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Who needs a gym?

November 21, 2010

How bad do you want it?

Who needs a gym?

Check this RossTraining.com compilation 2010 from the RossTraining.com blog.

Read more about making your own equipment.

the 3 and a 1/2 lower-body stretches you aren’t doing

November 19, 2010

While the debate continues on as to whether stretches mainly affect/target muscles or fascia, are better placed before and/or after training, I think many of us would agree that Ultimate players would benefit from feet that are stronger and more flexible / “mostable” — mobile & stable as some would put it.

But what can we do beyond tennis balls / lacrosse balls or, as Sockeye-Taylor suggested in a previous post-comment, frozen golf balls?

Here are 3… and a 1/2 lower-body, foot/ankle complex targeted stretches you probably aren’t doing. (If you are, kudos, let us know what else we could be doing =)

1. Stretch your plantar fascia / aponeurosis by pullin’ on yer toes

Here are a few articles that describe it well: “a foothold that spurs healing” or one from the Sports Medicine blog.

Cleats often keep your feet immobile, or otherwise stress your foot/ankle complex in unexpected ways. Not to mention that from the tensegrity anatomy train perspective, your plantar fascia / aponeurosis literally connects up through your superficial back line to the lower-parts of your posterior chain that give many Ultimate athletes problems on and off- the field.

2. Stretch your soleus — the /other/ calf muscle

Ah, deep soleus! Oft forgotten, in contrast to the more superificial “gastroc” above.

Google soleus stretch for plenty of help.

3. Mobility work for your ankle complex, specifically a mild open-close stretch for the space between your talus and calcaneus.

See the video description here at UltiTraining: Ultimate Ankle Strength.

Finally, the last stretch really isn’t a stretch as just a reminder to do SMR / soft tissue work for the topside of your foot! If you need it, but I definitely needed it after this last club season…

So, what are you doin’, get yer shoes off and stretch those smotherfrictioned feet =)

Dominator Friday: Fall(ing) Edition

November 19, 2010

This week’s Dominator Friday is brought to you thanks to USA Ultimate Club Nationals, UC-Santa Cruz- Sean Ryan Memorial tournament, Alexander Yuen and Kevin W. Leclaire, and the letter F.

Photography by Alexander Yuen


Photography by Kevin Leclaire / UltiPhotos.com

Read more…

on Aerobics and Active Recovery

November 17, 2010

Our last blog post covered Omega-3 foodie steps to eating better in the training days/weeks/months before a tournament, and perhaps a future post will discuss day-of nutrition, but how might we recover after a hard week/month of tryouts, Club Nationals, or long-short days at Sean Ryan / UC-Santa Cruz?

We’ve previously covered a few ways to rest, recover, regenerate, but I thought I’d write a shorter post that is a bit more actionable for a few specific things to do in the few days/weeks before and after a tournament.

1. Keep up your aerobic base with simple conditioning at least once every three days.

You’re likely doing sprint work enough for anaerobic development, but you might not realize that in the original Tabata interval study, *all* participants did some steady-state work at least one day a week. Did you also know that “Every three days, you basically have a new heart”? (Source: Dr. Ana Maria Cuervo, molecular biologist, cited in the NYTimes)

If you pick up Vern Gambetta or read certain blogs that focus on strength sports rather than endurance (marathon) or strength-endurance (Ultimate) sports, they’ll often tend to poo-poo steady-state cardio, and I admit that I’ve done so myself in my own training. But what I’ve found is that a moderate amount of steady-state cardio (2-3x a week let’s say for 33 minutes a pop on a stationary bike) not only helps with mood, but acts as “active recovery” as they say.

After a tournament, rather than pushing too hard (and then forcing adaptations to stimuli other than the tournament and Ultimate practices themselves), with new lifts / deadlifts / anything neurologically challenging, some steady-state cardio can be of use before you start lifting / running sprints / complexes again.

2. Floss your muscles, floss your fascia!

We talked about SMR / foam rolling before, but I still recommend the TigerTail massage stick as it lets you pinpoint your way to specific soft tissue areas right after/before/during a tournament. Did you know that massage work can stimulate a positive immune response? new studies demonstrate. Who knew?

Another tip I picked up from Mark Verstegen at a recent PerformBetter summit, in a talk titled “Training the Endurance” athlete, was to suggest that endurance athletes (Ultimate players in our case) put a tennis or lacrosse ball near their bathroom sink so that you can floss your plantar fascia/aponeurosis by rolling your foot over the ball as you brush your teeth.

3. Finally, to keep it simple again, take your fish oil (Omega-3 / anti-inflammatory) supplements 2-3 times a day!

See the previous post on Omega-3s and fish oil for the deets.

That’s it for today. Can has active recovery?

1. 33 minutes of aerobic steady-state cardio at least once every 3 days
2. Floss your muscles, floss your fascia!
3. Take fish oil supplements regularly

on Omega-3 steps to Ultimate Foodie Domination

October 29, 2010

In the past few months, I’ve been working on my nutrition coaching certification from the great guys at Precision Nutrition, and just wanted to share a few small steps you can take towards “Ultimate Foodie Domination.”

But just what does that mean? I’m not quite sure, but we can both agree that you not only are what you eat, you become what you eat quite literally as your cells and soft tissues get replaced bit by bit.

Not only that, but think about it this way, if I told you that you could increase your top speed by 10% in 6-8 weeks, that sounds like a good thing right? Well, one way to do this would to be improve your running form/economy, and/or include strength training to make better use of the muscles you already have. Another way to do this would be to drop a bit of less-than-necessary body fat: in other words, to change your body composition.

In recent blog posts, whether on 10s toughness or the inner/mental game of Ultimate, we’ve looked at the role of the mind in high level play. But let’s not forget that the brain consumes a large fraction of the available blood sugar supply coursing through your veins, and that the more efficient/effective your brain is, the better you’ll play at the end of a long tourney day.

In this blog post I won’t cover day-of tourney nutrition–perhaps I’ll ask sports medicine doc Jamie Nuwer for a guest blog post, but rather focus on what you can do in the days and months leading up to your next tournament.

So, let’s keep it simple, with nods and thanks to Dan John and Dr. John Berardi / PrecisionNutrition.com.

“Omega-3 steps to Ultimate Foodie Domination”

Step 1. Eat a complete, lean protein source at every meal

Plenty of athletes and Americans miss this, going instead for simple carbs up the wazoo with no greens or veggies to speak of. (Step 0 should really be eat your greens, but I think y’all know that, so instead step 0 might be get your greens+ if you aren’t a veggie kind of girl/gal/guy.

If you ask your local, neighborhood, skinny non-athlete nutritionist, they’ll tell you that vegetarians (but not necessarily vegans) shouldn’t worry about protein, and that you can eat too much. While this can be true, it also misses other factors such as nutrient timing, feeding frequency, and the general up-in-the-airness of how important it is to consume complete protein sources at regular intervals.

That said, it’s a great heuristic, and some simple suggestions might be:

a) half-egg half-egg-white omelettes with spinach

b) pre-soaked irish steel cut oatmeal, cooked, and *then* mixed with whey protein (don’t mix in the whey before!! like my friend Jessie, ahem)

c) top sirloin steak with onions prepped in balsamic

(see PN’s Gourmet Nutrition for more!)

Moving on.

Step 2. Consume simple carbs mainly before/after exercise

Of course, this advice may differ on a tournament week (carb loading), or depending on your ecto/endo/meso body type, and so on. But the point is that breads/pasta/grains are encouraged to be eaten a few hours before practice/exercise or immediately after the event.

But enough on carbs, except to say that I think the IF (intermittent fasting) WD (Warrior Diet) heuristic for meals is pretty neat: eat greens, protein, and carbs in that order at dinner. You’ll make sure there IS something green & proteinacious, but fill out/up preferentially on those.

Step 3. Take 1-2 Omega-3 fatty-acid supplements, fish oil if possible, at every meal

You might note that this is slightly higher than some recommend, but a number of doctors now recommend this slightly higher dose. If you take a look at this InformationIsBeautiful visualization of the research support for various supplements, you’ll see that fish oil is consistently a highly recommended supplement over many peer-reviewed scientific studies as well as meta-analyses. In fact, there have been studies stopped because to deny fish oil to the control group was considered unethical (!).

But why fish oil? And why at every meal? For Ultimate athletes, controlling inflammation is the name of the game, and even if you don’t think you are inflammed, your body is still healing from injury, stress, training and the like, and the lower your generally inflammation levels are, the faster you will recover & play next time. (Particularly inflammed? I’ve had good results with Zyflamend.)

Not only that, but fish oil has cardiovascular and mental/mood health benefits, which are of useful wherever you play on the field.


Drilling down, fish oil has a high amount of Omega-3 fatty acids. To boil it down, science suggests that you want a high Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acid ratio. In other words, more Omega-3 (fish oil) and less Omega-6 (corn oil #fail).

Interestingly, while there are botanical sources of Omega-3, “the Center for Science in the Public Interest reports that ‘the omega-3s that FDA considers healthful (DHA and EPA) are not found in plants such as flax seed.’ [121]” to cite ye old Wikipedia.

Within those sources, however, not many know that chia seeds have more Omega-3 than flax seeds, and don’t need to be ground. In fact, inspired by the Taruhumara tribe storied in Born To Run, who regularly run hundreds of miles for fun & carry chia seeds with them along the way (Aztecs valued chia seed over gold, per unit weight, understandably!), I’ve starting trying out chia fresca in tournaments.

And while I don’t yet have Invisible Shoe Taruhumara cleats just yet (will have to make do with Nike Air “Huraches”), I think chia is well worth investigating as a micronutrient source during day-of tournaments. Another unexpected source of Omega-3 might be Wakame, which one source suggests has the highest veggie source of Omega-3:Omega-6 (18:1), compared to corn oil which has the _opposite_ 45:1 O-6 to O-3 (at least according to that one source).

DHA/EPA/Hg debates aside, I do think that regular supplementation of fish oil for non-vegetarians makes a heck of a lot of sense, and you can read dozens of books / hundreds of journal articles on the topic if you’d like (I started with the Omega-3 connection), & feel free to post interesting chia / wakame articles/links in the comments section.

So there you go. Omega-3 steps to domination!

Step 1. Eat a complete, lean protein source at every meal.

Step 2. Consume simple carbs mainly before/after exercise

Step 3. Take 1-2 Omega-3 fatty-acid supplements, fish oil if possible, at every meal

On Youth Programs (Training), Leadership, and Ultimate

October 25, 2010

It’s election time! whether you are checkin’ out California Propositions or Governators, or perhaps more apropos to UltiTraining.com… voting for USA Ultimate Board of Directors!

In a recent USA Ultimate BOD interview, Pacific Northwest candidate Mike Payne recently spoke about the importance of youth ultimate, leadership, and the future of the sport.

“Everyone agrees,” Mike Payne reminds us, that we need to invest in Youth Ultimate, not only in the institutional level (USA Ultimate policies) but in leadership, time, and training. Last year we interviewed Jason Chow, but this year YouthUltimate.com takes on the task, asking Mike Payne about the current standing of youth ultimate.

So, just remember, whether you are letting a few rogue high school players practice/apprentice with your college team, or just teaching them to flick 88 yards, vote now at members.usaultimate.org =)

And thanks candidate Mike Payne for the great comments on youth & leadership!

But back to training, this time for youth specifically.

Should kids strength train? I’m just going to refer folks to Eric Cressey’s great summary on the truth about kids and resistance training, but pull out a short para:

If you really think about it, an athlete is placing a ton of stress (4-6 times body weight in ground reaction forces, depending on who you ask) each time he/she strides during the sprinting motion. Kids jump out of trees all the time. They lug around insanely heavy backpacks relative to their body mass. Performance, general health, and self-esteem benefits aside, it’s only right to give them a fighting chance in trying to avoid injury.

That said, I am not necessarily recommending here that you do American-style “plyometrics” [i.e. box jumps], but with proper supervision, who wouldn’t want a teenager (or younger) playing around with her/his bodyweight on a TRX (though they need not rush into 20kg KB + TRX-assisted rear-foot elevated split (single) leg squats), skipping rope, or biking up and down the steepest hills?

As you get younger than the teens, a useful guide for training is the LTAD, the Long Term Athlete Development model popular in many countries (and hopefully one day, moreso in the States!). And as Ultimate is a team sport, let’s be reminded of the late specialization model (i.e. do you really want your tween doing “speed camp” to get faster on the field?):

Late Specialization Model

  1. FUNdamental
  2. Learning to train
  3. Training to train
  4. Training to compete
  5. Training to win
  6. Retirement & retainment

where in the FUNdamental stage “The main objective should be the overall development of the athlete’s physical capacities and fundamental movement skills.”

Of course, for many US/UK/AU athletes, you might be still needing the FUNdamental stage up until your twenties, forties, or sixties! if you’ve never done any strength training or participated in an organized sport.

I’ll wrap up with a thought from Dan John (thanks to DragonDoor / Pavel Tsatsouline for a great conference call in promotion of Dan & Pavel’s strength workshop), where he suggested that teenagers and adults 30 and older have something in common: the need for hypertrophy work (!). Besides great insights about “easy strength” and armor-building for sports, Dan talked about how both teens and 30+ would benefit from more hypertrophy work than you might expect.

In contrast, a college athlete may or may not need much hypertrophy, but could focus more on injury prevention, strength or power development (not necessarily the same as hypertrophy!), endurance or skill development.

But more on that, perhaps, in another post if I can find the teleseminar logs. Until next time, “can’t anyone remember the children?!” of Ultimate players?! Vote.

members.usaultimate.org

10 Second Toughness

October 24, 2010

We’ve blogged before about “The Inner Game of Ultimate” but in this blog post we’ll drill down into one specific aspect of the inner, or mental game: how to use “The Performance Statement: Simple and Concrete”.

This blog post was directly inspired by Chapter 2 of Jason Selk‘s recent book 10 Minute Toughness. After taking a sports psychology class last quarter and reading a number of books including 10 Minute Toughness, Mind Gym, Brain Training for Runners, In Pursuit of Excellence, and Catch Them Being Good, I found that Selk’s 10 Minute Toughness is probably the easiest to recommend to an Ultimate athlete who wants to work on her/his own mental/inner game, as it contains directives and drills that are simple but not simplistic, from the “Centering Breath” breathing patterns (6-2-7, for 6 seconds in, hold for two, 7 seconds out) to using a “Personal Highlight Reel” and the “Simple and Concrete Performance Statement.”

These three practices make up part of Selk’s Phase 1 “Mental Workout”, which comes before his Phase 2, “Goal Setting for Greatness”. And on this last note, an acquaintance I met recently (not an Ultimate player) asked someone I know if she made any goals for the day at a local tournament. She responded that her goal was to not suck, but of course he meant to ask if she had scored any points instead of asking if she had set any personal development goals for the day =)

Now, we know that goal setting can be an important part of self-improvement, but on a day to day basis, how might we be able to set some sort of shorter term goal or directive to tighten up our inner game? Enter the “Performance Statement”, which Selk describes as “a type of self-talk designed to help athletes zoom in on one specific thought to enhance performance consistency”.

He writes earlier,

From a mental standpoint, the most tried-and-true way to increase performance is to improve confidence. Self talk is one of the most influential agents for honing self-confidence. Extensive research in the sports psychology world confirms that an athlete’s internal dialogue significantly influences performance. Athletes who have negative self-talk will generally experience poor performance; conversely, when athletes keep their minds focused on positive performance cues, they are more likely to experience success.

(emphasis mine.)

To be specific, what is a “positive performance cue” slash “performance statement”? Selk mentions a few examples, from baseball (hitting) “track the ball, smooth and easy” to basketball “hustle every possession; attack every rebound; drive, drive drive”.

What these examples share is their simplicity, positive-performance focus, and shortness: these are cues, not verbatim instructions on how to play your sport. But neither are they mantras or cheers (such as “focus”, “ohm”, “jia yo” or “eat the babies!”).

In other words, they are longer than a single word but describe something succinctly in much less than ten seconds (hence the blog post). A simple guideline: no longer than ten words, with only one or two things to focus on.

For example, I recently experimented with the statement, “Chilly confidence, work hard”, which in retrospect may have not been specific enough for any odd handler, but for many the directive to “stay chilly” on offense has a specific meaning. On defense, a statement might be “Go for it [the disc], stay hip to hip”.

Selk points out that performance statements should be positive–things you “do” rather than avoid doing. So rather than “don’t drop the disc” / “don’t get beat upline” one might instead say “two hands [on the disc]” or “deny/no/stop upline cuts”.

He also describes a useful exercise for coming up with a personal performance statement. Imagine you are about to compete in the biggest game of your life, (or perhaps you’re headed to Club Nationals in Sarasota FL!), and the best coach you’ve ever had is standing beside you. Right before you put seven on the line, “your coach looks you in the eye and tells you that if you stay focused on this one thing or these two things, you will be successful today. What one or two things would the coach name?”

Answer this question, craft your personal Performance Statement, and you’re well on your way to 10 Second Toughness! =)

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