Archive for USA Football

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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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.


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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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


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.


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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USA Football takes China

SVSP is once again on the road with one of our partners.  This time we are assisting USA Football’s U19 National Team.  We’re nearly through training camp, and will be heading to Harbin, China on June 24th.  This will be my third opportunity to travel overseas with USAF, and I am excited to have Chad Gabbard along for the ride this time.

USAFootball 2

In my opinion, football is the most complex team sport there is.  It always amazes me how well these coaches can take players from all over the country who have never played together and form them into a team in such a short time.  It also amazes me how some of these kids have had little or no interaction with an Athletic Trainer.  It’s always such a great feeling helping these players perform at the level they are capable of.  Often times, doing nothing more than a simple treatment is all it takes before they realize how much it helps.

USAFootball 3

Two-a-day practices are never fun, especially when it’s hot and humid like it has been during this camp. Those practices are necessary, however, to building a strong team.  To help these players stay healthy and watch them compete is the best part of our job.  This will become even more important once we reach China, where we are playing four games in just 13 days.  Add to that a 16-hour flight, 12-hour time difference, unfamiliar food and culture, and it can be very challenging to keep these guys healthy and ready to play.  Chad and I are up for that challenge, and we are excited and honored to be a part of another Gold Medal run with USAF.

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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.


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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Best ways to build strength on your own time

St.Vincent Sports Performance Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach Aaron Ruth CSCS explains how athletes can challenge themselves with strength and flexibility exercises, all from the comfort of their living room.


Building strength and flexibility doesn’t have to be done with heavy weights or expensive equipment. Traditional exercises, such as push-ups, squats, planks and lunges are perfect exercises to be done at home.


These exercises work to make an athlete stronger, but not necessarily to build muscle. For younger athletes who aren’t in high school yet, it is more important and safer to work on continuous strength rather than building bulk muscle without supervision.


Try these exercises at home to build strength and increase flexibly. A great time to do these exercises is during a 30-minute television show during commercials. Begin with three sets of 10 repetitions:Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 2.32.13 PM


  • Jump in a single hop to a stable elevated surface, and then step back down. Use a chair or box that won’t slide out from under feet.


  • Step one foot onto a chair or bench, then push through the heel of the elevated leg to step the other leg up. Do a set stepping forward, then turn 90 degrees and do a set stepping laterally.

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  • Sit back against a wall in a squat position with knees over ankles and a 90-degree bend from knees to hips. Then stand up from this position.


Planks are a great way to build strength in the lower body. To start, do sets of front planks, side planks and glute bridges. For more variations on glute bridges, watch the Sports Performance Tip of the Month video.


Follow SVSP on Twitter and Facebook for more exercise and training tips.

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Notes from RR – the story on increasing NFL injuries

“The work of prevention is unassuming, difficult to measure and not very ‘newsworthy.’ The latest program of prevention of sports injuries or the anecdotal story of a “near miss” is not the exciting talk among sideline and bleacher spectators of American Football.


However, the gasp of emotion when our TV and Fantasy Football stars have time lost or season lost due to injuries, it becomes THE STORY. The undercurrent in the aftershock turns to the question of why. The ‘why’ question then leads to finger pointing and a walk to the training room for a discussion or debate.


This is an unusual injury year for the National Football League per statistics.


According to STATS, 177 skill position players (quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends) have had to miss at least one game with injury so far this year. For the first seven weeks, that’s higher than any year since 2000 – and nearly 25 percent higher than the average of 142.1 skill players missing at least one game in the first seven weeks each year from 2000 through 2013.


The difference is slightly sharper among more severe injuries as 122 players have had to miss at least two games so far this year, according to STATS. That’s nearly 28 percent higher than the average of 95.4 players missing at least two games over the same span, from 2000 through 2013.


St.Vincent Sports Performance is working daily with our 60+ NATABOC Certified Athletic Trainers and Certified Strength and Conditioning Coaches (CSCS) on preventing and lowering the risk of injury. It is a full-scale assault and a 12-month task. With partners like USA Football and Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research and Prevention, our team at SVSP is at the front of this important issue of human performance.”

-Ralph Reiff

Executive Director, St.Vincent Sports Performance


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Football Nutrition Q&A

St.Vincent Sports Performance Sports Dietitian Lindsay Langford, MS, RD, CSSD answers questions about recovery nutrition for football players of all ages.

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Gear Up For Football With SVSP – Tips On Preparing Your Body For The Upcoming Season

As August quickly approaches so does football season. The long awaited return of football calls for some insight from St.Vincent Sports Performance’s Licensed Athletic Trainer, Dave Weikel. Dave serves as the Head Athletic Trainer for the USA Football National Teams. In his role as the Head Trainer, he works with some of the finest young football players the U.S. has to offer.


Like all athletes, football players have special muscle groups and exercises that help them to excel in their sport. With over 30 years of experience in football, as a player and athletic trainer, Dave’s knowledge is vast when it comes to getting your body right as a football player. Three key lifts that have proven over the years to be the staple of any football player’s workout are bench, squat, and power clean.



While all of these exercises are great for developing the key muscle groups that have proven essential to football players, there is one thing that is often overlooked and that is the importance of flexibility in an athletes’ daily routine. In the words of Dave, “it doesn’t do much good to bench 300 lbs. and squat 450 lbs. if you can’t move on the field.” Stretching and working on your flexibility along with a balanced workout regime can help your body standup against injury and prepare you physically for the rigors of the game.


Like in all sports, injuries are part of the game. In football, some of the most common injuries you may encounter as an athlete revolve around the knee and the ankle, mostly in the form of sprains. While it is impossible to prevent all injuries from occurring there are several keys that can help you on the gridiron: proper training/techniques, hydration and nutrition, and rest and recovery are key when trying to last an entire season.


To find out more about how SVSP can help prepare you for this upcoming season or help get you back on the field visit:

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