Monday, October 14, 2013

The NCAA in Comparison to the AAU

Debating the controversial issue regarding the compensation for amateur athletes is by no means a fresh topic. Prior to 1978, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) ruled as the governing body over sports and athletes intending to compete in the Olympics. The AAU, like the NCAA, was created to monitor and protect amateur athletes. The founders of the AAU succeeded in their pursuit to prevent amateur athletes from the harsh temptations of money and the evils of professional life. However, while reigning with immense power over defenseless athletes, AAU officials quickly became corrupt while making significant fortunes from the labor of amateur athletes.

Unfortunately, truth continually reveals various people accumulating a healthy salary as a reward from the dedicated amateur athlete’s hard work and skill. This very injustice contributes to the possible upheaval of the NCAA. Many who oppose the NCAA suggest that collegiate athletes be compensated by moving to an “Olympic model.” Taking that into consideration, it wasn’t so long ago that the United States and the AAU did not allow its very own Olympic athletes more than a mere $3 a day. In 1978, the US Congress voted to disband the AAU and opted to allow amateur athletes the possibility of compensation while being able to participate in the Olympic Games.

The NCAA has sturdily demonstrated its intention to not pay student-athletes. This is simply a statement that suggests amateur athletes have seen this episode before, and they have seen it changed before.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Athletic Directors as Head Coaches: Conflict of Interest?

An athletic director or “AD” is an administrator at colleges, universities, high schools, and even larger middle schools who oversee the work of coaches and others employed by the athletic department. In the past, particularly in the South, the head football coach was also dubbed the “AD”; coaches to simultaneously hold both positions were Bear Bryant (Alabama) who ended his career in 1983, Frank Broyles (Arkansas) who finished his coaching career in 1976, and Darrell Royal (Texas) who completed his coaching career in 1976.  

Having a dual role was typically a way to give the coach a little more prestige and a means to increase their salary. The AD/Head Coach role also provided that the president of the university was the only supervisor in the chain of command. Allowing these roles to be held simultaneously has almost been entirely abandoned in recent decades.  Collegiate sports, in all aspects, have become far too complicated to be run on a part-time basis.   There are just not enough hours in the day for one person to take on two demanding jobs, if one was to attempt both tasks at once certain aspects would have to be sacrificed and therefore presenting a poorly done job.  

Holding both jobs could also lead to a case of favoritism; AD’s are in charge of the athletic budgets and usually have the final say in the amount of each athletic team’s financial plan.  This can make it extremely easy for the sport they also coach to become the best at “fundraising”, which usually means they were just cut a bigger check.  This type of system was given up by most university systems to avoid problems like these and since then have been doing quite well.  Athletic departments that have avoided evolving with the rest of the country are also usually lacking in performance and facilities, except for that one special team.

The role of an Athletic director is to be a leader of the athletics program as a whole.   One should always look to be fair and equally meet the needs of each sports team.   Taking a dual role as the coach of an athletic team is consciously deciding to neglect the rest of your department and noticeably putting the needs of just your own few athletes ahead of the rest.  

The Kettlebell Craze: The "Snatch"

Did you know that by properly using kettlebells an individual could burn up to 1,000 calories an hour? Did you also know that kettlebells are not just a strength and muscle builder, but also promote cardiovascular endurance? So for those who love to work out but never focus on cardiovascular endurance, kettlebells might be the way to go!
According to Mark Crawford in The Journal of the American Chiropractic Association, “Ballistic exercises, such as swinging, are used to produce more speed and power by recruiting fast-twitch muscle fibers…the muscles responsible for assisting the breathing process are engaged in muscular activity, which doesn’t allow them to assist in the respiratory process.” In laymen’s terms, all of the muscles that are being used during a kettlebell swing are working hard while breathing increases; subsequently increasing the user’s maximum oxygen uptake after continuous use and workouts.
In a study conducted by the American Council on Exercise, amazing results were seen when the researchers implemented a kettlebell program with a handful of subjects. The study was called “Twice the Results in Half the Time?” and the effectiveness of kettlebells was proven. Not only were muscle strength and endurance's' improved, but their cardiovascular endurance improved. The study also verified that a total kettlebell workout can burn up to 20.2 calories a minute; the equivalent to this is running a 6-minute mile.
In the previous “Kettlebell Craze” posts, the basics of a kettlebell were discussed. First, the overall idea of a kettlebell was explained; second, the swing was depicted and after that, a clean. The final “Kettlebell Craze” post: a snatch.
When an instructor or coach provides cues for performing a snatch, they should first build off of a swing and clean followed by the movements listed below:
1.     Stand with feet hip-width apart; knees and hip slightly hinged; being to do a one-arm swing to get comfortable with the motion
2.     Next, like a clean, instead of a semicircle motion like a swing, pull the kettlebell at a more vertical angle with the elbow leading
3.     This time, once you lock your hips and knees out, instead of stopping the kettlebell around shoulder height like in a swing, continue to let it rise using its own momentum; at this point, your elbow is still bent
4.     Once the kettlebell is about the height of your face, punch the kettlebell up towards the ceiling to lock out the elbow and allowing the kettlebell to flip over
5.     Make sure when you bring the kettlebell down from the locked out motion not to let it sling down, being in total control and bring it down the same way it came up is the key
The kettlebell craze is one that everyone should jump on board with. Kettlebells are extremely popular and effective in the fitness world! ACEfitness said it best in the article Kettlebells Kick Butt by stating, “Kettlebells are much more than a fitness fad, as kettlebell training serves as an integrated form of movement-pattern exercise because the whole body contributes to managing the load as it swings through various planes of motion.” 
If you haven’t picked up a kettlebell yet, what are you waiting for?

Joint Mobility & Stability: To Brace or Not To Brace

In all aspects of physical activity there is the risk of injury. There are many methods of treatment for injuries, from icing to stem to ultra sound. A common practice when treating injured joints is to brace the joint. The function of the brace is to act as an artificial muscle and stabilize the joint. This method can be very beneficial when dealing with an injured stability joint, such as the knee or elbow, because it relieves stress and allows the joint time to heal. However, this method can be detrimental when dealing with a mobility joint such as the wrist or ankle. As you may or may not know, the body’s joints form a chain of mobile and stable joints, one following the other as demonstrated in the illustration below.
When a mobile joint, which is designed to have a wide range of motion, is stabilized by a brace and that range of motion is decreased, it forces the next joint down the chain to compensate for that missing range of motion and the stress is transferred to the next joint. When1
a mobile ankle is stabilized by a brace it forces the stable knee to mobilize in order to compensate, greatly increasing the risk of injuring the knee.
A common mistake made by general practitioners, sport coaches, and athletic trainers is to brace a joint too quickly instead of strengthening the area. If a brace must be used, for instance if an athlete is in their competitive season and has no time for full recovery, the athlete should be removed from the brace as soon as the season finishes and the joint should be strengthened. All too often braces become a lifelong companion for individuals because they never properly recover from their injury and strengthen the injured joint; their brace makes them feel comfortable and confident all the while stabilizing the joint and maintaining its weakness.2   
1. Gray Cook, Athletic Body in Balance.

2. Eric Cressey, Magnificent Mobility.

Tech Savvy Intramural Departments Use iPads & Tablets

There are many factors to consider when whether to make the transition to a paperless intramural department. The method of keeping scores and registration forms on paper is slowly, but surely, disappearing. More and more campus recreation facilities are attempting to go paperless. The technological advances give colleges every opportunity to do so, as the iPad and android tablets are perfect for campus recreation. Andy Laughlin, the assistant coordinator for Iowa State University, stated that “it does everything we want” (2013) when referring to the iPad.

In an article found in Athletic Business, Laughlin states that they are able to transfer all of their forms to their iPads. There are many other reasons iPads can be used other than merely maintaining certain forms. In the Intramural department, supervisors can keep score on an iPad and it then can be input into IMLeagues, or whatever methods used by your college to keep track of schedules. Another way the Intramural department can use iPads is by giving the students the opportunity to create accounts on IMLeagues at the Intramural fields.  Tarleton State University does not allow students to play an Intramural sport unless they are on their team’s roster via IMLeagues. If a student needs to create an account, providing iPads on site would give the supervisors the opportunity to let that student make an account so they could play that night. Without an iPad at the facility, that student would not have that opportunity. Also, having an iPad would allow a supervisor to pull up any rules or regulations, changes to the schedule, or any other changes that may occur.

iPads can also create a new way of marketing for Intramural departments. Being able to take videos of the Intramural events and streamlining them to Facebook, Twitter, Vine, or whatever social media your campus uses, gives students a visual and live feedback of what’s happening. Also an iPad at each field enables staff to keep and provide live stats and scores in real time.

iPads and tablets not only cut the cost of paper, but are more convenient for Intramurals programs. Being able to have access to forms, social media, and updating scores are just a few ways that Intramural programs can benefit from the use of technology.

Personal Trainer: Keeping Clients from Overtraining

Exercising is by far one of the best things a person can do for their overall health, be it for physical, mental, or spiritual reasons.  Like a person going to a doctor when sick, people seek the advice of personal trainers to get a diagnosis on their health, and then a prescription of the right exercises tailored for them. A skilled, educated, and experienced trainer should know how to prescribe a workout without overtraining their client. 

Overtraining is a physical, behavioral, and emotional condition that occurs when the volume and intensity of an individual's exercise exceeds their recovery capacity. The client ceases to make progress, and can even begin to lose strength and fitness. Personal trainers will have a preference about how to train their client, whether it be training someone to improve overall health, weight management, stress reduction, or an athlete for their sport, however, they should follow strict periodization guideline.

Regardless of why a person is exercising, it all can be counterproductive if they are pushed to the point of overtraining. The following link gives the signs of over training that every personal trainer should know.

So how does a personal trainer avoid overtraining his or her clients? Here are 5 simple tips to help ensure a personal trainer does not overtrain his or her client:
1.     Quality over quantity: When starting out with a new client, a personal trainer should always pay close attention to providing cues on proper form of each exercise.
2.    Control the goal: If a client has an unrealistic goal, like losing 10lbs a week until they reach their desired weight, a personal trainer should educate them about why that is an impossible goal and help set one that is more realistic and appropriate.
3.    Empathy before intensity: Use appropriate periodization even when a client is exceeding expectations.  Ex: never go from 20min of cardio to 40min in the same week.
4.    Too much stress equals no progress: If a client is going through a stressful time and not getting the good quality sleep they need, it will affect their progress.
5.  Information before further stimulation: A personal trainer should always inquire about how each exercise makes a client feel, and level of muscle soreness during and post exercise.

Soccer in Texas High Schools

High School athletic programs in the State of Texas are governed by the University Interscholastic League (UIL).  Based on student enrollment and geographical location, the UIL classifies each school and then places into one of four regions and then further divides each region into eight districts.  The high school athletes compete in classifications ranging from those schools with lowest enrollment (1A) to those with the highest enrollment (5A).  Rumors have been swirling around the State of Texas that a possible expansion to a 6A classification could be coming. The biggest question surrounding this rumor would be ’will the enrollment numbers change with the addition of this new classification?’.

According to the UIL Soccer Director’s Report, Texas high schools compete in soccer at the 4A and 5A levels; however, approximately 90 schools at the 3A level field soccer programs that must participate ‘up’ in class 4A.  This means that 3A programs that are currently playing in 4A districts must also compete against larger schools in the 4A playoffs.  Obviously, the enrollment inequities may create an unequal playing field.  Thus, many 3A soccer programs around the state speculate that the possible addition of a 6A classification might allow the 3A group to finally have their own classification for soccer.  

With the addition of 6A, the UIL will have 4A, 5A and 6A soccer classifications.  This will allow for a more competitive level of play primarily for the now 3A schools to compete.  The Brownwood Bulletin reports that soccer playoffs will also have an extra sectional round in order to account for the increased number of teams that compete in soccer.  The expansion would most likely allow for the sectional round to disappear and have a more traditional playoff format like the other UIL-sanctioned sports.

Not only does the move to an additional 6A classification allow for even competition, but it also gives more opportunities for players around the state to play soccer for their local high schools.  Adding a classification for soccer will give 190 schools at the 3A level the ability to compete in soccer without a special request-for-play that must be submitted to the UIL.  This provides more players the ability to GET IN THE GAME!

Student enrollment numbers by classification for 2012-2014:
5A (2,090 and above)- 245 Schools
4A (1,005 to 2,089) - 250 Schools
3A (450 to 1,004) - 190 Schools
2A (200 to 449) - 235 Schools
1A (199 and Below) - 390 Basketball Schools
                                  168 Eleven-Man Football Schools
                                  138 Six-Man Football Schools

*Enrollment numbers provided by UIL Texas

How to Defend the ‘Pick & Roll’ in Basketball

The ‘pick & role’ is one of the most fundamental plays in the game of basketball.  Coaches have different methods for how they want to defend the play – some have been successful and some have not. Guarding the ‘pick & roll’ takes all five defensive players on the court to be successful. First, it starts with the player guarding the ball because he has to make sure that they force the offensive player to use the screen; if the offensive player refuses the screen then it breaks down the defense as a whole.
Once the player defending the ball forces the offensive player to use the screen, it now is the defender guarding the screener to step out far enough to create a little path way for the on the ball defender to get through the screen. But, the player stepping out must be sure that he does not step out to early, if they do the offensive player with the ball has the option to split the screen. 
With this going on, the other three defenders need to be sure they are not on the weak side of the court too close to their men so that that may help out. The three defenders on the weak side of the floor should be on the midline of the court, which is directly in the middle of the paint, creating a wall of help defense. 
After the player guarding the screener makes a pathway for the on the ball defender to get through, he then needs to run back to get to his man, but while the man who stepped out is trying to get back to his man the bottom man of that defensive wall should be guarding that man until the player who stepped out gets back.
If the defenders work in unison, the ‘pick & roll’ should be successfully defended.

Pursuing an Advanced Degree: Should Athletic Trainers Pursue the Option?

Athletic trainers are allied health care professionals that must go through a very demanding educational program in order to be eligible to sit for their certification exam. Moreover, most athletic trainers do not stop their educational journey there; according to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), 70% of all athletic trainers have a master or higher degree. So, why do athletic trainers pursue a higher degree? Is it because of a potential higher salary or to gain experience?

In the case of a higher salary, an advanced degree, such as a master’s degree, does have a positive, albeit small, effect. According to the latest salary survey by NATA, athletic trainers with a bachelor’s degree have an average annual salary of $46,176, whereas athletic trainers who hold a master degree earn $51,144 annually. For some, the roughly $5,000 difference is worth the effort of those 2-3 years that it takes to obtain the advanced degree. Athletic trainers who only have a bachelor’s degree, but carry other credentials such as Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA), Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach (CSCS), or Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT) can make as much money as those with a master degree.  For instance, in May 2012 the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that the average salary for a PTA was $52,320; this could potentially be higher for athletic trainers because they would hold two credentials (AT and PTA) instead of only one.

Experience is huge in every profession – athletic training is no exception. In fact, athletic trainers with less than a year of experience only gross $34,623, whereas those with 5-10 years of experience earn $44,505 on average. This could explain why graduate assistant positions are so popular and a great way for young athletic trainers to ‘get their feet wet’ in the profession, while at the same time gaining experience and a higher education.

Athletic trainer students should thoroughly consider what they want to do with their future. They must consider all the possible options and resources that are out there. Master’s degrees are great and look good on a resume, however time, money, and experience are also valuable factors that should be considered before making that next move.