Cobb Atlanta All-Access Blog

How To: Wite an Email to College Coaches

How To: Wite an Email to College Coaches

Original article:


As a high school student athlete, one of the first ways to get on the radar of a college coach in the recruiting process is by sending them a Letter of Interest – or, more aptly titled, an Introductory Email.

The email serves as a starting point of your correspondence with that coach and school, while also highlighting your interest in the program. This is an essential step, as being proactive is the only way to ensure a coach is aware of you and your interest
in their program.

Where to start when writing these notes? While there is no “right” answer, there are some things to be cognizant of when writing.

Here are some “Do’s” and “Do Not’s” to consider. While by no means a comprehensive list, using them as guidelines should put you on the right track.



Spell Check Everything, Twice

Spell check and fact check everything. Then, do it again. While this may seem like common sense, the number of instances college coaches have mentioned where spelling or grammatical errors occur would come as a shock to most.

While simple errors may seem trivial, they reflect poorly on a prospective student-athlete’s attention to detail. Spelling a coach’s name wrong, for example, or spelling the name of the school incorrectly, are not positive first impressions.

Include Details About The School Outside of Athletics

Make it a point to note why you are interested in the school off the field – notably academically. Research majors and courses offered, and align them with your areas of interest and potential areas of study.

These points are not something to harp on, but including them will alert a coach that your interest is in the entire school, and not just the athletics program.

Provide Specifics About the Team

Show good knowledge of the team you are interested in, citing recent accomplishments, facility upgrades or other similar information. You want to make it very obvious your interest is real and genuine.

Again, this need not be lengthy, but including them will show a coach you know about the program.

Highlight Your Own Accomplishments Academically and Athletically

It is important to distinguish yourself from other prospective student-athletes by citing your accomplishments. This is not free reign to brag about yourself and ramble on, but, the only way a coach will know about your accomplishments is for you to tell them.

Be sure to note any awards you may have received, positions of leadership you have held and most importantly, how these reflect on your work ethic, passion and dedication.
Awards will not make you successful at the next level, but those underlying qualities that led to them will help.

Include a Link To Your Highlight Reel

Having the coach see you play is one of the main goals of this email. Be sure your highlight video is accessible and easy to find.

Include an Actionable Task

One of the most important aspects of this correspondence is to make sure there is an action point at the end of the email. The action point should be to follow up with a telephone call or to arrange a campus visit.

Something similar to “please let me know about scheduling a campus tour” or “please let me know the best time I can reach you to speak further” will show you are ready to keep the conversation going.


Use a Form Letter

This is an unforgivable offense to many coaches. It is very obvious when a form letter is being used, and it shows you many not actually be interested in a school. It’s fine to have a template, but be sure each note is filled with specialized information that highlights your real interest in a school.

Only Write About Athletics

Athletics will only be part of your collegiate experience, so be sure your interest in a school is not based solely on sports or a particular coach. Remember, it’s more than likely you are not going to be a professional athlete – so make sure the school of your choosing offers programs that fit your interests for post-collegiate life.


Yes, it is important to get your information to the coach, but this is not the time to channel your inner John Steinbeck or William Shakespeare.

Be concise – coaches are busy, and do not have the time to read your autobiography. They will appreciate your brevity.

Include Grammatical or Spelling Errors

Again, this is obvious, and is covered above. However, it is so vital that it is worth repeating. Do not treat this note like Twitter or a text message. Your attention to detail is a reflection on you. Do not send the wrong message about yourself. Use complete sentences, and do not cut corners.

Forget to include your highlight reel

There is a saying in the movie business that you need to show, not tell – and the same applies here. Show the coach you can play!

Simply sending an email without video is purchasing a one-way ticket to Azkaban (ok, it’s not a ticket to a fictitious wizard prizon, but you get the picture). Be sure a coach can match a player to the information!

If a picture is worth a thousands words, then a video is worth a million.

Ultimately, a letter of interest serves as an icebreaker between you and a college coach. Do not stress too much about the notes. Just be sure your interest is genuine, and that will reflect in the letter.

Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression!


Keeping Young Athletes Hydrated

Keeping Young Athletes Hydrated

Original post here:


Active teens and children often fail to recognize and respond to the signs of dehydration such as; thirst, fatigue, irritability, cramps and headaches. Dehydration, if allowed to progress, can lead to dangerous health consequences, such as heat stroke. However, even relatively mild dehydration, a loss of just 2% of body weight from fluid loses by sweating and evaporative loses during exercise, can contribute to fatigue and impaired sports performance.

While it’s important to guard against dehydration, the opposite extreme of over-hydration, is also not recommended. Over-consuming fluids may leave the athlete feeling bloated and uncomfortable during training or competition.

The goal for all athletes is appropriate hydration to meet their fluid needs while avoiding both under- and over-hydration.

Here are some hydration tips to guide your young athletes:

Before exercise:

  • Drink before playing! It’s very hard to “catch-up” on your fluid needs if you begin exercise dehydrated.  This is especially important on hot days and when doing multiple training sessions or events per day. 
  • Consume large glass of water or sports drink (about 14–20 ounces or 400–600 ml) two to four hours before training or competing.
  • During the school year, carry a water bottle with you to drink throughout the day and stop frequently for sips at the water fountain between classes.
  • Monitor your urine color to ensure adequate hydration. Urine should be pale yellow (the color of lemonade).
  • If you are prone to muscle cramps, you may lose a lot of salt in your sweat. Athletes who are “salty sweaters” often benefit from adding extra salt to their diet during periods of intense training.  Salty sweaters should choose salty snacks and foods, like pretzels, pickles or soups and broth, and add a little extra salt to their meals when training intensely, especially in hot weather.

During exercise:

  • For exercise lasting less than an hour, water is generally adequate and appropriate for hydration
  • However, if training is intense, involves intervals or is longer than 1 hour, consuming a source of carbohydrate during exercise has been shown to improve performance.  Sports drinks are a good choice because they provide both carbohydrate and fluid.
  • Experiment in training to identify the amount of fluid you can comfortably drink while exercising.  Know the types and amounts of fluids that work best for you prior to competition.
  • Many athletes require about 13–26 fl oz (400–800 ml) every hour of exercise, preferably in smaller amounts taken frequently, such as 3–7 fl oz (roughly, ½ to 1 cup of liquid or 100–200 ml) every 15 minutes or so.
  • Drink from your own sport bottle so you can easily track your fluid intake and, of course, decrease the chance of spreading germs from sharing bottles.

After exercise:

  • Ideally, you should check your weight before and after exercise.    For each pound lost during exercise, drink about 20 oz (2 ½ cups) of fluid.
  • In general, water is adequate for rehydration. However, if you need to hydrate quickly to compete or practice multiple times in one day, or if you have lost a large amount of fluid, drinks that contain sodium and a small amount of carbohydrate, like sports drinks, will provide quicker rehydration.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables!  These high water content foods also provide fluids to help with rehydration.
  • Good hydration choices for immediately after intense exercise provide protein and carbohydrate to help with muscle healing and glycogen (carbohydrate stores) restoration, as well as fluid.  Some fluid suggestions that contain fluid, protein and carbohydrate are low-fat chocolate milk, specialty “recovery drinks” (i.e. Gatorade Recovery), or yogurt smoothies. 

Some athletes may need more specific or individualized guidance to help them maximize their sports fueling and hydration. Consulting with a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietitian (CSSD) at Cayuga Performance Center can provide that competitive edge.  Contact Cayuga Sports Medicine and Athletic Performance at (607) 252-3580 or for more information.

Members of the editorial and news staff of the USA Today Network were not involved in the creation of this content.


An Open Letter to my Previous Coaches & Teammates

An Open Letter To My Previous Coaches And Teammates

To the people who have majorly shaped me without me even noticing.


Original post:

As some of you know, I've taken the fast track through high school. This year, I chose to dual enroll full time at Kennesaw State, rather than finishing out my senior year at Kennesaw Mountain. It was not a choice that I took lightly, but in the end it is a choice I do not regret (so far). However, this choice led me to say goodbye to the sport that has been my outlet for almost all of my life.

Volleyball is a sport that I fell in love with at such a young age. I remember my first year of travel season like it was yesterday. I remember being the little girl watching the older girls play, and wondering how they could jump that high and hit the ball that hard. Suddenly, without me even noticing, I'm that older girl. I can jump that high. I can hit the ball as hard as they did. So as you can imagine, quitting this sport has been very difficult for me. I don't regret it, but it has been difficult looking for other outlets, and writing has been as close as I can get to having something like volleyball, which is why I decided to address this open letter to all of you.

Since I am no longer a player, I thought I would express a few things that are much clearer to me now that I'm a spectator.

It's the oldest line in the book, and some days you may shake your head and wonder why you're in the gym, but do not take your sport for granted. I know there are some days when you walk in the gym and you're just not feeling it, so you go through the motions and do whatever it takes to get you through practice, but don't take for granted the fact that you have something to push yourself through. You won't have volleyball for the rest of your life. Walking into the gym should be like taking a fresh breath of air.

Second, I know you may not see it now, and I know that sometimes you may not like them, but understand that your teammates are the only ones who understand your struggles. Being on a team was like a gift that I didn't know the meaning of until it was in my past. When you come home from a practice that ran late, and you have mountains of homework and studying to do, always remember that your teammates are the only ones who understand what you're going through in that moment. Lean on each other. It'll bring you closer as a team.

Thank your coaches when you get a chance. Most coaches are not paid, and they could be spending their time and energy elsewhere. They have lives, just like you. While you may not want to thank them as you run mass amounts of suicides and trudge through conditioning, eventually remember that they want the best for you. Their goals are the same as yours, and they want to do everything they can to help you get their.

Put in the work and expect results. If you are putting in a solid amount of hours, and pushing yourself throughout your training, there will be guaranteed results. They may not be immediate, and you may be frustrated, but trust the process and continue to push through. At the end of the day, your teammates will look to you if they are in need of a little extra strength.

Following these tips, I would like to take a moment to thank any and all of the coaches that have put in their time to better my volleyball performance. I may not have understood it as a player, but as a spectator I see now that you were only trying to push me to my limits and beyond, and that has shaped me into a stronger person, not only through volleyball, but also through life.

Lastly, I want to take a second to wish all of my previous teammates well. Whether you're finishing out high school or advancing into college, I know that I've built relationships with some of you that will last a lifetime, and for that I couldn't be more grateful. I wish all of you the best on your seasons and in life, and I'm so excited to see what God brings into all of your lives this year and for years to come.


Much love,



Being Coachable

This article is a combination of one written by Lindsey Wilson (the co-Founder of Positive Performance Mental Training Zone), and Mason Waters from FastModel Sports:


As a coach, I know I can say that honestly. I want my players to be successful. I really do. And I could care less about the ‘glory’ of it, if anyone knows I helped along the way. The game’s about the players, not me. There’s ten thousand coaches around the globe who share that same heartbeat of coaching. At the end of the day, a player’s success is a two way street. So, great players have to have the humility and the hunger to receive coaching.


Players, your job is to make your job, and your coaches job easier by being coachable. Here’s a few ways to make your coaches job easier, more enjoyable, more rewarding, and more successful. If you can make these points habit, you’ll also improve quicker and more efficiently. And your relationship with your coach will be amazing, which is a magnificent thing.


Ways You Can Be More Coachable and Contribute More to Your Team


1. Be prepared. Take five minutes before every practice to release from your mind the rest of your day’s activities. Remember your goals and remember why you’re practicing. Remember that your coach has put in uncountable hours to prepare drills, runs, plays, and practices for you. So, have some respect: when you’re at practice, really, truly BE at practice. Click here for our pre-practice mental routine-the BRAVR technique.


2. Eliminate ABC  (and E)  –  Arguing. Blaming. Complaining. Eye rolling. Honestly, I love it when people embody these three words with their actions. Everything is better. When someone argues, blames, or complains (or eye rolls), I become full of inspiration and motivation to fulfill my dreams. Please tell me you hear the sarcasm in that.


For a second here, forget others and consider just how this ABC impacts you! It takes your focus off your mission. Those who argue, blame, and complain focus on all that’s wrong and all the reasons something can’t get done as opposed to finding and creating reasons for things to get done, like winning a game.

Replace this ABC with LOP (Listening, Own it, and Positivity)

·       When you want to argue, take a step back and listen. Arguing is a waste. You and your team will benefit from that.

·       When you make a mistake, own it. Say “That was my fault. I’m gonna win the next play though.”

·       When you or a teammate complain, do something positive. Give a high five, dance, clap, or tell a teammate, “Dang, that was an awesome play!”


3. Listen to what your coaches say, not how they say it. Easier said than done but, like any skill, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Practice “mean no offense, take no offense” when both speaking AND listening to your teammates and coaches.


4. Just say “Yes Coach” – One of the most frustrating things as a coach is correcting a player or teaching them a point and them say “Well coach, John was in my way…” or a very rapid “I know” before I can even finish my sentence that I intend to help the player. Along similar lines, Players, just say yes sir or yes ma’am when a coach corrects you, thank them, and implement what they’re saying.

5. Be confident, not insecure when a coach corrects you. Confident players receive correction and think, “My coach is revealing a weakness in my game that needs to improve. I’m thankful they want to see me improve.” Confident players want as many good basketball eyes on their game so they can have a better understanding of what they need to work on.


Insecure players reject the truth that their game has deficiencies and thinks, “I don’t have that weakness in my game.” “I don’t need a coach.” Insecure players receive correction as an insult, and think they can be great alone.


6. Make and Keep eye contact  –  Eye contact is respectful. It shows you care. You’ll listen better and learn more. Your play will improve. Coaches and players need to consistently work on this and remember, how does it feel to talk to someone who’s eyes are on the clouds passing overhead?


7. Be the player who understands and directs the drill – Listen to instructions and prepare yourself for the next drill or station, and be ready to direct your teammates to transition into the next drill fast. Successful practices really only need one player to be vocal and fully aware of what’s going on.


8. Invite coaching– Here’s the attitude to have and phenomenal things to say to your coach:

“Coach, I don’t want to be mediocre. I want to achieve my best. If I’m ever out of line of that, please correct me.” Or, “Coach, I want to be the most coachable guy on the team. If I’m ever not being coachable, please correct me and I’ll adjust.” What kind of athlete do you want to be? Better yet, what kind of person do you want to be? Let your coaches and teammates you trust know and invite them into your development because to be our best, we’d be wise to let those around us know the type of person we want to become.


9. If you really have something to say, SAY IT. I’m big on communication. Huge on it, in fact. So, if all else fails and you just don’t get what you need from your coach, be an adult and communicate that in a mature way. Whining about something constantly, or tuning out and not committing yourself to your team, is NOT a solution. In fact, it’s the exact opposite: absolutely detrimental to you, your team, and your coach’s ability to effectively train you.


10. Say ‘thank you’. In fact, say it more often than you think you need to. Thank your coaches for taking you on a road trip. Thank them for making you watch film (and for editing the film so it’s not as long as it could be!). Thank them for scouting your opponent late into the night. Thank them for totally committing themselves to your improvement. Thank them for holding you to a high standard. And especially thank them during those moments when you don’t feel thankful… those are times when they’re helping you most.


It flows over …

The beauty of sports is that the lessons learned in the locker room or at practice are typically lessons that last a lifetime and flows over into every aspect of life. If WE ALL (coaches and players) make these points habits, we’ll surely benefit on the court, and even more importantly in our relationships with everyone else.


What Will Your Teammates Remember About You 10 Years From Now?

Sarah Pavan

Pro Volleyball Player and Beach Volleyball Olympian

What Will Your Teammates Remember About You 

10 Years From Now?

February 27, 2017

Original Post:


 “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
~ Maya Angelou


When I was a young athlete, I was not a good teammate. I know I was a good kid; I was kind and respectful, I worked hard, and I was inclusive, but when I stepped onto the court or field, the only thing I cared about was winning. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that; I wish more kids had a never-say-die attitude on the court. My problem was that my extreme competitive nature manifested itself as being very aggressive and sometimes hurtful in my on-court interactions with my teammates.

I had good intentions; my objective was always to inspire my teammates to perform and to encourage them to believe in themselves. Being so young, though, and having never been guided in the proper way to do these things, my words probably had the opposite effect. As I matured, and was exposed to different ways of thinking, I learned how to get the most out of my teammates without getting in their faces and leaving them feeling sad.

The first time I read the quote at the beginning of this post was an “Aha” moment. It perfectly articulated what I had known for a long time, but had never said out loud. I immediately thought of my teammates from my club days, and I decided at that moment that it would be a sort of mantra for me. I love it because I think it applies to absolutely everyone, no matter how old you are, what your job is, or how good you are at what you do.

I like examining this principle from an athletic point of view. You may be the most talented, impressive athlete on your team or in your entire age division, but if you are always putting yourself above the best interests of the team, or if you constantly make fun of the weaker players in the group, no one will care how good you are. The only thing your teammates will remember about you down the road is that you made them feel like they didn’t matter. Why? Because people don’t remember who scored the most points, or who got the most awards, or who had the most scholarship offers. People remember how you made them feel.

As I mentioned earlier, this life lesson applies to absolutely everyone. Coaches: you might be a great technical coach, and have a gift for developing athletes. You may have won national championships, but if you constantly alienate your athletes during practice, or treat the bench players like they are invisible, or put your own reputation at the forefront, that’s all you will be remembered for. Parents: you might bring the best snacks, be the loudest cheerleader, and drive your kids all over the planet. If you are always saying nasty things about the player playing in front of your kid or questioning the coach’s decisions to the other parents, though, they will only remember you making them feel uncomfortable and being a poor “teammate.”

Today, I still call out teammates for controllable errors (attitude, effort, communication) and repeated miscues. It’s part of being a leader, and my competitiveness will never go away. It’s who I am. Now, though, with my mantra in mind, I communicate in a way that raises my teammates up, instead of bringing them down. I address the whole group, and if I do talk to one person, I do it in a way that shows them that I believe in them, instead of leaving them feeling insecure. I work extremely hard to be the best volleyball player I can be; it’s important that I work extremely hard to be the best teammate I can be too.

I’m not saying that we should never say negative things, or that we have to be positive all the time. That’s not the case at all. I’m saying that there is a right way and a wrong way to communicate the negative things and push teammates to be better. For example, I recently played with a very young setter who lacked confidence setting behind (I am an opposite), and who was intimidated by me, being a much older player and a foreigner. After a few rough games where she had trouble setting everybody, she asked me to meet with her. She told me that the reason she was avoiding setting me, and why she was struggling to set during games, was because I made her scared. My instinct was to tell her that it was her job to put her hitters in a position to score no matter what, and that it wasn’t my fault she was struggling setting her teammates. Instead, I apologized for making her feel that way, and said that I would be more mindful of my words and actions so that she would feel more comfortable. I told her that I would always try my best, no matter what type of ball she gave me, and that everyone struggles with confidence sometimes. After that conversation, her setting and confidence during games started getting better, which helped everyone on our team perform better.

Above all else, people remember how you make them feel. I encourage you to keep that in mind as you live your life. You will be amazed at how slight alterations to your actions, words, or attitudes affect the people around you for the better. When all is said and done, I want the people I interact with to have good memories of our time together, no matter how long or short it may be. I want them to remember me making them feel like they matter, and it’s never too late to start thinking that way.

xo, Sarah


Mental Resetting in Sports

Mental Resetting in Sports

Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Original Post:
In Sport, failure to execute, making simple mistakes, and lack of focus occur frequently and are common in even the most elite athlete, but what separates elite from good is the ability to RESET.

Upon entering any competition most athletes are proficient in preparing their bodies; Right nutrition, warming up the body/muscles, pre-game skills, etc.; however the pre-game mental warm up and preparation is often lacking or not nearly paid attention to enough. Beach volleyball is unique in the mental aspect and demands upon a player. As you go through a game small errors can lead to rhythm changes, momentum shifts, and possible compounding errors which can quickly lead to a loss that could have been prevented with a couple of quick, in the moment mental adjustments. These quick adjustments which I call “Resets” actually start before you even step on the court or into competition.

To be able to quickly make a mental adjustment in the middle of a match you must first enter the match with a “quiet mind” (clean, blank slate if you will), and deeper sense of self awareness. Much like a computer our brains work on neural pathways and connections. When your computer/brain is bogged down with too many applications (distracting thoughts) running at once, your efficiency to perform tasks (motor planning and executive functioning) become compromised. We know this in the computer world because we start to see error messages. Loading information is slow (buffering), and eventually a crash can happen. When your computer is rebooted and Reset everything runs smoother and more efficiently.

Amazingly, we are able to perform this same action with our brains.

Competition can trigger a fear response mechanism which can be translated into fight or flight reaction, which I translate into a pendulum effect of anxiety in the competition world. This anxiety rests upon the “inverted U Hypothesis”, which states that one must have the optimal anxiety level to perform in the flow state or the zone. This basically translates into the competitor needing to modulate ones anxiety level so it’s not too high and not too low. The other key ingredient to a strong mental game is FOCUS. So, how do we attain these two key mental aspects Optimal Anxiety and Focus to RESET? I will list the ingredients much like a recipe:

 1. Diaphragmatic Breathing: in through the nose for a 6-10 count and back down 6-10 count 5-6 minutes. Clear the mind, relax the nervous system. Close to competition 1 hour or less. In competition. This is 1 or 2 deep belly breaths, while incorporating your Reset or Cue word (step There is much more to diaphragmatic breathing, but here is a start.

 2. Introduce Visualization: how do you see yourself playing? Set your intention and focus here, zero in on how you will play and what you will do. In the moment see the serve, pass, or shot the way you practice it.

 3. Cue Words/Self Talk: Establish your cue words that you will use in the moment to reset and get you back in the game. Short, specific, direct and impactful statements or words: pass the ball, move your feet, Right Now, Be Aggressive, attack, dig deep, let it go or simply RESET. To make this effective knowing yourself and having Inner Awareness is key.

 4. Posture: project winning positive posture, head up, chest out, NOT deflated or head down. Focused on getting the next point, NOT what is going wrong or not happening or future outcome focused.

 5. In Moment Process Focused: Do NOT think outcome focused--how many points you’re down, were going to win, we are too far down, we can’t come back. INSTEAD, what do I (we) need to do RIGHT NOW.

 6. Deep Breath: The impact of 1-2 deep breaths can do wonders in saving your game and Resetting. 

7. Intensity level: Understand the moment and energy going on with your team or yourself. Here you are modulating your anxiety and intensity level. Either it needs to go up or down. You will use SELF TALK to adjust this---yelling, screaming, “Let’s go”, or lower it—“Nice and easy”, “one point at a time.” Sometimes it just takes ONE BIG PLAY. A big, hit, dig, ace. USE it to carry you through and shift the momentum.

 Let’s recap, It starts with your breath (1 to 2 deep belly breaths), assess the situation, and pull from your grab of above listed strategies. Use 1, 2 or all of them. Feel what you need. Then implement. You may ask “how do you have time for all this before the other team goes back to serve?” Let’s remember the brain is fast “HOW fast”? Well research has shown that the brain processes 20 Million Billion bits of information every second and can process an image in just 13 milliseconds. SO yes you have time between serves to visualize, breathe and RESET before the serve. The important thing to take away is that RESETING takes practice in your mental preparation well before you even step on the court. It’s important to incorporate these strategies consistently and make them apart of your game so it’s an unconscious reaction.


Dynamic Stretching vs. Static Stretching

Dynamic Stretching vs. Static Stretching

by Taylor Tollison

Original post:


As coaches and trainers we will perform anything from plyometrics to sprinting to reduce injury and increase performance. The real question is whether the type of stretching we chose to perform before activity will have an affect on the performance and injury levels of our athletes.




Many coaches advocate the use of static stretching prior to exercise.  Static stretching involves reaching forward to a point of tension and holding the stretch.  Static stretching has been used throughout the years for two main reasons: injury prevention and performance enhancement. (1)  Does static stretching prior to activity achieve the goals of injury prevention and performance enhancement?  Research has shown that static stretching can be detrimental to performance and doesn’t necessarily lead to decreases in injury.  Below are a few studies done on the topic of static stretching:


  1. Rod Pope an army physiotherapist in Australia, recently carried out a wide study to assess the relationship between static stretching and injury prevention. Pope monitored over 1600 recruits over the course of a year in randomised controlled trials. He found no differences in the occurrence of injury between those recruits who statically stretched and those who did not. (1, 2)

  2. “Gleim & McHugh (1997), would also challenge the premise that stretching, or indeed increased flexibility, reduces the risk of injury” (1,3)

  3. New research has shown that static stretching decreases eccentric strength for up to an hour after the stretch.  Static stretching has been shown to decrease muscle strength by up to 9% for 60 minutes following the stretch and decrease eccentric strength by 7% followed by a specific hamstring stretch. (4)

  4. Rosenbaum and Hennig showed that static stretching reduced peak force by 5% and the rate of force production by 8%.  This study was about Achilles tendon reflex activity. (5)

  5. Gerard van der poel stated that static stretching caused a specific decrease in the specific coordination of explosive movements. (4)

  6. Three 15-second stretches of the hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles reduced the peak vertical velocity of a vertical jump in the majority of subjects (Knudson et al. 2000). (6,7)

  7. Moscov (1993) found that there is no relationship between static flexibility and dynamic flexibility. This suggests that an increased static range of motion may not be translated into functional, sport-specific flexibility, which is largely dynamic in most sporting situations (1)

  8. Static based stretching programs seem best suited following an activity. (8)


In soccer it is vitally important to have explosive muscles that allow a player to jump higher for the winning header or to explode past an opponent to get to the ball quicker.  Almost every movement in soccer is preceded by an eccentric movement.  For example, when you run you bend your legs first then explode forward. In jumping you must bend your legs first then jump. Finally, cutting in soccer requires a lot of eccentric power.  Wouldn’t it make sense to have optimal power, coordination and eccentric strength to succeed in soccer?  If we shouldn’t static stretch before a game or practice then how can we stretch to optimize performance on the field?  The answer is dynamic stretching.




Many of the best strength coaches support the use of dynamic stretching.  Dynamic stretching consists of functional based exercises which use sport specific movements to prepare the body for movement. (8)  “Dynamic stretching, according to Kurz, "involves moving parts of your body and gradually increasing reach, speed of movement, or both." Do not confuse dynamic stretching with ballistic stretching! Dynamic stretching consists of controlled leg and arm swings that take you (gently!) to the limits of your range of motion. Ballistic stretches involve trying to force a part of the body beyond its range of motion. In dynamic stretches, there are no bounces or "jerky" movements. (9)  Several professional coaches, authors and studies have supported or shown the effectiveness of dynamic stretching.  Below are a few examples of support for dynamic stretching:


  1. Mike Boyle uses a dynamic warm-up with his athletes.  He goes through about 26000 workouts over the course of a summer.  In 2002 he did not have one major muscle pull that required medical attention. (10)

  2. Flexibility is speed specific.  There are two kinds of stretch receptors, one measures magnitude and speed and the other measures magnitude only.  Static flexibility improves static flexibility and dynamic flexibility improves dynamic flexibility which is why it doesn’t make sense to static stretch prior to dynamic activity. There is considerable but not complete transfer of static stretching to dynamic stretching(11)

  3. One author compared a team that dynamically stretched to a team that static stretched.  The team that dynamically stretched had fewer injuries. (8)

  4. There are few sports where achieving static flexibility is advantageous to success in the sport.  Therefore according to the principle of specificity it would seem to be more advantageous to perform a dynamic warm-up which more resembles the activity of the sport.(12)

  5. Dynamic Flexibility increases core temperature, muscle temperature, elongates the muscles, stimulates the nervous system, and helps decrease the chance of injury. (13)

  6. Another author showed that dynamic stretching does increase flexibility. (11)


As coaches, trainers and parents we all want our athletes to lower their incidence of injury and increase performance.  Dynamic flexibility has been used successfully by trainers and coaches to increase flexibility and possibly lower the incidence of injury.  It is the job of the coach or trainer to pick the method they feel is best suited for the sport and athletes.  The above evidence suggests the possibility that static stretching prior to activity is not the best solution.  Static stretching doesn’t necessarily lead to a decrease in injury and but may actually decrease performance.  If one purpose of the warm-up is to warm-up the body, wouldn’t static stretching actually cool the body down?  If static stretching is not the solution to a pre-game warm-up what is?  Dynamic stretching.


A sports performance program could look like this:


Beginning-              Dynamic warm up

Middle-                  Actual workout

End-                       Cool down/static stretching


Addition to the article-Nov 28th 2010


Since the original writing of this article the strength and conditioning industry seems to have gone in another direction than no static stretching before exercise. Beyond that,  now many trainers incorporate foam rolling, static stretching and dynamic stretching before exercise.  The scientific principles mentioned above may still hold true but just like other industries the knowledge we gain about improving and preparing our bodies for exercise always changes to.  So now your sports performance program would look like this:


Beginning- Foam Roll,  then static stretch,   then Dynamic stretch

Middle- Actual Workout

End- Cool Down/ Static Stretch.


1., So what about dynamic flexibility.

2.       Rod Pope,  'Skip the warm-up,'  New Scientist, 164(2214),  p. 23

3.       Gleim & McHugh (1997), 'Flexibility and its effects on sports injury and performance,' Sports Medicine, 24(5), pp. 289-299.

4.       Mick Critchell, Warm ups for soccer a Dynamic approach,  page 5.

5.       Rosenbaum, D. and E. M. Hennig. 1995. The influence of stretching and warm-up exercises on Achilles tendon reflex activity. Journal of Sport Sciences vol. 13, no. 6, pp. 481–90.

6.       Knudson, D., K. Bennet, R. Corn, D. Leick, and C. Smith. 2000. Acute Effects of Stretching Are Not Evident in the Kinematics of the Vertical Jump. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport    vol. 71, no. 1 (Supplement), p. A-30.

7.       Tomas Kurz,,

8.       Mann, Douglas, Jones Margaret 1999: Guidelines to the implementation of a dynamic stretching routine, Strength and Conditioning Journal:Vol 21 No 6 pp53-55


10.    Boyle, Mike, Functional Training for Sports,  pg 29

11.    Kurz, Tomas, Science of Sports Training,  page 236

12.    Hendrick, Allen, Dynamic Flexibility training,  Strength and conditioning Journal, Vol 22 no 5, Pgs 33-38.

13.    Frederick Gregory 2001 Baseball Part 1 Dynamic Flexibility, Strength and conditioning Journal Vol 23 No 1 Pages 21-30.


How I Learned To Love My Body As A Female Athlete

How I Learned To Love My Body As A Female Athlete

Society can no longer tell me what is and isn’t beautiful by Victoria Garrick

Original post:

February 1, 2017

Editor’s note: To help celebrate National Girls & Women in Sports Day we asked University of Southern California athlete Victoria Garrick for her take on being a female athlete in 2017. 

For so long, society has told women how we are supposed to act: Poised. Sweet. Quiet.

For so long, society has told women how we are supposed to be: Gentle. Delicate. Soft.

For so long, society has told women how we are supposed to look: Skinny. Sexy. Beautiful.

For so long, society never told women that we could be strong.

The idea of what it means to be a beautiful woman has changed for me many times. In 2011, when I was 13, I thought beautiful meant weighing the same as the Victoria’s Secret models I googled. In 2013, at 15, I thought beautiful meant having the hashtag-famous “thigh gap.” In 2016, at the age of 18, I thought beautiful meant not having to edit your pictures on Instagram.

Graduating high school, I was a lean girl happy with my appearance. Of course, I had fallen victim to believing in society’s standards a couple of times and maybe read too many tabloid magazines, but overall I was content with myself. This changed when I became a college athlete.

When I committed to the USC Women’s Indoor Volleyball team, I was overjoyed at the opportunity and prepared to learn, but I was not prepared for the significant changes my body was about to endure. After I started lifting and practicing with a Division I team, my body began to change quickly before my eyes. All of a sudden, I was burning close to 1,300 calories a practice, lifting heavy weights, and eating around 4,000 calories each day. This was a huge change from the routine I had grown accustomed to in high school.

Image via Jim Wolf

After just a few months of this regime, I was no longer that lean girl. I was bigger and I was muscular. However, I didn’t pay much attention to it until one particular weekend my freshman season.

Excited to have the day off, I went shopping. I wanted to buy something that would make me feel girly and pretty, because sweating in a gym every day and max-squatting 220 pounds isn’t girly and pretty, right? After grabbing a pile of clothes to try on, I headed into a changing room not knowing that the next 10 minutes would turn me against myself. The first pair of jeans wouldn’t pull past my thighs. The next shirt I tried was too tight on my arms. The dress I loved on the mannequin wasn’t zipping up my back. Piece after piece, nothing fit. I wondered anxiously, “Is it me? Is this marked wrong?!” As I squeezed out of the dress, my eyes welled with tears. After a few more attempts to make anything work, I could no longer hold in my emotions. Behind the curtains of a 5-by-5-foot changing room, I silently began to cry.

I could sprint 100 meters in 14.60 seconds. I could single-leg squat 130 pounds, and I could hold a plank for 4 minutes. All of this still means I’m feminine.

I spent the rest of that year attempting different diets, avoiding certain outfits, and despising the athletic lifts I had to do every day in practice. For countless months I was focusing on my body, trying to be skinnier, and trying to eat less than what my body required to perform.

However, after two semesters enduring this misery, I finally realized something that all female athletes must come to on their own: There is nothing wrong with my body.

I had a firm stomach. My legs were rock solid. And my arms were defined. I could sprint 100 meters in 14.60 seconds. I could single-leg squat 130 pounds, and I could hold a plank for 4 minutes. All of this didn’t make me any less feminine.

I was still that healthy-looking girl, but now I had the build of an athlete. What I hadn't understood in the dressing room was that I was strong. I didn’t know that strong was something I could be. From that point on, my outlook changed. Just because you are not a certain dress size, or weigh more than 120 pounds, does not mean you’re not beautiful. Just because your body needs to consume 4,000 calories a day, does not mean you are fat.

And, most importantly, girls who compete to win the national championship will not, and physically cannot, look the same as models clouding our Instagram feeds. So, as a female athlete playing volleyball for the University of Southern California, I finally realized what it meant to be a beautiful woman. And to my pleasure, it was nothing that society had told me to be.


What Makes A Nightmare Sports Parent -- And What Makes A Great One

What Makes A Nightmare Sports Parent -- And What Makes A Great One

By: Steve Henson 

Original post:


Hundreds of college athletes were asked to think back: "What is your worst memory from playing youth and high school sports?"

Their overwhelming response: "The ride home from games with my parents."

The informal survey lasted three decades, initiated by two former longtime coaches who over time became staunch advocates for the player, for the adolescent, for the child. Bruce E. Brown and Rob Miller of Proactive Coaching LLC are devoted to helping adults avoid becoming a nightmare sports parent, speaking at colleges, high schools and youth leagues to more than a million athletes, coaches and parents in the last 12 years.

Those same college athletes were asked what their parents said that made them feel great, that amplified their joy during and after a ballgame.

Their overwhelming response: "I love to watch you play."

There it is, from the mouths of babes who grew up to become college and professional athletes. Whether your child is just beginning T-ball or is a travel-team soccer all-star or survived the cuts for the high school varsity, parents take heed.

The vast majority of dads and moms that make rides home from games miserable for their children do so inadvertently. They aren't stereotypical horrendous sports parents, the ones who scream at referees, loudly second-guess coaches or berate their children. They are well-intentioned folks who can't help but initiate conversation about the contest before the sweat has dried on their child's uniform.

In the moments after a game, win or lose, kids desire distance. They make a rapid transition from athlete back to child. And they’d prefer if parents transitioned from spectator – or in many instances from coach – back to mom and dad. ASAP.

Brown (pictured below at podium), a high school and youth coach near Seattle for more than 30 years, says his research shows young athletes especially enjoy having their grandparents watch them perform.

"Overall, grandparents are more content than parents to simply enjoy watching the child participate," he says. "Kids recognize that."

A grandparent is more likely to offer a smile and a hug, say "I love watching you play," and leave it at that.

Meanwhile a parent might blurt out …

“Why did you swing at that high pitch when we talked about laying off it?"

"Stay focused even when you are on the bench.”

"You didn’t hustle back to your position on defense.”

"You would have won if the ref would have called that obvious foul.”

"Your coach didn't have the best team on the field when it mattered most.”

And on and on.

Sure, an element of truth might be evident in the remarks. But the young athlete doesn’t want to hear it immediately after the game. Not from a parent. Comments that undermine teammates, the coach or even officials run counter to everything the young player is taught. And instructional feedback was likely already mentioned by the coach.

"Let your child bring the game to you if they want to,” Brown says.

Brown and Miller, a longtime coach and college administrator, don't consider themselves experts, but instead use their platform to convey to parents what three generations of young athletes have told them.

"Everything we teach came from me asking players questions," Brown says. "When you have a trusting relationship with kids, you get honest answers. When you listen to young people speak from their heart, they offer a perspective that really resonates.”

So what’s the takeaway for parents?

"Sports is one of few places in a child's life where a parent can say, 'This is your thing,’ ” Miller says. "Athletics is one of the best ways for young people to take risks and deal with failure because the consequences aren’t fatal, they aren’t permanent. We’re talking about a game. So they usually don’t want or need a parent to rescue them when something goes wrong.

"Once you as a parent are assured the team is a safe environment, release your child to the coach and to the game. That way all successes are theirs, all failures are theirs."

And discussion on the ride home can be about a song on the radio or where to stop for a bite to eat. By the time you pull into the driveway, the relationship ought to have transformed from keenly interested spectator and athlete back to parent and child:

"We loved watching you play. … Now, how about that homework?"


Nearly 75 percent of kids who play organized sports quit by age 13. Some find that their skill level hits a plateau and the game is no longer fun. Others simply discover other interests. But too many promising young athletes turn away from sports because their parents become insufferable.

Even professional athletes can behave inappropriately when it comes to their children. David Beckham was recently ejected from a youth soccer field for questioning an official. New Orleans radio host Bobby Hebert, a former NFL quarterback, publicly dressed down LSU football coach Les Miles after Alabama defeated LSU in the BCS title game last month. Hebert was hardly unbiased: His son had recently lost his starting position at LSU.

Mom or dad, so loving and rational at home, can transform into an ogre at a game. A lot of kids internally reach the conclusion that if they quit the sport, maybe they'll get their dad or mom back.

As a sports parent, this is what you don't want to become. This is what you want to avoid:

Overemphasizing sports at the expense of sportsmanship: The best athletes keep their emotions in check and perform at an even keel, win or lose. Parents demonstrative in showing displeasure during a contest are sending the wrong message. Encouragement is crucial -- especially when things aren’t going well on the field.

Having different goals than your child: Brown and Miller suggest jotting down a list of what you want for your child during their sport season. Your son or daughter can do the same. Vastly different lists are a red flag. Kids generally want to have fun, enjoy time with their friends, improve their skills and win. Parents who write down “getting a scholarship” or “making the All-Star team” probably need to adjust their goals. “Athletes say their parents believe their role on the team is larger than what the athlete knows it to be,” Miller says.

Treating your child differently after a loss than a win: Almost all parents love their children the same regardless of the outcome of a game. Yet often their behavior conveys something else. "Many young athletes indicate that conversations with their parents after a game somehow make them feel as if their value as a person was tied to playing time or winning,” Brown says.

Undermining the coach: Young athletes need a single instructional voice during games. That voice has to be the coach. Kids who listen to their parents yelling instruction from the stands or even glancing at their parents for approval from the field are distracted and can't perform at a peak level. Second-guessing the coach on the ride home is just as insidious.

Living your own athletic dream through your child: A sure sign is the parent taking credit when the child has done well. “We worked on that shot for weeks in the driveway,” or “You did it just like I showed you” Another symptom is when the outcome of a game means more to a parent than to the child. If you as a parent are still depressed by a loss when the child is already off playing with friends, remind yourself that it’s not your career and you have zero control over the outcome.


Let’s hear it for the parents who do it right. In many respects, Brown and Miller say, it’s easier to be an ideal sports parent than a nightmare. “It takes less effort,” Miller says. “Sit back and enjoy.” Here’s what to do:

Cheer everybody on the team, not just your child: Parents should attend as many games as possible and be supportive, yet allow young athletes to find their own solutions. Don’t feel the need to come to their rescue at every crisis. Continue to make positive comments even when the team is struggling.

Model appropriate behavior: Contrary to the old saying, children do as you do, not as you say. When a parent projects poise, control and confidence, the young athlete is likely to do the same. And when a parent doesn’t dwell on a tough loss, the young athlete will be enormously appreciative.

Know what is suitable to discuss with the coach: The mental and physical treatment of your child is absolutely appropriate. So is seeking advice on ways to help your child improve. And if you are concerned about your child’s behavior in the team setting, bring that up with the coach. Taboo topics: Playing time, team strategy, and discussing team members other than your child.

Know your role: Everyone at a game is either a player, a coach, an official or a spectator. “It’s wise to choose only one of those roles at a time,” Brown says. “Some adults have the false impression that by being in a crowd, they become anonymous. People behaving poorly cannot hide.” Here’s a clue: If your child seems embarrassed by you, clean up your act.

Be a good listener and a great encourager: When your child is ready to talk about a game or has a question about the sport, be all ears. Then provide answers while being mindful of avoiding becoming a nightmare sports parent. Above all, be positive. Be your child's biggest fan. "Good athletes learn better when they seek their own answers," Brown says.

And, of course, don’t be sparing with those magic words: "I love watching you play."


Tough Conversations

Tough Conversations

Original post:

When I was a freshman in high school, my basketball team was small.  In fact, it was so small that we didn’t have a freshmen or JV team.  My coach was tough.  He had high expectations and conducted physically and mentally demanding practices.  I suited varsity, but only got in the last minute or two (if we were winning by enough).  Essentially, I only had the opportunity to play in practice.  However, I battled, knowing that next year could be my year.

The beginning of my sophomore year was different.  It was a huge disappointment for me.  I still found myself sitting on the bench, going in the last minute or so when my team was up big.  The basketball season is a grind, and I don’t care what anybody says, winter sports (basketball and wresting) are the most challenging.  The weather is cold, it gets dark at 4:30, it’s long, there are 3-4 games a week at times… it’s exhausting.  The weak will not survive, and at that time, I was weak.  I begged my parents to let me quit.

They didn’t say no, but they gave me a condition.  I could quit, IF I approached my coach and asked him about my role, and what I could do to get better.

Approach Coach P? To me, this was an absolute nightmare.  I didn’t sleep that night.  The entire school day, I didn’t hear a single word my teachers said, because I was so focused on how and when I would approach him.  I decided in math class that I would do it after practice that night.

Practice flew by.  It always seems like when you are dreading something, time races to the moment.  I took my practice shoes off, put on my sweats, and walked across the gym to what felt like my execution.

Coach was sitting in his office, already creating a scouting report for the next game.  I asked if I could talk to him, and as soon as I sat down, I started sobbing. I was thinking, “OHMYGOD OHMYGOD EMMA STOP CRYING,” but I couldn’t.  My disappointment and self-doubt all exploded into a disastrous ball of emotion.  So here I was, bawling in front of the man I feared most in this cold dark world… and I mean bawling, and do you know what he did?  Coach gave me a huge hug.

He let me talk (at least through my sobs), and then he let me listen.  He was honest.  He told me that I wasn’t ready.  I was too weak to be on the floor when it mattered the most, I didn’t work hard enough in the offseason, but he told me that I had potential, and asked me to stick with it.

I am honestly crying as I write this, thinking about how grateful I am for that moment with him, and for the guidance from my parents.  I finished the season, despite a lack of playing time, and worked hard that summer. The next year, I played in every single game.  I was awarded Honorable Mention All-Conference, and our team made it to the substate regional final, where I had 15 rebounds against IKM-Manning.

The following year, I was a senior captain and starter.  After the best athletic season I have ever participated in , my team made it to the first state tournament since the 1960s. I was again an All-Conference selection, and was invited to play at the Iowa All-Star Basketball game in Cedar Rapids.  My senior year laid the foundation for a 2010 team that would win its first state title.

What would have happened if my parents sent Coach P an email demanding to know why I wasn’t playing?  What would have happened if they let me quit without having a conversation with him?  My parents have taught me more things than I could ever count, but one of the most important things was to fight my own battles, and never give up.

They could have badmouthed my coach in the stands, wrote terrible things about him on social media, or encouraged me to quit.  I know this because as a coach, I get a lot of this every single season.  I have even had parents take a picture of me, and post it on facebook with some very nasty comments.  I have also had to ask my parents to escort me out of one of my games, because I had parents waiting to confront me in the lobby.  However, my parents didn’t make this about themselves; they made it about the relationship between my coach and me.

To this day, Coach P has been one of the most impacting people in my life.  Finding the courage to approach him, and having the ability to trust his honesty led me down one of the greatest paths in high school.  Now as a high school coach myself, basketball continues to be one of the biggest pieces of my life.

I urge all parents to encourage your children to fight their own battles.  Have your kids come talk to me, but also make sure they are open to my honesty.  I am not going to tell your child she deserves to play if she doesn’t.  Coach P did not lie to me.  He told me I wasn’t good enough to play yet, and I accepted that.  In fact, I felt that he respected me enough to be honest with me.  It motivated me, and I worked harder, until it paid off.