Archive for Championships

A Mindset of Sacrifice

Traveling with USA Track and Field during this year’s world championships has allowed me to learn a great deal from the athletes in a unique environment. During preparation for the championships I sat down with Kara Winger, a three time Olympian and the American record holder for javelin. I asked her several questions about what athletes sacrifice and was fascinated with her response.

I specifically asked: “I am amazed at what athletes ‘give up’ or commit to. What do you think of when talking about commitment to your sport?”

She responded with this:

I’ve always been very intrinsically motivated, so when I think about commitment to sport, it’s about bettering myself and not a whole lot else. People get wrapped up in discussing the sacrifice of athletics, but I’ve never seen it as a burden. To me, it’s an opportunity to do something totally weird and different than you ever thought you’d be up to, see the world, and challenge yourself in ways you don’t expect. Maybe it’s partly being 31, but I’ve always loved lots of sleep, I enjoy feeding myself well, and I like to measure my improvement in anything, not just athletics. It’s not a difficult commitment in my mind to see if I can be the best at something, and I’ve been in the sport long enough to know that friendships formed and experiences gained along the way make the effort that much more worth it. 

The only things I feel like I give up are time spent with loved ones in the summer and outdoor adventures that I long to have someday. But I’ve also learned to prioritize time with loved ones when I have the opportunity (off-season and holidays). Smaller-scale outdoor activities help me recover from sport, mentally and physically, so I work those in too. I don’t think everyone gets to figure out that time is precious this early in life, but I truly have sport to thank for that, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Instead of focusing on the sacrifice that she has made she is clearly focused on the reward that she gains by the profession that she has chosen. Athletes at this level give up so much. They always are eating, sleeping and living with performance in mind. I know several that set an alarm so that it reminds them to go to bed on time, clearly conflicting with activities in the evening. We often don’t see this type of commitment because we are not living with them on a daily basis.

Personally, I have now been on the road approximately 18 days of a 25 day trip. This is time away from my family that I cannot get back, but I am inspired by Kara’s words. I also had an amazing moment on this trip when Amy Cragg placed third in the women’s Marathon. She is the first American woman to win a medal at the marathon distance since 1983. I was honored to hand her the flag at the finish line.

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On The Road With USA Football Pt. 2

After arriving at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, Canada last Thursday, this past week has been a whirlwind.  The first step was to unload all of our supplies and get the new “training room” set up.  This in itself is no small feat, as football requires much more athletic training supplies than nearly any other sport.  While a dorm room doesn’t make an ideal training room, Sarah and I have been able to transform it into a functional space to tape and treat, and have done a lot of both!

When it was announced that this tournament was going to be held in Canada, I thought we wouldn’t have to deal with any heat issues.  The average high for Langley this time of year is 71 degrees.  Of course, we experienced a heat wave of record highs, and temperatures on game day soared to around 90 degrees.  Thankfully, the ladies did a great job of hydrating and taking our advice leading up to the game and we were able to come away without any issues.  After a bit of a slow start, we were able to get things clicking and came out with a 29-0 victory over a very athletic Mexico team.

After two busy days of practice, treatments and recovery time, team Finland was next.  Thankfully, the heat wave broke and temperatures were back to normal.  With the nervousness of the first game behind them, the ladies came out and played well, securing a 48-0 win.  The victory puts us in the Gold Medal Game against our biggest rival and Tournament host, Canada.

Already you can feel a new tension in the air as we prepare for the championship game.  Team Canada has played well in their wins over Australia and Great Britain.  Sarah and I are doing our best to keep the training room light and relaxed, giving the players a refuge from the tension of meetings and practice.  Thankfully, injuries have been minimal.  Only one player was held from practice today.  Treatments have consisted mainly of massage, stretching, cupping, and everyone’s favorite, the ice tubs.  Our little courtyard at the dorm has a fire pit, which has made a nice addition to evening ice baths, and made for some good team bonding time.  It’s funny how each of these trips take on their own personality.

Friday evening we will have the opportunity to accomplish our goal of bringing home the Gold.  The coaches will put together a great game plan, Sarah and I will continue to do everything we can to help the ladies compete at their highest level, and I’m sure they will leave everything they have out on the field.  Hopefully it will be enough.

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2017 Summer Training Schedule

Register today for any of these programs and make 2017 the best summer ever with SVSP!

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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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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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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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How to Achieve Your Goals

Whether you’re going for a gold medal, state championship or you just want to lose those last 10 pounds, you need a healthy set of goals to get there. It’s relatively easy to set them, but achieving them is a whole different monster.

Napoleon Bonaparte said, “The reason most people fail is they trade what they want most for what they want at the moment.” So how do you achieve what you want most? By understanding the difference between outcome and process goals.

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Outcome goals are pretty straightforward: they’re the endgame. They’re the goals listed in the first sentence. Improving your record time, running a half-marathon, becoming an All-American. Those are outcome goals. That is what you want most, and it’s easy to set those without a plan in place. Enter process goals.

Process goals are what you need to do on a daily basis to accomplish your outcome goals. Getting up early to run, eating a salad instead of pizza, doing an extra set of push-ups, spending an extra hour after practice shooting. Those are process goals, and those are the goals that often get brushed aside. Those are the goals we fail to accomplish when we fall into the trap Napoleon talked about. The more we focus on process goals, however, the better chance we have of accomplishing our outcome goals.

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There’s one more thing to understand before setting out to conquer your goals: motivation. The best and most durable motivation is internal. This comes from within you and fuels the drive you need to accomplish your process goals. Being the best version of yourself, being better than yesterday, getting to another level on the playing field. Those are internal motivators. Wanting your name in the paper, looking like a million bucks, winning that coveted award. Those are external motivators. Sure, motivation comes from those things as well, but only the fire from internal motivation lasts when you don’t want to get out of bed.

Shift your motivation internally, attack your daily process goals and watch your outcome goals get closer and closer to reality.

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Prepping for Game One

Hello from Harbin, China!  We made it!

That was easily the longest travel day I have ever been a part of.  Here’s a brief timeline of the last 36 hours:

  • June 24 9:30am Kean University – meet to load buses
  • 10:45am depart for JFK
  • 12pm arrive at JFK, unload buses, and begin flight check in
  • 5pm flight departs JFK
  • 1:30am local time (+12hrs) land in Harbin
  • 3am local arrive on campus, unload buses, room check in
  • 4:30am unpack/settle into room
  • 7:30am breakfast

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It’s been a crazy whirlwind, and now after being here for a little more than 24hrs, the focus shifts to recovery and gearing up for our first game in two days.  Nearly 30,000 tickets have already been sold for our game vs. Austria.

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While the coaches use these next couple of days to fine tune the game plans, Chad and I will use them to try and do the same for the athletes.  Rest, recovery, hydration, nutrition, treatments – they all play an important role in our success as we adapt to our new surroundings and get ready for game one vs. Austria.

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Dr. Arnold Checks in from Boston

image1St. Vincent Sports Performance is partnered with several National Governing Bodies including USA Track and Field. Dr. Todd Arnold of SVSP is a performance scientist for USATF, helping its athletes prep for major national and international events. Here’s a dispatch from Dr. Arnold’s travels.

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Typically, we go to the track where these athletes train, assess movement patterns and try to make corrections toward the desired mechanics. But, this week, we took a different approach to working with USA Track and Field. Taking care of athletes where they compete is another key aspect to high performance training. That brings us to Boston for a couple of days, as the city hosts the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix. Several big names are in attendance including Jenn Suhr, who just recently broke her own indoor pole vault world record.

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Here, we are caring for the American athletes trying to keep them healthy so they can compete and win events. We arrived two days before the event to treat athletes with a wide range of injuries and issues, with a goal to identify the source of that persistent sore leg or limited thoracic spine.

 

This was an incredibly interesting event for me.  The first two days we were in the hotel conference room treating as the athletes got off planes from their home tracks with stiff backs and sore legs.  The day of the meet is spent helping them feel optimally stretched and activating their muscles for prime performance.  An interesting dynamic is that we represent all USA athletes and care for them all equally.  At the Olympics they will be teammates, but here they are competitors.  Literally we have athletes on the table at the same time as the racer on the next table is preparing to beat them this weekend.  That certainly brings an interesting dynamic, but fortunately if there is any drama they are professional enough to not let us see it.

 

Throughout the event, especially early in the day there are competitions for high school and middle school athletes. It gave these young hopefuls a chance to warm up on the same stretch of rubber with the world record holder warming up. The younger athletes likely recognize these elite athletes from competitions or commercials. Many likely follow them on social media, but today they use the same small space and are called to their event by the same staff. What an amazing day for those young athletes!

 

As Sam Kendricks was cooling down and stretching (and walking around on his hands!), some quite young athletes raced over for an autograph. Sam spoke to them for a bit and signed their items. He said they probably don’t actually know who he is, but it still is a thrill even for him. It was great to see the elite athletes also reveled in sharing the space with their younger counterparts.

A great meet overall, good results on lots of fronts.  Next up is the Millrose Games in New York next weekend. Give these athletes and SVSP a follow on Twitter for even more from the Road to Rio.

 

 

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SVSP in Texas with USA Football

Anna Foster, LAT, ATC and several other SVSP staffers are in Dallas this week with the US National Football Team. Here’s a blog straight from the sidelines.

 

“Teamwork makes the dreamwork.” It’s a pretty common slogan that’s thrown around in and out of the sports world. I may be a little biased but I grew up around football, and as an athletic trainer the sport gets a bad rep in the medical world. No doubt it’s a tough and physical sport, but if you appreciate the finesse of the game you’ll find that it is one of the only true team sports left. The QB can’t get the ball off for a throw without his O-Line protecting him; the linebackers can’t get to the QB without his D-Line opening a hole. It’s really quite a fun game to watch and appreciate.

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SVSP’s Team in Dallas

We had all of ages of USA Football covered, bringing seven athletic trainers and one team physician to Dallas. I worked closely with the U-15 team, a group of 8th graders just learning to perfect their craft. I am humbled to see these young men work hard and learn to be a part of a team. On Monday, we had a hard-hitting practice and a player came to me after a some hard contact.

 

After performing an initial concussion review, I had our team physician, Dr. Pat Kersey, take a closer look.

 

Dr. Kersey, USA Footballs medical director, is well versed in concussions and watching his technique and evaluation protocol is truly artwork to me. After a thorough evaluation, Pat determined that the player may have had a small concussive event, but due to a previous issue, he may have not fully recovered. An eye test revealed a vestibular component to his injury and finding it may have changed his life.

 

After this revelation and a discussion with his father, it was determined that this could be why he has eye problems as well as issues with math and reading in school. It was a groundbreaking discovery and another humbling example of the impact that we have as athletic trainers and physicians.

 

It has been a whirlwind down here in Dallas, sometimes causing me to lose track of which day it is! It has definitely been worth the time to get to see these young men play the sport they love, but also to spend time with our close-knit team. The next time you are at a football game, take a glance at the sideline and find the team of medical professionals. Sometimes it’s fun to watch the group of athletic trainers and physicians run around with such finesse, not one being able to work as well without the other!

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