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Posted by on in Rehabilitation

I just finished reading two fascinating books on the human brain and its neuroplastic ability to change based on the sensory information it ingests.  The external environment plays on the brain like a keyboard.  A healthy dose of sensory stimulation is crucial in building strong neuronal connections and increasing synaptic efficiency and function.  Bottom line: use it or loose it!  Whether in the classroom or on the field/ice, we have the unique ability to craft our brains into more efficient, well-oiled machines.  Here are a few excellent pieces of information from the books “The Brain That Changes Itself”, and “Inside The Brain”. 

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Posted by on in Youth Strength & Conditioning

Iron deficiency is a condition resulting from too little iron in the body.  I’m not talking anemia, hemoglobin, red meat or oxygen transport; I’m talking about barbells, dumbbells, and free weights.  I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with parents who are concerned that young 13-year-old Tommy who plays hockey, one of the most physically intimidating, bone crunching sports in the world is concerned that weight training may cause adverse effects.  Never mind that young Tommy is built like a coat hanger, can’t fight his way out of a wet paper bag and that the organized chaotic demands of hockey stress a young body far more than a well organized, structured strength and conditioning program.  This leads to a condition I refer to as Iron Deficiency.  Iron deficiency is a dangerous condition where the musculoskeletal system is not prepared to meet the demands of the stress imposed on it.  It affects a large majority of the youth population who spend the summer’s playing Nintendo, running long distances, and engaging in non-external resistance training such as boxing, MMA and Insanity.

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Team environments can pose a difficult task for strength and conditioning professionals to gauge appropriate dose response in prescribing effective stress and adequate restoration.  We have used HRV (ANS), vertical jump (CNS) and subjective stress score measures in our small group/individual settings.  In addition, we are in the process of attaining a hand held dynamometer as yet another biomarker in our attempt to measure daily training readiness.  We have found these tools to be useful for a more accurate, individualized program based on the client’s current adaptability reserve (stress takes money out, recovery puts money back in, courtesy of Joel Jamieson).  Bottom line, we want our athletes to train as hard as they are READY to train.  In addition, we use subjective stress scores for our large groups.  Here is how we use these scores at DSC for our Athletic Development Programs. 

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I recently had the opportunity to spend a week in Anaheim California with a good friend and fellow Strength Coach Sean Skahan.  Sean is the head strength and conditioning coach of the Anaheim Ducks in the National Hockey League.  I was invited by Sean to work the Ducks 2013 Development Camp for young prospects and drafted players within the organization.  To say this was a rewarding experience would be an understatement.  The week was packed with “in the trenches” education, shoptalk and good old-fashioned chalk, iron and sweat equity.  Sean’s presence in the weight room is a combination of passion and purpose fueled with genuine care for his athletes’.  He is an exceptional floor manager and leader.  These are just a few of the intangibles that make Sean one of the best in the business.  I learned many things from Sean throughout the week from protocol to practice, but the true lessons I took with me cannot be found in the pages of a textbook.  They are found on the floor, beyond the sweat, fatigue and sacrifice, they are found in the weight room-coaching athletes.  Below are three important lessons that were reinforced during my stay in Anaheim.  

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Posted by on in Programming

There have been several instances in the past where we have had guests visit DSC to watch us train our athletes in large group settings.  Many times Coaches will comment after the session about our plyometric component of program design.   “Those aren’t true plyometrics are they?” and I will indeed nod my head in agreement.  True plyometrics seek to take advantage of the Stretch Shortening Cycle using elastic energy stored in the tendons.  This is accomplished with minimal transition time (.15-.20 seconds) between eccentric stretch and rapid concentric contraction.  In other words, minimal ground contact!  A quick stretch excites the muscle spindles (which act as neuromuscular stimulators communicating with the brain telling it how hard it must contract a muscle to overcome a load).  We do progress our “jump training” into true plyometrics, but we don’t start there. 

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