December 3, 2005
Get your lab coats ready, and those big glasses that make your eyes look like bulging globes, ’cause we are going back to basics here at Keeper Skool…Science 101. Understanding the basics of the human energy systems can really help boost your athletic performance to new heights. Why? Because the old adage of what you put in is what you get out runs true to the energy systems being presented in this post. Here is a simple overview of powerful systems that reside in our bodies, which we can utilise to power our own performance every day.
Before we start we must understand why adenosine tri phosphate (ATP) is so important to the human body. Did someone say POWER? ATP is a high energy compound that is in low supply in the body, with only 60-100 grams present at any one time. Running a marathon for example, requires an available store of 75 kilograms of ATP! Muscles need ATP to generate power and energy. Now let’s look at the different systems of the body that utilise ATP:
- ATP-PC: Phosphocreatine is broken down here to form creatine to remake ATP. Utilising this energy system in a 100 metre sprint for example, will last for about 10-15 seconds. The ATP-PC system is typical of sprinting, jumping and throwing sports that only require a few seconds to complete. The key ingredients to ATP-PC are powerful, short, intense efforts. ATP-PC is the most rapidly available source of energy for the working muscle.
- The Lactic Acid System: AKA the anaerobic glycolytic system, which means the breakdown of glycogen without the presence of oxygen. Glucose accounts for around 99% of all sugars in the body. When glucose is stored as glycogen, the process is known as glycogenesis. When the body is training at its highest levels, the body releases more ATP which creates a by product called pyruvic acid, which in turn creates lactic acid when no oxygen is present. Don’t read fables that lactic acid is what causes soreness in the body after intense bouts of activity. Lactic acid is a key substance in energy production, disposal of dietary carbohydrates and the production of blood glucose and liver glycogen. Decreased performance usually occurs from the body’s inability to quickly dispose of lactic acid from the blood.
- The Aerobic Energy Systems: We will not go into too much detail here, suffice to say that if you have glucose and fat (our bodies have plenty of it) then the aerobic energy system wants you! Increasing oxygen is important to push the body to create energy during activity. Glucose is primarily broken down first during aerobic activity, whereas fat is broken down during low levels of intensity. (Source: Advanced Aerobic Conditioning: Batman P. 2004)
Don’t ever underestimate that your body is a powerful temple for generating great amounts of energy and power to fuel athletic performance. Understanding the above systems will help you understand the importance of good nutrition to increase athletic ability and feed the fire that is the bodies energy systems. Class dismissed!
December 3, 2005
Sharing is caring, at least that is what the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) thought when dishing out what they had learnt about athletes over the past 20 years. Australia is a sporting nation, built around big boy sports such as Rugby, League and AFL. The AIS have been sharing the secrets of Australia’s athletic success with other countries who have now taken advantage of Australian sports science principles to the betterment of their own nations sporting endeavours. What has happened now to get the lab rats in Australia’s elite sporting institution to close the door to other nations interest in Australia’s sports science secrets?
Over the past two decades Australian sports science has grown to be recognised as a leader in sports medicine around the world. Though the Australians concept of mateship to other nations has left an open door for our major rivals to gain a competitive edge in sports where Australia has traditionally dominated. Many young guys that I have grown up with during my soccer development like Seric and Culina for example, have all been a product of the AIS and the results have shown ten fold in the way that they play. Countries such as England for example have utilised Australia’s trade secrets to good effect beating us in the cricket recently for the ashes series. China for example are also well advanced in the sheer number of athletes they have, but are well behind in the application of sports science principles compared to Australia.
So the question posed is whether Australia closing it’s doors and letting it’s sports science secrets expand under cover will benefit the nation in it’s long term future? Or, will the severing of long-term scientific ties with other nations leave Australia isolated? Time will tell.
December 1, 2005
Like a tiger. I like that phrase, because great athleticism entails that great agility is mixed up in the power training formula. Lab rats like to refer to agility as the combination of speed, co-ordination, reaction time and power as important facets of sport related performance. Many people that I chat to on my favorite forum refer to agility as very important, if not the most important arsenal available to a competitive goalkeeper. So lets look at some training drills that a goalkeeper can utilise to increase their agility so that they attain the prowess of a big cat.
First, some housekeeping. “Agility refers to the ability of the body to rapidly and efficiently, change the position and/or the direction of both body segments and the body as a whole, either while stationary or while moving as quickly as possible” (Batman, P. Advanced Resistance Training, 2001). So to be truly as fast as a cheetah, agility training drills such as Burpees, Figure of 8 and the Illinois run can get you there. Let’s take a look at all three:
- Burpee: The Burpee (don’t ask me why they named it that) gives an indicator of a persons ability to rapidly change position through a squat position to a push up position and returning in the same manner to the starting position.
- Figure of 8: Using traffic cones the figure of 8 tests the athletes ability to make frequent rapid changes of direction. The athlete finishes the course three times with one minute rest intervals for each.
- Illinois: Yeee Haw. I just had to do it, didn’t I? This is really a test of the amalgamation of speed, co-ordination, reaction time and power. The Illinois tests the athletes ability to accelerate, swerve and change direction as quickly as possible.
Agility is extremely important to any sport. Goalkeeping drills that push agility really help increase performance not just specifically (e.g. trying to build my quad strength) but holistically, ie. all your strength and power training rolled into one activity. Agility training is an important part of plyometric activity and really incorporates all your abilities and puts them o the test for great athletic gains.
November 28, 2005
Today on my favorite forum one of the gang discussed how she was running barefoot to strengthen her muscles and ligaments in her foot…on concrete! Now the funny thing is Mark over at A Passion For Running advocates barefoot running? I am hoping this is on something else other than concrete? I don’t understand what could be the benefit of barefoot running on concrete other than some severely damaged ligaments and high stress on the bones and joints of the foot, maybe Mark could enlighten me? There are other options available that I utilised whilst growing up training in the great outdoors for the round ball game, here are a few suggestions:
- Sweet, Soft, Sand: Actually barefoot running on the sand is not that sweet, and is usually the opposite of soft. Running long distance on sand can be hard and gruelling work. Increasing your work rate from added resistance is one of the major benefits of running on soft sand. Soft sand running is also a great way of overcoming stress on major joints and increasing strength and aerobic fitness at the same time.
- Waist High Water Run: Either in the Pool, or if you are game, try the beach. I remember some extremely gruelling runs at the beach, waist high with the added resistance of the water and currents to push me to my limits. The other great facet of running in the water is you can really help push your aerobic fitness to new levels without stressing any major joints. I remember a cool game where our coach would give one guy a head start and you would have to race after him and tag him, hard work but great feeling afterward.
So there are other options that can help you burn maximum calories, increase cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength without damaging joints and placing high stress on your spine.
November 27, 2005
What would Pele, Eusabio or the late George Best consume throughout the competitive training week? Chances would be that the nutrition of great players back then, would be widely different from that of today’s competitive soccer player. With advances in technology, and the development of sophisticated sports science protocols in all sports, FIFA have outlined what they feel the competitive soccer player requires to stay ahead of the competition. Here is a list of some of the findings in a recent study:
- Can’t Get Enough Carbohydrate: Elite players can burn between 1500 kj (men) and 1000 kj (women) during training or match play. If you do not prepare the body with complex carbohydrates and a modified carbohydrate loading cycle during the competitive week to fuel glycogen stores for maximum performance, then you are breaking a very important link in the chain. 5-7 grams of carbohydrate per kg body mass for moderately intense training activities and 10 g/kg during intense training or match play.
- Protein; Not Just For Arnold: Don’t be a girly man when it comes to protein intake. Although carbohydrate is needed to fuel post exercise performance, a mixture of protein and carbohydrate in a liquid form right after an intense session will help build lean muscle and increase glycogen stores to fuel further performance.
- Water & Electrolytes: Before, during and after training or match play are important periods for players to increase fluid intake. Fluids mixed with carbohydrates will help hydrate the body, while at the same time increase muscle glycogen stores.
- NO, NO to Dietary Supplements: Oh FIFA, Why? The report states there is no need for supplements. I also believe that simple nutrition programs that adhere to enhancement of soccer specific performance is needed. Sometimes there is no other way to refuel the body’s nutrient stores other than a quick protein shake. There are other times where the demands on a competitive soccer player will tax his/her body of vital nutrients that no ordinary diet can suffice to refuel. During these times of extreme activity, dietary supplementation such as vitamins or extra protein can really keep the soccer players body in homeostasis.
- Periodise For Powerful Year Round Performance: Training in high altitude, crossing international time zones and playing in extreme heat or humidity can profoundly affect the competitive soccer player. Therefore, coaches need to plan a periodised program that revolves around specific environments, and that can maximise a players performance in those environments.
What stands out specifically in the article is something that rings true for today’s athletes and soccer players world-wide “Talent and dedication to training are no longer enough to achieve success in football. Good nutrition has much to offer players…” Kudo’s FIFA, for your fantastic and relevant information for all us soccer players.
November 26, 2005
If you have not already read Lance Armstrong’s, It’s Not About the Bike get you’re hands on it. Every young and aspiring athlete can take a page out of Lance’s book to understand that through sheer determination an athlete can become more than just what his/her sport entails them to be. Lance’s fight against cancer has given hope to millions and has inspired many who not only suffer cancer, but family members who have lived through the effects of cancer with their loved ones. Lance’s story really touches a very deep chord with me also. Cancer has been a very real part of my life.
My father passed away from cancer in 2002, and my mum suffered from breast cancer and survived many years ago. Their is a very real and profound learning curve a young person can experience that can truly make or break you when you encounter cancer. I remember that I was training at the time my father passed away, and also completing my final year of university. I remember my father being wilted away from the cancer and the chemo. Lance Armstrong also suffered the powerful and debilitating affects of chemo. Lance’s autobiography really shows that true sportsmanship does not reside in the competitive act, but in the transcendence of the soul within the sport being played. True passion for your sport should not be material, it should be spiritual.
The autobiography also outlines some instances where lance had to fight the media during his Tour De France comeback because of his supposed use of the banned substance EPO. Erythroporetin (EPO) is a blood booster and a natural hormone that has helped people fight the effects of anemia in chronic kidney failure patients on dialysis, and severe anemia in HIV patients (Source: Embleton P. Anabolic Primer, 1998). It is a very difficult substance to detect, as it’s effects are not long lasting and can sometimes disappear within 12 hours of competition. Lance fought the accusations like he fought the cancer, head on and no holds barred. He won so many times on the bike, but the bike was one small component of his overall fight, the fight of life over death, pain or giving into the effects of pain.
What really resonates with me is Armstrong’s resilience, his fight over pain and never giving up. He states “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. That surrender, even the smallest act of giving up, stays with me. So when I feel like quitting, I ask myself, which would I rather live with? Facing up to that question, and finding a way to go on, is the real reward, better than any trophy…”, this is the mark of a true champion. Like I said before, all athletes (even us competitive goalkeepers) should take a leaf out of Lance’s book “It’s Not About The Bike”, for a better understanding of what it takes to get to the top of your sport and to transcend it. Truly riveting read.
November 26, 2005
While it’s nice and warm down-under for pre season preparation. Some parts of the globe are really feeling the chill of winter. I’ve been there before, so I can totally sympathise. I remember being 15 years of age in the middle of Zagreb trudging in freezing -13 degree conditions pursuing my passion for the round ball. Just recently in Bury last year, I recall the soggy mud drenched bite of winter chilling me to my core, whilst training. So here are a few pointers I can suggest for staying warm, hydrated and training at your peak levels, even in bone biting cold conditions:
- Warm Complex Carb Meal: The best way to start the day in the cold is to chow down some warm porridge or oats in the morning to gain not only the carbs you need to power your performance, but to warm up to the winter chill.
- Drink The H20: Don’t ever think that because it is cold outside that you will not require any fluids. Nothing beats the H20 for proper hydration before and during training (possibly at room temperature). After training, try to mix up your fluid with a mixture of carbs and protein to refuel muscle glycogen stores.
- Warm Clothing: This is a given , but you would be surprised how many people get this wrong. Try to warm up with nice hugging clothing, that is light, not too heavy. No big scarf or mitts and your newly woven woollen jumpsuit from your nana. Companies such as Nike and Adidas develop thermals for the competitive athlete, you should give them a try, as they keep warmth in and are light and comfortable. Nice light hugging gloves are also a good bet, Nike and Adidas and other manufacturer’s develop these also.
When the bite of winter gives you the blues, remember that you have some very good options to utilise so that you keep snug as a bug and also pump out powerful performances.
November 21, 2005
I’m a dad! On Saturday afternoon, 3:29pm my partner and I had a 52cm, 3.77kg baby girl. I’m elated and absolutely tired, but ultimately happy that both mum and baby got through a very healthy and natural birth. Today I came across a fantastic article that is showing that some parents go to great lengths to utilise sports performance enhancement so that their child has an added edge over their competition. It poses the question of whether we are utilising sports science to help or hinder our child. Obviously, sports science can help a child gain a competitive edge. But are we pushing little bodies too far? Here are some points that myself as a father, and we as parents (if any parents are reading this) need to ponder in relation to cardiovascular performance for the child athlete:
- Children tend to work at a higher heart rate at sub maximal levels of exercise when compared to adults.
- Oxygen extraction by the tissues (a-VO2 diff) tends to be slightly larger in children than in adults. Therefore in exercise during hot days, children tend to increase their core body temperature as a result.
- In cold conditions, children lose heat faster than adults, due to a greater surface area per body mass.
- Blood pressure is lower in children than in adults (100/70 mmHg for a 10 year old). At this age children have lower blood pressure and an increased blood flow to the muscles.
VO2Max (Maximum Oxygen Consumption):
- Just like us oldies, children have a larger absolute VO2Max (litres per minute).
- The VO2Max of children can increase up to ten times from rest to their highest workload.
- Before puberty, increases in VO2Max occur with training, but not to the same degree as adults.
- Although maximum oxygen consumption does not appear to increase to any significant degree from specific aerobic training, there is often a significant improvement in a child’s aerobic fitness.
- Slow and fast twitch fibers are inherited, with the proportion of slow and fast twitch fibers the same as adults.Anaerobic capacity is limited.
- Children have a lower concentration of phosphofructokinase, an enzyme critical to the breakdown of glycogen as a source of fuel.
- Children should avoid forced flexibility training and sprinting as muscle tears can eventuate. Osgood-Schlatters and Severs disease caused by damaged growth plates in the tibia (below the knee) and the calcaneous (heel) can eventuate from high intensity exercise.
- Repetitive stress can lead to abnormal bone development.
(Source: Batman, P. Advanced Aerobic Conditioning, 2004)
So what do we prescribe for a child, so they have both fun and a lower risk of injury? Try 15-20 minutes of structured activity combined with 30 minutes of free play. Try to use rate of perceived exertion (RPE) to measure how your child is feeling during these sessions. Believe it or not, the article that I stated at the beginning of this entry points to a new trend amongst young athletes to utilise sports medicine to enhance performance at an early age. Nothing wrong with it at all, and many young athletes can find a great new way to increase their performance at an early age without breaking the budget. At all times remember to follow professional (scientific) advice when it comes to giving your child the best possible start to their athletic career’s.
November 18, 2005
HIIT, seems like a “hit” in the gym nowadays, and although it is nothing really new, it is a fantastic way to increase your cardio, burn calories and increase power in your working muscles without jeopardising strength. HIIT is short for High Intensity Interval Training, and it is one small part of the A.F.P.P. (which we will be including in detail in the coming weeks). Short interval training revolves around short and fast time intervals with shorter recovery periods. So you get a big aerobic bang for your buck whilst at the same time keeping hold of your hard earned muscle. But there is a catch!
Batman, P. (Advanced Aerobic Conditioning, 2004) states the need for athlete’s to build up an aerobic base before endeavouring anything like high intensity training programs like HITT (the AFPP is derived from the same principles as stated by Dr. Batman). And this is a problem with “new” gym room floor phenomenon. Sometimes they are a fantastic way of making quick gains (which are quite visible) but they often fade as quickly as they appear. Why? Batman states “Aerobic power training assumes that the client has the necessary foundations of aerobic training to cope with the stress of high intensity training”. If you don’t create a solid base of aerobic training, you do not have a good chance of maintaining what you might gain from programs like HITT.
But it’s not all doom for well trained athletes, in fact HITT and short interval training programs are part of the bigger picture for advanced aerobic exercise prescription. If you already create the base, you can really improve your aerobic power with short interval training. “Shorter intervals challenge the body’s ability to carry and deliver oxygen to the muscle cells for short periods of intense work before an excess of lactic acid interferes with performance”. Therefore, shorter can be much sweeter, for increasing power output, and maintaining lean muscle mass, while at the same time burning calories to keep fit throughout the training year.
November 16, 2005
Toss and turn. An unblinking, awe struck silence filled my bedroom last night, as flashes of green and gold dangled in my mind, I could not sleep. Finally, after 30+ years, Australia has gone through to the 2006 World Cup. I’m so proud of the effort, and enormously happy for the team. Why? Well, firstly I grew up in Australia and secondly, I grew up playing alongside and training with alot of the guys who played last night. Young Jason Culina, and guys like Tony Popovic and Zeljko Kalac, whom were all apart of the Sydney United youth and senior teams of 1995 through to 1997, and whom I admire greatly for their hard work and dedication throughout their soccer career, finally they will experience the glory of the World Cup!
More specifically, my utmost admiration for Mark Schwarzer. He epitomises great goalkeeping. Mark totally dominated his 18 yard box, and at times was shaky, but proved his fantastic ability during the penalty shoot-out. I could only imagine the churn in the pit of his stomach, but his exterior was cool and he had a steely resolve that showed when he needed it the most, truly brilliant. The Soccer-Roos have a long haul ahead of them, but it will be fantastic to see the boys shake it up with the world’s best. Overall, it was a brilliant game and it means so much, at so many levels. As Australia opens a new stage with the A-League and our emerging presence within Asia, it can only mean a fantastic window of opportunity for young players developing their game at the grass roots level, but it also leaves a fantastic legacy for future generations as we reminisce on legends such as Johnny Warren, and our new breed leads Australia to a World Cup, that was too long coming. Johnny is definitely smiling at the boys from up above.