Do You Really Want To Be A College Athlete? – By Roderick Mills

Rod Mills just signed a professional basketball contract to play in Georgia (the country, that is).  Here is a great read for athletes who are considering playing college athletics.

While I was working out this summer I had a conversation with my trainer at the sports performance place I go to and we talked about how much goes into being a student athlete in college and all the demands that it comes with. Because he also trains a lot of high school kids as well he said that he feels many of them don’t know how much it really takes and the sacrifice that was involved. Since I played college athletics I thought I would write about the differences and what it takes so that kids in high school can get an idea of what really goes into it.

As a high school athlete, most likely your dream and goal are to make it to play in college at some level whether that is Division 1, Division 2, and so on. All of the hard work you’ve put in to be good in high school and to have the chance to go on and keep playing is something that many kids want. But not everyone is built to be a college athlete and that is fine. You may have gotten burnt out and just want to be a regular student or your areas of interest have changed. Life is all about choices, and when you ultimately make that choice to play in college you should realize some things going into it.

The biggest thing you have to realize is the time commitment that being a college athlete takes. During the season your schedule is so routine and almost every minute there is something that you have to do. You wake up and go to class, and then you have weights and practice, and then you have to eat and then go to study tables and by the time you get through with all that, it’s time to go to bed and do it all over again. And you are doing this for weeks and months at a time and it can be hard if you’re not used to it. You’re going to miss out on things and have to sacrifice because not only do you have to perform well in your sport, but you also have to perform well in the classroom. You still get to go out, hang with friends, but you’re not going to be doing it as much as a regular college student will be able to. You have to realize you are going to miss class due to traveling and at first you think that’s great because I don’t have to go to class. But it honestly hurts more than it helps because the material they cover in college moves so quick and it is easy to get behind because you have to push things back and the work just seems to pile up. But you will have help and teachers are understanding and at the end of the day, the people in college want to see you succeed and graduate.

You also have to realize you’re going to miss out on some holidays and breaks. With basketball our season was basically two semesters, my senior year we went to a tournament in Jamaica and while I would do that 10/10 times we got back in the afternoon on Thanksgiving Day and had practice the next morning, so if you didn’t live close to school you couldn’t have Thanksgiving with your family. At Miami we also had a 6-week winter break, however we only got 4 days off for Christmas and then we were back at school the rest of the time practicing and playing while everyone else is at home. Because you hope to be playing in March and in the tournament, you most likely won’t get a spring break and you shouldn’t want to be on break because that means your season is over. You also only get 6 weeks off for summer break because then you have to be back for summer school and workouts. These are just some things you have to go in knowing if you’re going to be an athlete in college.

Another area that you don’t really worry about in high school, but you do in college is taking care of your body. The amount of volume that your body endures is so much more than what you had to do in high school. Due to the intensity that your coaches are going to expect out of you in weights, and practice your body is not really used to that. Making sure that you eat right (and not just having junk food), stretch and get treatment, taking ice baths, and most importantly getting enough sleep and rest! If you don’t do those things your body is not going to be as good as it could be towards the end of the year. I know late in the season a lot of guys would say their body hurt but then wouldn’t go get treatment because you would have to wake up early to go see the trainer. It’s all about sacrifice but by taking care of your body, it will pay off tenfold down the line and your performance will also be better.

There’s also going to be tough times where you’re going to have to wake up at 5am multiple times a week to do workouts. You’re not going to want to practice sometimes because you don’t feel well, or something happened to you that didn’t go your way. Coaches are yelling at you and you’re not playing the amount of time you thought you should. It all seems to hard and you’ve never experienced anything like this before. You have to realize it’s going to happen, and you have to be mentally strong enough to push through it all and find a way to get better and work hard at all times.

But there is another side to all of this and that is the joy of being a college athlete! I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything in the world and would choose being an athlete in college every time over just being a regular student. You build lifelong friendships and a bond that not many people get to experience. That bond develops through all the early mornings, the tough practices, the amazing wins, and devastating losses. You come together and learn to trust the people around you through the good and bad times. Your teammates are the people you almost do everything with from going to class, workouts, eat, and go out with. You look at for each other and don’t let outsiders come in between you guys. You’re a family and that is something you will have for the rest of your life. You also get a lot of recognition and respect from the community and other people around you. They know how much time you have to put into being a college athlete and that you’ve sacrificed a lot to get to this point. It’s always good hearing people in class say we’re coming to the game tonight or be out and people say good game. You have a lot of eyes on you, so you want to be a good example to little kids and people that look up to you and make sure you’re doing good and things that won’t bring a negative light to you or your program.

You also have a chance to travel the world and country. In college we played in Cancun, Jamaica, New York, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina and a bunch of other places. I’ve seen things I wouldn’t have been able to if not for basketball! You get to stay in nice hotels, eat out, and there is nothing like getting victories on the road!

I think the best thing about being a college athlete is the skills that you learn from it. I learned the importance of time management and how to balance and prioritize things in my day so that I wasn’t wasting time and having to scramble at the last minute. That is something that will help you for the rest of your life with any job that you do. You also find out what you are made of. You are pushed to a whole different level and learning that you can go past your limits that you thought you had even though it was hard is something that stays with you forever. You realize you can do a lot more than you thought and that develops a level a mental toughness that you won’t have unless you’ve been put through the fire. I wish I would have realized this earlier, but the mental aspect is just as important as the physical. The quicker you can gain control of your mind and thoughts and how you think about tough situations, the better you will be in the long run.

I am very grateful that God blessed me with the talents and opportunity to go play in college and now professionally. I will definitely learn from some of the mistakes I made in college and the lessons I learned and carry that into my professional basketball career. I hope this helps for kids looking at playing in college and I hope everyone that has the dream to play in college gets the opportunity at whatever level!

Check out Rod’s thoughts and writings on his blog,



30 for 30: What 30 years in the Trenches Has Taught Me -Tony Poggiali (part 1)

It is hard to believe that 30 years have passed since my first experience as a trainer at a local YMCA. This profession is so dynamic that new ideas, research and applications happen on a weekly basis. Here are some observations that have happened over the last three decades:

  1. The more I know, the less I know.  It is almost embarrassing what I did in the past; it was all I knew at the time.  Each week/month/year is a chance to get better and I love the process of learning and evolving.
  2. The basics, done consistently, still rule.  Strength train, play, move, elevate your heart rate, play, eat single-ingredient foods (most of the time), play.
  3. Training and coaching are similar, but not the same.  I believe the biggest distinction lies in the relationships that coaches are obligated to develop and nurture, while training is more of a job/profession that is a part of the bigger picture of a coaching environment.  I would like to think that I am a better coach now than just a trainer.
  4. The internet (and social media) changed everything.  For better or for worse, training and exercise information is ubiquitous now, as are facility options, qualified (and unqualified) coaches and trainers.  You do not need to go to college, get a degree/certification or really train people to “make it”.  If you have a phone, you have a chance.
  5. The backyard “training facility” is slowly going away.  Physical literacy and competency used to be taught in the neighborhood and, to a lesser extent, in schools.  It is where I learned every skill needed to be a good athlete as a kid and enjoy fitness as an adult.
  6. Opening, operating and running a business is much harder than I ever imagined.  It is no wonder that the churn rate for fitness businesses is so high.  It is cutthroat out there and can suck the life out of you if you let it.  After 13 years of Adrenaline Sports & Fitness’ existence, I still have a lot to learn.
  7. Trainers are a commodity; coaches are a unicorn.  I sound like a snob saying that but the profession needs more great people who can coach than people who can train.
  8. It took a while, but figuring out the Why of everything pointed my compass in the right direction.  Now I know the deeper reason of coaching athletes and adults.  It is to make an impact in their lives, to help them find their awesomeness and to be part of their framily.
  9. Sports sampling is good parenting.  I am certainly not telling you how to raise your children.  However, the vast majority of research supports exposing young kids to as many different activities/sports at young ages as possible.  So far, my nine year old has tried baseball, football, jiu-jitsu, karate, road running, swimming, tae kwon do, soccer and water polo.  Additionally, she plays for hours at a time just being a goofy kid.  This summer she will attempt her first triathlon.  Some sports she does a few months, and others are going on a few years.  The take-home message is she will be much more balanced and learn different gross motor skills and reduce injuries because of the number of activities she has tried.
  10. The more I learn about the human body, the less I know.  Since the sequencing of the human genome, we know more about us, humans, than ever before.  It still feels that we know so little though.  How do we really know how the brain works?  How diseases progress?  Why do some people age faster than others?  Is everything genetically determined?  How much control do we really have?  Do zombies exist?
  11. Walking is more important than previously thought.  As a form of activity, walking is pretty low on the “cool” scale. But, the benefits on overall health are impressive, especially stress reduction, reducing sympathetic states, getting some vitamin D exposure, enjoying nature, unplugging from technology, reducing cortisol levels…the list is endless. I used to think it was a waste of time, now I look at it as a necessity.
  12. The profession seems to be in a good place.  Opportunities are everywhere, from a physical brick-and-mortar facility to online options to social media.  The number of options for athletes and adults are numerous and it may come down to “test driving” multiple businesses before you find the best fit.  The quality of the coaching landscape continues to rise with each year; however, there is a tipping point where the quantity of new coaches cannot keep pace with the dynamic demands of being a great coach and will eventually leave or burnout.
  13. Technology will continue to disrupt the fitness landscape.  In a not-too-distant future, a robot may greet you, scan your retina and personalize your training and nutrition experience.  AR, AI and VR have already invaded the human space of fitness and will continue to nudge it’s way into fitness facilities worldwide.
  14. Coaching helps parenting and parenting helps coaching.  I realized this about four years ago (and even wrote about it); there is a direct transfer to how you raise a child to how you coach an athlete.  Coach Macdonald, who wrote a piece earlier this month also has learned the degree of transfer.  He will only improve his coaching skills now that his daughter was born.
  15. With more information at our fingertips than ever before, recovery is making a strong push to the forefront.  Training has only so may new ideas and concepts; nutrition is still figuring itself out; the last frontier is the scientific and practical way to recover from training, where true adaptations take place.  Everything from sleep to cryotherapy to supplementation and more will challenge training and nutrition for the lead in the quest for ultimate results and the perfect body.

Part 2 will be following soon…

Random Thoughts – May 2016

Neil Platt ~

I am an avid reader and I have two must-read book recommendations:  The Matheny Manifesto is an absolute must read for anyone involved with youth sports. It is written by St. Louis Cardinals’ coach, Mike Matheny.  Whether you are a parent, coach, or trainer it is an eye-opener that really hammers home the point of youth sports:  IT IS ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!  Another book that blew my mind was Legacy, a fantastic read that focuses on leadership. The central theme is the leadership structure within the New Zealand All Blacks program and how they have used this structure to dominate the rugby world.  Need a knowledge bomb or two?  Check out these two books.

Have you ever wondered “what is athleticism?” Yeah, me too.  Here is a quick comparison of two of the NBA’s finest:  Russell Westbrook and Steph Curry.  Who is the better athlete? At first glance, Westbrook is by the far the better athlete. He’s faster, stronger and can jump through the roof. However, Westbrook’s career accomplishments fail to match what Curry has done. When you really dive down the rabbit-hole of what makes a great athlete, you have to consider aspects like reaction, focus, feel for the game, and coordination.

In-season training is a tool in the long-term development of an athlete that hardly anyone takes advantage of. Athletes of all ages spend countless amounts of blood, sweat, and tears, not to mention hundreds if not thousands of dollars, on their off-season training only to see diminished returns from their investment as they move through their season. Rather than waste all of this effort, add some structured training to your in-season routine. In-season training is generally done at a lower intensity with a shorter duration. The goal isn’t to make vast improvements during the season, it is to keep the improvements that were earned during the off-season.

Single-leg glute training hardly gets enough attention. Everyone is concerned with big squats and deadlifts, which are great, but not the whole picture. So much of our time is spent in a single leg position, yet we hardly train for it. Try adding some single leg hip extension, flexion, and abduction/adduction exercises to your training and see if you notice a difference, Stephen Curry certainly did.

The best diet ever is…the one that works best for you and the one you can follow for the long term. The diet industry is pretty comparable to the wiwinedietld west where anyone can put anything out there and claim is the secret to success. Instead of chasing the next diet craze that promises six pack abs in 30 days, try sticking to a diet that is well balanced, consisting of healthy fats (nuts & oils), fruits & veggies, lean proteins (chicken, lean beef, fish, eggs), minimally processed carbohydrates, and the occasional sweet treat. Remove all of the complex myths that most diets use to confuse you and just focus on the basics!

Brian Macdonald ~

Adding muscle is the best way to burn fat, and here’s why: Lifting weights allows you to sustain a higher metabolism after your training has finished, unlike never ending cardio circuits which will spike your metabolism while you are doing it, but will return to normal shortly after training has ceased. It has been estimated that metabolic rate can be elevated for as long as 39 hours after an intense bout of resistance training, so you are burning calories at a higher rate for a longer rate. Also, more lean muscle = higher metabolic rate. Think of it as the more lean muscle you have, the hotter your “metabolic fire” will burn. The cardio/starvation approach is not going to be the best means to achieving the goal of a better physique. Reasonable amounts of cardio/conditioning are perfectly healthy and highly encouraged for cardiovascular health, but if a true change in your overall physique is the set goal, consider a sound resistance training program paired with equally sound nutrition containing sufficient quantities of macronutrients to support muscle growth is the way to go.HANK

Peri-workout nutrition is a hot topic in sport nutrition circles right now.  Consuming food prior to exercising will help sustain energy, prevent the breakdown of muscle mass, boost performance, and aid in the recovery process. Some sort of mixed meal, containing protein and some sort of carbohydrate, a few hours prior to exercise will go a long way in achieving these goals. Protein will help maintain and potentially increase muscle size, help to reduce the severity of muscle damage, and increase your amino acid profile within the bloodstream which aids in your body’s muscle building ability. Carbohydrates can simply be viewed as fuel for your workout as well as stabilizing blood sugar levels. They also help to preserve muscle and liver glycogen which will help prevent the breakdown of muscle. Lastly, carbs will help boost insulin levels which will help in protein synthesis, also a reason to eat a mixed meal including these two macros. Think of something such as fruit, oats, or rice for your carb content. Hopefully this will inspire you to consider the importance of fueling your body and make a difference in your workouts.

Another controversial topic in health and wellness is detoxing or cleanses.  When it comes down to it, our body is extremely efficient at cleansing itself, that is assuming that we treat it right. If we simply boost our natural detoxification systems within our bodies and not abuse them, we are perfectly capable of clearing unwanted toxins and chemicals, free of charge.  Our liver, kidneys and lymphatic system do a tremendous job of clearing out the “garbage” from our multiple cellular processes. [For more info, please check out this fantastic article from the incredibly knowledgeable team at Precision Nutrition on whether detox diets are actually good for you.]

Brigit Reder ~

Creatine… Just for the guys right? Wrong. Creatine is an organic acid that every human produces. Simply put, it helps supply energy to all cells in the body, especially 0504161619_HDRmuscle cells. Its not specific to only male muscle cells and incompatible with those of females. The benefits of taking creatine regularly are worth considering when trying to add that next level to your training, potentially put on some extra lean muscle mass, enhance recovery, and exert one more powerful sprint rep. Again, it does not matter male or female… if you’re training goals are not being met with current balanced nutrition, recovery, and exercise protocol, consider putting some thought into adding Creatine as part of your routine.

GPS in sports. Something not spoken of frequently in the media or on your hour of SportsCenter every morning. However, it’s an integral part in professional sporting arenas and even most top college programs. Especially within soccer, rugby, and even basketball. GPS and heart-rate monitor use, in combination, during games and training help strength and conditioning coaches monitor athlete’s output and therefore aid in recovery programming. GPS tracks max output sprints, total mileage covered, where movement is taking place on the field or court, quantifying amounts of acceleration and deceleration within a game, and using this information to analyze the physical demands of athletes in their positions and sports. Incredibly useful tool, but underused based on high cost.

Leadership tends to be a term thrown around among coaches, teachers, and businesses alike. Everyone seems to have their own definition of what a leader is… naturally capable of captivating an audience and influencing, or the opposite, skills and attributes that were learned over time through study of literature or interacting with groups of people. No right or wrong, simply just different styles of leadership. Ultimately leadership is a powerful tool. The ability to lead and organize a group of people to share a common belief or goal, and then find a way to identify and solve problems in an ongoing journey. If you’re identified as leader in your workplace, sport, school, whatever arena… are you positively influencing and leading those around you towards the greater good or goal?


Tony Poggiali ~

The time I spend with my daughter and all the kids at ASF is such a two way street; I am sure that I learn more from them than they learn for me.Kaizen-2.svg

Our coaches are always behind the scenes getting better so you can better.  There is a stigma that all we do is lift weights, wear t-shirts and shorts (which we do), and just show up to write workouts and administer a  bunch of drills.  We take every bit as much pride in mastering our craft as any other professional.  Ask any of us how much time is spent on continuing education and you may be surprised how serious we take our vocation.  There is SO much that we know, but even more that we do NOT know. It makes the path to mastery extremely fun.

Short of non-stop traveling, I am convinced that the world can be found in books.

Are smart phones really making us smarter?  It feels like they are making us dumber.

The training industry gap is widening.  The good coaches are becoming great, the great coaches are becoming elite, the pioneers, and everyone else is poor or average and will eventually have no more business or leave the industry.  Consumers are getting smarter, more skeptical and becoming informed.  If you are not getting better, by default, you are getting worse.

I love to make mistakes.  It has taken me a long time to get over the word failure.  I am messing things up pretty much every week but have changed my mindset to accept that mistakes are the greatest teachers.

After 28 years of training/coaching, I am still having fun.  When it ceases to be fun, I am done.marypoppins

I think the next wave of research (actually, it is already here) will focus on our relationship with the billions of critters that live inside of us, known as the microbiome. They may be responsible for….everything that goes wrong (and right) within us.  Stay tuned.


You either get better or you get worse – Neil Platt

We all have goals that we want to accomplish in life. Whether it’s climbing the career ladder, losing weight, or being a better spouse/friend/person, we all have these aspirations. Having a clear vision of where you are going in life is absolutely essential to your overall success. I recently covered a series of topics in a three-part mini series that I feel to be very important. Creating and practicing healthy habits on a daily basis will help keep you on track. Having a set of core values you live by is crucial to staying grounded and living a life of which you can be proud. A healthy dose of a positive attitude will be the driving force behind your journey to reach your ultimate goals. Having all three of these characteristics work in harmony will be the life-blood of your ultimate success.FB_IMG_1451519836218

Some of the goals we have can seem daunting. Let’s say you have been sedentary for the past few years. You have been wrapped up in your work, your family, and everything else except your health. You have really let yourself slide and the negative habits of poor eating, too much stress, and not enough sleep have really taken their toll. As with most things, something has happened in your life and you have decided to make a change. You’re going to get your life back in order and lose 40 pounds. You go out and get a fancy new gym membership, some sweet training shoes, and some fresh new gym wear. You’re ready to rock and roll. But wait, it’s Thursday. You can’t start anything on a Thursday, might as well wait until Monday and start fresh.

Monday rolls around and you come out of the gates on fire. You’re eating nothing but salad for three meals a day, hitting the gym, and getting to bed on time. You’re going balls-to-the-wall, 100% intensity and having fun with it. The novelty of this journey is still strong and nothing can stop you now.

Next Monday rolls around and…s#@t. “I’m tired, sore, and all of these salads kinda suck“. Before you know it, week two was not as productive as week one and you’re right back into a rut. You’re thinking, “Where did I go wrong? I have everything I need, I picked up all these awesome workout ideas from the Biggest Loser, I was so motivated, and now this. WTF?!?”

It is estimated that about 80-90% of New Years’ resolutions fail to produce lasting results.

Why is this?

I don’t claim to know all of the reasons (psychology is not my forte) why most attempted lifestyle changes are abandoned after a short amount of time but I have a few ideas.

More often than not, when most people start a new habit they pick something so big they are destined to fail, just like in our example above. Not only do people tend to think way too big when it CCB2WONW4AEqsTucomes to changing their lives, they also come at it with too much intensity. The intention is there but they focus all of their energy on this one topic and attack it with relentless enthusiasm. The initial week or two are a breeze due to the novelty of the venture. There is a bit of excitement from being a new person. However, the thrill of adventure inevitably wears off as you realize the unforeseen complexities that undoubtedly come with creating a new habit. You burn out and quit before you have a chance to start noticing any tangible results. The cycle of grandiose plans to change your life followed by the eventual failure to see it through perpetuates itself until you’re truly at your whit’s end with nowhere to turn.

So, how do we break the pattern and finally start changing our lives for the better? It starts with a new way of thinking.

Rather than looking at your life and thinking you need to make massive, large scale changes, I want you to think of it a little differently. Instead of taking one aspect of your life and attacking it with 100% effort, I want you to take inventory of everything you do and improve on these by just 1%. Put another way for all of you math whiz’s:

Instead of improving on 1 thing by 100%, improve on 100 things by just 1%.

When you break things down into much smaller, easier to accomplish tasks you’re setting yourself up for success. Just setting a goal of losing 40 pounds is almost a guaranteed way to fail. Rather than setting the damn-near unattainable goal, simply think about sleeping a little better, eating one more vegetable a day, being just a little more active today than you were yesterday, and drinking one more glass of water. When you’re dialed into what you’re doing today and doing each of those things just 1% better, your long-term success is almost a guarantee. You’ll accomplish your big-rock goals in less time and with less effort than you would have otherwise. Shifting your focus from your major ambitions to your daily tasks will leave you feeling less stressed and more accomplished at the end of the day. Rather than having the weight (literally) of a 40 pound weight loss hanging over your head every night, you’ll have the enjoyment of knowing you took a step in the right direction.

You may be thinking there is no way making a 1% change in anything will lead to any tangible results. However, life is full of examples where 1% makes all the difference. The difference between placing in an Olympic event and going home empty-handed is typically in the tenths of seconds (or the equivalent for longer events), a 1% difference in interest rates on a student loan can be in the thousands of dollars, and the difference between being human and a chimpanzee is about a 1% genetic difference. When you add up all of the improvements you make by doing 100 things just 1% better you will see the results. Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday nailed it. If you haven’t seen the movie or didn’t watch the clip, the brief summary is opportunities for small improvements are all around us at all times. The difference between someone who is successful and someone who is not is the willingness to take advantage of these small opportunities and work at them every day. Don’t focus on breaking a 50 yard touchdown run. Focus on fighting for the inch in front of you and the rest will take care of itself.

I was recently reading an article and I can’t remember where it was so I apologize for not being able to give credit to the author but he wrote something that has had a profound change on the way I now approach things. He was talking about habit change and why most people fail and his point is this:

Intensity is for Amateurs, Consistency is for Pros.

I absolutely love that statement. I am in the process of making some lifestyle changes and every time I want to get ahead of myself or I get down about a recent failure, I remind myself of those words. It has really helps me keep everything in context and it is a great reminder that anything worth doing will take time, effort, and consistency.

Proper shoewear for athletic skill – Brian Macdonald

Throughout my athletic career and my time as a strength and conditioning coach, I’ve learned the incredible importance of footwear when it comes to performance and injury prevention. Since I have become a strength and conditioning professional, this is an area that needs to be addressed the most with my athletes. For whatever reason, my athletes, and people in general, tend to ignore the labels that shoe departments place over a section (running, training, hiking, etc.). This post will focus specifically on the difference between a running and training shoe, simply because roughly 85% of my athletes wear a running shoe to do speed and agility drills expecting optimal performance, and hopefully serve as a guide for the next trip to purchase a new pair of kicks.  For clarity, “running” shoe implies a shoe designed for linear running.

Here is my thought process when purchasing a pair of shoes to start the discussion. Prior to even looking at shoes, I always make sure I go in understanding for what purpose I am buying them. Considering my profession, I go straight to the training section 98% of the time. I am fully aware of the demands that will be placed on these shoes. Unfortunately, many go in simply looking for the coolest looking pair of shoes they see, rather than even bothering with the function of the shoe, and end up wearing a shoe made for distance runners instead of a design to perform aggressive speed and agility drills involving intense acceleration, deceleration, and change of direction. If I see one more kid walk in to our facility with Nike Roshes on, I am going to explode!  Shoes like the Nike Roshe have zero business being worn during intense bouts of speed and agility skill work. I have literally given my shoes to one of my athletes for the hour simply because I was so afraid he was going to possibly injure himself as a result of the shoes he decided to wear. For many of my athletes, footwear is what’s keeping them from performing at optimal levels simply due to the fact their shoes are unable to handle the forces being applied to them.

Let’s start with understanding the function of a running shoe. The term running shoe, as mentioned above, implies linear distance running. Many throw speed and agility under the umbrella of general running which is a huge mistake. The shoe is specifically designed to meet the demands a distance runner will experience, so expect more qualities that will aide in absorbing the constant impact a runner endures throughout their training. There are obviously at least a dozen other factors that go into picking out running shoes, which could be a blog post in itself, but I won’t dive into that in this one. Now lets discuss the characteristics and function of a training shoe. They are designed to to support higher speeds involving acceleration, deceleration, and change of direction, in multiple directions. In short, they have a greater amount of lateral support that really locks the foot in for intense bouts of speed and agility drills thus aiding in the prevention of injuries, particularly lateral ankle sprains, and allowing for maximum control. Here is one way to look at it when shopping for training shoes:  Higher the sole height = less lateral stability; shorter sole height = more lateral control. If there is still a lack of clarity, simply visit Nike’s website. They do a phenomenal job at guiding you towards the right shoe by being as specific as possible with their tabs. For example, I want to order a new training shoe for my speed and agility training. I go to the Nike homepage, click on “men”, and categories are immediately laid out for you. Click on the “training & gym” tab, and you will instantly notice there are subcategories laid out whether I want something fast and responsive with a low profile, more cushioning for added comfort, or something that has maximum stability and more of a flat profile for something such as weightlifting. If you are looking for running shoes, they get even more specific with subcategories. If you simply take the time to research a bit, they make your shopping experience as simple as possible. Below are pictures to help put a visual with what I am describing. First is an example of the Nike Zoom Speed Trainer 3, which I happen to wear and love. There are two views of the side profile and the bottom. Second is the Nike Zoom Pegasus 32. Pay attention particularly to the obvious differences in the sole thickness and shape clearly showing what each shoe is designed for.









Hopefully this post will steer you in the right direction when shopping for your next pair of training shoes. I can not stress enough to my athletes the importance of their footwear when training. There are multiple athletes I have trained who have made the switch from running shoes to a trainer, and their performance markedly improved. Most importantly it can drastically reduce the risk for injury.



Active Kids (new program at ASF)

Over the last ten years, ASF has worked with some amazing student-athletes. We have had the privilege to see young boys and girls excel on the field, court and classroom. While not every child will continue to play sports at a high level, he or she can still maintain an active lifestyle, including healthy habits and behaviors. However, there are significant obstacles that consistently affect the adoption of these behaviors. Consider the following:

  • School budget cuts — which have resulted in teacher layoffs and a lack of equipment and other resources — as well as policy pressures that have led schools to increase classroom time for standardized test preparation.[1] One of the first subjects to get axed/reduced includes Physical Education. (There is some resistance however. Some schools in Texas have four recesses, and the positive results have ensued. Also, some reports [1] are advocating for the Department of Education to make Physical Education a core subject.)
  • Nearly half (44 percent) of school administrators report cutting significant amounts of time from physical education, arts, and recess to increase time in reading and mathematics since passage of the No Child Left Behind legislation in 2001. These challenges have been cited as the reasons why the percentage of schools offering physical education daily or at least 3 days each week declined dramatically in U.S. schools between 2000 and 2006.[1]
    Physical inactivity has increased due to reliance on nonactive transportation, automation of activities of daily living, and greater opportunities for sedentary behavior. [1]
  • Technology, especially video games have replaced the backyard. Screen time averages six hours per day![4]


  • Families who have more disposable income are able to drive early participation into sports, and active lifestyles. [2]
  • Kids are more sedentary than previous generations. In a recent study from Canada, just 9% of boys and 4% of girls between the ages of 5-12 meet the minimum guideline of 60 minutes of daily activity.[3] The CDC states about one-quarter of kids 12-15 years of age are active for 60 minutes each day. This trend is across all age groups.

2015 Inactivity Chart

  • Currently no states require that at least 50 percent of time spent in physical education be devoted to vigorous- or moderate-intensity physical activity.[1]
  • This is not isolated to the United States, as every country has seen declines in physical fitness outcomes over the last decade. [1] This is also coinciding with the increase IN overweight and obese children.

Figure 15 copy

  • Sports, which is the most popular way to introduce young children into the world of movement and activity, is declining. [2]

Youth Participation 2014

There are several more examples, but you get the idea. This has made me equal parts upset and sad for a long time. I know that sports shaped me growing up, and it directly led to the lifestyle that I retain well into my forties. So, off the heels of our successful adult Challenge that we do every year, the thought occurred, “Why not have a Challenge for kids?” It is a simple formula, active kids do better in the school, are healthier and contribute to society in positive ways as adults.
Consider the following concerning activity and kids:

Active kids get better grades.

Active kids are 1/10 as likely to be obese.

Active kids achieve up to 40% on test scores. Their brains literally light up after activity.Figure 16 copy

Active kids smoke less and use less recreational drugs.

Active kids are 15% more likely to go to college.

Active kids make more money as adults.

It is clear that physical activity has a multitude of benefits with very few drawbacks. The goal of the kid Challenge (herein referred to as Active Kids) is to promote physical literacy and be an advocate for the introduction and adoption of healthy behaviors, leading to habits for life.
Before we go into the specifics of Active Kids, let’s briefly discuss the phrase physical literacy.

At its core, being physically literate means to have the Ability, Confidence and Desire to be active for life.[2]physicalliteracy
Here is a brief description of each of the three components:

Ability refers to competency basic movement skills and an overall fitness that allows individuals to engage in a variety of games and activities. This outcome is achieved through a mix of informal play and intentional teaching of movement skills, among them running, balancing, hopping, skipping, jumping, dodging, throwing, leaping and throwing and general hand-eye coordination activities.

Confidence is knowing that you have the Ability to play sports or enjoy other physical activities.

Desire is the intrinsic enthusiasm for physical activity, whether organized or unstructured, resulting from early positive experiences that are fun and motivate children to do their best.

So, if we as coaches (and parents) can get them to “buy-in” early, we are setting them up for success later.

However, for each year that passes, the likelihood goes down that healthy habits will be utilized.[5] It is unlikely to be a daily routine in school (only 4% of elementary schools offer PE on a daily basis, even though 80% require PE to be a part of the curriculum; that figure goes down to 2% in high school [1]), so the onus falls upon coaches and parents to steer the ship.

With busy lives, less and less “family time” and more and more demands on children than ever, it is a tough sell to get kids to develop and continue healthy behaviors. While it is not the panacea, we feel that there are certain foundational principles that need to introduced and implemented, including Physical, Nutritional, Intellectual and Social categories. A big driver behind the genesis of Active Kids is rewarding behaviors that kids are already doing, not necessarily overhauling their lives.


So, using the above as a backdrop, we are excited to bring Active Kids to ASF in April, 2016. If successful, we will certainly keep it as a regular program.

Here are the specific details:
Dates – April 4-30
Availability – 12 spots, open to new and current clients
Ages – 10-13 years of age, playing sports is not a requirement
Cost – $49

This will be a point system that is based on the above four categories (Physical, Nutritional, Intellectual and Social). For example, for every 30 minutes of silent reading, there would be “x” points; for every 30 minutes of free play, that would be “x” points. There will also be a fun physical Challenge every week.
We encourage you to have your child register for this, especially since they don’t listen to mom and dad anyway :).
If you are interested, registration begins on March 14.
1. IOM (Institute of Medicine). 2013. Educating the student body: Taking physical activity and physical education to school. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
2. Sport for All, Play for Life, Aspen Institute.
3. Physical Activity Promotion in the Preschool Years: A Critical Period to Intervene
Gary S. Goldfield, Alysha Harvey, Kimberly Grattan, and Kristi B. Adamo, Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2012 Apr; 9(4): 1326–1342.
4. Active Healthy Kids Canada. Don’t Let This Be the Most Physical Activity Our Kids Get After School: Active Healthy Kids Canada Report on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. Active Healthy Kids Canada; Toronto, ON, Canada: 2011.
5. Developing Physical Literacy, A Guide For Parents Of Children Ages 0 to 12, Canadian Sport for Life.

Glutes = more horsepower, part 2 – Brian MacDonald

In part one, I discussed why we put such an emphasis on training the glutes into our athlete and adult protocols alike. This post will dive into the specific exercises we use and why. We divide our glute exercises into two main categories, standing and lying. Standing variations obviously offer more application to the demands that will be placed on the body on a day to day basis whether you are an athlete or an average Joe. Lying variations allow us to increase the load considerably and are also a great alternative to people with low back issues such as myself. I have to be incredibly conservative when performing standing variations due to my low back, however I can load up a lying variation aggressively while achieving very similar benefits. With that being said lets dive into the top exercises we use for each variation previously mentioned.

1. Lying Barbell Hip Thrust – This is our favorite exercise when targeting the glutes. Two main reasons we love this exercise are the transfer to speed and acceleration with our athletes, and the general improvement in function since the glutes influence so much of the rest of our body mechanics. We have the luxury of having a piece of equipment created for the purpose of this exercise, however it can be performed on any conventional bench. Set up with the bench right around the mid back, this will serve as your pivot point. Maintaining this point is critical as we do not want the back to slide back and forth throughout the exercise. Before getting into bar placement, I will note that a bar pad or padding of some sort will be needed to protect the hips while lifting. Bar placement is right in the crease of the hips which is easily achieved by rolling the bar up over the feet and legs. Bring the feet up towards the butt, the shins should be vertical when the lift is actually perform if this helps. Toes are either straight forward or slightly turned outward. When executing, be sure you are pushing through the heel rather than your toes. Create tension, then lift rather than just jerking into the motion. Each rep should be a controlled smooth movement. The neck should remain neutral through the entire lift. As you approach the top of the movement, contract the glutes without hyperextending the low back, then descend in a controlled motion before repeating. A last note is that this can also be performed as a bridge which you will see at the end of the video.

2. Standing Kettlebell Swing – This is an exercise that packs a huge punch. Though it is a hip based exercise, it really forces you to engage the entire body. The most important point to make is that this is not a squat, at no point throughout the movement should there be any squatting involved. Start by holding the kettle bell with an overhand grip. As you start swinging, the butt goes back and the chest stays up. Think of trying to tap your butt to an imaginary wall behind you when driving the hips back and the kettle bell should end up right between your legs and at no point should the kettle bell drop below the knees. As you drive the hips forward into extension, be careful not to hyperextend the back, rather be sure the shoulders are stacked directly over the hips and contract the glutes on the end range.

3. Mini band monster walks – All we need for this one is a small mini band, or tubing with ankle straps will also work. With the mini band, the lower we place the band on the leg, the more difficult the exercise. Once the band is set, drop the hips into an athletic position. We want constant tension on the band, so be sure the knees are not collapsing inward. If this is the case, a lighter band or placing the band higher may be necessary. Movements will be forward, backwards, and lateral, it really does not matter which one you start with. This exercise, particularly the lateral movements, really targets the gluteus medius as well as any abductor of the hip. As you move, focus on maintaining tension on the band and an athletic position.

As I stated in part one , the gluti are collectively vital to performance and function. There are a number of additional exercises that are very effective in training the glutes, these are three that we feel are very effective in achieving targeted benefits.

Attitude is everything – Neil Platt

The first two parts of this three part mini-series brought us two important topics: habits and values. While these two topics are important when it comes to living a happy, healthy life, there is another equally, if not more, important topic to discuss: Attitude. Attitude is defined simply as a way of thinking or feeling about someone or something that is typically reflected in a person’s behavior. It is our attitude that determines the world we live in. Think of the outside world as a mirror reflecting our internal attitude. A positive attitude generally leads to a positive experience in life. A negative attitude can lead to a gloomy, “woe-is-me” existence. Put another way, your attitude is the driving force behind your journey in life. We all have a desire to live a long, healthy, happy life full of great experience’s with great people. However, most people fail to realize we hold the key to a successful life-it is our attitude.

The world we live in is a reflection of the attitude we present to the world, not the other way around. Most people adopt the notion that the world treated me a certain way so my attitude will reflect that. This line of thinking is backwards. The world doesn’t play favorites. It does not care who “wins” or who “loses.” It simply moves forward one day at a time regardless of how we feel about it. The truth is, the world around us, the people we come into contact with, our successes or failures in life are a direct reflection of our attitude. Think about those whom you come into contact with on a daily basis. The ones who have a better attitude tend to be those that are more successful (not just financially, there are a lot of rich people out there that have awful attitudes). If we want to change the environment in which we live, we must first change our attitude towards our environment. It is foolish to expect something to change if we continue to do the same things. Life is a pretty simple system of cause and effect. If I want a promotion at work, I need to step up and work harder. If I want to lose weight, I need to get off the couch and stop eating bon-bons. A great attitude that says I expect to be successful will most likely lead to a successful outcome.

I recently read an article about the great NBA legend Larry Bird. For those who don’t know, Larry Bird is one of the best basketball players of all-time. He is also one of the most confident individuals to ever walk the planet. Part of what made Bird so great was his affinity for clutch time performances. He had a knack for always making the big play when his team needed it the most. When most people would feel pressure from big time situations, he had no problem rising up and making the big shot. When a reporter once asked Larry how he knew all of the clutch shots he took would go in, he responded, “Cuz I was the one taking ‘em.” His attitude was one of confidence and expecting success. He expected nothing less than a successful outcome, and more often than not, he got it.
A great attitude can lead some great things in life. Most successful people have great attitudes. Try building a spaceship and flying to the moon with a poor attitude towards your work.  It isn’t going to happen. The great thing about your attitude is just that, it is yours and you are 100% in control of it, much like your effort. Like most things, building a great attitude starts with practice. You should start developing the habit of having a great attitude in any situation. Don’t allow the world to frustrate you, remember it is a reflection of your attitude. Don’t dwell on past failures, or regrets. Instead, start today moving forward with a positive attitude towards life. Expect to be successful in whatever it is you do. Greatness will not just be handed to you. You have to work for it and it starts with a great attitude.

Values – What do you stand for? – Neil Platt

Part two of this three part blog series covers another important topic: values. Your values are the principles or standards you live your life by. They should play an integral role in determining what is important to you and what decisions to make devilangelwhen faced with difficult life choices. When your actions are aligned with your values, life is generally pretty good. Overall, you are a much happier and content person. When your actions and behaviors get out of whack with your core values, things can go wrong. Unhappiness is usually the result of your actions not reflecting your core values. Being able to identify your values and having the inner fortitude to live them out are crucial to being happy. Having a firm understanding of your values will allow you to confidently answer life’s tough questions.
Identifying your values can be a difficult thing. How many of you actually know what your core values are? We all have a general sense of what is right and what is wrong but your decisions need to be guided by more than a general understanding of good and bad. What I consider to be a core value may be different than what you believe in. These slight differences can lead to different outcomes in a given situation and can lead to happiness for one person, or distress for another. To identify your values you really need to dive into the nitty-gritty of what makes you tick. Think back to different times in life when you have had to make a difficult decision and figure out what about those decisions made you the happiest, most proud, and most fulfilled. Be totally honest and transparent with yourself. Self reflection can be uncomfortable but it is important to get to the root of what makes you unique.
Once you have established the nuts and bolts of what makes you tick, there is another major step:  You must articulate your values as verbs, not nouns. Saying that you are trustworthy is great, but it is not actionable. If instead you say you are someone others can rely on as honest and truthful, you have taken a word and given it a life of its own. Turning your values into a set of action statements makes them much richer and provides more context. It helps you truly understand what is at the root of who you are and what you believe in. Action statements allow you to apply your values to any situation with more conviction and it gives you a better understanding of why you feel a certain way. One of my core values is to practice what I preach. I want everyone to live a long, healthy life and as a strength coach and trainer, I preach it all day long so I better practice it. I have days when I do not want to train and I fall off the diet wagon but I do my best to get back up and try again because it is something I truly believe in. I can’t just say “don’t be a hypocrite”- instead, practice what you preach.
Here is my challenge to you: take some time, sit down and really think about what it is you hold dear to your heart. What do you really believe in? Don’t come up with the Miss Universe answer, but be completely honest and transparent with yourself. Once you have done this, make your core values actionable. Take the time to write them down somewhere. Put them down on paper, tell your spouse or loved ones, tell me if you want to, I would love to hear about your journey on this one. I hope you find this useful and as always, if I can help you in any way please do not hesitate to ask!