NSCA Sport Specific Conference – Part III

My favorite presentation on the weekend was by Coach Tom Myslinski from the University of Memphis.  His presentation was Comparing and Contrasting the American Collegiate and Professional Football Player

Tom admitted afterward that the wrong presentation had been loaded so in essence he had to freestyle for the hour he was up there.  I truly thought the best part of the his hour onstage was the passion he displayed. 

The entire presentation was on the Process of Achieving Sports Mastery and the factors blend into creating the sporting form: technical, tactical, physical, and psychological preparedness. 

A few quick points from the presentation:

All periodization takes essentially two forms, either concurrent or sequential. 

With all athletes the goal is to transfer motor abilities into specific motor skills.  All training means and methods should be directed towards this end result.  Nothing drives me crazier than watching athletes waste energy with training means that have no correlation to the motor skill, or energy system that is part of their sport. 

High levels of fatigue in the CNS disrupt the motor learning process.  Athletes should stop short of failure as this diminishes the motor learning process for subsequent sets.  Tom’s quick example was to utilize more sets and less reps per set. 

Towards the end of the presentation he touched on a quote from the famed Eastern Bloc sports scientist Yuri Verkhoshansky, “Movement is the fundamental element governing all sports.” 

 A major difference in the collegiate athlete is that motor abilities must be developed for increases in sporting form, whereas professional athletes motor abilities are stabilized and must be retained more than developed. 

One of Tom’s best points was the point of thirds.  When athletes are away from their training environment, as in a holiday break from school, or off-season for the NFL perhaps, 1/3 will do it all, 1/3 will do some of it, and 1/3 will do none of it.  All the coaches that have worked with team sports know this is 100% the case.  The most frustrating time for me is the 4 week Christmas break.  In terms of baseball, we train consistent for 16 weeks to prepare for the upcoming season.  Then we get a 4 week vacation and all the kids go home.  When they return they get two weeks to train before the spring season starts.  Essentially, the best shape our athletes are in is the first week of December.  By the rule of 1/3’s, 12 players went home and didn’t do anything for 4 weeks prior to the most important part of their year.  Of course I hope that I’ve taught them better than that and our athletes are an exception to the rule but I’m not that naive. 

Tom even touched on the topic of block periodization towards the end of his presentation which is a highly misunderstood topic.  This sequential periodization format relies on the cumulative and residual training effects to allow for development of the motor abilities in successive fashion.  The dominant trait during a block has compatible traits that aid in it’s development.  As well each successive block builds on the previous and utilizes the training effects to raise the level of the motor abilities, and eventually the motor skill.  Check out Vladimir Issurin’s book Block Periodization  for more on that topic. 

I could go on and on about the topic of Achieving Sports Mastery and Coach Myslinski’s presentation as it was a wealth of information.

NSCA Sport Specific Conference – Part II

Two others in the presentation I talked about yesterday were extremely valuable as well.  The third topic was done on Sickle Cell Anemia.  Many times athletes who go down with sickling are often treated for heat stroke.  Athletes who collapse due to SCA usually have a core temperature under 102 deg. F, and can often collapse after being on the field only briefly.  In sickling, red blood cells begin to sickle because of low blood oxygen level, increased muscle heat,  metabolic acidosis, and/or dehydration of red cells.  In turn the cells can log jam blood vessels and stop blood supply.  One thing that coaches should be aware of is that athletes who go down with sickling can still talk after going down.  One sign to look for is severe low back pain and cramping.  SCA is a sequential death meaning that one things leads to another which leads to another.   Where as with sudden cardiac death the athlete goes down and is in cardiac arrest when they hit the ground. 

The presenters did a good job at detailing the differences in SCA, heat stroke, and sudden cardiac death and what to look for in each. 

With sudden cardiac death, swift action was the take home point obviously.  Recognizing the situation and having a defibrillator ready is the key.  The survival rates range from 49% to 75% with CPR plus defibrillation within 3-5 minutes of collapsing.  Each minute of cardiac arrest decreases the survival rate by 7-10%.

There are a variety of reasons for sudden cardiac death in athletes.  Generally, there is a structural cardiac abnormality such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (left ventricle hypertrophy), or coronary artery abnormalities.  These are the two most common issues but there can be a variety of other structural anomalies that have caused SCD in athletes. 

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Atko Viru wrote about left ventricle hypertrophy in athletes and how this can be created by improper training stimuli at a young age.  Doing energy system work with young children whose cardiovascular systems are not capable of handling lactic acid can create LVH.  I don’t know if there has ever been a linked connection but he makes interesting observations on this and the problems it creates. 

Another cause of SCA in athletes is commotio cordis.  This is where athletes go into cardiac arrest after a blow to the chest.  The blow induces ventricular arrhythmia in an otherwise completely normal heart. 


The interesting thing here is that commotio cordis is all about timing.  The point of risk is when the chest is struck while in the upswing of the T wave.

Education is the key to any of these life threatening situations.  Every strength coach should be made aware of what to look for and have an emergency action plan in place.  I thought I knew enough about these topics but was made well aware from this presentation that I don’t and I have to believe that strength and conditioning coaches across the country are in the same boat as myself.  I look at it now as you can’t know enough when it comes to possibly saving the life of one of your athletes.

NSCA Sport Specific Conference – Part I

Last week I attended the NSCA Sport Specific Conference in Addison, Texas.  I thought it was a well put on event with a few good presentations and some great opportunities to talk with old friends and do a little networking. 

I personally found one of the most informative presentations to be Preventing Sudden Death in Sport: Considerations for the Strength and Conditioning Coach.    This topic was presented by several doctors, and athletic trainers and covered four topics:  Heat Stroke, Head Injuries, Sickling, and Sudden Cardiac Death. 

Each one was geared toward the strength coach and included a wealth of knowledge.  As S&C coaches we all know exercises, reps, yardages, etc., but I would guess few coaches really know what diffences to look for between a sickling case, vs. an extertional heat stroke with an athlete; or that sudden cardiac arrest doesn’t have to equal death.  Hearing this presentation really opened my eyes to these issues and how to save an athletes life should something occur. 

The most important factor in a heat stroke is the time spent above a body temperature of 105.5 degrees F.  If the time at or above this temperature is under 30 min. then there is generally no long term problems at all.  Another interesting point was that aggressive cooling needs to begin immediately until the body is below 102 degrees F.  The problem that many have had is they call an ambulance and cool the athlete until the EMS services arrive.  The most effective cooling procedure was total body ice water immersion with a side note that churning the water continuously makes this method even more effective. 

While being transported the EMS have no way to rapidly cool the body so valuable time is lost.  Dr. Casa told stories of athletes being transported to the hospital, and put into CAT Scans for hours before the hospital ever realized they needed to cool the body.  Every minute counts and every minute above 105.5 decreases the chance of survival. 

December 2010 – January 2011

It’s been an interesting few months here at TCU.  I’ve been super busy lately and have to apologize to for not posting recently.  I do appreciate the emails that I’ve received about the blog as well as other things recently. 

This past month or so has been a little bit of a whirlwind.   At the end of Thanksgiving I moved down the road into a new house and as many of you probably noted my posting ceased.   During that time the semester was coming to an end I was occupied with finishing up the Fall internship program, finalizing our Spring semester interns, Baseball’s testing, and Football’s preparation for the Rose Bowl.   All the while I was finshing up an article that you can find below, and also got called to present at this year’s CSCCa Conference. 

I wanted to share with everyone the article that I wrote for the December issue of  Training and Conditioning magazine.  It was a piece on the annual training plan for pitchers at TCU.  If you haven’t seen it yet the link is below.  I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on the article and appreciate those who have taken the time to give it a read. 

Special Delivery

Not only all that in December but I also spent about 10 days back home in Kansas, most of which was cutting firewood and working around the farm.  It was much-needed R & R. 

I spent this past weekend at the 2011 NSCA Sport Specific Conference in Addison, TX.  I’ll have a future post on the conference and some of the interesting things I saw as well as some of the presentations.