Core Training is Essential to Athletic Performance – A Strong Core Equals a Strong Athlete

Every athlete wants to get the most out of his or her training and reach their full athletic potential. One of the most important factors in maximizing athletic performance is core strength. An athlete with a strong core is a strong athlete; it’s that simple.

Let me explain to you just what the core is and why core strength is so very important for any athlete. The core is comprised of nearly 30 different muscles that basically wrap around your body in the area between your hips and ribcage. There are a couple ways to think about this in easy terms. First of all think of your body in two halves, the lower half and the upper half. The core area is between the two and can be thought of as a ‘bridge’ that connects them. In order for the upper and lower body to work together requires that connection. Another visual is to think of the rebar in a foundation. Imagine that your core area is just like the foundation of a house. When not trained, it is a foundation without its rebar and one likely to weaken and cause problems, while a conditioned core is a strong and sturdy foundation with rebar.

Basically, the core is fundamental to all body movement. Whether you realize it or not, you hardly make a movement without engaging your core whether it be walking up the stairs or bending down to pick something up. Your core is involved, providing you with balance and stability. The strength, or weakness, or your core will dictate how easy or difficult these movements are.

So, what does this have to do with your athletic performance? Absolutely everything. When you are moving through your sport of choice you are using your body in its most functional state, in other words, as a whole. You are using your lower body and your upper body together; you’re jumping, throwing, twisting, hitting, running, the list goes on and on. Your core is the basis for all of this movement and once again the strength or weakness of that core will dictate the ease in which you move on the field or court. Athletes are also very often in unstable environments, like landing on one foot or throwing or hitting from an awkward position. I cannot honestly think of a sport where this stability and balance does not come into play. Your balance comes from your core; strong core equals good balance.

Here are some examples: Think of the volleyball player jumping and spiking. The spike is literally being performed in mid air; can a situation be less stable? The power for that spike must come from the core!

Think of the shortstop that runs to catch a grounder and then must jump, twist and throw all at the same time, again, ALL core!

Think of the tennis player who runs across the court and then smashes a return to the opposite side, ALL core!

I could go on and on with every single sport and just about every position but hopefully you get the idea. If you do not train for core strength and balance you will never realize your full potential. More and more athletes are training this way and if you ignore this vital aspect of athletic training you will be out-played.

Fortunately, core training is not difficult or time consuming and it does not require expensive equipment. It has been my experience that athletes are downright thrilled to be doing something other than ‘lifting’ anyway. Core training is innovative, challenging and creative; heck, it’s fun! Of course when the athletes and coaches see the results, which come quickly with this type of training, the excitement really builds.

Barry Lovelace is an internationally recognized sports performance specialist. Athletes and coaches worldwide use his outside the box and super effective workouts.

Aside from being a member of Team Men’s Fitness, he is also known to write for Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazines as well as several other publications.

Sporting BMX Athletic Clothing

Choosing the right BMX athletic clothing is not only about style but also about comfort, performance, and safety. As a sport, BMX can be quite risky. It is essential to wear the right BMX athletic clothing to protect athletes and the outfit must be complete with comfortable outerwear and trustworthy protective gear.

When entering a competition, wearing the proper protective gear is not a choice left to the rider. Many contests make it mandatory and any rider that does not follow the restrictions of wearing the correct protective gear may even be disqualified from competition. That’s why it is necessary to find the right BMX apparel.

Long pants made of denim or any other tear-resistant fabric is a must for the type of BMX apparel to be worn during a competition. Despite any weather conditions, no one is allowed to wear short pants. However, BMX athletic clothing may include the rider to wear loose pants but these should be tied around the ankles in order to prevent them from getting caught in the chain or pose any problem to the rider while in action. Shoes are important too and the athlete should wear shoes that have soft soles that allow a firm grip on the pedals of the bike with ease.

While falling is common in a BMX sports event, it is highly recommended that the riders wear a complete set of knee and elbow pads throughout the competition. These offer extra padding that provides additional protection to the body parts that the athlete could fall on if hitting the riding surface. These knee, elbow, and shin pads are made of hard plastic and have a foam lining. These types of BMX athletic clothing are lightweight yet solid. Velcro or elastic used to fasten these pads to the body of the rider will ensure full flexibility. Socks also are an important part of BMX apparel and an athlete should wear them.

An important part of being a BMX rider is that a person is allowed a firm handlebar grip. There are arrays of options of BMX athletic clothing that can ensure this. Gloves are made of stretchable material and not only offer a little extra comfort to the rider in a super-strenuous ride, but also provide an extra layer of protection in case of a fall. This particular BMX apparel has tough padding on the palms of the gloves and ensures that the handles of the bike never slip away.

The BMX upper body armor protects the upper part of the body of a rider. Through technological innovations, this BMX athletic clothing is not only lightweight, but is also comfortable and available in a large variety from some of the top brands. Although every aspect of BMX apparel is important and indispensable, nothing can compare with the importance of a good helmet. A helmet is important at all times when riding a bike and competing in BMX sports.

There are several choices for BMX athletic clothing and many reputable brands guarantee the best quality. It is better to have the protection in case of falls than to ever risk an injury than to wear the wrong BMX apparel.

Are Elite Athletes Ready to Fail?

What if failure and winning go hand in hand similar to peanut butter and chocolate? At first glance it appears to be an odd match. So many highly talented athletes needed to experience failure in order to become great. Whether it is in sports, business or life, failure is necessary for the really BIG goals.

Failure has a purpose:

· Deepens commitment

· Offers invaluable lessons

· Leads to course corrections

· Builds resiliency

· Learns how to cope with adversity

No one likes a sore loser. The ability for athletes to fail gracefully is admirable. It lights your fire to deeply commit to excellence.

Lance Arnstrong was unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer in the prime of his career. To discover his testicular cancer had spread to his lungs and brains was shocking. This would have been the end for many of us. Then he had to battle cancer not once but twice.

Because of his experience Armstrong quickly reset his priorities. Mindset. Armstrong was forced to release old beliefs which would free him up for greater achievements. His health failure led to innovation. Suddenly his world, as he knew it, didn’t exist anymore. The old beliefs transitioned into stepping stones for a new higher level of commitment. His entire approach to cycling, racing and life transformed.

Lance Armstrong states, “I can now say that my life is better because of my cancer experience. Though I wouldn’t wish it for anyone, I believe I appreciate my life in a completely new and better way because I faced cancer and was lucky enough to survive.”

Athletes and coaches have it all wrong. You don’t want to view failure as the end result. A stopping point. Viewing it from a black and white perspective of good or bad is limiting.

When coaches, parents and teams judge success solely from their wins, they are missing the bigger picture. This narrow view boxes you in. When the focus is only about winning you are robbed from taking risks.

Why take risks? Because it influences change. Experimentation, along with risk-taking, lead to innovation. Combining what you know along with the unknown expands your belief of what is possible. Successful athletes refuse to settle for mediocrity. It is the excitement of pushing the envelope, exploring the limits of your capabilities, which redefine you.

Risk taking, being innovative, frees up your energy.

· Embrace change

· Act despite fear

· Trust in others, and in yourself.

· Honesty about limiting beliefs

· Shedding excuses

Take a new perspective. Become innovative. Just like a scientist search for the solution to your biggest challenge. The field. The court. The rink is your laboratory. Be receptive to testing new approaches during practice. Next develop the right combination of mindset, skill set and action to build toward breakthrough performance. How would that change things for you?

Even at NASA, after the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, their researchers adopted a new mindset. They are now excited about failure. Playing it safe led to mistakes which slowed down progress. The new protocol encourages failure. While testing experimental spacecraft they actually cheer when a multi million dollar test rocket explodes. It is seen as being innovative.

Pushing the envelope to set new world records requires risk. Risk requires innovation. So I challenge you to crush your old meaning of failure. It will set you apart from the rest of the competition. Why wait for someone else to set the standard when you can claim it first?

Take a bold stance to discover your ideal approach. Be creative. Make it fun. Access your intuition and listen to your gut. Liberate yourself from the standard, the usual and customary to become a high performing athlete.

Become an innovative athlete; it’s okay to be scared. Although many athletes don’t recognize it they are highly creative. Conforming to the rules just goes against the nature of creative personalities. What is exciting is experiencing ongoing transformation, the game of innovation. When you can wrap your head around this mindset, you will blow the competition away.

Challenge: Make the decision to be innovative. What would that look like in your sport? How would that free up your creative energy to try something new? List all the fearful thoughts preventing you from taking risks, possibly failing. How does it feel to do something if you’re unsure of the outcome? Close your eyes and see yourself taking action despite the fear. How was that? Now close your eyes again and see yourself taking that same action with no fear. How was that different? My challenge for you is seeing yourself taking action with no fear over and over again in your mind’s eye until you believe it is possible.

Improve Your Athletic Lifestyle: Go Green in Comfort and Style

ife involves continuing evolution. As humans increase in numbers, innovators learn to innovate their inventions, providing improved options to enhance lifestyles. Health-promoting opportunities are improving; because all human beings benefit from them. Since exercise is a prerequisite for everyone, especially those pursuing healthy lifestyles, it is imperative to recognize the importance of wearing fabrics that lower health risks. Going green is a better way to look at life; because it enhances environmental conditions, reduce the expenditures and provides a comfortable lifestyle for all. Athletes in particular must think about wearing high-quality, natural-fiber sportswear that soothes the skin and improve athletic performance.

Why sport natural-fiber sportswear?

The intrinsic properties found in natural fibers are useful; because these feature strength, durability and are fashionable choices that provide added flexibility. In different regions across the globe, high temperature is a problem. In some cases, cold weather torments the soul, but with the right clothing made from natural fibers, makes it stress-free to protect the body. “Wicking” is a technical process many manufacturers promote in textile production. This is to create comfortable, performance-efficient sportswear for athletes and casual wears, as well. Extensive scientific research and strategic engineering is responsible for this discovery. The benefits extended to sportspersons include lasting comfort, sustained health and reduced skin irritation. Traditionally, polyester as a fabric augments body temperature; especially in athletes that participate in sporting events that are energy-demanding. The discomfort caused, proliferates sweating and leaves some athletes ill. Comparatively, organic fibers improve oxygen flow throughout the body, regulates blood pressure well, absorbs and vaporizes moistness, leaving the skin dry.

Understanding the influences of bodily heat transfer

Many different factors control heat transfer, particularly air movement such as wind, sunshine, comparative humidity and other influences. What’s more, the clothing that athletes choose to wear also helps with moisture regulation, cooling and air circulation. As such, it is imperative to wear comfortable clothes that regulate the right skin temperature and lessens discomfort. Reports gathered from scientific research shows that altered body temperature, makes it impossible for skin moisture to evaporate rapidly. The organic way of life is sustainable. Some athletes think that natural-fiber sportswear are not trendy for modern-day fashion, but surprisingly high-end designs are available. Those who choose to buy high-end sports clothing designed from organic, safe fabric that promote ecological benefits should have encounters with few health issues. Additionally, remember that reputable clothing brands offer a wide range of styles that promote sound benefits. Ultimately, think about buying a brand that lives up to the reputation; because many designers focus more on sales, instead of providing viable benefits to consumers. When buying any sportswear, be sure to examine the label to determine if the manufacturer used high-quality natural fabrics.

Your Brainstorming Invitee List: Why Diversity Is the Mother of Innovation

Who do you typically brainstorm with? The same group of people, time after time? Do you ever detect a certain “sameness” in the ideas generated?

Are you surprised???

The quality and creative yield of ideas in any brainstorming session will only be as good as the people who make up the group. In today’s highly competitive, innovation-driven marketplace, truly breakthrough thinking almost always depends upon high quality collaboration.

In his book, Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration, author Keith Sawyer explains, “When we collaborate, creativity unfolds across people; the sparks fly faster, and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Collaboration drives creativity because innovation always emerges from a series of sparks-never a single flash of insight. This is the essence of group creativity.”

Group Creativity and Flow

The most productive brainstorming sessions occur when the group becomes so absorbed in their activity that they slip into a state of creative flow. Flow is that peak performance state athletes refer to as “The Zone.” It occurs when a group becomes single-mindedly focused in its creative problem solving activity, all sense of time, place, and self-consciousness (ego) disappear. Everyone feels highly alert and on top of their game. It is under these conditions that a unified sense of effortless collaboration emerges; the group begins to function as a single, collective mind that intuitively knows the best ways to build upon, amplify, or refine one another’s ideas.

Clearly, selecting the most appropriate and effective group for your specific challenge is the key to an enjoyable, super-productive idea generation session.

Creating a “Dream Team’ vs. Inviting the “Usual Suspects”

If you were a basketball coach with your eye set on the championship, you would want to assemble an all-star, powerhouse team of accomplished players. You wouldn’t settle for a mixed bag of amateurs that just happened to be nearby and were easy to recruit. To assemble this “Dream Team,” you would scout for the most talented athletes who possessed the specific skills, talent and experience your team would need to win.

Likewise, when faced with a tough business challenge, shouldn’t you carefully evaluate who in your organization or network possesses the best knowledge, skills and experience to successfully tackle the challenge? Shouldn’t your goal be to assemble the smartest, most capable, most creative problem-solving all-stars you can find?

Surprisingly, few brainstorm leaders invest adequate time or effort in this important step. They forego any due diligence scouting and more often than not simply extend invitations to the “usual suspects” (those who work in the same department or division, or work on the same product, service, account, etc.). Most don’t even consider the value of inviting “outsiders,” since they already know and feel comfortable with the usual suspects. After all, “the team” understands your product, service, goods, or process; and they understand the underlying issues, situation, and challenges, right? Aren’t these people the best qualified to help you develop innovative solutions to your problem?

Not necessarily.

Conformity/uniformity in thinking (groupthink), a lack of objectivity or perspective, internal politics or infighting, personal agendas, and a general aversion to risk-taking or radical new ideas are all common pitfalls experienced when the same group of people come together repeatedly to generate ideas. When participants work under the same conditions and circumstances, confront the same challenges day in and day out, repeatedly run into the same limitations or obstacles, and share the same assumptions about what is or is not possible, options can appear scarce-boxing in the group’s thinking abilities.

The power of diversity

Who you invite to your brainstorming session can have a dramatic impact on your productivity and the session’s ultimate success. When you deliberately recruit a diverse group of participants-an all-star team from different backgrounds, cultures, genders, age, talents, skills, knowledge, expertise and perspectives-you exponentially increase your group’s ability to deliver innovative solutions.

In Group Genius, Keith Sawyer also writes, “… when solving complex, non-routine problems, groups are more effective when they’re composed of people who have a variety of skills, knowledge, and perspective.” He goes on to say, “The reason groups are so effective at generating innovation is that they bring together far more concepts and bodies of knowledge than any one person can. Group genius can happen only if the brains in the team don’t contain all the same stuff.”

7 ways to enhance diversity in your groups

Invite a mix of generations. Boomers, Gen-X, Millennials… They each bring a different generational perspective, values and skill sets, cultural reference points, beliefs, attitudes and archetypes.
Invite a range of expertise, professional backgrounds, and specialties. Great ideas can come from anyone. People from any discipline, even one not directly related to the challenge at hand, may offer incredible insights and value. Chances are someone has already solved a problem similar to yours in a different company, industry or country.
Balance gender and social orientation. Just as different generations can provide a variety of perspectives, so can individuals with diverse personal backgrounds.
Invite people from different countries of origin. Thanks to today’s global economy, we are increasingly working side-by-side with individuals from across the country and across the globe. Capitalize on their diverse world viewpoints and cultural understandings. Cultural fusion is a powerful element of innovation.
Invite right- and left-brain thinkers. Yes, in the same group! Creative types and linear thinkers, artists and bean counters. You may not think they’ll mix well. But in fact, the Yin and Yang of linear/analytical and non-linear/creative thinkers can be an important element in the creative process.
Invite introverts and extroverts. Maybe add a dash of Myer’s-Briggs personality types. Look for individuals with different ways of perceiving and interpreting: feeling, intuiting, judging, etc. This will add a richer dimension to your group’s problem solving abilities.
Throw in one or two “wild cards.” An unexpected participant can stir things up and add a new dynamic into the mix. You can invite customers, clients, suppliers, kids, etc.-anyone who can provide fresh, new perspectives on your challenge.

Competitive Athlete – Entrepreneurship Might Be a Career – Some Thoughts on That

So, what career path should a competitive college athlete take? They will definitely need something that is really challenging. Of course, they also need to choose something that is psychologically correct for that fighter in them, the hard-charger part of their mind, body and soul. What sort of entrepreneurial work might they enjoy?

Some folks find challenge in design and innovation, it is competitive and fun, creative and as a college athlete, well you probably have one hell of a lot of oxygen going to your brain from sports and your heart is stronger than everyone else’s. Best of all you will not start slowing down until you are 40, so make hay now. You cannot choose anything boring or it will eat away at who you are and make you miserable.

Competitors also enjoy politics, you may not be interested in politics, but it’s true. And it’s extremely competitive and fun (quite a few malcontents and unscrupulous characters, but…). Competitors also enjoy making deals, negotiation and even International Business. It can be a blast too, and if you are a kickass entrepreneur you’ll be selling your stuff all over the world.

One drawback you will find in the business world, as many athletes do is that with all that energy and agility you have now; everyone you ever work with will appear to be in slow motion, weak, under-motivated and wimpy. But in reality they aren’t, they are just being like “regular humans,” you are the one with the problem, or the superior advantage. Superstars of humanity exist, but society pushes them down, unless they find running room to excel. It is up to star athletes to pick a career that is competitive and fun.

Improving Athletes One Step At A Time

Over the years I’ve been either working with or consulting with high level athletes. One thing that I’ve come to realize is that most if not all of these high level athletes bring a lot to the table even before the training ever begins. They have natural talent in that they can adapt to the demands of the movement or situation faster than their counter parts. They also posses a higher ability to withstand pain and discomfort when training that allows for them to push their bodies to a higher state.

Then there is the mental side of the athlete. This is the part that can’t be measured. The part that is locked up deep inside the mind that controls the athlete’s ability to push themselves past what normal people can do.

It’s the addition of these qualities all together that produces an elite athlete.

Do you have to be born with ‘elite’ qualities to become an elite athlete? I can say this, it doesn’t hurt and in many cases yes. The world of sports is littered with good athletes but to get to the very top of anything you have to have something special in your genetic make up to get you up to that level. I have seen on some limited cases that some athlete’s that posses an incredible passion to succeed to be able to progress to levels normal reserved for the genetic elite.

In training your athlete you must put in tests and measures so that you know how well they are doing and more importantly how well you are doing as their coach. If you are training above average athletes you must develop ways to get them to reach for more. Not necessarily in the weight room but more importantly on the field.

Too many coaches put too much emphasis on the weights rather than the competition. You play against other people who have been trained to either get past you or to stop you from moving ahead. I support training the body to support the demands of any sport however you have to be able to develop the mind and the body to properly adapt to your competition.

In a report developed by Will G Hopkins Sportscience 8, 1-7, 2004 (sportsci.org/jour/04/wghtests.htm) Sport and Recreation, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland 1020, New Zealand:

“When monitoring progression of an athlete with performance or other fitness tests, it is important to take into account the magnitude of the smallest worthwhile enhancement in performance and the uncertainty or noise in the test result. For elite athletes competing in sports as individuals, the smallest worthwhile enhancement would give the athlete an extra medal per 10 competitions; the required change in performance is 0.3 of the typical variation in an athlete’s performance from competition to competition, or ~0.3-1% when expressed as a change in power output, depending on the sport. In team sports, where there is no direct relationship between team and test performance, an appropriate default for the smallest change in test performance is one-fifth of the between-athlete standard deviation (a standardized or Cohen effect size of 0.20).”