Protein 101: Why, How Much, and When

Are you like most people? Do you have a half-empty barrel of protein powder in your pantry that you purchased after imageswatching a mid afternoon special episode of Dr. Oz? Or do you work with a guy that lives off of protein shakes and preaches from the church of the smoothie. They berate your diet for its lack of protein and are always trying to lead you to buy a tub of protein powder…but do you really need this and if so, what’s the deal?

We are going to work to give you the low down on protein basics, the summary of research, and what science says about how much and when.

Why Protein?

There is no argument about the fact that essential nutrition is made up of macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals. The argument begins when discussing how much of each of these nutrients we should be taking in. Of course, the answer is dependent on the individual’s goals, body comp, and training program but I will work to give principles that allow you to make easy decisions for your specific scenario.

life_supremacy-protein-muscle-mass-guyAs you probably know, entire books are written every year and a multi-billion dollar industry continues to grow around how to successfully eat the right ratio of nutrients to gain or lose weight. Although the key to looking good is to obtain an ideal composition of fat and lean body mass, however the scope of this article is not going to touch on the subject of aesthetics. More so, we will look to clear up a couple of questions regarding the building and conservation of lean mass (muscle) in relation to sports performance and exercise.

 

A Bit of Science

Most any fitness goals (performance or body comp related) demand a certain amount of stress put on the body for changes to be made. And if your goals have anything to do with increasing lean muscle and burning fat, you best believe that stress should be focused into appropriate strength and conditioning in order to force a change in your body structure. These changes stem from specific break down in the tissue structure and a necessary release of hormones that create an anabolic environment. This environment creates a positive rebuild of tissue and release of hormones dependent on the amount of amino acid available in the body. These amino acids are broken down through dietary protein.

amino_acidBecause the amino acids that make up our proteins are responsible for everything from our structure, to our hormones, to our enzymes, to our immune chemicals, dietary protein is critical. Although our body can make certain amino acids, if we are not getting a diet rich in the essential amino acids, we cease to function.

In addition, without adequate daily protein intake, small daily losses from amino acid breakdown will eventually put us in a negative protein balance. While carbs and fats are pretty well maintained, it’s actually quite difficult to maintain a constant amino acid pool without dietary intervention. Amino acids are constantly lost through various forms (including exercise, diets, and normal bodily functions) and therefore the only way to replenish them is to ingest protein through the diet. If protein intake falls below daily amino acid loss, things like enzymes and structural proteins are cannibalized. If this persists long enough, our bodies vital functions begin to shut down.

Since, I’m pretty sure you’re not interested in that happening, let’s talk about what we can do. First off, we need to talk about how much we need?

How Much?

The recommended minimum protein intake for sedentary, generally healthy adults is 0.8g of protein per kg of body mass, simply to prevent protein deficiency. This translates to about 55 g of protein per day for a 150 lb individual.

During high intensity training, these needs may be increased to about 1.4 to 2.0 g of protein per kg of body mass. This is between 95 and 135 g of protein per day for a 150 lb individual. Similar increases in protein intake above the 0.8 g/kg baseline are recommended during periods of low energy intake (dieting) or low carb intake.

Some research suggests that higher amounts of protein in the diet may be vital for immune function, metabolism, satiety, weight management and performance. Therefore, many experts recommend around 1 g of protein per pound of bodyweight with no negative effects.

Clearly, a high amount of protein is needed to continue our natural processes even without the additional needs for periods 3215367691_103367572_XS_xlargeof intense exercise. And unless you are keeping boiled chicken at your desk, I can assume that you are not getting these high amounts in your daily routine. In fact, in my 11 years of training athletes and at every age, I can count on my hand, the times that anyone has had an appropriate grasp on their protein intake.

For this reason, we have seen the huge influx of smoothies and shakes becoming a part of everyday popular culture. Drinking your veggies and protein is a convenient way to continue our “on-the-go” lifestyles and get the necessary daily nutrients. In comes, Protein Powders…

What kind?

There are hundreds of different brands of protein powders from a varied source of proteins. I will highlight and give a quick detail to just a few of the most popular, but recommend the Precision Nutrition article here (http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-protein-powders), written by Ryan Andrews.

Sources of Protein

This argument usually begins with the vegetable protein vs. animal proteins. If you are a vegan and do not want to take in any animal nutrition, then by all means, go vegetable but be careful that you are supplementing with other sources that can give you the essential amino acids that are not found in most vegetable food sources.  Most vegetable proteins are blends of different sources of proteins. Make sure that you are reading the label for what types are included and know that this may include genetically modified veggies.

The most researched form of animal protein is definitely cow protein in the form of whey. Whey is shown to be the most bio-available (meaning that a large portion of it can be absorbed and used by the body) and quickest to be digested. The fall back is that some people are intolerant or sensitive to lactose that is contained in whey products.

How the Powder is made?

Other than the source of protein, the process of how the powder is processed is highly important in choosing the right type for your needs. Other than the ones listed below, some others to consider are hydrolyzed, ionized powders. We will only consider the most popular in this article.

Concentrates – these powders are created by using a high heat process to concentrate the protein along with several other additional natural extras from the whole food (fat, cholesterol, lactose) and create an affordable protein powder. It is usual for these powders to have 60-70% protein, by weight.

Isolates – just as it sounds, the process (through alcohol wash, water wash, or ionization) isolates the protein without the other aspects of the whole food, and then goes through a filtration. This can make the powder more expensive, but does not contain the fats, carbs, or cholesterols. These proteins regularly contain 90-95% protein, by weight.

Bio Availability

The next consideration of how much to take and what type, is how to ensure that you will be able to absorb and utilize the protein that you are drinking. Bioavailability is the term used in reference to this notion of absorption. In several different research studies (reference: http://www.jissn.com/content/5/1/10) , it has been show that liquid takes about 1.5 hours to pass through the portion of the intestines that actually absorbs the protein for utilization. During this time, protein is maximally absorbed at the rate of 8-10g of protein per hour…so a maximum of 15g of protein is about all we will get out of our protein shake.

The kicker is that there are ways to slow down this liquid passing through the intestine and speeding up the absorption rate. One way to speed up the absorption, in the intestines, is to include digestive enzymes with the protein. This has been shown to increase amino acid levels by 127%, versus 30% without the enzymes.

When?

We have discussed how much, types of protein and how to increase our absorption, but the most important aspect of taking a shake is timing. A missed opportunity or poorly timed shake can mean the vast majority of your drink is never absorbed and your body is stuck looking for other ways to replenish its amino pool. This can be the difference between your body breaking down muscle or your its ability to build/keep your treasured lean mass.

Here are the quick facts about timing as it relates to Working Out according to a review of literature on the subject (http://www.jissn.com/content/10/1/5).

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 7.37.50 AMIt has been shown that a meal can provide enough anabolic effects for ~5-6 hour after eating. With this being said, it is best to follow these guidelines to take in ~20g of protein in relation to your training…

If you train fasted, in the morning or ~ 5 hours after a meal -> it is best to have your protein  shake prior to or during your workout and for best results, you may want to pair that with a carb.

If you have eaten ~3 hours prior to working out -> it is best to have a shake immediately after your workout

If you have eaten 1-2 hours prior to your workout -> you can wait to take in your shake for 1-2 hours after your workout or get to your next meal.

SUMMARY

  • It is recommended to take in 1-2 grams per kg of bodyweight in protein, per day with recommendations as high as 1 gram per pound of bodyweight.
  • If you do not have any food sensitivities, consider taking a whey protein isolate source if supplementation is desired, due to the most complete nutritional profile and absorption ability
  • Include digestive enzymes with your powder, in order to increase your absorption rate 4-5x the same powder without the enzymes
  • Consider the timing of your last meal, in order to most effectively decide when to take your protein shake

Performance Unlimited has created a private label brand of cold filtered whey protein isolate, based on the research presented above. Hormone and Gluten free, extremely high bio-availability due to including digestive enzymes, and never any artificial ingredients.

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Source: Berardi J, Andrews R. The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. 2014.

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Parents: Don’t Shoot the Messenger! You May Be the Reason…

Last week I wrote a post about how young players can take control of how much attention they are given, in try outs, by exacerbating a few key “controllable” character traits that coaches get excited about. Naturally, by giving insight and insider information on the “realities” within the game, I had a little backlash from some parents that may not have liked everything they read. I will take this opportunity to admit, I have come to accept that writing or having opinions worth any merit will probably result in a large mob chasing after me with pitchforks and torches.

Without further a due, I invite you to have your favorite hay bailing tool by your side and keep the kerosine close, as the remainder of this post may not put me in the best grace’s with most of you.

Enter Harsh Reality…

I proudly consider Performance Unlimited the “missing link” that exists between the parent and the coach. We are a truly neutral party towards all clubs and teams, and can freely give real, non-partisan, information to everyone that asks for our services. We have no dog in the fight, and have turned down opportunities within clubs because I value this position greatly. Our staff will never recommend players move to a club, however we often give recommendations on coaches that I feel create the right environment for the player in question. These coaches vary greatly across the city, with a variety of different clubs.

It is my belief that parents appreciate our program, because we naturally create a nonjudgmental and confident environment within our training facility, that allows the player to blossom into surpassing potential. The coach can appreciate us (well, most coaches), because we have the time and resources to make sure that each player is progressing in the manner that said coach feels is best. We exist as an extension of the team coach and a voice for the parents.

With that being said, I can also give all parties a bit of truth which should come of no surprise to either entity. Parents and coaches rarely have a relationship where positive and clear communication exists. Therefore, each side has quite a bit of frustration pent up that may never get out until it is too late or rears itself as an all out shouting match. When either side does try to do the right thing and say what is on their mind, judgement often ensues and typically everyone walks away more angry than before.

I have made no secret that the 2-3 weeks prior to tryouts are not my favorite time of year, and I have witnessed and heard of too many instances where parents are doing more harm for their children than good. Every coach has their “crazy parent” story…EVERY COACH! And I feel it is my duty to let parents in on what may irk the very person that has the ability to make your beloved son or daughter’s next year of soccer a great experience or a nightmare. Remember, do not shoot the messenger, as I am sure these examples do not include you or your past actions…but be aware so that they never do become a part of your interactions with your child’s soccer career.

Here is a list of things you, as a parent, may want to avoid, prior to tryouts or any other time, for that matter:

  1. Giving the coach an assessment of where your child should play. Whether it be position, team, or any other “expert” advice you may have from your illustrious Lincoln High class of ’82 (the golden years of American player development) career. This is single-handedly the last opinion that you should be giving to a professional coach.
  2. Calling the coach every day. If your coach or DOC is not answering the phone, it is, most likely, for a good reason…they don’t want to hear you go through the first mention on this list. All you need is one very simple and justifiable conversation that would introduce yourself (or touch base, if you know them already) and say that your son/daughter is looking forward to the chance to be at tryouts. Enough said. Don’t allow the coach to create a picture of you “calling them at midnight, after practice, next year because you want to talk about how little Johnny is a natural striker, not an outside back”.
  3. Letting yourself get anxious or nervous before tryouts. This is not your world, parents. If you want your child to be on the team that is best for them, they need to play well, and the way to ensure that they do not play well is to be an absolute ball of nerves leading up to tryouts. Kids are the most intuitive people on earth…they know you like the back of their hands. When you are suddenly having them attend every session that the DOC is putting on, buying them $150 pairs of cleats, and telling them that “if they don’t move up a team, then they should give up the sport”…they are automatically going to freak out.
  4. Relating personal status with team name. This is the most applicable to youth soccer. I understand that you want what is best for your child, and you exist to protect them from harm. However, the name Predator or Gold after their year of birth, does not make them any more of a person than playing Recreational soccer. What a person does on the field does not reflect on who they are. You have to believe that and preach that value to your children, or it will be a long and expensive road.
  5. Using political ties or other means to allow your child to be where they do not deserve. This not only effects the team where the player ends up, but it will effect the player as an individual. A lower level player on an upper level team, is a liability for the development of the team and the individual. Most often, the year spent on the upper team will swing the pendulum for the player far in the opposite direction. The player ends up moving down and the confidence of that player has been killed because they have sat the bench for a year and compared themselves unrealistically to others much more capable. Shame on you and shame on the coach for allowing it!
The summary of all of this is, we each play a role for your child’s development. His/her “team” does not stop with the 10 other players on the field. The game coach, the parents, the trainer, and the siblings all play a huge part on how far a player can go in this sport. Make sure that the part you play is a positive one that does not step outside of your role. You are not their coach (even if you do know about the game), you are not their friend, you are not their baby sitter. You are there to teach them core values and character traits that allows them to create their own environment, despite how good or bad the team environment may be. The skill sets you teach will allow them to always be confident about themselves, not worry about the team they are on, not be eternally scarred by the yelling coach on the side lines, and not be fearful of making a mistake. You are there to pick them up when they need you and to celebrate who they are, not what they do. You need to focus on being the coach for the more important game of life and the values that will allow them to succeed for the years beyond the game.
This game will pass, trust me, it will be quick. Our time is precious and every moment is a learning opportunity for these young people to play what they love and learn valuable lessons from it. Focus on this, and what is best for each person to learn this appropriately. I would love to say that there is a club that exists with those same missions for each player…but we all know that is far from reality. However, I can say with confidence that Performance Unlimited has the personal development focus while creating a more effective player. It is who we are and what we strive to work on with every individual person.

For more information on Jeremy Boone, Parent Your Best, or how to play your parent role to the best of your ability, visit:  www.parentyourbest.com

Thanks

John

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Performance Unlimited is new training home for Charlotte Eagles

PERFORMANCE UNLIMITED IS THE NEW STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING HOME FOR THE CHARLOTTE EAGLES.

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Performance Unlimited and USL PRO’s Charlotte Eagles are thrilled to announce their partnership for the 2014 season. The Eagles are coming off a historic 2013 run as the runner’s up in the national finals with a heart breaking loss to Orlando City. With a ton of new talent from the top college soccer programs in the country and a slew of players with MLS experience, this years team is setting it’s expectations high.

It’s a natural fit for both Eagles and Performance because of the shared values in developing both personally and professionally within the game of soccer. It will be great to get to know the staff and the players on a level that extends beyond the field.

Performance Unlimited will play the role of strength and conditioning and a supplemental training home for the men’s side, during their 2014 campaign. President, John Lytton, will be heading the relationship along with the Performance staff to work closely with the Eagles coaching staff in order to provide supplemental training developing team and individual strength training, speed, prevention of injury, and nutritional intervention. 

okaiCharlotteIt all starts with a series of testing that we will administrate with each player already signed with the team and those players in trial situations. This will give the staff a good view of the teams current physical condition and know the next step we may need to provide…Our vision is to give a bit of insight into the players physiological state of readiness for training intensity and competition as well as strategies to continue to profess their fitness and maintain health throughout a long season. -John Lytton

For more info on the Charlotte Eagles, go to their website at charlotteeagles.com and check back to our blog for updates and insights on how we are helping Charlotte’s only professional men’s soccer team reach their best.

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Performance signs with Pro Player Agency

 

performance(redefine)

Performance Unlimited is pleased to announce the continued growth of our services to the highest quality of player development available. It has always been our mission to be industry leaders for physical performance in the world of soccer, and the recognition of well respected player agent Adam Pastore and his agency, Carolina Sports Agency, is a large step in achieving this goal.

“This is a great partnership for Carolina Sports Agency and our athletes.  The entire staff at Performance Unlimited is proficient, passionate, and committed to providing outstanding service to clients, and we could not ask for a better partner.”

CSA Logo

Carolina Sports Agency is the representing entity for a host of professional players across several different leagues, including a large portion within the MLS. Based in Charlotte, CSA representation includes several local players that have gone on to sign MLS contracts, including Giuseppe Gentile, Jared Watts, and Alex Martinez. The tireless personal service that Adam is able to give his players is a large part of why so many young MLS stars are choosing CSA.

giussi_CHI_FIREAdam always has my best interest in mind and he cares about me as a person.  Both he and John work hard to provide the best service to their clients. It has already paid off for me, as I continue to develop as a professional. -Giuseppe Gentile: Chicago Fire

 

alex_martinez_kcAdam is an extremely hard working guy.  He is always available no matter the time or circumstances, and he has 100% confidence in his players. -Alex Martinez: Sporting KC

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Carolina Sports Agency allows me as a player to only have to focus on performing at the highest level possible.  Adam is always honest and he looks out for the best interest of his players. -Jared Watts: Colorado Rapids

The modern game of soccer demands a much higher respect to the physical side of the game and that these players are provided the appropriate resources that can give them the necessary expertise and facilities while they are away from their teams. It will be our role, at Performance, to work with the professional players in all soccer-specific aspects of physical development, in order to ensure/improve the longevity and success of their career. We will communicate directly with Adam and the individual club’s fitness coaches to compliment their yearly program and work to correlate this information within our proven systems. Being the premiere soccer specific training company in Charlotte, and already garnering experience working to develop some of Carolina Sports’ current players, we feel the relationship is natural and already a positive one.

“With this partnership, our clients at CSA will have complete access to the facility and all of its services.  Performance Unlimited can help our clients in several ways, whether they are preparing for a tryout, rehabilitating from an injury, or looking for some advanced technical work in the offseason.  The benefits offered by Performance Unlimited will be instrumental in helping our clients maximize their potential.

Performance Unlimited is so much more than just a workout facility.  Every aspect of the athlete’s experience at the facility is completely personalized.  Advanced testing is used to assess each athlete to determine his body type, movement, fitness level, nutrition, and more.  The staff will even film workout sessions and break down the video with each client to help improve technique.  Each athlete performs different types of drills and workouts depending on which position he plays.  The attention to detail is incredible.  There is no question that Performance Unlimited has the formula to help athletes take their game to the next level.” -Adam Pastore: President Carolina Sports Agency

If you want your player, no matter what age or level, to get the same quality programming that the Pro’s are looking for…let us know. Send us an email at info@theperformanceu.com or give us a call at 704-750-0805. We will guide you through the process that is best for your situation. Classes are open enrollment and price depends on needs, frequency, and commitment.

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Performance Education Series feat. PLAY YOUR BEST SERIES

performance(redefine)

Performance Unlimited is continuing our successful start to our newest service, Performance Education. Our first event had Tim Livingston, from ACES nation come in and give a great education piece on College Recruiting. Our turn out was great and the information was even better. Now we want to build on that event and dial into the athlete and fitness enthusiast with a calendar of events that enforce our vision of becoming the leading education resource for youth sports, health, and wellness.

See the Calendar below and pass this along to all of your friends that would benefit from the topics:

  • Thursday, February 27thAthlete Mindset: Mastering Self Confidence with Jeremy Boone. This event is open to all parents and athletes, ages 12 and older. All sports are welcome. $5 registration fee for each attendee. There is a minimum of 10 that must register for event to be held. Click Here for Registration 
  • Thursday, March 6thPerformance Nutrition: Weight Loss 101 with Sarah Cook Ms, Rdn, Ldn. This event is open to the public for registration with a $5 cover charge. Click Here for Registration
  • Thursday, March 13thAthlete Mindset: Creating Mental Toughness with Jeremy Boone. This event is open to all parents and athletes, ages 12 and older. All sports are welcome. $5 registration fee for each attendee. There is a minimum of 10 that must register for event to be held. Click Here for RegistrationCoaching-springbreak5DSC_0026

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VOTE Performance Unlimited Programs in Best of Best Charlotte

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Want to brag to your friends that you train with the Best in Charlotte? 

Although we do not exist for the sake of awards, we do want to get the opportunity to tell our story to a larger audience. In order to best support our mission we want others to know how valuable of a resource we have been to clients like yourself. Our services are vast and programs give every individual client something different, but we have put ourselves in the mix of categories that we feel Performance Unlimited programs best represents.

You do not have to live in Charlotte to vote…you can vote as many times as you’d like.

In order to vote, go to this link, from February 10 – February 23 and vote for PERFORMANCE UNLIMITED in the categories listed below in Services + Family:

YOU MUST VOTE FOR, at least 25% of the ballot, FOR YOUR VOTE TO COUNT.

Link: http://www.charlottemagazine.com/Best-of-the-Best/

Categories to Vote for Performance Unlimited:

  • Best Kids Sports Program

  • Best New Gym

  • Best Results Gym

  • Best Personal Trainer – John Lytton 

  • Any other category that you believe we deserve, feel free to put us in the vote

Thanks for all that you do for us! You guys are the Best of the Best Clients in Charlotte.

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We are GIVING away $1000 College Scholarships

In a continued effort at providing a full service, supplemental resource for soccer development, we are beginning our Development Workshop Series with an unbelievable event for the college soccer recruiting process. Performance Unlimited is bringing a true expert, in Tim Livingston, in order to have him give an insider look at how to be successful at one of the least understood processes in your sports.

Best of all, every player younger than 11th grad (even as low as 3rd grade) will receive a $1000 college scholarship to your choice of over 317 different colleges and universities across the country.  Here are some of the FAQ’s that have been asked about this event:

  • Where is the event? At the Performance Unlimited facility at 6300 Carmel Rd, Suite 140.
  • Does the athlete have to attend? No, in fact we recommend that any player younger than 8th grade not to attend. If you are an 8th grader or older, the information is very applicable and valuable, however we absolutely want to have the parents be the priority in attending.
  • How do we register? All parents can register here: http://acesrewards.org/seminar-events/ 
  • Can I get the $1000 scholarship for multiple children? Yes, you can register as many athletes as you would like, and each of them will qualify for the scholarship (except juniors and seniors in high school).
  • For more info, see the ACES website by clicking the flyer link below or you can email us at info@theperformanceu.com or call 704-750-0805

    Flyer_College Recruting 101_Charlotte2_Jan 7 2014

 

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5 Myths in Youth Soccer Development: Part 2 – Speed

5 myths about physical development in youth soccer

Part 2

In the first post (here), we touched on the notion that all youth soccer players should play multiple sports to avoid injury, increase athleticism, and prevent “burn out”. The opinions of these posts are those of my experience with training youth soccer players, over the past 6 years and are meant to bring a clear approach on how these Myths are simply traditional misconceptions, totally unfounded by research, or are theories that do not hold merit within the culture and demands of competitive youth soccer. I invite you to create a discussion around my views and conclude, in your specific situation, whether these arguments are appropriate.

Myth #2 – Speed is purely genetic and cannot be coached. Speed training, in soccer, is developed through endless sprints with little rest, just like the game is played.

Obviously, within my profession and our programming, we are adamant about the fact that speed training can definitely be taught and it’s fit into the game of soccer should be specifically designed for developing players, young and old. In fact, just like any skill on the ball, speed is a complex neuromuscular pattern and needs to be taught consistently, for effective results to occur.  I believe that the more important conversation and questions are as follows:

  1. What does speed training for soccer look like?
  2. Are certain ages (biological) more susceptible to speed development?
  3. Can speed training be added into practice?

 What does speed training for soccer look like?

SONY DSCThere is much research about the specific demands of the game and how many sprints take place, on average, within a match. Most research states that, within a 90 minute match, players run upwards of ~6 miles and make an estimated 19 high speed sprints (straight) per game with an average duration of 2 seconds, each. We should also include the fact that players are performing anywhere from 700-900 different changes of direction within each game, and speed does not just include the work performed in straight sprinting. Lastly, It is worth mentioning that statistically, the game is played at a much higher speed than even 10 years ago. In professional soccer, the number of sprints and high intensity activity per game has doubled, since 2002. Not only is the ball moving faster, but the players are as well, so speed becomes a very critical portion of youth soccer development.

So with all of this being said, how should speed training be conducted for soccer athletes? Even though the majority of runs, within a soccer match, are executed at less than 100% speed (due to energy demands), the ability to increase the overall speed of the player enables the lower speeds to become faster. Thus, in order for your training to become effective speed training, the drills must be conducted at 100-110% of maximum velocity for effective change. You must teach your body to become fast. If you train speed at 80%, then your body only knows 80% to be its highest speed potential.

**Yes, it does exist to train above 100% max velocity, through a number of ways that may be discussed in other posts

Secondly, if you are going to train at this level of intensity, then the duration, recovery time, and volume must be appropriate. In other words, you must sprint short enough distances to enable 100%+ speed, you must give your body the ability to recover so that you can repeat that same intensity, and the volume must be high enough to create a positive change and low enough so that the body is not in a chronically overloaded state. Complicated, right? Here are some guidelines:

  • Duration = 10-40 yards or 1-5 seconds
  • Recovery = work to rest ratio of 1 to 20-40, or for ever :01 second sprinting give :20-:40 recovery
  • Volume = for youth players, within general practice sessions, the volume should be kept to ~50-100 yards of total quality/high intensity sprinting. If the session is totally dedicated to speed, then you can move the volume closer to 200 yards, depending on the desired outcome.
  • If changes of direction or plyometric exercises are included in your speed work, I would recommend more recovery and lower volumes, due to the neuromuscular fatigue that takes place within these movements.

Lastly, but most importantly, the sprint training, just like any other skill, must have clear and concise coaching objectives for effective change to take place. The normal youth soccer player, albeit very athletic, is extremely inefficient and ineffective in their technical running form. Quick changes made by simple cues, will give an immediate progression of speed ability. Do not let your players add volume onto dysfunction. If the player is running incorrectly, the issue will only continue until changed, therefore the progression for speed will be much less effective. Here are some simple cues for linear speed training (cues for change of direction and quickness are different):

  • Arms must work from chest to clear the hips
  • The foot must make ground contact underneath the hip to push backwards
  • The player’s posture must be such, that the hips extend forward, generating efficient acceleration

Are certain ages more susceptible to speed development? 

 

The answer to this question is, yes, but that does not mean that speed training should be ignored outside of these ages. Biological age is different from chronological age, in that the individual body grows at very different speeds. You can look at several 13 year old boys and girls in a line and see that one player may be much more physically developed then the others. This means that the bodies ability to train and develop certain skill sets are much different, due to the integrity of the skeletal, neuromuscular, and cardiovascular systems. The concept of biological vs. chronological age is very important for physical development of players.

Speed development is best trained at two separate times of biological development:

  • Females Speed 1 = at a biological age of -6 to -4 (6 to 4 years away from the body’s fastest growth spurt) or 6 to 9 years old.
  • Females Speed 2 = biological age 0 (during or just after the fastest stage of growth) or, typically around 11-13 years old.
  • Males Speed 1 = biological age -7 to -5 (7 to 5 years away from the fastest stage of growth) or, typically around 7 to 9 years old.
  • Males Speed 2 = biological age 0 (during or just after the fastest stage of growth) or, typically around 13-16 years old.

Can speed training be added into practice?

Although there are few different types of training that will increase speed, within a soccer player, a large majority of these training modalities can be done on field within a practice. We have already discussed recommended intensity, duration, and volume of runs for speed, but another important aspect of speed development is strength training. Common sense will tell you that the more fit and strong a player is, the faster they will become. Research shows that the more a player can squat, the faster they are within their acceleration sprints of 0-10yds. We will be touching base on appropriate strength and fitness training in later posts, but I would like to add simple guidelines to speed work within training.

  • All speed training should be performed at the beginning of the session, just after the players are warmed up.
  • Have a technical objective within the speed drills performed that aligns with your objectives for the rest of the practice. Make sure that these drills are performed with quality technique to create good habits.
  • Plyometric and strength training can be performed on field, but should be done intelligently, at the correct volumes and ages.
  • Make sure that players of all ages (even 7-8 years old) are going through age specific strength training, in order to increase speed potential and decrease injuries.

Please let me know if you have any questions

Till next week

John Lytton

Posted in Blog, Rhythm, Special Offers, Speed, tryouts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 secrets to Dominate Try Outs

10 Tips to Separate Yourself from the Crowd in Try Outs

Every May, for the last 5 years, I have learned to brace myself for the inevitable influx of insanity that players (and parents) exude during the weeks leading up to tryouts. There is an unmistakable change in the way young players see the game and how they view themselves within the game. The bundle of questions begin to swirl around in the players mind:

  • Do I want to play on the top team next year?
  • Am I good enough?
  • Is my current club the best environment for me?
  • How can I get better in 2 weeks?

These questions, and a myriad of others that each player begins to ask themselves are all valid and I am here to help answer those questions. First, yes, you can change in 1 day. Yes, you can be more impactful and show the best version of you in just 2 days of try outs. Yes, you can separate yourself from the masses of others trying to compete for the same spot on the team.

Is it true that 90% of teams are chosen by the coaches and directors before the first day? Of course it is true…(edit) well, let me rephrase that by saying that 10% of all top and bottom players on a team are on the fence to be moved up or down. So, 90% may be a stretch for the teams, outside of the top in the age group. In fact, it is the only way for clubs to have an effective process by which appropriate measures are taken for players to be selected for the right teams. If you are just now understanding that “tryouts” is not just a 2 day trial, but a year long process, then I have either set you at ease or made you panic even more.

We polled over 12 coaches and directors in all the clubs and age groups in and around Charlotte and came up with this list of 10 ways that every player can control the single most important aspect of try outs…will the coach notice you?

Our advice is not going to take you from the last team to the first. It will not make you go from recreational play to the national team. But heeding these 10 controllable aspects of your game can take you from “on the bubble” to “absolute” for the next level. Executing this check list will have you in the minds of every coach and director for this year and years to come. These are not just pieces of advice, these are life lessons.

Because our time is sensitive, players just typically listen more this time of year versus any other…so I will take advantage of the time and help make you a better, more impactful, confident, and comfortable player, now!

  1. Introduce Yourself. The best way that any player can give himself or herself the chance at being noticed is to make sure that, at least, 1 coach knows your name. If you already know the coach, make sure that you talk to him or her and are top of the mind. I recommend that you introduce yourself to 2 coaches within the first day of tryouts, preferably before the first session. Showing character and interest in the coach and a potential opportunity for their squad has them salivating at the mouth. There is nothing more exciting to a coach than a player that shows the potential to be a joy for the next year.
  2. Make Friends. It is human nature for players, in an unfamiliar environment, to look for the people they know or like before looking to pass to the “stranger”. We all know that this is not the best way to play and do not encourage any of our players to do so, but we also know that the nature of human interaction and how it plays on decision making. The fact is that players will side with the player that you know. Tryout is about spot-lighting you…and the spot light generally follows the ball. Give yourself the best chance at receiving the ball by introducing yourself to as many players as possible before the first session.
  3. Know your best position. Be prepared to answer the tough questions that many coaches will “test” young players with. For instance, “what are your strengths”? And “where do you play’? Scrimmages will dominate the time in tryouts and if you get the chance to be in the position that showcases you at your best, be proactive and let them know. “Coach, I’ll play wherever you need me, but my best position is outside back”. I can’t tell you how many times players have come away from tryouts frustrated because they spent the majority of their time at an unfamiliar position. Don’t let it happen to you.
  4. Be Vocal. You first job, in a tryout, is to highlight the qualities that would convince a coach you are going to be a valuable addition to their team. Most often, when young players enter a new situation, they are not comfortable. Therefore, they are silent. If coaches do not hear you, they are unlikely to see you, and they can not choose you. One way to ensure you get a look, and show coaches your soccer IQ, is to give good clear communication on the field.
  5. Be Involved. Reality for players that are changing clubs, or players that want to move up in the same club, is that the environment is strange and intimidating. The fact remains that the young players that are getting the best looks from coaching staff are, typically, the returning players, because they have the confidence to always be involved in the game. This does not mean you have to have the ball all the time, but rather focus on “off ball” interaction, such as defending, communicating, and making sure that you are always an option. Do not hide and believe that you are better when you are an impact to the game.
  6. Be at the Front. I don’t mean to become repetitive by saying that players must be noticed to be picked, but it truly can be what makes or breaks your chances for the right team. I recommend that you try and be in the first 3-5 places in line for a drill. Chances are, with so many players, that a coach becomes distracted after the first 5 and may not notice your ability.
  7. Effort Trumps Fear. An overwhelming amount of coaches stated to me, while interviewing them for this post, that they look more favorably on the effort that a player makes to play correctly, versus the player that plays to avoid mistakes. The thought process is that a coach is always going to prefer to develop a player that mentally is stronger and has the ability to try new concepts and skills, versus a player that may be too focused on failure or looking bad. Thus making them ineffective and a frustration to progress.
  8. Athleticism is a TieBreaker. When coaches have to choose between two players that are tied in every other aspect of the game, they always go with the more athletic player (or which parent is less annoying). Even if you feel that your speed, size, or quickness needs work, you can be sure that athleticism is not a factor that will keep you from being chosen by playing aggressively. Being aggressive physically and mentally will make you 15% more athletic, automatically. A famous coach once said, “I don’t have to be faster than you, as long as I move 2 steps before you do”. If you are making sure that you are always ready and anticipating the play, you will move 2 steps before everyone else and ensure your athletic ability is a highlight, not a low light.
  9. The Best Version of You. The best players are the most confident. The most confident players are the ones that know who they are within the game of soccer. What are your unique qualities that make you good? Where do you need work? Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, but few players are bold enough to try and answer the question for themselves. It is absolutely important for every player to “KNOW YOURSELF, CHOOSE YOURSELF, and GROW YOURSELF”. In other words, get to know what makes you effective, be confident in those skills, and use them often.
  10. Have Fun! There is not a coach on the planet that does not notice a player that looks like they are having fun every time they play. The nervous players, the uncomfortable players, the scared players, and the players that are too serious are the ones that make coaches think that they may be too much of a headache to want them on their team. Every coach wants to surround themselves with players that are having fun all the time, and making those players around you have fun, as well.

***Stay tuned to the next post regarding how YOU the PARENTS are possibly killing your players chance of getting on the team they deserve, without even knowing it!

 

Posted in Blog, Culture, Mental, tryouts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to prevent injuries and increase performance in 6 weeks

 

“Ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” – Ben Franklin

“The function of protecting and developing health must rank even above that of restoring it when it is impaired” – Hippocrates

 

The ACL injury rate with female soccer players is at an epidemic rate. We all know that…but I am calling out all the parents and coaches that read this and do nothing about it. If you are not helping your player to resist these injuries, you are accepting that this is just a part of every athlete’s journey. I strongly disagree with that rationale, and for those who are already in a strength program, you may want to question everything that your son or daughters trainer is doing and seriously begin to inquire about the effectiveness of their program. I am in constant reminder that players are moving more and more into the notion that they need programs that will work on the physical aspects of the game, but not all programs are created equal.

  • Does your physical program know the demands of soccer?
  • Does your program understand the culture of soccer (seasons of competition)?
  • Does your program understand your individual needs?
  • Does your program include movement quality with strength gains?
  • Is it correctly progressive?
  • Is it grounded in research?
  • Does it force the player to work on cardio conditioning (trust me…most young players do not need it and older players get too much of it)?

My point is that it is up to you, as the consumer, to ask these questions and get to know what the program itself is really doing for your performance.

Here is a letter that I wrote, back in 2010, to a large club, after I witnessed 6 knee related injuries and/or surgeries on 1 team within 12 months. The club gently told me that they already had plans to install a proper warm up for all club teams. I agree that this would be a great step towards injury prevention and enhanced performance…but I am still waiting for that warm up to show up. I have inserted _’s to keep the identity of club and persons involved anonymous.

Thanks _,

I appreciate your concern for the subject and your efforts, so far.

_, thanks for taking the time to listen in on some thoughts/concerns that I have for the female soccer players in this area and throughout the country, as well. Obviously, the direct (or indirect) influence(s) that we may be able to have in regards to creating insight and attention into this epidemic of sorts could have profound effects on a players future objectives within soccer. In turn, this will have an effect in her choice of possible opportunities to study, as well as keeping them away from long term health issues and procedures that may be avoided.

I am close to this matter, only as a coach that has and currently is working with players that have returned to play from knee reconstructions, various soft tissue problems, chronic pains, compartment syndrome, and too many other sports related injuries that _ knows too much about already, as a prominent _ business. It is not just the frequency of injuries that have occurred, but the lack of action taken by clubs and coaches and lack of questions asked by parents and players, that have me a bit confused about the situation.

Why is everyone in the soccer community just considering this part of the game?

_, your daughter is 6 times more likely to tear an ACL than the boy that is playing at her age. As I am taking stock in the number of surgeries that have occurred within the top female teams from U15-U18 at _, it will show up to 1 in every 6 players. WITH THE U16’s HAVING 5 IN THE LAST YEAR AND A HALF! That is a staggering number, and I know that I would want to know how I could keep my daughter away from being one of the 2-3 players PER TEAM that will be having surgery. This is also knowing that 70% of ACL injuries occur in non-contact situations. So, we are not speaking about the “freak” incidences when players collide or a bad tackle happens. These are the avoidable one’s.

I have taken the liberty of going to all area clubs within the Charlotte vicinity and read their mission statements. Every single club, that I have seen, has the player’s “best interest” or “development” as the center piece, but I don’t hear about the ways that they are working to keep each player safe from injury. I apologize if any club (_) is taking measures that I do not know about, however if they are it must be minimal; because I have players at every level at every age group that say otherwise (other than the _ teams going through the _).

I know all that has been written here gives no solution, only a problem that may already be known. I would disagree, but for arguments sake, let’s say that it is being ignored or not being handled. I propose a first step to finding the solution is to give a questionnaire (separate from Performance Unlimited or any profit entity) to each player at the top team at each age group (14-18) that would begin some formal research on what patterns may be causing these injury prevalences.

For instance:

-I know that clubs are creating games for teams to play solely for the sake of the club’s profit, not allowing substantial recovery between competitions.

-There is no such thing as a true off season for soccer players, and the clubs are not helping by creating new leagues and games for profit.

-There are no (to my knowledge) formal physical programs for Pre-hab/injury prevention instilled as mandatory for all players (studies show an 88% reduction in knee related injuries from a neuromuscular program called PEP). Coaches will not institute this, as I know from experience as the Performance Director at Charlotte Soccer Club, because they feel that they do not have enough time already.

-There is no (to my knowledge) formal coaching education on how to instill proper physical conditioning or training to prevent injuries, as mandatory for each director (at least) to go through.

There are patterns to these injuries, and I believe that we may be scared to find out what they are. However, we have to get to the bottom of a solution and keep these girls away from ruining their athletic careers. The research for this injury is monotonous, at the very least, anyone can see what a problem it has been in the past 30 years since Title IX. However, nothing hits home like numbers from your backyard! I am only concerned for Charlotte, and that is why I only care to do a small population review of the female soccer within this city. My issues may come with my ties in a Performance company and my “viewed” ulterior motives being profit driven and looking for a conspiracy theory against some club. I can tell you that neither is in my sights for the end result. I want to see these players succeed, and they can only succeed when they are playing.

Hopefully, you guys can help me

I look forward to your thoughts

Update to 2014…

Nothing has changed, except that clubs are hiring “speed and agility” coaches and letting sports performance companies that know jack about soccer, come in and work with the kids for 1 hour every month. 90% of players never show up and 100% of coaches don’t care. When will we wake up? Probably only when its your child that is on the surgery calendar.

Posted in Culture, injury prevention, News, Recovery, Strength, Uncategorized, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment