Alright, alright. I am only going to rub this in for a few seconds. I did not see one drop of snow this past week. The reason: I was spending my days in sunny California. Big shoutout to Virgin America for allowing us to leave a day early and avoid the 30+ inches of snow the Lehigh Valley got hammered with.
Here are a few highlights from the trip:
1. So, as I awoke after a decent nights rest, I tune in to the television and see three violent convicts escaped from prison. I said, "Wow, that's crazy. Where is this prison?" Our host replied, "about 15 minutes away". Fortunately for us, outside of seeing some shady looking character hitchhiking, we did not encounter these three convicts on the run!
2. Crystal Cove State Park was a beautiful place for a walk along the beach. Don't believe me? Just take a look at the photo below! We took this wonderful trail down towards Laguna Beach. It felt great to get a little Vitamin D under the California sun!
3. Hiking the trails at Griffith Park. I have to admit, seeing mountain lion and rattlesnake warnings put me a bit on edge, as did the 1500+ feet of elevation, but once I got over that, it was quite enjoyable. The weather was beautiful. The scenery was amazing and there were no rattlesnake sightings. It was a win for all involved.
This park is where the Hollywood sign is located. There are a few peaks on this hike and we checked out Mount Chapel, Mount Bell, and Mount Hollywood. If you are ever out there, click here for the hike information!
4. Visiting Muscle Beach in Venice. This is the birthplace of the bodybuilding movement in the 70s where Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbo became household names. Not only were these guys incredibly successful bodybuilders, but they were also freakishly strong. Venice Beach was a place for more than pumping iron. Alongside the weight area is a place for gymnastics. Ropes, rings, balance beams, pullup bars, etc., this area has it all.
I grew up hearing names like Arnold, Franco, Ferrigno, and Zane. There were posters of some of these guys in the gym that my father created in the basement. To see the place where these legendary men once trained was pretty cool. It was definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip!
Least Favorite Thing about Leaving Town:
COMING HOME TO SHOVELING!
Hope you finish the week strong and have a great weekend!
When we look at youth sports participation numbers in the US, we see a decline in sport participation. In 2008, 58.6% of children age 6-11 played a team sport at least once a year, but by 2013 that was down to 52.2%. That translates to over 2.6 million fewer kids age 6-11 participating in sports. That, my friends, is a problem!
So how do we solve this issue? I wish I knew but one area we can work on is the adults that are involved with these young kids. Coaches are the gatekeepers of sports. The coach of a team has the ability to make each experience a positive experience...or a negative one. We entrust a child's love of sport and participation in a healthy activity to a coach. As a parent, it is important to look for a few things in a coach. They are as follows:
If a coach doesn't have all, or most, of these qualities, it could hamper your child's enjoyment. If they aren't able to acquire an interest and understanding of the sport at a young age, it is going to be hard to convince them to give the sport another try as they grow up. If we want to put an end to this decline in participation, we as coaches need to provide a better experience. Be a role model. Respect your athletes. Motivate them to be the best they can be.
We are getting fatter at a rate that no one could have predicted 20-30 years ago. To say that the cause of all this is a lack of "showing up" for a workout is a little crazy. But showing up happens in more places than one. It happens when we load up the plates on our kitchen table (and not just the plates we put on the barbell). It happens when we know we should be in bed, but instead we are checking out the latest gossip story or our favorite tweets of the day. It happens when we are supposed to go to the track for a sprint session or when we have that last hill sprint. If we don't SHOW UP, we are never going to accomplish the things we set out to do!
I think it is safe to say that coaches do not realize the tremendous power they have to influence lives and be positive role models. They do what they do because they have passion for it. Unfortunately, sometimes that coach may not be adequately trained to coach certain skills or techniques. Passion does not equal education. Because of this, untrained or insufficiently trained coaches are entrusted with the well being of our young athletes. The scary part of it all is that over 60% of parents identified the quality and behavior of their coaches as a big concern.
One thing we can all do as we try to improve an athlete's performance is have them work with someone who has been trained to coach for improved sports performance. I think it is safe to say that we do not want our strength coach teaching science class. So why do we let the science teacher, teach our kids how to properly lift weights? No matter how many years of weight training they have, they do not have the background and proper education on how to coach others, especially novice trainees, the lifts. It just doesn't make sense. And as a coach or parent, we are shortchanging our athletes by not giving them the proper training and coaching.
If you are a coaching an athletic team (ie football, basketball, wrestling, etc), seek out a coach well versed in Strength & Conditioning. Find a guy or gal certified with the National Strength and Conditioning Association, or someone with a degree in exercise science, Kinesiology, or all of the above! Then turn the strength program over to that person and let them do their thing. As for parents, seek out an individual who has the aforementioned credentials and put your trust in them. This could be a friend, family member, faculty member, or someone in the private sector. Ask them questions. Make sure they have the knowledge and background in coaching kids. Lastly, step away from the situation and allow that person to coach and let your learn and improve!
And to all the strength coaches out there, lets continue to be proud of the impact we make on an athlete's life. Our profession is tough. There aren't too many people who retire as Strength & Conditioning coaches. Our profession is more than bragging about our "elite program" or how many college athletes we train. It is not about posting videos on YouTube of yourself hooting and hollering, or any other BS, it is about making a positive change on someone's life.
This is one of the best times of the year. Once the ball drops and a new year begins, a high percentage of the population is adamant that this will be the year they create a better version of themselves. For some, this time of year could be the start of a wonderful new life. The best way to go about reaching your goals: a little trick known as habit stacking.
When a child is born, they have the ability to learn at an alarming rate. The amount of neurons in a child's brain far exceed that of an adults. It seems counter-intuitive considering adults are much wiser than children but you have to think about one thing: as we age, if we don't use certain neurons in our brain, they will be pruned away. If we don't use them, we lose them. Think about learning an instrument or a new language. If we don't learn those skills at a young age, it becomes very difficult as we move into adulthood. As for the neurons that we continually use, the connection will get stronger and stronger. The more we perform a task, the more efficient we will become at performing that task. So here is how we will use this to our advantage...
We all have tasks that we do on a daily basis. These tasks are ingrained in our brain and our ability to perform them is highly efficient. So, in order to add a new habit to our routine, we will stack the new habit with one of our old habits. Because our current habit is strongly wired into your brain already, you can add a new habit into this fast and efficient network of neurons more quickly than if you tried to build a new path from scratch.
To use habit stacking, just fill out this sentence…
After/Before [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].
To get started, simply write out a list of the current habits that you do each day. (Don’t forget about all the boring everyday routines.) Then, write out a second list of the habits you want to start. It could be that you want to eat more greens. An example would be, "before I eat my lunch, I will eat a greeny salad." Or lets say you want to improve your pullups. You could say, "before I get on the treadmill, I will practice doing pullups for 5 minutes."
One final thing: before you try to do too many things at once, start with only one new habit. Once it becomes ingrained, then move on to the next one. Take the long term approach to creating a better version of yourselves and enjoy the results you get along the way!
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Chris is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and member of the National Strength & Conditioning Association. He has recently served as a high school football and wrestling coach. Chris loves swinging kettlebells around, watching football and reading books!