One song I always enjoy hearing when it comes on the radio is “She Talks to Angels” by The Black Crowes. To be honest with you, I am actually listening to it right now as I write this. You may be wondering why in the world am I telling you all this? Well, because in the small town of Hellertown, there is a woman who communicates with angels to not only guide decisions in her life, but also for those who seek her out looking for guidance.
This article is not going to be about the validity of someone communicating with angels. If you want to speak negatively on the subject, you can take your attention elsewhere. Isn’t there an election coming up? What this article will be about is taking the appropriate steps to improve one’s life in both mind and body. Amy Campbell Musser is a spiritual adviser and life coach who uses her unique skill set to improve the quality of life for everyone that she comes in contact with. I had the opportunity to sit down with her for a few hours last week and let me tell you, my mind was racing when I left. A wide variety of topics were discussed and a few of them really stood out. They are as follows:
This week, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to one of the most successful coaches Saucon Valley has ever seen. That man is Chad Shirk. His wrestling team has been able to rack up 4 consecutive Colonial League Championships, multiple District Championships in the individual tournament, and this past year won the Team District Championship and went on to place 2nd in the State Championships.
This success didn’t just happen overnight and for Coach Shirk and it wasn’t always easy. By Saucon Valley and Lehigh Valley standards, Coach was viewed as an outsider. To put it quite simply, nobody really knew who he was. He wasn’t from the area. People in the community didn’t know much about him and there were more questions than excitement regarding his hiring. He knew all this, and during his interview for the job, he let them know that if he could not get the program to where he wanted it to be in 4 years, they can get rid of him. In his fourth season, Saucon went on to win their first District Championship!
During the interview with Coach, four things really stood out:
Outwork Them All
A few years ago, I was reading something about one of the greatest wrestling coaches of all-time Dan Gable. One of his former wrestlers Lincoln McIlravy, who happened to be a 3 time NCAA Champion, talked about the Gable training method. He summed it up in a few words: OUTWORK THEM ALL! This exact philosophy is at the backbone of the Saucon Valley wrestling programs success. I spent a few years working on Coach Shirks staff and I can tell you one thing, there is not one coach in the league, district, and potentially state that puts in as much time with the kids as Coach Shirk and his coaching staff. They have made it their mission to outwork and outhustle the opponent every opportunity they can get.
Aha Moment Regarding Training
In 2007, the wrestling program was shut down due to a serious skin condition. The wrestling team could train but they could not have any physical contact. As the season progressed, and they were finally cleared to compete, the coaches had to make a decision: Do we send our kids to one of the toughest tournaments in the country, or do we keep them back because of the lack of wrestling? They decided to send them and what happened was truly amazing. SEVEN kids came home with medals. The athletes looked fresh, they wrestling with a tremendous amount of energy, and they were hungry to finally get a chance to compete. Coach Shirk used this as a learning experience. In order for these kids to wrestle to their full potential, they needed to be fresh. They needed to have a little “pop” in their movements. They needed to be hungry to compete at each and every opportunity.
A Shift In The Sport of Wrestling
Gone are the days of sauna suits and starvation diets. The sport of wrestling is much more regulated than it has been in years past. Kids cannot drop multiple weight classes over a short span. The rules require it to be a gradual weight cut. There is obviously some ways around this, but for the most sport, it has been good for the health of the athletes.
A healthier athlete also means a stronger athlete. The sport of wrestling has become much more athletic over the course of the past 10-15 years. Kids are training in ways that they never have before. Tumbling, gymnastics, body weight exercises, strength training, speed, agility, and anything else you could think of, these kids are doing it. The result is a much more skilled wrestler. They are physically capable of doing things that the sport has never seen. It is an exciting shift and one that I really enjoy watching!
Surround Yourself With Great People
In Jim Collins books How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In, he talked about something important regarding success in business and in my opinion, is the same when assembling a coaching staff. You have to look at the key positions in your program (Youth coaches, Junior High Coaches, Assistant Coaches, Wrestling Club, etc.) and fill those key positions with positive, like-minded people who buy into your vision as a coach. Coach Shirk has that at Saucon. Not only does he have arguably the best high school staff in the state, he has a great Junior High coaching staff, and a tremendous youth coaching staff. At a small school like Saucon, you have to put in the time to build up the program at the youth level. From there, it has a “trickle up” effect. In theory, the more successful youth wrestlers you have, the greater the likelihood those kids will wrestle in Junior High and eventually in High School. You are going to lose some kids here and there but the more kids you get participating at the lower levels, the better off you will be at the upper levels. This takes a lot of time and energy, but like we talked about early, Coach Shirk is willing to outwork the competition in order for his athletes to succeed.
Saucon Valley has a rich tradition in the sport of wrestling. When you walk into the wrestling room, you see the names of wrestlers who have been champions dating back to the sixties. In that same wrestling room, you see kids working hard every day in the hopes that one day, they can join those list of champions and have their names up on that wall. I am confident that as long as Coach Shirk is in charge, his teams will continue to add to the legacy that is Saucon Valley Wrestling.
Each year, at least $50 billion is spent to treat lower back pain. This pain is not always created by an isolated incident. It is often brought on when muscles are underused, underdeveloped, imbalanced, and therefore inadequate. This is only one of a handful of potential problems that comes from us sitting on our butts all day. Alongside of that back pain, you might find yourself with some neck pain, maybe a little carpal tunnel, and a few extra inches around that midsection. The research is out there. If you sit for extended periods of time, you will shorten your life. This is one of the most easily avoidable things. All you have to do is get up and move!
If that didn't worry you about the ills of sitting, here are 9 more items that might...
Most of the structural problems associated with sitting come from sitting in an unnatural position for extended periods of time. Most back, neck, and other muscle pains are related to imbalanced absorption of force throughout your body, created by working in these unnatural positions. One solution: stand up and do your work. For some this may not be an option. If that's the case, change your seated position, and change it often. Readjust and realign your body every 20-30 minutes all while maintaining proper body alignment. If you have some time throughout the day, perform the following sequence "borrowed" from Kelly Starrett of Supple Leopard fame. This sequence will help reverse some of the effects of sitting in a flexed hipped position with your shoulders rolled forward.
The sun just popped out, it is time to get out and do a little work!
Dr. Jordan Metzl: "When I see young athletes who tear their ACL, one of the first questions their parents ask is: What could we have done to prevent this? The answer: everything."
Over the course of the past 8 years, I have spent countless hours working in high school weight rooms. One thing became apparent early on: the athletes participating in strength training were predominantly male. This is not to say that females do not lift, they do. Just not as many of them. And this article is not saying the males do not get injured. They do. In the United States alone, there are over 100,000 ACL tears per year. Some of these are not preventable. They just happen. But others can be prevented. Out of those 100,000 ACL tears, roughly 30,000 of them are high school age females! That is nearly one-third of all ACL tears. If you want to reduce the incidence of ACL tears, this is the population that needs special attention
The stories are unfortunately very common. They often start like something like this: She had been at practice when she planted her foot, twisted her knee and went down in a heap. You ask the athlete what happened and their response was "I felt a pop,". One of the saddest things I see with female athletics is that poor girl who has to walk around with the bulky knee brace because she just tore her ACL. Research shows that many of these injuries are preventable with proper training. Yet, most coaches do not take time to practice injury reduction routines. The best way to win games as coach is to keep your best players on the field. When the best players are hurt, your team's chances of winning greatly decrease. So why not take some time to hopefully prevent injury?
Keep in mind, no matter what we do as athletic trainers, sport coaches or as strength and conditioning coaches, we can't prevent injury, we can only reduce the incidence. For a coach or trainer to not implement something like this is doing your child an injustice, It could become quite expensive too. ACL ruptures can cost somewhere between $17,000-$25,000 per injury. This is on the conservative side too. Aside from the financial cost, there is a potential loss of entire seasons of sports, scholarships, lowered academic performance, long-term disability, and significantly greater risk of osteoarthritis in that given area. The truth is that surgery can restore knee function, but it does little to diminish the risk of arthritis 15 to 20 years down the line. Kids who tear their ACL today are often left with 60-year-old knees when they're 30. If you are in a position of power to implement injury reduction programs, here is a quick way to do it
Five Ways to Implement an ACL Injury Reduction Program:
Oh yeah, there is one more thing to avoid: playing one sport all year long. This leaves no time for muscles and joints to recover from the microtrauma that occurs during practice and play. This also narrows down the athletes skill set. The more you do something, the more efficient you get at that given task. This sounds like a good thing and it probably is in a controlled environment. But athletic competition is not a controlled environment. They can be hectic and chaotic. Preparing your body for the unknown in athletics can be paramount to keeping you on the playing field and out of the training room!
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!