So, I have coached an entire season of youth football, watched well over a hundred hours of youth and high school football film, watched countless other hours of live football, and watched hundreds of hours of televised football, AND have yet to see an example of the NFL’s Heads Up Tackling Technique anyplace.
I have not seen one tackle, performed by any player at any level, that can be considered representative of this “safe” way to tackle. I have not seen one game play example of this Unicorn-like tackling technique on SportsCenter, the NFL Network, Fox Sports Network, CBS Sports Network or NBC Sports Network.
I haven’t seen Mike Mayock, Jon Gruden, Phil Simms, Chris Collinsworth or any other Mavens of the Telestrator breakdown this perfect, Heads Up Tackle in any telecast so far this season.
I haven’t seen a football player buzz their feet, spread their wings, come to balance or execute any of these other staples of the Heads Up Tackling technique. Not once.
What I have seen is players launching themselves head first into piles of players without regard for which colored jersey they pile-drove themselves into. I have seen kids and adults leading with their heads, lowering their heads, head butting, and hitting with and getting hit on their heads with equal abandon. At the higher levels, penalty flags are thrown. Not so much in the land where Heads Up Tackling is supposedly taught and enforced with the best interests of our kids at hand.
This is a long winded way of re-saying that the NFL’s Heads Up Tackling Program will not work because humans do not learn to perform “large” – or complex – and spontaneous skills by having them broken down into small, individual sections. There is science that proves this.
You can’t teach complex skills in these small pieces and expect a person to then put them all together in the heat of competition. We aren’t wired that way. When we think, we stink.
Have you heard of, “The Yips,” where a golfer misses a short – Gimmie – putt? Or heard stories of where a catcher can’t throw the ball back to the pitcher? This is when the thought process infringes on the body’s abilty to perform.
However, as a graduate of the Heads Up program, I can give you a more common sense reason why the Heads Up program won’t work. In the entirety of the NFL’s Heads Up teaching materials there is not one real world, game play example of the tackling technique that the NFL is teaching. Not one “game film” example from any level, from youth on up through the NFL, of this Unicorn-like tackling technique.
Let’s be real; there is no safe way to tackle. Better or worse, yes. Safer, nyet.
I have a buddy of mine who I’ve coached with for 15 years who is also a cop. And he always tells the kids, “There’s no nice way to put handcuffs on someone, and there’s no nice way to tackle.”
And here in lies the NFL’s problem. Football is not a nice sport, but the NFL wants every kid to play. Another problem is football is an exclusive sport, not an inclusive sport. Football is for a select few. Like the Navy Seals and Marines, Ivy League schools, concert pianists, and neurosergeons. Every kid can’t go to Harvard, every kid can’t play football.
I coach every day. From youth level up through Division 1. Boys, girls, men, women. There is a huge difference between the athletes who play football and the athletes who don’t. All things being equal, the kid who plays football and basketball has an edge over the kid who plays just basketball.
The truth about football – the emmis – is that a lot of it sucks. Practice can be tedious and painful and all kinds of uncomfortable. The glory of playing the game win or lose, is unparalleled in sport. But not every kid has what it takes to be a part of it. That’s not a popular message in our society in 2013.
The NFL has made some mistakes and miscalculations, but their biggest mistake is selling this idea that the game is for everyone. Flag football might be, tackle football isn’t. Flag is Checkers, Tackle is Chess.
Despite the hype and hyperbole surrounding Human Growth Hormone, steroids, and other Performance Enhancing Drugs, the weight room – and other conditioning methods – has caused more damage to baseball players than damage from all the PEDs combined.
And in the aftermath of Matt Harvey’s catastrophic elbow injury, the New York Mets should get rid of every piece of weight lifting equipment in their training facilities – from the Major League level right on down to their Rookie League team – and start from scratch. Every Major League Baseball team should follow suit.
The injury suffered by Harvey, Steven Strasburg and other young pitchers is a sign of the failure of a system of player development where athletes are over-stressed 12-months of the year thanks to the irrational belief that an athlete can never do too much. The problem is that there is ample evidence, in multiple sports, that there is such a thing as doing too much, and yet players are still working themselves into injuries with the blessing and sanction of teams and coaches.
Steroids didn’t ruin Barry Bonds’s body; his Neanderthal personal trainer and his ridiculous training program did. Without the foolish workout regimen Bonds would have hit 800 home runs and would not have missed well over 250 games over the last 9 years of his career.
Throwing and hitting a baseball are among the most complex movements in all of sport, and the pitching motion is even more sophisticated, requiring complete synchronization of, and balance between, all body parts. Pitching is also one of the most fragile of athletic movements, where the slightest flaw in a Pitcher’s delivery can have a wide-range of negative performance, and physical, implications. Look-up Dizzy Dean’s broken toe.
Pitchers produce a tremendous amount of force, and need to do so quickly, and when there is a flaw in their delivery this force is distributed unevenly and as a result certain body parts are over-stressed. Think of it like the Chinese Water Torture; a tiny affect repeated over a period of time can produce a massive effect.
In Matt Harvey’s case the massive effect is the torn elbow ligament.
The response to this argument will be that Matt Harvey had sound mechanics, as opposed to Steven Strasburg, and had been on a pitch count an innings limit, as well.
For any Pitcher who lifts weights, pitch counts and innings limits are ineffective and will only postpone the inevitable. These arbitrary non-measures give comfort to those who employ them, but looking at the evidence, provide little else. Especially in the face of the damage being caused by the modern day conditioning methods.
Weight lifting has resulted in an imbalanced athlete, an unbalanced baseball player. Treating the body as a collection of parts that can be strengthened individually in an attempt to improve the performance of a synchronous movement that requires natural balance and harmony is a mammoth contradiction.
Some of the discussion surrounding the Harvey injury has focused on, as the option to surgery, performing exercises to strengthen the structure surrounding the partially torn elbow ligament. Again, this idea displays a lack of understanding with regard to how the body works.
Throwing and pitching are movements that cannot be replicated, or improved, by lifting weights. The modern baseball player is out of balance thanks to the weight room, and the effects of this imbalance are seen in the injuries of the obliques and in the pitching and throwing arms and shoulders. Throw less and workout more is a failing proposition.
The Mets are not solely to blame for Harvey’s plight, as at all stops along the way mistakes were made. However, now is the time for the Mets, and the other Major League teams, to make major changes to the system or else the next time a player suffers this type of injury they will be to blame.
First, ARod’s suspension might be a moot point, at least with regard to his playing the game. If you watch him play, he clearly cannot run, swing, or move properly fielding his position.
As I’m writing this the Yankees have announced they are sitting ARod today. Hmm…
Since ARod bulked up from his Seattle and Texas days, his running has been particularly laborious. Without getting too involved in the minutia, his added bulk and possibly whatever workouts he did, negatively affected the way he runs, which in turn put stress on his system. This stress manifested itself in the hip injuries.
As a matter of fact, IMHO, if ARod had continued to play shortstop in his bulked up state, we would have broken down sooner.
His first night back against the White Sox he had to go from first to third and when he rounded second it looked like he was going to hit the grass in short left field because he could not turn his hips while running at full speed. I don’t think this will improve the more he plays, it may not be as bad as it is, but it won’t get to the point where he can run properly. And like I said, he hasn’t run well in years anyway, so there’s little reason to expect this will get better.
In the field, his lateral movement is diminished, and he admitted he was concerned with his this aspect of his game in a few of the interviews I have heard him give. There’s little reason to expect this to improve, either.
His swing is out of sync, and watching in slow motion you can see that he cannot get his right hip around as he gets the bat through the zone, and his back hip lags. Again, another indication of the problem with his hips. His three strikeouts last night are an indication of things to come, as the Tigers seem to recognize his inability to get his hips around quickly enough to swing properly and were keeping everything in on him. He was striking out a lot in his rehab games, so this might be his, “New Normal.”
If this keeps up, the suspension might not even matter, aside from the obvious issue regarding his salary. Part of the reason ARod is playing is because he knows that if missed the rest of this season and all of next, and never tries to play, he’d be done.
One final note. Look at what ARod has done in his mid-to-late 30s and compare it to Bonds. Bonds was just hitting his stride with the PEDs at 35, while ARod was already in his downfall. If you subscribe to the idea that ARod has used PEDs during his entire career, his physical breakdown and power number and overall drop-off support this.
From age 33-37 (this year at 0) ARod hit 94 HRs, during those years Bonds hit 239, and went on to hit another 149 from age 38-42. Sammy Sosa hit 139 over the last 4 years of his career and had a similar drop off to ARod at pretty much the same ages.
These numbers tell you a lot of things, most obviously that Bonds was a better hitter on drugs than ARod is/was.
Worse news for ARod and the Yankees is that ARod’s drop-off is terminal.
So let him fight his suspension, but his performance on the field will be the reason Alex Rodriguez is going to be off of the field in the very near future.
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s personal trainer serves as a great example of why celebrity fitness gurus should be ignored. Despite recognizing how ignorant most members of the general public are when it comes to fitness, it is still amazing that this kind of pap gets play in the media, and that many folks actually give credence to what Paltrow’s trainer says.
Almost every statement attributed to this personal trainer, Tracy Anderson, is infused with bad information. Or more accurately, no information. Here’s the first example. “While running and cycling may burn calories, they do not design feminine muscles or get rid of an imbalance that may masquerade as a ‘problem area’—even on women who are genetically thin.”
This statement is total nonsense. “Design feminine muscles?” “Get rid of an imbalance?” Wow. You would think that this is as bad as it gets. But it’s not, there’s more.
Ms. Anderson claims, “Performing repetitive movements in fitness (such as running) creates a distinctive imbalance in the muscular structure and causes the large muscles in the legs to charge up.” Know-nothing says what? Large muscles “charge up?” Aren’t all movements repetitive? How about walking? Watch the video clip of Ms. Anderson’s routine and you will see all kinds of repetitive movements.
Check out the article at this link.
This article claims Anderson has “remodeled half of Hollywood,” and has worked with both men and women, although she won’t name the men. They are probably embarrassed to be associated with the baloney. And of course we know that Hollywood types and trainers would never rely on plastic surgery or drugs to help them remodel their bodies. Right?
Here’s one last heaping pile of fitness crap courtesy of this “guru.” “While bulkier muscle looks OK on women in their 20s and 30s, it doesn’t age well. The sooner you build a long, lean, and feminine arm, the more sustainable the results will be – and with no sacrifice in strength.”
It is a shame that a women would regurgitate this garbage to other women, being that women are the targets of misinformation and the misplaced and misguided emphasis on body image and being thin over being healthy. Do yourself a huge favor and ignore anything recommended by Tracy Anderson and Gwyneth Paltrow.
The NFL’s Heads Up Tackling Program will not work. This isn’t an opinion based on some subjective viewpoint of football and tackling, but is based on the recognition of legitimate scientific research and a basic understanding of motor learning, motor control and skill acquisition.
The NFL’s Heads Up Tacking Program will not work because it cannot work. Forget for a moment that there is no such thing as a safe way to tackle another moving person; even if this unicorn-like tackling form existed, the way the NFL is teaching kids to tackle cannot work.
The methods employed by the NFL and USA Football ignore over 100-years of research that shows teaching complex skills in segments is ineffective. When this kind of teaching methods is used, learning occurs in spite of what the coach says or does, not because of it.
This brain-centric model of teaching – “put the right foot here, get your arm up, keep your head up” – assumes everything is stored in the brain. However, this kind of process works only in simplistic laboratory settings, not in complicated environmental situations like sport. Certainly, this approach cannot work when teaching proper tackling technique
Motor patterns are related to external forces – “context related variability” – and there is no way a central command center – the brain – can control this. So for tackling another moving person, this motor pattern, the tackle, is dependent on an endless and unpredictable variety of external forces. The variety of ways to tackle cannot be prepared for by breaking down a complex movement into segments, while not wearing equipment against an imaginary opponent.
Now we have to delve into what is called Motor Learning Principles, Part-to-Whole Skill Training and Whole Skill Training.
In the NFL video there are 5 steps to the tackle and they breakdown each of these steps. This is known as the Part-to-Whole Skill training progression, which has been shown to be ineffective. Here we have at least 14-16 parts.
* On the Clinic Video they add “Stomp leading with the left and right foot.”
* Buzzing the feet
* Quick Rapid Ground Contact (can there be quick, slow GC or slow, rapid GC?)
* Moving forward
* Coming to balance
The NFL combines these last two, but they are separate actions, as you can’t both come forward and come to balance
* Have to be in the right position to make a good solid tackle
In the instructional video they are teaching kids to come to a stop to get into this position.
From what is known about motor learning this is a) not possible b) not controllable c) counter-productive
* Double-uppercut action
* Knuckles up
* Elbows Down
* Explode the hips – exploding the hips from a kneeling position is a completely different action than doing the same from a standing position, and moving is different than stationary.
* Head up
* Chest down
The different drills are shown practicing all of these elements in and out of equipment, which is an ineffective way to practice. Not being in equipment completely changes the way the body moves. If these moves aren’t practiced in an environment close to game and scrimmage conditions there is little, if any, carry over.
Teaching this hit position and separating from the actual tackle – stopping before the point of the tackle to be in the “proper” position – could be considered the worst part of this progression.
Which brings us to the research done by Rushman and Pike. The maximum benefits of a training stimulus – acquiring a skill as permanent behavioral changes – can only be obtained when the stimulus replicates the movements and energy systems involved in the activities of the sport. There is no better training than actually performing in the sport.
The paper, “Motor Learning Principles and the Superiority of Whole Training in Volleyball,” by Steven Bain, Ph.D and Carl McGown, Ph.D examined the method of Whole Skill Training as compared to Part-to-Whole Skill Training and their findings reveal how ineffective the Part-to-Whole Skill method is that is used by NFL and USA Football to teach tackling.
Bain and McGown write, “Part to whole progressions are used because they “make sense” but have no basis in scientific evidence and published research that goes back nearly a century that conclusively demonstrates that part progressions have minimal transfer to the whole skill and in a number of scientific studies part training methods have demonstrated negative transfer…The most important practice variable in terms of motor skill acquisition is practicing the skill itself…Taken together the weight of scientific evidence indicates that the specificity hypothesis may be as close to a law as any principle in motor learning science.”
Frans Bosch, a coach of elite jumpers, sprinters and rugby players, a biomechanics and motor learning expert and a professor of biomechanics at Fontys University in the Netherlands, had this to say about the methods used to teach the Heads-Up Tackling technique. “This is nonsense. There is not one aspect, biomechanical, motor control, motor learning, method or pedagogical that touches on how the body functions Totally inappropriate in real situations. The only good thing about it is that it is such bad teaching that it will not have any impact. It is just passing time.”
So breaking down the tackle – look at all the segments in the above list – into component parts is a waste of time. The bigger problem here is that a method of tackling is being sold that if it really is safer is not being taught in the proper way. Just like there is no nice way to put handcuffs on a criminal, there is no nice way to tackle another moving person while on the football field. The message should be that football is a violent sport that is not for everyone and that if you want to play you are accepting a great deal of risk, and if you have any doubts you, or your kids should sit it out.
The NFL’s Heads-Up Tackling Program cannot work because it does not properly teach kids how to tackle. There is a lot more to the issue, but the bottom line is that if there is a better way to tackle, the teaching method used by the NFL and USA Football isn’t the way to teach it..
With every new year comes another pack of fitness gimmicks and fads. Now I don't know what exactly the year 2013 will bring, but I can tell you that there will be a whole bunch of fitness types trying to sell you a whole bunch of crap.
I sound like a broken record, but you don't need a piece of equipment or clothing or anything to help you get in shape, to improve your fitness level. All the “equipment” you need is nestled up there in your noggin; use your brain, not a Shake Weight.
Movement is good for you, so if you are seated or lying down position, you are severely limiting the effectiveness of your exercise. Ditto for if you rely on equipment for your workouts. We move about in a 3D, 360 degrees of movement world where we are on our feet and need to be balanced and stable. Working out on a piece of equipment puts us in a 1D world that bears no resemblance to the world we need to negotiate.
So as you get bombarded with the new round of infomercial nonsense this year, for everything from diets, to workouts, to equipment, put your Common Sense Hat on and keep your money in your pocket.
Lying down when exercising is a bad idea, so why do so many people do it? We don't operate lying down; we sleep. Working a muscle, or muscles, when prone or supine or on all fours does nothing to prepare them for the reality faced 99% of our waking moments, when we are upright.
Our bodies need vertical stability, not horizontal stability. Gravity is the main factor to consider when performing an exercise, and when we are in a lying down position gravity has a completely different effect on us then when we are standing. As a hypothetical, take a bookcase that is meant to hold books in a horizontal position, and then tip it on its edge and watch all the books fall out. The books don't stay in the case because its being used in a manner not consistent with how it was built.
So if you get better at doing a plank or crunches (yuk!) or a TRX exercise, you are only better at that specific exercise while in the horizontal position. There is little, if any, transfer of strength to movements performed while horizontal.
The goal is horizontal stability, not vertical. So if you spend a lot of time exercising while lying down – bench press, crunches, planks, “hydrants” (yuk, again) – you are wasting your time.
As I sit here in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, waiting for the power to be turned back on and counting the days until I can get back to work, I realized that the holidays are right around the corner, and around that corner is lots of good food.
Certainly, I am not making light of the circumstances surrounding the recovery from Hurricane Sandy, and I realize the holidays will be tough for a lot of people in the New Jersey/New York area. However, dealing with the harsh reality that the storm has imposed upon us has made me realize how much I enjoy the simple things in my routine, and I look forward to Thanksgiving and into the rest of the holiday season.
With this in mind, I am struck by how petty and insignificant most day-to-day “problems” really are, especially when it comes to the way we eat. As clients, friends and acquaintances prepared for the storm, nobody I spoke to was concerned about scoring organic, gluten-free, fat-free stuff. People wanted bread, milk, eggs, booze, coffee, cookies, cake, ice cream and other comfort foods. Some of my most finicky eaters told me they were going to hunker down with their favorites and not be consumed by what they consumed. It was nice to hear that for a change, to be honest with you.
Now I realize we cannot go around every day, gorging ourselves, blah, blah, blah. But the thought of being “without” for a period time as a result of this storm made people show their true colors when it comes to what food they really want, especially when they “try so hard to eat good,” most of the time. So at the holidays keep this in mind, especially if you “try so hard to eat good.”
If you like pumpkin pie, eat pumpkin pie. Don't eat that garbage, no-fat/low-fat, substituted ingredient, ersatz abomination desert stuff that some people peddle at this time of year. Avoid all of that stuff because it does not satisfy your cravings and will lead you to eat other stuff that you may not want.
If you've ever eaten any of that fake desert crap you know that you eat more of it because it doesn't “scratch your itch.” And another thing, don't decide to start a diet during, or even close to the beginning of, the holidays. It is sure to fail.
Get it out of your system. Gorge yourself. And come January 7th (the first Monday of 2013) get your act together.
I am being polite when I say that there is confusion about hydration. The less delicate among us might say that there has been a purposeful effort on behalf of the sport drink industry to spread misinformation about hydration. One of these “less delicate folks” is a fellow by the name of Dr. Tim Noakes.
Dr. Noakes, who has a long and distinguished career as a researcher, educator, athlete and author, has written a book titled, “Waterlogged: The Serious Problem of Overhydration in Endurance Sports,” that exposes the hydration myths that have been created and spread by the sports drink industry. This book is a must read for any athlete, recreational or otherwise, and for the parents of kids who participate in sports.
The simple fact is that, as Dr. Noakes writes, “Dehydration is simply a reduction in the total body water content. The only symptom of dehydration is thirst, and often it is an overwhelming sense. If at any time a healthy athlete does not sense thirst, the athlete is not dehydrated. Period.” So, there is no need to drink on a rigid schedule that disregards the sense of thirst. The people most at risk for the dangers of over-hydration are recreational athletes, not elites.
Furthermore, drinking more than thirst dictates does not improve performance, does not prevent cramps and offers no benefits. There really isn’t a heck of lot more to say on the subject. Despite what the well-funded sport-drink industry says, dehydration isn’t a major problem that can only be solved by drinking bottles of their product before, during and after activity.
When it comes keeping your kids hydrated for sports it is as simple as making sure that they have enough water to satisfy their thirst. You don’t need Gatorade, Powerade or any other “ade.” Tell your kids to drink when they are thirsty and do not force them to drink just for the sake of doing so.
Over the past few months I have been hearing almost constant radio commercials for raspberry ketone weight-loss/fat-burning supplements, with the tag line that they are the miracle fat-burning supplement recommended by Dr. Oz. Can you say, “Scam alert?”
The raspberry ketone scam follows the same tired script that has been used by supplement hucksters for years. Claim there’s research, pump the research, use jargon, take scientific data and use it out of context, get a celebrity endorsement, use a phony “expert” to recommend the supplement and then saturate the airways and the web with advertisements.
Do a Google search on “raspberry ketone research” and you will find bupkis. The entire raspberry ketone bunko con is based on two studies that used male mice as subjects. There have not been any human studies involving raspberry ketones, so who cares what happened with mice. Mice are vermin that eat crap.
Maybe Dr. Oz and his minions can pimp, “The Mice Diet” – or would it be the “Mouse Diet?” – that would help people lose weight. I can hear it now, “Mice eat crap and dead bugs and never gain weight no matter how much crap and dead bugs they eat! The Mice Diet; the new miracle diet and you will never have to worry about being fat again!”
These supplement hucksters prey on people who are insecure about their weight and people who are too lazy to exercise and make some modifications to their diet. People who are looking for shortcuts are suckers for this garbage. Folks who don’t want to sweat and make an effort want to believe that the rest of us are wrong, that they don’t need to diet and exercise and that a tiny pill is going to do all the work for them. This is all nonsense.
There is no nice way to say it and there is no need to wallow in the morass and decipher the mice studies and analyze the chemical make-up of raspberry ketones. The development and sale of raspberry ketones are based on nothing more than rabid speculation and the desire to sell product.
Stay away from raspberry ketone supplements as there is ZERO valid evidence that they can do anything for you.