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Fueling and Hydration Game Plan

The Fueling and Hydration Game Plan presented below was developed by Leslie Bonci, certified specialists of sports dietetics who has worked with the Pittsburg Steelers, Pittsburg Penguins, Pittsburg Pirates, Milwaukee Brewers, Washington Nationals, Toronto Blue Jays, University of Pittsburg, The University of Texas at Austin and the USOC. Get started on the plan today. It will help you improve not only your level of hydration, but it can also help you make a smoother transition from your off-season workout diet to your spring training and in-season diet. (more…)

More than Just a Drink: Effects of Alcohol on Training and Competition

Despite being more of a target for education programs, as compared to their non-athlete counterparts, collegiate student-athletes have been found to drink more and do so more often than the general collegiate student population.1 Neither the education efforts directed toward nor the competitive motivation of student athletes seem to deter them from the temptation of alcohol use, so what exactly is the harm of alcohol use for a student-athlete? (more…)

Tall Plank Shoulder Taps for Core Torsion Control

Assessing anti-rotation pillar strength is important prior to loading the spine with torsional activity. From a tall plank position, you can assess torsional control by observing this test/exercise. Beyond observation, this technique can be used a conditioning exercise to improve anti-rotational pillar strength and stability.

Execution. Start in a tall plank position with feet shoulder-width apart and hands on the floor under the shoulders. Set the core, slowly lift the right hand and tap the left shoulder. Pause for 1-2 seconds, return the right hand to the starting position and repeat the pattern lifting the left hand and tapping the right shoulder. To correct faulty movement and improve control, start with slow, controlled, alternating taps for 5-10 reps. Stop when fatigue or loss of control sets in. 

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Breathing Techniques

“Take a deep breath” is a common saying in sports whenever someone is facing a pressure moment.  Whether it’s before a 3-2 pitch in game 7 of the World Series, a game-winning field goal, a critical free throw, or a par-saving putt, we’ve all seen great athletes inhaling and exhaling deliberately before they clinch a victory.  But why does this simple technique always seem to work?

Benefits of Taking a Deep Breath
Taking a deep breath has physical and mental benefits.  When you feel pressure, your adrenaline helps you kick in the “fight or flight” response, a reflex that helps us survive danger by either defending ourselves or getting as far away as possible from the source of trouble.  We feel this response in our normal modern lives as “stress”, and on the baseball field, it kicks in when we are facing an 0-2 count or a bases loaded jam. (more…)

Adaptation Takes Time

Adaptation is the process that the body goes through to improve the functioning of a specific system in order to meet the demands placed on it.  The body will adapt to the stresses that are applied.  Adaptations can be positive or negative.  Positive adaptations occur when stresses is appropriately applied and usually produce an improvement in skill performance and/or physiological status.  Negative adaptations are often the result of improper training to include overtraining, undertraining and detraining and are associated with a decrease in skill performance and/or physiological status.  There are two general types of adaptation, acute and chronic.  Acute adaptations usually occur immediately following and during the first 3 to 4 days post-exercise.  Chronic adaptations occur over time, usually after weeks, months and years of training.

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Protein Needs of Athletes: What Does the Research Say?

Protein is a popular topic among both recreational and competitive athletes, many of whom are confused about how much protein they need, when they should eat it, and the best kinds of protein to choose. The following information will answer some of the questions that athletes often ask about the role of protein in a sports diet. The information is based on data presented by prominent protein researchers during the 2012 Annual Convention of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Do some athletes need more protein than others? Just as children have high protein needs during growth periods (0.6 gm/lb; 1.3 gm/kg), athletes also have higher protein needs. Recommended protein requirements for various types of athletes are presented in the following table (Table 1). These recommendations assume the athlete is consuming adequate energy from his/her intake of carbohydrates and fat. Athletes who restrict food intake end up using some protein for fuel, thus they need a higher protein intake. Most athletes consume approximately 0.7 gm/lb; 1.6 gm/kg/day, so they easily meet the protein recommendations without supplements. (more…)

There Are No Rollover Minutes in Sleep

Lack of sleep leads to a condition called “sleep debt”, which is the cumulative effect of not getting enough sleep, whether it is partial (less than 8 hours a night) or total (amount of sleep over weeks). Sleep does not work like your phone plan’s rollover minutes. The benefits of sleep occur from consistently getting a good night’s rest. You can’t get 6 hours one night and 10 hours the next to equal an average of 8 hours because you have created a sleep debt that could take weeks to repay.

The following are some of important facts that we know about sleep debt: (more…)

Sleep and Travel Reference Sheet

Understanding that fatigue is the major cause of human error and that it takes the body’s biological clock one day to adjust for each time zone traveled, I developed this reference sheet to help professional baseball players and staff transition faster to and from road trips from the Eastern to Western (3-hour difference) and Mountain (2-hour difference) time zones. Practical experience and clinical research indicate that the human body performs best between the 6:00 to 9:00 pm period of its normal biological clock. The following information should help provide faster transitions to new time zones and reduce the risk of mental and physical fatigue during games. (more…)

Power Naps Improve Alertness and Performance

Dr. Charles Czeisler, Director of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School and “Sleep Coach” to the Boston Celtics, says that daytime power napping is an extremely important tool to help athletes improve performance and recover from sleep debt and has research to support his opinion.  First, there is a study from John Moores University in London in which subjects who took a 30-minute power nap after lunch lowered their resting heart rate, reduced body temperature and improved alertness, short-term memory, accuracy and speed in a 20-meter sprint. There’s also a NASA study in which scientists found that 24-minute power naps significantly improved a pilot’s alertness and performance on trans-Atlantic flights. And there is research from Cornell University that shows that short power naps help you feel more energized because your brain is more active when you nap than when you don’t. (more…)