Archive for Female Athletes

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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SVSP Back on the Road With USA Football

Each summer one of USA Football’s national teams participates in the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) World Championships and each year St. Vincent Sports Performance is right there providing premier medical support along the way.  Last year, Chad Gabbard and I traveled to Harbin, China, with the U19 national team. This year, it’s the women’s national team on their quest for gold.

Sarah Luken and myself have spent the past week at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, working with the team through training camp.  As it is every year, it’s been amazing to watch how quickly individuals from all over the country come together as a team in such a short time.  In my opinion, football is the ultimate team sport, and with the bond this team has forged so quickly, the U.S. is well on their way to another solid performance.

This squad of 45 women represent 15 different states, and ranges in age from 21 to 47 years old.  One thing that makes working with the women’s national team a bit more challenging is the fact that nearly all of the players have just finished up their regular season back home or are in the middle of their playoffs.  In fact, about half of the team reported to camp the day after they just played a game.  This adds to an already delicate balance of getting in the practice time we need, along with making sure they have time to rest and recover before we head to Canada and play three games in eight days.

Needless to say, the training room has been a popular place.  When not on the field, in meetings, or at meals, chances are you’ll find Luken and I in there doing everything we can to help these ladies stay healthy and able to perform their best.

Today is our last day of camp.  We’ll finish with an “ice tub party,” get all our supplies packed back up, and get ready to head north of the border tomorrow morning.  Saturday afternoon we open up against Mexico.

Stay tuned.

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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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On the Road with USA Track & Field, Part 6

St. 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.

 

IMG_0656.jpgThe week comes to a close.  Three cities in four days: Austin, LA and Chula Vista, Cali. But the end of this week is actually a great one. Today, we were on the campus of the Olympic Training Center in southern California. It is always great to be on site.  If you want to experience pride in your country this is the place to be.  Most on site are US athletes, preparing for the Olympics or Paralympics. I can feel the seriousness when I talk with the athletes. Everything here is focused on the games. Olympic rings are everywhere (even on the sliding glass doors to the balconies of the residencies). The flag of the rings proudly flies at the entrance. There is a cauldron for the flame to burn locally.

 

Today, we worked with Miller Moss and Kiani Profit. Ryan Harber, LAT, ATC and I analyzed their movement patterns while Dr. Mann worked on their hurdling and block start mechanics. Their great movement patterns are typical for multi athletes. We attribute this to the variety of training they complete in order to perform their events. They have to throw, jump, hurdle and run to accumulate points. This leaves them devoid of many asymmetries and dysfunctional movement patterns that many single sport athletes acquire. They also have to train for multiple events simultaneously, often pushing their bodies through two practices a day over five to six hours. This makes it exceptionally important that we identify any dysfunctional patterns and correct them before they put hours of fitness on top of their dysfunction.

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Kiani Profit undergoing a Y balance test

Today was the first time we have worked with Miller both from a movement standpoint and on-track analysis. He was a complete sponge and related the movement dysfunction we identified with mechanics he feels are lacking in some of his disciplines. In terms of movement, I told him quite honestly he is in a great place. He is in a position to improve in many ways by feeling his body adapt to these stimuli.

 

Today was a follow up for Kiani as we saw her in early 2014.  She informed us that she was diagnosed with an injury in 2014, one month after her last evaluation. This injury limited her ability to train and compete later that year and into 2015. After her movement assessment, it is clear she is markedly better than she was at her last evaluation. Now that she is moving painlessly, I can clearly see where her injury was previously. In hindsight, serial data on her injuries would have helped us alert her of her impending issues and how to quickly resolve them. Her most important challenges lie ahead of her. Today, she feels good and has her eyes on the podium at the US Olympic trials later this summer in Eugene.

Keep an eye on Miller and Kiani as they dedicate hours a day perfecting their craft in preparation of the 2016 Olympic games!

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May Spirit of Sport Honoree – Fishers High School Girls’ Basketball

 

 

Nominate someone you know for a Spirit of Sport Award by visiting – https://a.pgtb.me/Kq20zP

 

 

When Michael Gaines was named coach of the girls’ basketball team at the newly-established Fishers High School in 2006, he knew that his role would extend far beyond the court. With that in mind, he established the team with a focus on spiritual and mental strength, citizenship and character.

 

 

Today, the team develops and practices those values through a strong commitment to community service, participating in a different activity each month of the basketball season. This past season alone, the girls read to elementary school students, adopted a family in need during the holidays, practiced with the local Special Olympics girls’ basketball teams, and hosted a silent auction to raise awareness and funds for multiple cancer-focused foundations.

 

 

Through these various projects, Coach Gaines sees his players grow personally, bond as a team and develop a true sense of self, community and gratitude — all while giving back and helping others.

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The Truth About Training – Should Males & Females Train the Same Way?

A common question in youth sports continues to be, “should male and females athletes be trained in the same way?”

 

Hear from Performance Specialist Greg Moore, CSCS, and Performance Medical Coordinator Darrell Barnes, MS, LAT, ATC, CSCS, as they discuss the truth behind this question.

 

 

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Every Athlete Benefits From Strong Glutes

The glute muscles are the power and support behind an athlete’s acceleration, deceleration, and lateral movements. Properly developed and strengthened glute muscles also provide stability at the knee joint, and may aid in knee injury prevention.

 

Many athletes tend to be front side dominant, meaning that the quadriceps muscles are more developed than the hamstrings and gluteus muscles. If the glutes aren’t strong enough, the hamstring muscle group bears the brunt of the force and becomes more susceptible to injuries.

 

There are exercises that every athlete can do to strengthen their glutes:

 

Double Leg Glute Bridge:

 

Start laying on your back, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Lift the hips up, digging your heels into the floor, and keeping your ankles in line with your knees. Try and keep your knees, hips, and back all in a straight line. Hold this pose for 30 seconds for 3 reps.

 

 

 

 

Single Leg Glute Bridge:

 

Begin with the Double Leg Glute Bridge. Gently lift one ankle off the ground, keeping the leg straight, and aligning it even with your opposite knee. While keeping the leg straight, lower it to the ground. Do 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg.

 

 

 

 

For more glute exercises, tune into Strength and Conditioning Coach Jeff Richter’s Tip of the Month Video.

 

 

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The Strength of an Olympian- Bridget Sloan trains at SVSP

2008 Olympian and 2009 World Champion Bridget Sloan is dedicating her life to her gymnastic training, in hopes of making the 2012 US Olympic Team. The rigorous day-to-day training schedule that Bridget has been keeping this past year will help her prepare for her upcoming Olympic Team qualifying meets.

 

 

Bridget’s day starts at around 7:45 am, with a nutritious breakfast, fueling her for her morning workout. She then heads to St.Vincent Sports Performance for a quick treatment and taping of her wrists and ankles. Bridget then puts in a solid two hours at Sharp’s Gymnastics Academy, working on fine tuning her four routines. She has a quick lunch, and is back at SVSP for her appointment with Licensed Athletic Trainer Darrell Barnes, LAT. Darrell helps to maintain the proper functioning of all of Bridget’s joints, muscles, and tendons. Then Bridget heads back to Sharp’s until dinner for more conditioning and to practice specific moves and skills that need more attention. Bridget eats dinner, spends time with her family, relaxes a bit, then it’s off to bed to repeat the day again.

 

 

Since 2008, St.Vincent Sports Performance has been at her side, helping her recover from injury and rehab back into competing shape. Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. James Bicos and Licensed Athletic Trainer Darrell Barnes have worked with Bridget extensively on repairing her injuries and keeping her body functioning at the highest level. Dr. Bicos was on-hand at the 2011 PanAmerican Games when Bridget had a freak laceration on her foot, and needed immediate care. Dr. Bicos was able to suture up her foot just in time to compete in the games, helping the US Team win the All-Around Gold medal.

 

 

SVSP is honored to work with such a positive, kind, and dedicated athlete, and we wish Bridget luck as she trains to make the 2012 US Olympic Team!

 

 

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