With September upon us, the freedom of summer has officially ended and students are back in school. Gone are the days of staying up until the early hours of the morning followed by sleeping in past noon. It is now the season of playing “How will I get all of this reading done tonight?”, “How many times can I hit snooze before I’m seriously late?”, “Will I have time for breakfast?” and, my favorite, “If I fall asleep now, I have exactly 5 hours, 32 minutes and 45 seconds of sleep”.
Sleep tends to be the first demoted from our list of priorities when we have a day brimming full of tasks to complete and activities to attend. Picture each day before you as a building -- Sleep is the foundation. Playing a vital role, sleep protects our physical health, mental health and overall wellbeing.
When your body and mind are not well-rested, the processes of how you learn, think, act and perform decline. When sleep-deprived, you may struggle to pay attention, make decisions, problem-solve, control your emotions and produce creative ideas. These factors are all incredibly crucial for students who are seeking to succeed in school.
Not only is sleep a large component of your performance in the classroom, but also on the playing field. Many students today are student-athletes. These students not only spend upwards of 8 hours a day in school or more, juggle many classes and class assignments, but also spend, on average, 4 hours training or performing their sport. That alone is 12 hours! When you add in preparation time, meals, homework assignments and dreaded chores...There is not an allowance of 8 hours left over for a solid night's rest.
Athletes training to reach their performance goals are continuously involved in intense exercise catered to their sport, where muscles are being torn down to some degree. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute *, sleep supports healthy growth and development. Proper sleep allows your body to maintain a healthy balance of hormones. The particular hormones, Ghrelin and Leptin, control your hunger levels throughout the day. Other hormones that stimulate muscle repair and growth are triggered during non-REM deep sleep. During this time, the blood supply to muscles increases allowing larger amounts of nutrients and oxygen to be received, helping boost muscle mass, repairing tissue and rejuvenating cells. Sleep is also the longest period that your body has to synthesize protein -- a large factor in muscle repair and growth between meals. Getting adequate rest is extremely important to ensure that your body properly completes the necessary cycles of muscle repair and recovery to grow properly. Below you will find tips from the National Sleep Foundation on falling asleep!
Our athletes at DST put in tremendous amounts of dedication and time training to challenge and maximize their genetic potential in their sports. While we instill the physical training skills, we cannot force you to sleep! So after a long day, in whatever stage of life you are in, make it a top priority for your overall health and performance to achieve the proper amount of sleep. Giving your body the proper rest will maximize all the time spent training. Your body will thank you greatly when it is able to to function properly and perform at its highest capabilities on the field.
Sweet dreams, athletes!
The Lateral Med Ball T-Position Throw is the second exercise in our T-Position progression with our athletes. The concept is the same: to coordinate the body to be more explosive in rotation, load it. However, the amount of rotation is over a longer arc than the linear position, resulting in higher speeds and more force that must be absorbed.
THE SET UP
The athlete will set their feet wider than shoulder width and perpendicular to the wall with knees bent.
The elbow should be up and in line with the ball on the driving arm.
Fingers turned up toward the sky.
The ball should be at or just under chin height (shot put).
The athlete will rock back (limited rotation) to the side of the drive arm.
Spending as little time as possible at the end of the load, the athlete should rotate to throw the ball violently against a wall (think start throwing the ball before the load is able to stop).
Let your body follow through in rotation. If you catch the ball off the wall, back up and let it bounce to you.
Make sure that the athlete's head stays with the back hip. Often times, athletes want to lead with their head which results in poor rotational mechanics. That isn’t to say that there is no forward movement. As the hips move into the front leg, the head just rides the back hip. Focus on firming up the front leg for maximal power output.
Plyometrics involve repetitive power jumping with quick force production. When muscles lengthen, then immediately shorten, they provide maximal power for an athlete. Plyometrics are an ideal style of training for athletes looking to improve speed and power with varied intensities. When you immediately follow an eccentric contraction with concentric, or “muscle-shortening” contraction, your muscle produces a greater force. This is called the “stretch-shortening cycle.”So that all sounds like something a basketball player would benefit from, right? They need to be powerful and explosive when skying for a rebound, contesting a jump shot or even shooting from 3-point range. This is all true. However, basketball players get the plyometric training they need while playing their sport, so extra plyometric training in the weight room isn't necessary. More does not equal better in this instance.
Okay, so how do you fix this? Easy - practice variations. Two variations to work on are the snatch pull from the floor and the high snatch working into the catch as shown in the video. Now get to work!!
Everything athletes do - from training, to sleeping, to what they are putting in their body - are all small, important pieces to a much bigger puzzle. One vital piece is nutrition and with this month's Trigger Focus being Nutrient Density, I figured I'd address an important question: "Are all calories created equally?" The simple answer is, of course, no. To explain why, I did a comparison case study on what 3,000 calories looks like: healthy, nutrient-dense foods vs. a beloved fast food chain that starts with a 'W' and ends with 'hataburger.'
“ Don’t talk to me about recovery when you're living out of a fast food window .”
I can still hear my collegiate strength coach telling me this as though it was yesterday. He was right, my nutrition habits were trash; I was so used to eating whatever I wanted because I was young, so I thought my body could handle it. I can probably count on one hand how many of us even knew the term ‘nutrient density’ let alone what it meant. So today we are going to EQUIP you with this knowledge.
Simply stated, nutrient density means how many nutrients you get from a food, given the number of calories it contains. A.K.A getting the “biggest bang for your buck”. Why is nutrient density so helpful? Because it gives you concentrated amounts of valuable nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, essential fatty acids, and phytonutrients , to name a few. Adequate consumption of foods high in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals is essential for a healthy immune system and for empowering your body’s detoxification and cellular repair mechanisms. This helps protect you from cancer and other diseases. Nutrient-dense foods also provide necessary micronutrients - which are highly overlooked - that are important co-factors in reactions that produce growth, repair tissues, and increase oxygen transport. Being deficient in this will negatively affect performance and could keep you from reaching your athletic potential.
Now let me show you the difference. 3,000 calories at Whataburger looks something like this: