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In the past couple of years, veganism has become very popular. It is not considered as a specific plant-based diet anymore but as a way of life, and becoming vegan means changing your life upside down and creating a new, healthy lifestyle. But is choosing veganism a good option for athletes and does it really give them enough strength to match their meat-eating competitors?

Over the last few years, more and more athletes have completely altered their eating habits and turned to the vegan way of life. It is a well-known fact that changing your eating habits and following a vegan diet can help you create a healthier life but does it give you enough energy and does it benefit your performance?

Protein replacement and quality fats

A common problem for active individuals is feeling constant hunger after switching to a vegan diet that leads to low energy levels and affects their performance. That happens because your body needs protein and fats that can be found in animal products to use as fuel. Active athletes need more protein than the average people do. The tricky part is that protein is mostly found in animal products so switching to vegan diet means a large portion of it is eliminated and it might be a shock to your body. The same happens when you cut the fat from dairy products (2% milk is in fact 33.5% fat!) out from your diet and your body lacks fuel (in this case fat) to produce energy and burn it. For optimum performance, saturated fat in your food diet should be minimized but cutting all fat out of the diet is not the best option. It can be, for a moderately active person, but it will have a negative influence on an athlete.

The solution lies in carefully thought through, plant-based diet consisting of certain elements that are replacements for the protein intake and of course, adding good quality fats. Therefore if you are doing sports and thinking about adopting a plant-based diet, don't do it by yourself, instead, consult with the experts in the field.

In addition to replacement and alternatives for food, vegan athletes also add organic supplements like brown rice protein powder to their diet to ensure quicker muscle recovery, sufficient dietary protein intake, to gain muscles and improve their performance.

Dietary sodium and calcium intake

What also happens to vegan athletes is muscle cramping and stiffness due to lack of sodium in their body as well as lack of calcium. Calcium is necessary for your heart and other muscles to work properly and if you don't have enough of it, you can increase the risk of developing disorders like osteoporosis. It is extremely important to plan your meals wisely and make sure you are consuming calcium-rich food such as almonds, beans, sesame and sunflower seeds, spinach, kale, etc.

When training, your body produces a high sweat rate so you must make sure you have enough sodium. High levels of sodium can be found in dairy products and most prepared meats such as salami or pepperoni. On the other hand, most plant sources don't contain enough dietary sodium (except some seaweeds) and that is why it is important to increase your intake of sodium if your activity increases.

What you can do is add sea salt to your usual meals to ensure your body receives enough sodium to subside muscle cramping. Consider using sodium tablets as an alternative way to increase sodium levels during time of heavy training and excessive sweating. Including dietary sodium will affect your general health and you will not experience a rise in blood pressure.

Blood tests and iron-rich food

When turning to veganism and cutting animal products out from a diet, active individuals usually have problem with low energy levels and exhaustion. That happens due to the lack of iron in your body and it often leads to anemia. As with sodium and calcium, iron is also lost when sweating and maintaining its stores is extremely difficult during times of heavy training. That is why it is highly recommended to take bi-yearly blood tests to monitor your iron level and take the necessary steps.

Speaking of necessary steps - the solution of the problem lies in iron-rich food in every meal such as soybean nuts, green beans, walnuts, cashews, pecans plus with a little help of vitamin C (to help with the absorption).

All in all, if you are an athlete who is thinking about altering your food habits and becoming vegan, don't hesitate because you can find dietary replacement for all the necessary elements your body needs during training. As long as you are monitoring the levels of sodium, calcium and iron, and making sure you are including enough protein in your meals you can focus on the training part and improve your performance. Make sure you are doing it right and consult with the experts to get ready to compete with (and win!) your meat-eating opponents!

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The Laws of Strength and Conditioning: An Athletes Agreement

By Matthew Johnson, M.S, CSCS

Director of Strength and Conditioning George Washington University 

At George Washington University we value the coach-athlete relationship.  In order to reach peak performance both parties are responsible.  As strength coaches, our job is to motivate, educate, plan and provide structure to our athletes performance enhancement.  

Below is a list of standards (in order of importance) that our athletes must understand, agree and adhere to during training. 

 1. Coachable: Athletes must accept coaching at all times.  As strength coaches, it is our job to identify technique flaws, low effort or bad attitudes.  Athletes should never wear "earmuffs". They must listen and absorb what we are communicating. 

 2. Effort:  Plain and simple, maximum effort maximizes results. When training a team their effort level shouldn’t waver. It’s not an easy thing to do but it is tremendously important for the long-term development of your athletes.

 3. Championship Culture:  The weight room is were high amplitude energy and positive attitudes reside.  Athletes that radiate negativity or low energy put a damper on things.  Fill the weight room with an elite culture: smiles, cheers, clapping, and words of encouragement all build this.  “Champions behave like Champions before they’re Champions.  They have a winning standard of performance before they are winners.” - Bill Walsh

 4. Nutrition: Athletes must understand that they can’t out train bad nutrition.  If your athletes want to go 0 to 60 in record time they better feed the machine with high quality fuel. They must train themselves at the table before training in the weigh room.  If not, they are spinning their wheels. They are applying effort to the gas pedal but their poor nutrition is the e-brake holding them back.

 5. Sleep: In order to train hard you must recover harder.  Sleep is one of the oldest and most effective recovery modes around.  Best part is it's FREE! Make sure you are getting your zzzz’s so you can gain those lift lbs. 

 6. Technique: “Quality not Quantity” should ring through the ears of every athlete.  No matter the lift, it needs to be executed with precision.  Poor technique can delay strength development.  More importantly, athletes can get injured! Take pride in your reps, they are your billboard as a coach.

 7. Supplemental Training:  We should never turn away an athlete wanting to complete extra work. Why? Who do you know that failed a test or class doing extra credit? Working hard and smart is a proven recipe for success.  But performing extra work may be counterproductive if it is not aligned with your training focus.  For example:  A max strength phase has been installed. On active recovery days your athlete runs 5 miles.  The physiological impact of aerobic training erases the max strength work.  Athletes wanting to complete extra work should seek the advice of their strength coach. We are the experts; they must use us.

 8. Training Frequency:  “We are what we repeatably do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Improvement is a byproduct of many sets, reps and sessions.  Athletes must train consistently and follow the plan we have outlined.  Make sure your athletes complete "make ups" if a conflict arises that prevents them from attending scheduled sessions. Lapses in training only slow momentum.

 9. Trust:  Athletes must trust the training program.  Any skepticism will skew the outcome.  Coaches must educate their athletes so they believe in the process.  As coaches, we can get them where they need to be.  The athlete must trust our direction. Explaining WHY is the best way to establish trust.

10. Have Fun:  In my experience, athletes that have a blast in the weight room always improve.  Athletes should be excited and find enjoyment in their development. If they aren't, look in the mirror.  Attitude and energy reflect leadership. The weight room should be an energy bunker. They should enjoy entering it with the mindset of preparing to win a championship.  Encourage them to put on a smile and go to work!

Train Hard. Fuel Smart. Work Your Plan! Together we can, Together we will!


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Online team collaboration

Teambuildr recently announced a team texting feature.  You can check out the feature below.  I'm interested to hear if/how online collaboration is changing how strength coaches communicate to and with the teams under their charge.  Do you communicate to your athletes online and/or use an online platform to enable your athletes to communicate to each other about their training challenges and wins in a secure environment?  

Team Texting is available to all TeamBuildr coaches today. Send SMS texts to your team, position group or athlete right from your computer, smartphone, or tablet!

For more information, 
visit their blog.

To log in, go to their website.
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Content as posted on:  http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/ncaaf-dr-saturday/usf-strength-and-conditioning-coach-suspended-after-tweet-criticizing-aaron-lynch-163932940.html ;

Not everyone at South Florida was happy that former Bulls DE Aaron Lynch was taken in the fifth round of Saturday's NFL draft.

USF head strength and conditioning coach Hans Straub was suspended indefinitely after he sent a tweet critical of Lynch after he was selected by the San Francisco 49ers with the 150th pick. The tweet was subsequently deleted and Straub's account is private.

South Florida coach Willie Taggart talked about it during his AAC teleconference on Tuesday.

"I'm very disappointed in the tweet that you are talking about, Taggart said via RunningtheBulls.com. "Hans knows how disappointed I am."

Originally recruited to Notre Dame as a four-star defensive end, Lynch transferred to South Florida before the 2012 season. In 2013, he had five sacks and 29 tackles. In his only season at Notre Dame in 2011, he had 5.5 sacks. Because of that freshman season, expectations for his tenure at South Florida were elevated. However, he wasn't a dominant force at USF.

After he was drafted, Lynch called himself a first-round talent. Perhaps that talent made Straub say what he did.

“I am a first-round talent,” Lynch said via SFGate.com. “(But) I’ve made some mistakes in my past and I figured that’s what hurt me a little bit.”

Taggart is close friends with San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh, and Harbaugh said Taggart had put in a good word for Lynch.

“He believes that this is a good young man,” Harbaugh said to SFGate.com. “He needs direction. He needs good structure around him where he’s got guys, men that he would look up to. That he would have a chance to emulate. Feels that he’ll thrive in that kind of environment.”

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The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) welcomed Strength Performance Network (SPN) to the 2014 conference again this year.  They have always been gracious hosts and this year was no different.  Thank you.


SPN has attended more than a few NSCA conferences at this point and, personally, I’ve attended even more.  I can tell you that the quality of presenters and the knowledge brought to the event by the attendees has grown year-over-year.  The strength and conditioning industry used to be led by former coaches of basketball or football (for example) who trained athletes on the side.  From my own experience, I can remember my head high school football coach writing our team workouts on a chalkboard, with everyone on the team doing the same workout.  The NSCA recognized that by continuing to allow those without a core fundamental understanding of the physiology of the human body and the ways that the body responds to proven physical, mental and nutritional science, that athletes at every level of their development would never maximize their athletic capabilities.  As such, they have worked tirelessly to promote sound, research-based curriculum and the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) certification into the industry with the goal of ensuring the strength and conditioning profession is staffed with accredited strength and conditioning professionals. 

I obtained my CSCS in 1997 and I can tell you from personal experience that the industry has evolved into a truly respected profession due in large part to the efforts of the NSCA.  The knowledge and level of professionalism presented at each NSCA conference grows year-over-year and this year’s conference was no different.  If you haven’t been to an NSCA conference before, I would encourage you to attend next year’s conference.  You will learn from leaders in the industry and network with colleagues who will both increase your knowledge in the industry and extend your reach in the industry.  If you are a supporter of the NSCA I encourage you to continue your support.  The strength and conditioning profession will thank you and, more importantly, those influenced by strength and conditioning professionals will thank you. 

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As participation in youth sports has continued to grow, the establishment of independent strength and conditioning facilities aimed at helping young athletes develop a strong foundation on which they can continue to develop themselves physically and mentally seems like a natural progression in the evolution of the industry.  Given the resources provided by the educational institutions that most youth athletes play for today, however, I’ve been curious about how these independent facilities establish business models that enable them to compete against the “free” facilities offered by these academic institutions.


Many of my questions were answered when I attended a presentation by Adam Feit, Direct of Sports Performance at Rypt, a training facility located in Tinton Falls, NJ.  While Rypt offers training options for adults, they really excel at youth athletic development.  You can learn more about Rypt on their website found here.  The athletic and educational background Adam and his colleagues bring to their business definitely qualify them to work with athletes of any level.  What differentiates Rypt’s business model is the system they have developed to establish a feeling of community and belonging among their youth participants.  Adam and the Rypt team take a great deal of pride in establishing an environment where youth athletes feel like they are part of something special.  Through special events, recognition and rewards for performance, promotion of their achievements within the facility and in the broader community and the recognition of the athletic endeavors achieved by their alumni long after they have left their facility, youth athletes feel a sense of pride at being a part of a special community – a community that they can’t find at their school(s).  As a result, the youth athletes that participate in Rypt’s programs are willing to pay for a service that they would otherwise receive for free at their educational institution(s).


I intend to follow Rypt as they continue to expand their presence in their community.  At first glance it seems as though this business model could be easily replicated, bringing competition into Rypt’s space.  I disagree and I do so because of the passion that Adam brought to his presentation and the sense of pride I know he feels in the impact that he and the Rypt team have on youth athletes daily.  This ingredient can’t be easily replicated.  Rypt is succeeding because of their ability to understand what is important to a young athlete as they train to improve in their sport of choice, the quality of their facility and, most importantly, the human resources they bring to the education of the youth athletes who walk through their doors every day.  They are training youth athletes the right way and I believe they will leave behind a legacy of successful student-athletes as they move on in their athletic, academic and professional careers.

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Last night I have the amazing opportunity to listen to a presentation by Joe Ehrmann.  Joe was an All-American football player and letterman in lacrosse at Syracuse.  He later played in the NFL for 13 years.  While his athletic accomplishments are impressive, they in no way define the man.  Quite the contrary.  Joe took his experiences as a player, reflected on the impact the various coaches in his career had on his life and thoughtfully and introspectively combined those insights with the very personal challenges he faced growing up to develop a philosophy regarding what he believes a coach should stand for and the positive impact a coach can have on helping young people to understand what it means to be a man or woman for others.  

As a former coach, I appreciate the role a coach can play in the build-up or break-down of self-esteem and belief in oneself.  Unfortunately I found that many coaches are in the profession for the wrong reason.  They are coaching for their own glory, rather than the positive development of others.  The former leaves no legacy behind when they are gone and often leave a road of destruction as the lives they touched veer off course without the positive reinforcement and instilled belief in oneself.  The later, however, leave a legacy that is passed through generations as those who were impacted positively by the transformational coach in their lives passes on the lessons learned and experiences gained to those who follow them.  

I was extremely moved by Joe's presentation.  As coaches gain more and more media exposure and salaries continue to climb, I fear that more people will enter the coaching ranks as transactional coaches who use players for their own glorification.  Those in the profession for the right reason owe it to the athletes who will be impacted in a negative fashion by those coaches to "close ranks" and ensure those coaches don't have an opportunity to continue to progress in the profession.  Coaches bear a tremendous responsibility as mentors and teachers.  Athletic coaches effect players mentally, physically, psychologically and spiritually.  No other profession in the world has such a platform.  

As Joe stated, this doesn't meant that winning doesn't matter.  Rather, winning and learning what it takes to win is one of the many life lessons coaches can share with their athletes.  It's not just winning on the field/court that matters, however.  It's winning as a father or mother, son or daughter, husband or wife.  When your life ends, what will you leave behind?  Why do you coach?

A few other notes from Joe's presentation are captured below.  You can learn more about Joe here.  http://www.coachforamerica.com/meet-joe 

Joe is the author of, "Inside Out Coaching"

Coherent Narrative and sports coherent narrative.  Age and degree of intensity.

Two types of coaches:

Transactional or transformational.  Motivated by self-interest = extrinsic values or motivated by social/moral/ethical values & vision - intrinsic values.  Players needs first, team's needs second.  Transformational coaches meet their needs by meeting the needs of their players.

Transactional:  self-centered, extrinsic values. 

Transformational: Other-centered, intrinsic values

4 transformational coaching questions:

  1. Why do you coach?  About you?  About your players?
  2. Why do you coach the way you do?  
  3. What does it fee like to be coached by you?
  4. What do you want to accomplish by coaching?

InSideOut Coaching Philosophy:

Center is the Purpose:  What is your purpose?  (A clear concise statement:  Example:  Joe coaches to help boys become men of empathy and integrity, who lead, are responsible and change the world for good.")

Core values = Team Culture


  • Empathy:  Joe opened his heart to his players' feelings and situations every practice and every game.
  • Kindness:  Joe delivers and displays kindness throughout practices and games to his coaches, players and their families.
  • Service to Others:  Joe teaches his players how to serve their teammates, classmates, school, family and community.

What is your definition of success?  Example:  Defined over 20 years, as Joe watched his players become men of empathy and integrity, committed husbands, devoted fathers and contributors to the betterment of their community and society.

Joe has his high school athletes complete obituaries.  When will they die and what will they have accomplished in their lives.  After 20 years he is going to mail these go his former players.  The first set will be sent two years from now.  

Inside our Mind:  Two natures:

  • Inherited:  True nature
  • Acquired:  EGO
    • Culture:  Movies, music, media
    • Nurture:  Parents, siblings, peers, adults
    • Nature:  Internal messages, 
    • "You move toward and become that which you believe about yourself."
  • Self concept comes from our nature and what is acquired

Redefining masculinity and felinity (what does it mean to be a man, to be a woman)

Joe has spent a great deal of time with people who are near death.  He's learned that there are two questions that are asked more than others:  

Two criteria:

  1. Relationships:  To love and be loved
    1. What kind of person was I (father, husband, etc)
  2. Cause:  Make the world a better place  (Did I?)

If you were on your deathbed today, knowing you were going to die tomorrow what would you leave behind?

Redefining team:  Set of relationships for a cause:  Common purpose, performance goals and objectives, mutually accountable work ethic, trust, respect, integrity, dignity of all team members

Put in "100 greatest speeches" in an online search engine (Google):  You will find that the majority of these speeches are about relational responsibilities towards our fellow human beings AND commitment to a cause (make the world more fair, more just, more hospitable)

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I joined a presentation by Sarah Snyder, MS, RD, LDN, CSCS at 3pm EST today. Sarah's presentation focused on the "re" in recovery.

Sarah is the Director of Sports Nutrition for the University of Florida (UF) Athletic Department. Snyder provides nutrition services and programming at UF for football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, women’s soccer, and lacrosse. Prior to joining UF, Snyder worked at Athletes’ Performance for 4 years specializing in nutrition consulting for National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL), and Major League Baseball (MLB) athletes during their off-season and consulted for the Memphis Grizzlies (NBA). She also studied biology at Santa Clara University and obtained her Master’s degree in Nutrition from Florida State University while serving as a Graduate Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the women’s volleyball team.

As Sarah stated:

“Recovery” is a word that encompasses a multitude of commonly used practices that can aid in preserving an athlete for the duration of their career, or assist in reaching new heights.  Recovery consists of rebuilding, repairing, rehydrating, and overall rejuvenation prior to the next performance.  Having proper and healthy systems in place allows for a habitual practice of each of these areas to be accomplished. The educational component of the “why” is the primary piece of recovery.  Secondly, recovery resources can be utilized effectively and creatively; all of which was covered in her session.

It's obvious from her presentation and background that Sarah is a master of her craft.  She talked in detail about the need to pay attention to the recovery requirement of athletes and the ways in which nutrition and strength professionals can work to ensure they are establishing proper recovery plans and strategies, taking into account specific athletic needs by sport and individual athlete, just as they would develop strength training plans.  In other words, "recovery' is as integral to any athletic development plan as the physical and mental training plan itself.  

i tried to find a website dedicated to Sarah's philosophy and marketing her expertise, but I was unable to find one.  Based on what I heard today, however, I have to believe that an online resource will be available in the future.  I have to believe she'll be venturing into the private space at some point.  Her expertise is too good not to be shared to a broader audience than just the organizations in which she works directly.  

Two other tidbits I'll keep in this blog as I jotted them down during the presentation:

  • Post recovery and post hydration:  Perform a "weigh out" to understand fluids lost.  16-24 ounces for every pound lost.
  • Need to have systems for post-recovery available and in place, especially for large teams.  Make it easy for athletes to acquire the recovery nutrition they need.  Aim for post recovery stations near workout areas.  Sarah touted a few such as those at Oregon, Alabama, Nebraska.  I was amazed at these facilities dedicated to nutrition.  They are nicer than any smoothy bar I've seen in the market.  It's great to see that universities/colleges are shifting some of their funds to nutrition as they better understand the value good nutrition can bring to their student-athletes (which, of course, translates into better performance on the court/field of play.)
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I had a chance to listen to Jason Cole, MS, CSCS, RSCC*D today at 2pm EST. Jason is an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Michigan, currently focusing on the baseball, tennis and men's soccer teams.  Coach Cole was also one of three finalists for this year's NSCA Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year.  

The integration of the strength and conditioning philosophy with that of a sport coaching staff is paramount to a program’s success. His session examined the methodologies utilized by the University of Michigan Strength and Conditioning Department as it relates to the sport of baseball and the philosophy of a new coaching staff.  You can learn more about Jason's background and his role with Michigan student athletes at the University of Michigan Strength and Conditioning website.

It goes without saying that coaching changes and the strength and conditioning profession run hand-in-hand.  What's often not discussed, however, is the best way for a strength and conditioning coach to both welcome in a new head coach for a sport with which she/he is involved and ensure that her/his strength and conditioning philosophy comes together with the coaching philosophy of the new head coach.  After all, while head strength and conditioning coaches are the leaders of their programs, the strength and conditioning program is there to service the needs of the head coaches who bear the responsibility of fielding a winning team.  Coach Cole presented his thoughts on how to work to ensure that the relationship between the new sport head coach and that of the associated strength and conditioning coach starts off strong and maintains positive momentum as the relationship continues to develop.  


I found Coach Cole's presentation to be thoughtful and ripe with excellent ideas that can be immediately applied by any strength coach dealing with a coaching change.  It was also apparent from his presentation that he is very willing to provide thoughts and advice to younger coaches in the industry.  I would recommend Coach Cole as a resource for those of you rising through the strength and conditioning ranks and those of you who are dealing with (or want to be better prepared for) a coaching change in the sport(s) with which you work.

A few notes from Coach Cole's presentation are found below.  When dealing with a coaching change:

  • Be proactive:  Learn about the new coach and make contact
  • First impression is a reality:  
    • Initiate the first meeting
    • Exhibit a sense of urgency  
    • Embrace the change rather than resist it
    • Have a desire to be part of the culture change
    • Be open minded
    • If necessary, fake it until you make it
  • The New Vision:  Find out what is important to your new coach philosophically and physically.  What is her/his mission statement?  What are the core values?  (Relentless, etc.)  Compare with S&C mission statement.  
  • Be willing to adjust your plan:
    • Annual plan - Present your annual plan and be willing to make adjustments based on different philosophies.  For example, Coach Cole's new baseball coach wanted to build toughness and a "blue collar" attitude.  As such, Coach Cole ended up supplementing his traditional baseball strength program with challenges such as:
      • The Murph: 1 mile run, 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 squats, 1 mile run
      • Omaha challenge:  Seniors draft teams, 18 events over 4 days, Individual and team champions
      • Navy SEAL training (train with the SEALs)
    • Incorporate more competitive aspects into training weeks
    • Incorporate core values
    • Maximize development
      • Scientifically supported training methodologies, testing
      • Make this relevant to the sport (I.e. Ground-based, multi-jointed movement patterns for baseball players)
    • Add some flavor:  Make it fun and interesting.
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Marie Spano, MS, RD, CSCS, CSSD is currently speaking at the conference on the topic of supplements.  The most immediate learning from the presentation is that the nutrition needs for every athlete are going to be unique.  Strength and conditioning professionals are doing their athletes a disservice if we don't take the time to fully evaluate the unique needs of each athlete including their nutrition history, their goals for the future and what is truly best for the athlete. 

Marie is an expert in her field.  I won't write the details of her presentation here, but you can find more information about about Marie on her website at:  http://www.mariespano.com.  If you are an athlete looking to better understand how nutrition can play a role in helping you maximize your athletic performance, or a coach who works with athletes to do the same, I would not hesitate to seek out Marie for her knowledge and advice.

In today's presentation Marie covered a range of topics from the role strength and conditioning coaches should play in ensuring that they bring the right nutritional knowledge to their athletes, to the challenges in telling different supplements apart.  She also covered the potential pros/cons of different types of supplements (stimulants, protein, post-workout supplements) and discussed the issue of when supplements should ideally be taken to maximize their benefits.  

A few other notes from her presentation:

  • When it comes to supplements strength and conditioning coaches must make it their priority to know what is legal for their athletes to take, what is not and the difference between different types of the same supplement (I.e. Protein supplements.)  Additionally, understand what additional food, drink and prescription drugs an athlete typically takes in order to understand if supplements are ok to take and what types of supplements may be appropriate.  
  • Herein lies the challenge:  It's very difficult to understand the differences between the same types of supplements (I.e. Protein supplements).  The ingredient label on many supplements list a "proprietary blend" on the label.  This is to prevent the competition from learning all the ingredients, but it also inhibits users from understanding what is truly in the product.  Additionally, some information that is listed is not complete and is therefore potentially misleading.  For example, there is no requirements to list the amount of caffeine in each product.  
  • Antioxidants and recovery:  more isn't better
  • "Gainers" are often suspect
  • Rob Wildman, PhD, RD is a recommended resource on the science of supplements

More to come from the 2014 conference soon....

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Blogging from the NSCA 2014 Coaches Conference

I arrived at the Coaches Conference last night.  After traveling through the snow and managing flight delays to what is currently a very snowy Indianapolis, I arrived at the JW Marriott in and was immediately presented with the opportunity to talk to Jon Jost, Director of Strength and Conditioning at Florida State University and the person many consider the "Father of Strength and Conditioning":  Boyd Epley.  Boyd founded the collegiate strength and conditioning is currently the Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorship and Special Projects with the National Strength and Conditioning Association.  It was a fantastic beginning to the conference as the wealth of knowledge both of those coaches bring to the table is more than many gain throughout their entire careers as strength and conditioning professionals.  Boyd has always been a gracious host, welcoming SPN to the table whenever we have an opportunity to join NSCA events to bring the knowledge they share at their events to the broader industry.

There are more than 800 professionals here this week and I'm starting todays' session by listening to Ron McKeefery discuss what it really takes to survive in the strength and conditioning profession.  There are a precious few coaches who hold the top jobs at Division 1 colleges or in the professional ranks.  The large majority of strength coaches work long hours, and are very underpaid all while operating in an industry with very little job security.  Ron is providing his perspective on what it took for him to survive in the industry.  A few topics:

  • Continuous learning while looking outside of the industry for new ideas
  • Seek balance in life:  You will be a better and happier coach because of it
  • Appreciating relationships with athletes as well as S&C knowledge
  • Most coaches will lose their jobs:  Balance your budget 
  • Build your network constantly and establish mentors
  • Success = Technician, Manager, Entrepreneur

Off to chat with Ron to gather more thoughts.  Check back for more from the conference later.

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As posted on UT Arlington's website:

ARLINGTON, Texas – Alan Bishop is busy all year. As UT Arlington's men's basketball strength and conditioning coach, the work never ends.

But the summer, more so than any other, is Coach Bishop's time. That's when his work with the men's team hits overdrive. The Mavericks are already showing the fruits of that labor as they prepare for the 2013-14 season.

"Summer is the time to do it because you have a little less demand on your body from what we do in practice," UT Arlington men's basketball coach Scott Cross said. "They have an opportunity to take in more calories and put on some muscle and increase their max lifts in the weight room. I think they look good. A lot of them have already gotten stronger and I imagine over the next four or five weeks they'll do even better."

UTAMavs.com caught up with Bishop to discuss his philosophy and goals in developing a strength-and-conditioning program for the men's team:

What are your goals in the summer as far as getting the players ready for the season?
The summer is really big for us. The summer is the time we don't have a lot of distractions because the campus is pretty empty. It's just our teams together. When it comes down to the time in the weight room, we have three things we're working to accomplish. The first is athletic development, which is jumping higher, running faster, and getting stronger and more explosive. The second is injury prevention, which is keeping these guys healthy. They're all better basketball players than I am, but if one of them has a bum ankle, we're getting the same minutes and they're not helping the team. we've got to keep them healthy and on the floor. We can do things in the summer like structural balance and making sure they don't have any impediments in their movements. The third thing is just hard work, making them work hard and increasing our work capacity through hard work. We're trying to make them the toughest team on the court.

There must be a real trust factor between you and the coaching staff. 
Coach Cross really has to trust me and I have to know exactly what he wants done because I have the players for essentially three times more time than their sport coaches. We have to be on the same page. Nobody wants to win more than Coach Cross and he knows I'm the same way. You have two guys that are on the same page. He can trust me that I'm going to do everything I can do to help us win games by having players physically developed.

Coach Cross has been known to get after it in the weight room.
He's squatting over 400 pounds, he's unreal. He's training with me and I'm breaking sweats, saying 'Who is this guy? He's a machine.' That's how he had success. He was the hardest working player on the floor. He places a lot of value in strength and conditioning. That's a great challenge. I have to be on my game, making sure we're holding our players to that same standard. Nobody is going to outwork us. We will be the hardest working team in the conference. We will be the hardest working team in the state. I'd put what we're doing, as far as the attitude and the effort, up against anybody.

How do you indoctrinate the new players in the program and get them up to speed with the players that have already worked with you?
At the end of the day, they have to be better basketball players because they've spent time with me and working in this program. In terms of what I'm looking for – their movement patters, how I want their bodies reacting to certain stimulus – the new guys have a lot of catching up to do, but if they weren't great basketball players, we wouldn't have brought them in. They will be behind a little bit in terms of knowing what we want, but this is great class of newcomers. I'm not worried about Day 1. It's a process. We're looking for them to improve throughout the process of their four-year training program. For us to be the best product possible, we need for them to be the best athletes possible when they step on the floor. We're going to push them.

Watching a player like sophomore Drew Charles working on footwork with the freshmen speaks to the teamwork this team has. How would you describe the character of this team?
I love being a part of this team. we don't have any character issues. We don't have that one bad apple that's going to spoil the bunch. From our oldest senior to our youngest freshman, they are genuinely concerned with the success of their teammates. Everyone has individual goals, but they fall within the team goals. It's about holding each other accountable and making each other better.


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NFL Combine Drills in Summary

Each February, hundreds of the very best college football players are invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Ind., where executives, coaches, scouts and doctors from all 32 NFL teams conduct an intense, four-day job interview in advance of the NFL Draft. Here is a brief breakdown of the measurable drills:

40-yard dash
The 40-yard dash is the marquee event at the combine. It's kind of like the 100-meters at the Olympics: It's all about speed, explosion and watching skilled athletes run great times. These athletes are timed at 10, 20 and 40-yard intervals. What the scouts are looking for is an explosion from a static start.

Bench press
The bench press is a test of strength -- 225 pounds, as many reps as the athlete can get. What the NFL scouts are also looking for is endurance. Anybody can do a max one time, but what the bench press tells the pro scouts is how often the athlete frequented his college weight room for the last 3-5 years.

Vertical jump
The vertical jump is all about lower-body explosion and power. The athlete stands flat-footed and they measure his reach. It is important to accurately measure the reach, because the differential between the reach and the flag the athlete touches is his vertical jump measurement.

Broad jump
The broad jump is like being in gym class back in junior high school. Basically, it is testing an athlete's lower-body explosion and lower-body strength. The athlete starts out with a stance balanced and then he explodes out as far as he can. It tests explosion and balance, because he has to land without moving.

3 cone drill
The 3 cone drill tests an athlete's ability to change directions at a high speed. Three cones in an L-shape. He starts from the starting line, goes 5 yards to the first cone and back. Then, he turns, runs around the second cone, runs a weave around the third cone, which is the high point of the L, changes directions, comes back around that second cone and finishes.

Shuttle run
The short shuttle is the first of the cone drills. It is known as the 5-10-5. What it tests is the athlete's lateral quickness and explosion in short areas. The athlete starts in the three-point stance, explodse out 5 yards to his right, touches the line, goes back 10 yards to his left, left hand touches the line, pivot, and he turns 5 more yards and finishes.

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The Crossfit Discussion

We've received quite a few comments since posting the "Crossfit Daily Workout" on SPN. It's great to see the diversity of thought. We're enjoying the debate which is, afterall, one of the reasons SPN exists. Allowing for professionals like yourselves to debate the appropriate (or inappropriate) application of current strength and conditioning programs and techniques is necessary for the progression of the entire industry. Without healthy debate there can be no progress. As Adam so eloquently stated above, "there are many different forms of training that have their own strengths and weaknesses and the best training program is one that is not close minded". SPN does not exist to promote one philosophy over another. Rather, SPN is intended to be a forum in which strength and conditioning professionals can advocate their philosophies and debate the proper use of training programs based on the intended outcomes. Crossfit may or may not be an appropriate form of fitness. That's for SPN members to debate and decide. We encourage members to further the debate around the most appropriate forms of training by bringing to the debate their own training philosophies and examples of their own training programs. An industry that fails to continue to evolve grows stale and, in the case of athletic development, limits the physical and mental progression of the athlete. Continue the debate, add fuel to the fire through examples honed over your own career and together ensure that the excellent foundation established by the strength and conditioning professionals who turned a fledgling hobby into a highly respected profession continues to evolve, thus ensuring that athletes maximize their potential regardless of the athletic endeavor in which they choose to compete.
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The Child Obesity Plague

In a recent study released today, 1 in 6 children are considered "obese".  This isn't a new revelation and I'd venture to say that the results of this study made few raise an eyebrow given that the sight of overweight children seems to move closer to the norm with every passing year.  

I'll stop short of saying that it's become an "acceptable" norm as I'd like to continue to believe the percentage of society that doesn't believe overweight children is acceptable still outweighs those who seem to dismiss the issue as another fact of life.  Yet, I'm still forced to contemplate the question:  Why do children with no physical or mental ailments still facing an obesity challenge at such a young age?  Is it the reduction in physical activity due in large part to more sedentary ways of keeping oneself busy, such as the rise in social media?  Or, perhaps it's the rise in alternative meal options brought about from society's desire to eat faster in an effort to get more accomplished in a day.  While these more overt possibilities are real considerations, one has to consider who is making these lifestyle decisions for the children suffering from obesity.  

Children don't understand the difference between the need to be active rather than sit on the couch and update their Facebook accounts or play another round of Madden on the Playstation.  Nor do children understand the difference between the nutrition in a fast food hamburger versus a chicken salad.  You see, it's not the children who are overweight who should garner our looks of distain.  It's the parents and those otherwise responsible for raising these children to whom we should be addressing our curiosity.  Why do they feel it's ok to promote a lifestyle proven to lead to a lifetime of healthcare issues all of us will finance through an increase in healthcare insurance?  The fact that many of these same parents and caregivers are living similar lives is not an excuse, it's the pathetic passing of an unhealthy lifestyle from one generation to the next.  

Those of use who recognize that obese children is not a fact our society is forced to live with forever have the power to create positive change by working to promote a healthy lifestyle among our own children and then working to promote a healthy lifestyle for the child next door.  Moreover, we owe it to our generation and the next to not let the parents and caregivers who promote unhealthy lifestyles among their own children to continue the progression.  Those who do so should be held accountable or at a minimum educated to the ways in which a healthy lifestyle can be promoted among the children under their care.  

Don't accept the norm.  Change takes place one child at a time.  For them, for us, promote a lifestyle that will result in future generations that are healthier than our own.  

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NSCA Bulletin 33.07 is available

For those interested, the latest NSCA bulletin has been published: Version 33.07, concerning the month of July 2011. Among other topics, new in this bulletin you will find:
  • NSCA Journal's 2010 Impact Factors
  • Recertification Winners Announced
  • Learn how to complete CEUs through Home Study Courses
  • NSCA International Collaboration Grant update
  • Updates Regarding NSCA Awards Programs and Events
  • And more....
To view and/or download the bulletin, click here.
NOTE: When clicking on the above link up to 30-seconds may elapse before the bulletin opens.
To view all previous bulletins, click here.
For more information on the NSCA and/or NSCA bulletins, call 1-800-815-6826.
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Wake Forest Athletics reports:


Aug. 26, 2011


WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Former New York Knicks assistant coach Greg Brittenham has joined the Wake Forest athletic department as the Director of Athletic Performance for Men's and Women's Basketball.

Brittenham, who spent the past 20 seasons with the Knicks as an assistant coach for player development and team conditioning, will work directly with the Demon Deacon men's and women's basketball programs overseeing the teams' conditioning and strength training.

"We just hired the best Director of Athletic Performance for Basketball in the nation," said Wake Forest head men's basketball coach Jeff Bzdelik. "Greg is one of the most respected leaders in his field. Originally hired by Pat Riley to be his strength and conditioning coach with the New York Knicks over 20 years ago, his record of training athletes at the highest level is unparalleled. Greg will have a huge impact on making our players better, stronger and more explosive basketball athletes."

"We're delighted that we were able to attract someone with Greg's skillset and qualifications," said women's basketball head coach Mike Petersen. "I really believe we hired maybe the best basketball strength and conditioning coach in the country. His energy level and commitment to our players is going to be significant in not only their ability to improve as individuals but also as a group."

Brittenham joined Pat Riley's first Knicks staff in 1991. He was a member of the Knicks coaching staff for both the 1994 and the 1999 NBA Eastern Conference Championship teams. Brittenham also holds the distinction of having worked under four different coaches with at least 1,000 career wins (Riley, Don Nelson, Lenny Wilkens, Larry Brown).

During each offseason, Brittenham and his family travel to Alaska to help with an organization called Challenge Life, which works with native Alaskan youth emphasizing the importance of health and fitness, academic success, drug and alcohol education awareness and community and cultural heritage.

"I'm excited about the opportunity to join the Wake Forest strength and conditioning staff and work closely with the men's and women's basketball programs," said Brittenham. "Wake Forest has a great reputation in college athletics, and from what I've seen they have some of the best strength and conditioning programming in the country. I can't help but imagine that any athlete who comes to school here will improve their athletic potential regardless of the sport with the staff we have in place.

"With that said, the strength and conditioning program is only as good as the effort put in by the players, and I've been impressed with how hard they have been working. There is a definite feeling of team and of trust. If the players don't trust that I have their best interest at heart, their progress will be limited. So far, we trust each other and I expect great things from both teams."

Brittenham also authored a book on athletic development, Complete Conditioning for Basketball, which has been published in over 15 languages. He is also working on a second edition of a core development program book.

Prior to joining the Knicks organization, Brittenham spent three years from 1988-91 as the Director of Athletic Development at the National Institute for Fitness and Sport in Indianapolis.

A native of Boulder, Colo., Brittenham graduated from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in education with an emphasis in physical education and geography. He went on to earn a master's degree in kinesiology from Indiana University Bloomington in 1990.

During his undergraduate days, Brittenham competed in decathlon events at the University of Colorado and then at Nebraska-Kearney.

Brittenham's father, Dean, is one of the most respected athletic strength and conditioning professionals in the country and is a 50-year veteran of the field.

Greg and his wife, Luann, have a son, Max, and a daughter, Rachel. Max graduated from Mount St. Mary's in 2011 and was a four-year letterwinner as a righthanded pitcher on the baseball squad. He now plays professionally in Belgium. Rachel is a junior point guard and captain on the Wofford basketball team.


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