Sunday, May 31, 2009

Effective Nutrition

When someone comes to me and asks for nutrition advise, sometimes I get alarmed and even become hesitant. As a Strength and Conditioning coach, nutrition is definitely not my area of expertise, but I have tried to become more knowledgeable in this area of my field. A friend of mine showed me the work of Dr. John Berardi and I like everything I have seen so far. He has come up with some basic guidelines to follow in order to achieve your nutritional goals. Here are Dr. Berardi's "7 Rules of Good Nutrition":

1.) Eat every 2-3 hours, 5-8 small meals per day.

2.) Eat complete (containing all the essential amino acids), lean protein with each meal.

3.) Each fruits and/or vegetables with every meal.

4.) Ensure that your carbohydrate intake comes from fruits and vegetables. Exception: workout and post-workout drinks and meals.

5. Ensure that 25-35% of your energy intake comes from fat. Intake split equally between saturates (e.g. animal fat), monounsaturates (e.g., olive oil), and polyunsaturates (e.g. flax oil, salmon oil).

6. Drink only non-calorie containing beverages, the best choices being water and green tea.

7. Eat mostly whole foods (except workout and post-workout drinks).

Dr. Berardi is very knowledgeable in the field of nutrition and I definitely recommend reading his work if you have questions about nutrition or dieting. To get more information visit Dr. Berardi's website at

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Cincinnati Wrap-Up

So after a week in Cincinnati with my friends I also observed a great deal of coaching. One thing that floored me was the coaching at a youth baseball game. In between watching two of my former athletes play high school baseball, I got a chance to watch a local youth league on an adjacent field. Much of what I saw was poor coaching. In one instance, with a runner on first and a ground ball to third base, the coach screamed "second base". Of course he wanted the thrid basemen to throw to second base and get the lead runner out in order to prevent a possible run. This seemed absolutely obsurd in my opinion because the coach in this case seemed more concerned with winning than with basic skill development. The result of the play was the third basemen hesitating on his throw and then throwing late to first base. I think at this age level (under 10) only the basic fundamentals of the game should be stressed as opposed to the game's advanced skills. I think a more effective coach would encourage the athletes to throw to first base from their position on every fielding play rather than throwing to get the lead runner in this situation.

Sadly, I do not think many youth sport coaches are emphasizing these basic skills and athletes are diluting their basic foundation for improvement. I observed a similar occurence in St. Louis a few years ago when I stopped in on a neighbor's baseball game. Coaches were encouraging stealing bases in a youth game where the athletes could barely throw and catch a baseball 10 feet. The result was a player hitting a base hit and two pitches later that player was on third base. This in my opinion is not teaching the game of baseball, or how to run the bases, but rather winning and abusing the rules to gain a competitive advantage.

How can we as coaches teach these things and then get frustrated when athletes cheat a few years later in the sport? We have been teaching them to take advantage of the rules from day 1.

The importance of basic skill development is essential for youth athletes and is being undermined in many cases by a coaches determination to win. There is evidence to suggest that critical periods of learning exist to provide a time period for developing certain skills. This has been definitively shown for language acquisition and I think is also evident for physical development. If young athletes don't master these very basic skills early on in their careers they are disadvantaging themselves for future development. When I first had the opportunity to watch a high level practice I was surprised by how much time was spent on basic skills (stationary passing and skating). I thought just because these athletes were experts in their respective sports, they were going to run special drills or have expansive formations. When it comes down to it, the game at every level rlies on the same basic skills. These basic skills need to be priomarily developed and a young age and continually refined throughout an athlete's career, not the other way around.

Coaches Do Not Underestimate the Importance of Basic Skills!

Friday, May 29, 2009

3 Mentors in 3 Weeks- Miami University Wrap-Up

As some of you know, I spent the last four days in southwestern Ohio, the same region I spent my four years of undergraduate study at Miami University. After many failed attempts, I decided it was finally time to go back and see some of my friends sill living in the area and reconnect with everyone. Over the 4 days, I split my time in Cincinnati and Oxford (2 days each). In Cincinnati I got to see a bunch of my friends and had a lot of fun going to a Reds game, taste of Cincinnati, and hanging out in Mt Adams. Much thanks to everyone who drove/housed me for the week.

While in Oxford, I also got to see many of my college friends and also some great coaches. It was my intention to go to Oxford and meet with Enrico Blasi, Men's Head Hockey coach. However, I never go that chance on this trip, hopefully sometime in the future I will get this opportunity because I truly respect how he has turned around the Miami hockey program into a National Powerhouse and think he has a great wealth of knowledge about coaching. Don't worry, I got another opportunity to meet with a mentor of mine who I used to work for, it's actually a staff of mentors (how lucky is that!). Everyone that works in the Miami University weight room taught me a ton of stuff during my senior year when I was an intern on their staff. Much of the knowledge in Strength and Conditioning I have today came from them, so I am very thankful. We had a great conversation about how the two schools handle similar challenges in the weight room, as well as some new up and coming training ideas, so my time with them was very valuable.

I appreciate you reading the blog and stay tuned next week for my 3rd mentor in 3 weeks!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Real Thursday Post

Here is my "real" Thursday post since my last post was making up for this Wednesday which I missed. Today was my last day an English High School working in the step-up program and the athletes performed their post-test so we could collect data on the improvements (hopefully) that were made throughout the year. I think for the most part they enjoy being tested because it gives them a sense of accomplishment and therefore is a generally positive experience for them. On Monday they will come in for the last time and be able to participate in a variety of activities that we have done all year. Unfortunately I will be flying to Denver Saturday and unable to make it. I look forward to writing again tomorrow about my recent trip to Cincinnati, OH until then check out this great story about Manhattan College's new basketball center:

The best part of this article is the coach's decision to take a chance. In recruiting athletes we often take risks on athletes who have poor academic records or behavioral problems, why not take an athlete with a physical disability? Very powerful message here.

Wednesday Review: Creative Coaching

Ok, so I know it's Thursday, but yesterday was a very eventful day for me as my phone died (fell in hot tub), I was traveling back from Cincinnati all day, and my laptop is currently not working. So anyway, I basically had no way of writing in here until I got back into Boston last night at 11:45 when all I wanted to do is go to bed. However, I did read a good book and wanted to review it on here for all of you to hear about. The book is Creative Coaching, by Jerry Lynch.

Overall I think the book was great, probably because I love reading and learning about coaching. I think the book details some great examples of how to coach outside the box and do things for the betterment of the athletes you are working with. Most of the book presents coaching situations where expert level coaches were presented with a decision to make regarding their actions. A couple of scenarios are presented and the results examined. Topics of the book include promoting a positive athletic environment, developing character, and effective communication. I think the section that impacted me most was the chapter on mental skills and mental strength. This is on aspect of coaching that I believe is often overlooked and underdeveloped, certainly soemthing I can work on more as a developing coach. Lastly, it was a great book to see how expert level coaches (Phil Jackson, Dean Smith, Bill Walsh to name a few) react in all situtations.

I think some areas where the book struggles is that most of the concepts are very basic level aspects of coaching. In addition, as with most of the coaching content out there, the evidence presented is only anecdotal in nature. Since much of the effects we see from our coaching are hard to measure, it is also hard to present concrete evidence of these effects. This can very very dangerous in the field of coach education because what someone reads in a book like this and hears Phil Jackson did something with the Chicago Bulls (NBA) and trys to implement that strategy with the local high school basketball team, it may or may not work. The take home message here is to coach within your strengths and your individual philosophy rather than solely taking the methods of those who have been successful around you. Take concepts you see presented and make them work for your system.

Check this book out it is a quick read and short in length, but with great content. The information you receive for the time it takes to read is definitely worthhile.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dual Transformation (Transformation-Reformation)

From a humanistic coaching perspective, I always enjoy coaching moments where athletes come to realize their potential as a athletes, but more importantly as individuals outside the sport. I have been working with a group of graduate students under the guidance or Professor John McCarthy from Boston University at an under served High School in the Boston area, Boston English High School. We have been at the school two days a week for the entire year in attempt to educate the student-athletes on personal and social responsibility through their sport/activity. In order to accomplish this we are taking the work of Don Hellison (1991) and his "Levels of Responsibility" model to increase personal and social awareness in the school. What I have seen throughout the course of the year has been remarkable, but one story sticks out to me in particular and a few weeks ago that story made the entire year at English High School a very rewarding experience.

On Wednesday, May 13th there was a combine held at Gillette Stadium, home of the NFL's New England Patriots, for High School Football players in the upcoming senior class. We presented this event to the English High football team in hope that they would get excited to participate in such a large venue and in front of a lot of other talented players from the entire state. However, only one of our guys was interested and he happened to be a freshman. This unfortunate occurrence presented a slight obstacle: We could let him go and most likely get dominated in every event due to the two year age difference, or we could reject him from participating due to the age requirement. As you can imagine, we decided to let him go and we would find a way around the rules. Our decision was based on the principle that the population we are working with at the school is always being told they can not do something and their potential and imagination is placed under extreme constraints. Therefore, we typically like to reject this type of attitude whenever possible, so the decision was ultimately a simple one.

(Note, I could probably write an entire novel about this day, but will try not to for your sake)

On the day of the combine, another graduate student and I picked up the athlete from school and headed down to the stadium, none of us knowing quite what we were in for that day. For the flow of the story, I will call the athlete we were with Mac from here forward. On the car ride down, Mac's anxiety was very prominent. He was sitting by the backseat window and listening to his ipod. Once dialgoue was initiated with him, he had a barrage of questions waiting us. He wanted to know every detail of the combine, and honestly we didn't have many answers because this was also our first time in attendance at the event. What we did tell him was to try his best and thats all he could do. Now, throughout the afternoon (literally beginning at check-in) there were so many great things that happened to Mac. After check-in I told Mac to go do his thing and I would be standing on the sideline with his stuff if he needed anything, then I assumed the role of observer, this is where I really learned. I won't go into too many details, but I think Mac took a big step at each event (4 events), resulting in a gigantic leap in the personal and social responsibility model he was supposed to be learning. His body language changed drastically and he was very interested in everything taking place. He became more social and met a few new friends to tag along with. Most importantly to me, he became more confident. At the completion of the 4th event, all athletes competed in a few "skill" position drills to be led by coaches. For Mac, this meant he would be doing some defensive drills and covering some wide receivers one-on-one. During the drills a coach came over and told him that he could be very good someday and when Mac told the coach he was only a freshman, the coach was very impressed and gave Mac some great encouragement (I wanted to go up and thank him for his words, thats the kind of impact that coach had).

When it was all said and done, Mac came over to us with a glaring smile on his face and excitement written throughout his body. He said he had a great time, got a good workout, and was ready to eat! We took Mac out to a local resturant and bought him dinner, meanwhile debriefing his afternoon. Some of the things he said were absolutely inspirational and what took place over those 4 or 5 hours could never have been replicated at the school during our advisory time. Mac opened up to us about school, music, movies, and even drugs! We had earned his respect and I felt like a big brother to him. The connection achieved was immeasurable and I believe will alwasy be present from that day forward. Since the combine Mac has been more voacl as a leader on his team and I think he has a better understanding for the model we are teaching and how it affects his life.

By seeing Mac's transformation, I in turn became transformed as a coach and therefore looked at this situation as one of "dual-transformation" between an athlete and a coach. This event was very inspirational to me and what I took most out of it once again preaches the importance of a strong coach-athlete relationship. Establishing and maintianing these relationships I think determines the success of any coach. With the respect of your atheltes, you will in turn have a greater ability to educate your athletes whether it be a technical aspect of the sport or an essential ife skill.

Thanks for reading and see you back again tomorrow for my Wednesday Review

Sunday, May 24, 2009

3 Mentors in 3 Weeks

Thursday at the conference I mentioned that Jack Parker presented his take on some of the things that happened during this past season that ultimately led to a National Championship. Much of what he presented had to do with the coach/athlete relationship. There were many stories Coach Parker had especially that took place in the off-season where Coach Parker had to check his ego at the door in some situations and allow his captains to make some decisions regarding the direction the team would take.

I believe that a coach's effectiveness ultimately depends on the relationships they build with their athletes. The ultimate trust has to be established between the two, while still maintaining a sense of authority among the team members. It is essential that all members of the team feel comfortable with their coach and vice versa. It can be said that athletic coaching parallels managing a human business, where each athlete on the team is critical to the overall success.

Coach Parker's speech was the first of 3 coaches who I look up to that I will be meeting with in the next 3 weeks. There will be one more each of the next 2 weeks, so stay tuned...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Coach's 3 R's for the Off-Season

So, the other day I posted what I thought to be 3 guidelines for an athlete to follow during the off-season.  Miraculously, all of these words began with the letter R.  It took me a few days, consequently, I have now come up with the 3 R's for a coach to follow in the off season.  They are as follows:

Review: At the end of every season, I see it vital for a coach to understand what happened throughout the course of that very long season.  The first step is to look back and just review (recall) the season in full.  Take notes on what happened through different points of the year, important games, practices, events and begin to make some sense of what exactly went down.

Reflect: The next step for me and in my opinion the most important step in the process is reflection.  Reflection takes all the notes you just complied from your review and looks deeper into them.  Ask yourself why these events occurred, what could have happened differently, what was your role in the process, etc.  Reflection is an often overlooked area of coaching for most developing coaches, but something that most expert level coaches engage in regularly.  If you are a coach and haven't began refining the skill of reflection take it upon yourself to start now.

Revise: The last of the 3 R's is to revise.  Understand how some of the events form the year unfolded and in making your plan for next year, revise some of the things you did as a change for the better in the following season.  Adding input form the previous season will give you a better grasp on what you want to accomplish and establish for the upcoming year.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Conference Wrap-Up

So the conference yesterday went very well for being the first ever. I am really starting to love these conferences as this is the third one I've attended in four weeks (also went to the Perform Better Summit in Providence, RI and the Boston Hockey Summit at Northeastern University). My obsession with these conferences stems from my thirst to learn new things. Continued learning is very important to me and I think the development of a young coach depends on their ability to learn. Secondly, I love meeting new people and the networking opportunities at these conferences is unbelievable. Here is my take:

The speakers yesterday all gave great presentations about coaching from varying angles, so this was great to see how each of these very respectable coaches described their responsibilities as a coach and the variance among them was amazing. I especially liked the presentations from Jack Parker, Lou Bergholz, and Dean Conway. I have seen most of these coaches present before either in class or at other conferences, so as far as networking is concerned, I was basically catching up with people and reconnecting with others, although I did meet a few new coaches that I've never seen before.

The overall theme of the conference (despite the title of Psychology of coaching teams) seemed to be that coaches today are putting too much pressure on their kids performance especially in youth sport and emphasizing specialization too early in their athletic careers. Whatever happened to a young athlete figuring things out on their own and recognizing what they enjoy the most before they pursue something full time. I do not believe there is much value in figuring everything out for a young athlete either as a coach or a parent. If you are a coach or a parent, I encourage you to give your young athlete many decisions, many opportunities and then let them decide what's best. Not only will they be happier and get more fulfillment from the activity, I think putting the decision in their hands will empower them to make choices later in life and teach them how to approach these future choices.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Institute for Athletic Coach Education 1st Annual Conference

Today is May 21st, in the United States that only means one thing: Today is the Institute for Athletic Coach Education's 1st Annual Coaching Conference. The Institute is the Boston University program where I will be receiving my Master's degree if all goes as planned over the next year and I have been looking forward to this conference since I heard about ti in the first place. So you know where I'll be all day, should be a good time, and I will give you an update on how things went later I'm sure.
For more information on the conference today or my Master's program visit:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday Review

OK, I have decided that every Wednesday I will review something whether it's a book, journal article, product, or in this case a CD. A week ago today I got the opportunity to see Kate Voegele in concert in Boston and she was amazing. It was a great show by a very talented and upcoming artist and actress. Kate is featured on One Tree Hill Monday nights and this past Monday her newest album was released "A Fine Mess". I love the album and have been listening to it for like 4 days straight. Definitely check out the album or some of her songs online at or it will be worthwhile and you will be hooked. Let me hear your thoughts on the music and until tomorrow...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

An Athlete's 3 R's for the Off Season

In this day and age, I think there are entirely too many athletes who are over training. For those of you out there who think over training is not a "real" condition, I think you are making a huge mistake. I believe the rest an athlete is receiving is just as important as the work they are doing and as such, needs to be a carefully calculated piece of an athlete's training program. Often times, coaches disregard the rest component and their athletes are over training, which causes overuse injuries. This all stems from the notion of coaching holistically. As coaches, I think we need to understand that athletes are put under extreme stress all the time, not just when we see them. Rest is important to relieve some of this stress and help an athlete work at a higher intensity in the long run.

I have compiled a list of my 3 R's for athletes to guide them during the off season:

Rest- First and foremost, rest, as discussed earlier, needs to be abundant during the off season because of the many stressors that accompany a season.

Recovery- Recovery is a bit like rest, although I look at it as an athletes ability to return to a resting state. In that sense, recovery during the off season allows for an athlete to achieve a "rested" state in preparation for intense activity again. In the off season, it is critical to get back to that level of rest before the next season begins.

Recreation- The off season should not be competitive. An athlete may compete in a completely different sport as a means of cross-training, but experiment with new sports, play for fun, enjoy yourself, and try new things. Repeating the same movement patterns year-round will lead to overuse injuries without a doubt and limit an athletes potential in the upcoming season.

Monday, May 18, 2009


OK, so welcome to my blog. The reason I decided to begin my blog is quite simple: It seems like everyone else around me has one, so why not start my own? In addition, this will give me a good reason to type random stuff everyday and hopefully get a few points across in the meantime. I would like the blog to focus on things regarding my young coaching career, however, I will warm you in advance I will probably get side tracked quite often. In the meantime, enjoy reading and please contact me regarding any suggestions.

Now, I do not want to deviate from coaching too much on the first day, or start off on a negative note, but what is with the "word verification" line you have to fill out every time you do something online? I hope at least someone else out there takes 2-3 times average to get that word correct because I know I spend at least 5 minutes on that line every time. I don't even think the "words" are in the English dictionary, and I know I've never seen those fonts before in Microsoft Word. Anyway, apparently I got it right because I'm writing now, so best of luck to you all in the future in filling out the "word verification" lines.