic – and a positive attitude – to our training sessions played well, even against top competition.  The teams that bring a less-than-desirable attitude and effort to our training sessions did not fare as well.

Work ethic is not a “sometimes” thing.  You can’t work hard some of the time and say you have a strong work ethic.  It would be like studying only some of the time, but claiming to have good study habits.  It simply doesn’t work that way.

You can’t go through the motions and half-a** your way through your performance training sessions and expect a high level of success when it’s game time.  My observation of hundreds of athletes and teams, over time, has corroborated that.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s no guarantee of success, even for those athletes who do consistently demonstrate a high level of effort and strong work ethic.  But I sure like the odds, and so should you.

STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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