Brain power: tips to mentally prepare for competition

Great athletes put in hours practicing, eating right, and sleeping for success. The best athletes, however, also spend adequate time harnessing the power of their minds. Sports go beyond physical capabilities, and often wins and losses can be traced to mental strength. Here are some tips from our very own Dr. Chris Carr regarding mental preparation:

  1. Begin your imagery of competition the night before; visualize success, great plays and victory.
  2. Focus on deep breathing during the ride to the event.
  3. Use music to focus and visualize making great plays.
  4. Keep your thoughts on the present…one play at a time.
  5. When you have distractions in your mind, create some type of release by visualizing yourself destroying those distractions.
  6. Write down a cue word that you associate with your own optimal performance and have it on your wrist or someplace easily accessible for reminders.
  7. Use the same routine before every game or competition.
  8. Love the game and enjoy playing.

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SVSP Hires Dustin Williams as Performance Rehabilitation Specialist

INDIANAPOLIS (March 16, 2017) – St. Vincent Sports Performance (SVSP), one of the country’s leading sports performance centers for Olympians, professional athletes and everyday athletes, today announced the hiring of Dustin Williams as performance rehabilitation specialist.

Since 2011, Williams, a member of the National Athletic Trainers Association, has served as associate athletic trainer and head athletic trainer for cross and country and track and field for the University of Arizona. Before going to Arizona, Williams spent five years as assistant athletic trainer at Brigham Young University.

“Dustin has a familiarity and a deep history with college and elite athletes which makes him a perfect fit to join the SVSP team,” SVSP Executive Director Ralph Reiff said. “He has proven himself as a highly skilled athletic trainer and has worked elbow-to-elbow with some of our current team members.”

In his new role with SVSP, Williams will travel to events around the world supporting SVSP clients such as USA Track & Field, USA Gymnastics and USA Diving. He will triage injuries, assign a plan of care, begin immediate rehabilitation programs and nurture athletes back into their field of play. He will also serve as the athletes’ advocate in communicating training matters with coaches, agents and family, while based in Sacramento, California.

Williams holds a master’s degree in exercise science from Utah State University. His wife, Jillian Camarena-Williams, is a two-time Olympian in shot put, representing Team USA at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. They have a 2-year-old daughter, Miley.

About St. Vincent Sports Performance

St. Vincent Sports Performance has supported and helped develop world-class athletes since 1987. The first and largest hospital-based program of its kind in the United States, St. Vincent Sports Performance employs over 60 athletic trainers, sports medicine physicians, certified strength and conditioning specialists, licensed sports psychologists and registered sports dietitians. Together they have trained athletes at every level from middle school, to Olympians, to the NFL and NBA, to Motorsports and NCAA athletes. Learn more at definingsportsperformance.com.

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NFL Nutrition: 6000 Calorie Meal Plan

Training for the NFL is no small task, a process that requires dozens of workouts and massive amounts of food. Our NFL Combine trainees just finished their eight week program, and now it’s time to prove themselves as contenders at the next level. In order to get to this point, however, they endured 88 grueling workouts and ate 3,000-6,000 calories a day. Think you could eat 6,000 calories a day? See for yourself:

Breakfast:

-5 scrambled eggs with 1/4 cup shredded cheese and 1 cup spinach

-3 cups oatmeal with 1 cup berries

-1 cup fruit juice

Mid-Morning Snack:

-2 slices whole wheat bread with 3 tbsp peanut butter and 2 tbsp jelly

-1 large apple

-30g protein shake

Lunch:

-1 large tortilla filled with 1 cup rice, 6 oz chicken, 1/2 cup beans, 1/4 cup shredded cheese, 2 cups lettuce and salsa

-1 apple

-1 banana

-12 oz water

Mid-Afternoon Snack:

-1 smoothie with 12 oz rockin refuel vanilla, 1 frozen banana, 1 cup spinach, 3 tbsp peanut butter, 2 tsp cinnamon and 1 apple sauce squeeze pouch

-10 peanut butter filled pretzels

Dinner:

-1 apple

-1 cup of berries

-1 cup zucchini

-3 cups brown rice

-8 oz chicken breast

-12 oz water

Midnight Snack:

-1 rockin refuel

-1 cliff bar

-4 clementines

-skinny pop (100 calorie bag)

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Dr. Arnold On the Road With USATF; Part 3

Last weekend the SVSP crew traveled to New York City for the 110th running of the historic Millrose Games. The event was filled with another list of great American athletes, many coming off a successful Rio 2016.

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The week had challenges waiting for us right away because of the weather. Ten inches of New York snow threw a wrench into our travel plans. After a few re-routed flights and a medical emergency at baggage claim prevented taxis from getting to the pick-up zone, I was finally able to catch a ride and head to the venue. Other athletes weren’t so lucky, like Brenda Martinez, who was scheduled to compete in the 800 but was forced to turn around on her flight to NY.

After all of that I was quite tired and it made me wonder how the athletes deal with these types of distractions. How do they focus? Most people that travel frequently deal with these things all the time. For athletes it is no different, and there are potential distractions everywhere. Late arrivals, fans seeking autographs, no space to warm up, or a forgotten item actually happen to world class athletes.

Leah O'Connor

Leah O’Connor

At this meet I had the opportunity to reconnect with Indiana’s own Waverly Neer, who has recently transitioned into a professional runner. This was special for me as I have cared for her since high school and followed her career through many steps. Having access to her I asked her a couple of questions about her transition into professional running and where she draws her motivation. I also asked her how she finds focus:

What motivates me? I’m motivated by a variety of things in this sport. While I’m no longer running to score points for a team or chasing championships, in a real sense, I still have teammates in my new training partners. I’m motivated by their strengths; which sometimes are my weaknesses. Seeing them excel in a certain workout or a race shows me that things I personally find difficult can be done, and done well. At the same time, I’m motivated to give my best effort during workouts for my teammates because I want to be a positive contributor. And on top of all of that, I’m motivated by other runners and the high level, exceptional performances that pop up throughout the season. Things recently that stick out to me are Abbey D’Agostino’s story over the Olympics, Evan Jager taking home the silver, and any time Ajee Wilson races. I’m inspired by the people who are moving the sport forward, because at the end of the day they are human beings that work hard to relentlessly pursue their dreams. For me that’s relatable, and entirely motivating. 

 How do I focus? I think this is an evolving process for the sheer fact that life circumstances are constantly changing. Whether it’s big (moving to a new location to train), or in comparison small (it’s windy or cold the day of a big workout), as athletes we constantly have to frame and reframe our mindset to meet the demands of a workout, a race, and even life. I find what works best for me is to focus on the things I can control, and that usually boils down to just my attitude and my effort. Rather than dwelling on the negative things that pop up, or the “distractions” around me, I try to channel my energy towards creating a positive mindset and putting forth my honest best effort that day. I’ve found when I do that I’m best able to zero in on the one thing I’m really seeking to accomplish, and that’s to be a happy, healthy, speedy runner.

Find your way to focus. You will certainly have something distract you. Find something that helps you forget the issue. This applies to race day of course but I believe it also applies to training. Training with something bothering you may be limiting you from tapping into your potential. Turn the distraction off, work on the training, not the problem.

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NFL Nutrition: What the Guys Are Learning

Breakfast at the hotel. Snack on the turf. Lunch. Recovery snack. Dinner. Night snack. This is a normal day of eating for the guys participating in the 2017 EXOS NFL Combine prep program. Each player has individual goals for their eight week stay in Indy and is committed and involved in their nutrition plan.

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“Tell me your numbers” can be heard as the guys discuss how many servings of protein, carbohydrates, fruits and veggies are recommended per meal. Snack bags for their three daily snacks are provided, and a night snack is packed for once they leave the training facility.

Before they were sent off with serving recommendations, portion sizes were taught by Lindsey Langford, MS, RD, CSSD and Anna Turner, MS, RD, CSSD, the sports dietitians that have organized the eating schedule that each player participates in. Twice a week, nutrition education meetings take place covering topics from how to build a recovery snack to how athletic performance suffers from alcohol consumption. Each guy is heavily involved in their personal nutrition plan, and every meal they make decisions to positively impact their performance on the field.

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Former Michigan offensive lineman Ben Braden says the biggest change for him is just the sheer amount of food that he is eating. When you are training as long as and as hard as these athletes are, every meal is either helping facilitate recovery or helping fuel the next workout. The importance of building a balanced plate at each meal is something fellow offensive lineman Mark Spelman says has helped him maintain his energy levels throughout the long days of training. He also understands the importance of pairing what he eats with maximizing performance. Carbohydrates play a vital role in providing immediate energy for athletes, and Marian wide receiver Krishawn Hogan says his biggest take away so far is how important carbohydrates are for performance. He feels like he has more energy, even during hard training sessions, because he has incorporated more carbs into his diet.

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Dr. Todd Arnold On the Road With USATF; Part 2

New Balance Indoor Grand Prix 2017

A world record in Boston. Emma Coburn, Sydney McLaughlin, Brenda Martinez and Jenny Simpson passed the baton for 20 laps of the 200-meter track in world record time. They posted a time of 10:40.31, just under the previous world record. With each pass of the baton the crowd cheered louder and greeted Jenny with loud roars as she raced for the line. It was a great atmosphere!

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The day before the race I had the chance to talk with Jenny Simpson while she was preparing for the event. Last year at this time she was just beginning to train after dealing with an injury. This year is different, and she was anticipating the chance to turn on the jets during the last leg of their race. She stated something that I found very interesting.

She said that she was recently discussing goals with her coaches, with a focus on her strengths and weaknesses. Weaknesses? She won an Olympic medal last year after injuring herself during training only months before. Now she is completely healthy and strong, and is looking for weaknesses? I was baffled. But clearly she feels that there are things to work on. The body needs to be challenged.

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The lesson here is: there is always something that can be improved, even if you just won a medal for being the greatest. Jenny also shed some light on why I do what I do. Improving athletes’ weaknesses is what my profession does. Finding something so tiny in movement or joint mobility and correcting it can make all the difference needed to succeed at the highest level. Looking for those weaknesses has become the focus of what I do.

This meet had a high volume of great athletes that we cared for. Please continue to seek them out on social media and show them your support. They are all great athletes, and their athletic accomplishments may not be the only activity that inspires you to discover and attack both your strengths and your weaknesses.

Emma CoburnSydney McLaughlinBrenda Martinez | Jenny SimpsonJeff Henderson

Shannon RowburyPaul ChelimoNoah LylesVernon NorwoodEnglish Gardner

Courtney OkoloJessica BeardAutumne FranklinStephanie GarciaLeah O’ConnorJenn Suhr

Mary Saxer

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Dr. Todd Arnold On the Road With USATF; Part 1

As the calendar turns to the new year, the 2016 Rio Olympics are behind us. The games brought USA Track and Field 32 medals, the highest since 1932 (excluding the boycotted games in Los Angeles) and St. Vincent Sports Performance had direct connection to 27 of them. 2017 looks to have that continued success.

One of the first trips of the year has us in Texas to work with Darrel Woodson (D2) and his group of sprinters. This week it’s in the high 30s, but the commitment is made and the athletes are out and working. We assess movement patterns, strength and symmetry and connect these to their events. The start of the season is a very valuable time for us. If dysfunction is ignored now and fitness is applied over that dysfunction, the risk of injury is higher and performance can be limited. No one wants to limit their potential!

Assessments are no fun in the cold. This is a picture of Sharika Nelvis beginning her Functional Movement Screen in her winter gear:

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Sharika competes in the 100m hurdles, arguably the most competitive event in American track and field. At last year’s Olympic trials, she finished fourth, just missing the team. But Sharika and D2 are focused on 2017, not the past. On this assessment she looks great, moves well and is ready to put in the work to compete. We often tell athletes that when they look good on the movement assessment that it’s the time to work. Be comfortable trying something new. Let the body that moves well adapt to something new and see how it impacts performance.

This trip was pretty unique as we took the roadshow to multiple cities and had the privilege of seeing athletes from multiple disciplines. We started in Texas and Los Angeles with sprinters and hurdlers, moved to Reno to see the pole vaulters, onto Chula Vista at the Olympic Training Center for throwers and jumpers, finally ending in Orlando with Lance Brauman and his group of sprinters.

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Please seek out the athletes we saw on this last trip via their social media and show them your support as they attack 2017 with their focus on competing in the many events leading up to the World Championships in London August 3-13.

Sharika NelvisMookie SalaamDiondre BatsonBryce RobinsonAshley Spencer

Morolake AkinosunCourtney Ovolo | Brianna RollinsDalilah MuhammadNia Ali

Dawn HarperCale SimmonsJacob BlankenshipKatie NageotteLogan Cunningham

Kylie HutsonSandi MorrisMary SaxerMike Arnold | Dani BunchJarvis Gotch

Amanda BingsonDeanna PriceMaggie Malone | Curtis Thompson | Felisha Johnson

Amber CampbellAndrea GuebelleMichelle CarterKelsey CardOctavious Freeman

Noah LylesJosephus Lyles

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Travel Blog: USA Football in Florida; Part 2

Thursday January 26th

Taping and treatments started at 7am. Our last padded practice was this morning. The coaches and athletes are getting so excited for this game. Practice ends and we head back to the hotel for lunch and some down time before treatments starts. Our second practice is a helmet only practice to allow the boys to focus on attention to detail. The day ends at 9pm.

Friday January 27th

Last practice before the big game with Canada. The motto all week has been “Let’s go 1-0.”  Taping and treatments start at 7am. We are really healthy right now and the boys have really listened to what I have told them to do and have followed my instructions very well. We have a great group of kids and coaches. Our last practice of the day gives the boys an opportunity to hear from a four star general about football. It’s amazing how much patriotism you have when you have the USA logo on the front of your chest. The day ends and we do some final treatments and get the boys to bed for some rest.

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Saturday January 28th

Game day!!! The guys get a chance to sleep in today. We meet as a team at 9am to have breakfast and talk about the day. My day is filled with last minute treatments before we start taping at 2pm for our game. We head to the field for our game at 5:30pm. Final stretching and taping and the boys are ready to go. What a game for Team USA! We score in the first 10 seconds and that sets the tone for the game. The defense plays unbelievably and keep Canada from scoring. This is the first time the U18 USA team has beaten Canada. As we end the game, it’s a time to thank everyone and make sure everyone is safe for the trip home. What another great week with SVSP and USA Football!

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From Your Couch to a 5k

How to get off the couch and into running shape

Every year, people make a resolution to get healthier and work out more often, yet fall short of their goals. Luckily, our Jon Grant has a solution to go from your couch to a 5k. Before you jump on the treadmill, here are a few suggestions that will help ease your way into running.

Get the right shoes. The first, and most important step of the process, is to buy shoes that have been professionally fitted for you. The easiest way to get professionally fitted is by going to a local running specialty store.

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Set goals. When setting your goals, don’t worry about your times. Instead, focus on finishing the race. Once the first race has been completed, then you can begin thinking about increasing your times.

Have the right plan. Instead of running without a program, search the internet for a “couch to 5k” plan that works for you. The plan should start easy with a walk/jog mix, but gradually see the jogging increase.

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Properly cool down. When aches and pains begin, don’t be alarmed. A certain amount of aches can be expected. The best way to relieve this pain is by taking hot baths and performing stretches for the calves, hamstrings and hip flexors.

Take advantage of experts. Lastly, rely on the experts in your town that are geared toward beginners. Whether a gym or club, take advantage of their knowledge and ask questions. It is also recommended to join groups if available. Being a part of a group will not only give you a sense of accountability, but it also provides positive peer pressure.

Running can be daunting, but if you follow these simple steps, you’ll be off and running in no time.

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Travel Blog: USA Football in Florida; Part 1

Our Athletic Trainer Chad Gabbard is on the road with USA Football in Orlando, Florida. Get a behind the scenes peek at the life of an SVSP Athletic Trainer:

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Sunday, January 22nd

Check in day for the SVSP crew in Orlando. After a turbulent flight, we land in Orlando. Time to get to the hotel and prepare for the Under 18 and Under 19 teams to check in. They’re here for the North American Championship.

Monday, January 23rd

Check in day starts at 9am. Dave Weikel and I have 100 athletes to check in for both teams. Today is a great day because it is reunion day!! Many players and coaches have returned from our trip to China last summer. It’s great to catch up with all of them and talk about our memories of China. After we are finished with check in, the Under 18 team has their first practice under the lights at ESPN Wide World of Sports.

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Tuesday, January 24th

The day starts at 6:30am with breakfast. Taping and stretching begins at 7am. This is a great time for me to meet and interact with our athletes. It always fascinates me to hear the athletes talk about athletic training and that some of them do not have an athletic trainer at their schools back home. After morning practice, we do foam rolling, treatments, and icing before we have a little downtime before pre practice taping starts at 4pm. Our second practice of the day gives us another opportunity to get better. We get back to the hotel around 8:30pm. After a second round of treatments it’s time for the boys to head to bed.

Wednesday January 25th

Today is Hump Day! Everyone is sore and tired. The day starts again at 7am with taping and stretching in the hotel before we load the bus for practice. The coaches are doing a great job on energizing the team at practice. The afternoon is filled with activities for the teams. They are doing their Upper Deck photo shoot. In between the photo shoot we find time to do treatments and keep these boys fresh before their game on Saturday. Our second practice of the day starts at 6pm. It’s a beautiful evening! We finish again at 8pm and return to the hotel to finish treatments before it is time to get some rest.

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