Mitigate Risk of ACL Injury

Mike,
I’ve been reading your articles and following you since day one, thanks for all the information you put out there.

I recently accepted a job to coach middle school girls soccer. Up to this point, I have only coached boys. Going into the season, I am worried about the ascending injury rate occurring with young women (specifically acl/mcl). Can you point me in the right directions for any exercises, drills, mobility work that can be done to help prevent these types of injuries? Is it a matter of strengthening these areas or mobility ? Are there specific movement I should have them avoid? Any input you have would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Tim


Tim,

There are definitely multiple contributing factors in regards to ACL injuries.  Here are some things to focus on:

  1. Proper running mechanics
  2. Foot Strength/Mobility/Flexibility
  3. Hip Strength/Mobility/Flexibility

What we’ve noticed with some of females that have had non-contact ACL issues is quad dominance.  There are a few reasons for this to occur and some are listed above.

Fix running/playing mechanics.  Too many athletes are taught to run on their toes.  As a result of this, it causes quads/calves to be overworked and tibialis anterior & posterior chain to become underutilized.  Having athletes run with a more “whole footed” strike will do a multitude of things:

  1. Increase surface area – which will have a greater dispersal of force
  2. Facilitate tib ant & posterior chain recruitment

Foot Exercises – Here is an article I posted with some foot exercises for them to do.

Next, stay on top of hip health.  Here’s some exercises to perform that will help guide you:

Ground Based Hip Circuit Here is an article posted on a ground based hip circuit we utilize to improve hip strength.
Here’s some videos of stretches that we’ll have athletes perform:


Some Tips on Dealing With The Recruiting Process

A week or so ago I posted something on twitter about recruits committing to a school because of “how much love” they were being shown by the coaching staff and someone suggested I make a post about it. I thought that was a great idea with signing day about a month and change away, even though it has nothing to do with training, many of our athletes and readers are either going through the process or have children who are. I’m going to come at this from the perspective of a parent who’s child is going through the process now or how I would go through it now, as the process is a lot different than when I went through it myself 18 years ago.

The first thing I would do is make sure my child’s grades are in order and that their community and social media presence will not be a negative check mark. I can’t tell you how many kids think that just because they are good at sports they will automatically get into whatever school they want. Here’s a reality check: If you’re not one of the top 5 guys/girls in your state and in the tops in the country…schools will not take a huge risk on you! You may have the talent to play at a better school, but other things about you may limit you to a lower level school. This is a fact and you can take it to the bank. Are you a risk to fail out? Why would they waste the scholarship on you when they can take a kid who has the same ability and better grades? Are you a discipline problem in school and the community and a risk to get booted from the school? Why would they take the risk on you when they can get a kid who is just as talented and doesn’t have those issues? This is your first lesson in life that more talented people get away with more, and if you’re not one of those people you better get your act together quick.

In regards to social media, teams will move on from a player who is posting ridiculous things on line. Nobody needs to know your business at all times, and nobody needs to know your favorite line from the latest Joey BadA$$ album…no matter how hot that ish is! You never know who could be reading and might misconstrue it in the wrong way. Don’t believe me that teams are looking at your Twitter right now? Check it out:

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The next thing I would do is make a list of things my child needs in order to be successful at the next level. I would need to know from coaches who his/her position coach is going to be. I’d want to know what their credentials are…where and what position did they play, whom were they coached by, how successful have they been in increasing the skill level of their players. And I don’t want to just hear about the 4 and 5 star recruits they’ve “helped” get to the next level, give me an example of a 2 star kid you developed and helped them reach the next level. That truly shows me the skill of a coach to develop players. I’d ask how they see my child in the system they run, so on and so forth. I would not ask them if they will be there all four years my child might be there, because 9 times out of 10 they’re going to lie to me. I’d also ask about academic support, how they will ensure my child takes the classes he needs to matriculate and so on.

My next piece of advice would be this: Don’t commit to a school because “they’re showin me mad love son!” Here’s the cold reality…that “love” they’re showing you right now is going to disappear as soon as you sign on that dotted line and you’re theirs for the next 4 years. As soon as National Signing Day is over and you’ve faxed your commitment…those coaches who were showing you all that love…you know what they’re doing? They’re recruiting your replacement! Go to the school that is going to help you reach your goals both academically and athletically. Pick a school because that school is going to set you up in every possible way to be successful for the rest of your life. Coaches will tell you whatever you want to hear to get you to sign. See the bigger picture and think long term! Pick a school because YOU love that school…not because coaches are pretending to “show you love”.

As always if you have any comments or questions hit me up via email: Pat.FreakStrength@gmail.com or you can hit me up on Twitter: @CarozzaStrength or check out my stuff on InstaGram: Carozza_Strength

Jump Training…Are You Doing it Right?

At Freak Strength we train a wide variety of athletes who play a wide range of sports. Since we’ve opened we’ve gotten a large female population coming through the gym…mostly volleyball, soccer, and softball with a few track athletes in there as well. Now we know that no two athletes are the same, and that holds true when one of the differences between the two is male and female. However…I have noticed an exception in a lot of cases to that “rule”.

 

The exception is when it comes to jump training. We have found that a large portion of our athletes have no idea how to jump. “How can that be?” you must be asking in shocked amazement. “Everyone can jump” you’re probably saying. And you would be correct…technically everyone CAN jump, but are they doing it correctly with proper technique? More importantly how are they landing?

 

Attaining more female athletes has given us the opportunity to hone in how we train all our athletes when jumps are involved. We’ve noticed even our male athletes are having issues with knees caving in both in the jump phase as well as the landing phase of the action. So what do we do?

 

Well for starters we don’t just have our guys jump without building the base. Just like you would with any movement, whether it is squat, bench, deadlift, we make sure our athletes are ready to jump. We build their eccentric strength to enable them to absorb the forces necessary to stick a good landing. We build their maximal strength to ensure they can apply higher forces and improve their capacity for a high rate of force development. We also ensure they have the mobility necessary to perform a good jump. Then we break the action down and ensure each part the movement is performed efficiently. We don’t progress until the athlete shows mastery.

 

This seems like common sense, no? But so often I see video’s of athletes performing jumps with terrible form and it makes me cringe. Does it look cool to have your athlete perform a 50 plus inch box jump? Sure does. But what good is it really if that athlete ends up injured eventually performing the action in a game setting because you never made sure they knew how to jump? So many people are focused on the end result that they ignore the little things. Any wonder why RG3 has had knee issues?

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It’s not sexy to spend time with an athlete making sure their knees don’t cave in during the take off portion of a jump or during a landing, but it may help keep them playing and at the end of the day…THAT’S YOUR JOB! Make your athletes understand why it’s important and they’ll buy in. Don’t just have your athletes perform jumps, have them perform them correctly…train smarter!

Have you had knee problems? Are you rehabbing from injury? Come check us out. Our whole staff can help you get back better and stronger. We also have the NY Giants Asst. Head Athletic Trainer, Steve Kennelly, on staff and he is a master when it comes to ACL rehab and post rehab training.

What Does Your Internal Dialogue Say?

In my last article I spoke about things I was looking to improve upon going forward in my life (not just for the new year, but for the hopefully many years that follow). One of the things I mentioned was improving the way I think and my mental outlook on things. I also wanted to use what I learned to help improve the mental outlook/health of my athletes, as the mental is one of the most important factors in performance.

In my last article I spoke about things I was looking to improve upon going forward in my life (not just for the new year, but for the hopefully many years that follow). One of the things I mentioned was improving the way I think and my mental outlook on things. I also wanted to use what I learned to help improve the mental outlook/health of my athletes, as the mental is one of the most important factors in performance.

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One of the first books I read was called Unbreakable: A Navy SEAL’s Way of Life. In the book written by Thom Shea, which was originally planned to be for his children should he have died while serving, he speaks often about the discussion that occurs within our heads and how it strongly impacts whether we achieve our goals or not. He calls it your internal dialogue and he considers it very powerful. Throughout the book he recounts different battles and how he used his internal dialogue to get through it, or to help him pick the right course of action. You see your internal dialogue is something you can control.

This hit home for me. I was always a strong believer in the power of the mind; I always believed that if I simply thought I would never get sick…I wouldn’t. It doesn’t always work…but to this day if I catch a cold I will never admit I’m sick. Call it silly, but I haven’t been to a doctor or taken an anti-biotic in years. That’s just one example of me controlling my thoughts and it affecting my body. But can this impact performance.

The answer is absolutely. Perhaps you remember me saying how I used to feed on negativity on the field of play. I loved when people doubted me or told me I couldn’t do something because I would use that to fuel my eventual success. What I didn’t realize was that was my way of creating an internal dialogue in which I would tell myself that I could in fact do what people said I couldn’t. When people told me I couldn’t play football at a high level school in high school in my mind I would simply say “watch me do it”!

Fast forward to now. Mike has been trying to get me to come to his 5 AM lifts for what feels like forever because I was always bitching about finding time to train. It doesn’t come easy when you have two jobs and two kids. My problem with 5 AM workouts was multiple: 1. I’m not what people would call a morning person, 2. I don’t live 5 minutes from the gym, and 3. I love sleep! Doesn’t seem like very good reasons…does it? Normally when I would wake up in the morning I’d hit the alarm…violently…and drag myself off to take a way longer than it should take shower to “wake up”, and then get on with my day. I always thought waking up early sucked…going back to my 6 AM lifts in college…I hated them! In my mind I would tell myself…”this sucks” among other colorful descriptions. This was my internal dialogue controlling the situation. I thought it sucked…so it did. Finally I relented and agreed to give it a try. I have to tell you it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made. Now, when I wake up I tell myself how good of a lift I’m about to get in and that it’s great I get to work out with awesome training partners. I’ve changed the discussion I have in my head. Now I come home and I’m in a much better mood (my wife has noticed this), I take shorter showers, which has increased the time I’m able to spend with my kids in the morning. The benefits of getting that early workout are multiple.

How can you use this with your clients? One of the things the author talks about in the book is how he loved being a SEAL, and that meant he had to love going through BUD/S. He had to WANT to go through the training. I’ve been trying to get my clients to realize that they are athletes, and since they are athletes this is what they NEED to be doing. Training doesn’t suck, it’s great because it’s providing me with what I need to be who I am. If you’re a football player you have to believe that going through grueling practices is what football players do. It makes you who you are and you need that to do what you do. By creating a positive internal dialogue you will be able to get through it.

Throughout the book the author also issues various challenges to his children to help drive home the lessons he provides on internal dialogue. He does not expect success on the first try with all of them, but the idea is that by developing your internal dialogue you will be able to complete them all eventually. I highly suggest you all read it.

If you have any questions on how I use internal dialogue with my athletes and in my own life or are interested in online programming hit me up on one of the following:

 

Twitter: @CarozzaStrength

Facebook: facebook.com/patcarozza

Instagram: @Carozza_Strength

Email: pat.freakstrength@gmail.com

What Are You Doing To Get Better?

New Years has come and gone and with that people start making resolutions. I’m not a big resolution guy. All a resolution does is say “I need to do this”. Resolutions to me come and go, and they aren’t based on any true self-reflection. They’re vain. I’m more of a self-improvement guy. What am I going to do this year that will make me a better man/husband/father/coach than I was the year before? It’s not a specific goal I’m seeking to attain, it’s just overall and constant improvement.

As the year came to a close I sat down and did a lot of self-reflection. If you follow me on Twitter or Face Book you probably witnessed this process take place, as I tend to put a lot of thoughts out there. I’ve always been pretty willing to share my thoughts on topics and going forward that won’t change, I think that’s part of what makes me…me. Sometimes that’s good, and sometimes in both business and my personal life that’s been bad. You may not like what I have to say, but you’ll always know where you stand with me.

My self-reflection has led me to a couple of things I need to improve upon. Personally, I need to be less impulsive. It’s a problem…both for my relationships and my bank account! Hah! I don’t always think things through. I need to be more mindful, especially with two young kids how my decisions not only affect me, but my family.

I also want to improve my mind set. I can become consumed by the negative sometimes, losing focus of all the good I have in my life. As an athlete I used to use negative energy to fuel me on the field. It worked out pretty well for me. It might not have been the best way to go about things…but I’d say I had a pretty decent athletic career. Habits die-hard though. Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that if I perceived you slighting me in the least you became an instant enemy, if you were competition I didn’t just want to beat you, I wanted to bury you. That’s just not healthy man. I’ve got a great wife and two beautiful kids! I have a lot of good things going on in my life. I need to focus more on those things and less on negative things. By focusing on the good things I have in my life I can focus on how to keep those good things, and create more. I’m doing a lot of reading now on how stay focused on what’s important in life, let go of negative energy, and becoming more mentally disciplined. In order to do this I’ve consulted with a few people including the guy who I consider the king of the mind set, one of my first FRIENDS (and I say that with all sincerity) in this business, Zach Even-Esh. He hit me back right away, like he always does with some reading suggestions and I’m hitting those hard as we speak. I also looked into two other resources and I think they are really going to aid me and my athletes going forward.

To go with my mind-set I want to be more present for my kids. I get limited time with them during the week. I come home and I might get an hour before it’s bedtime for them. I need to make that hour or half hour count. This means I can’t carry around any mental baggage when I’m home. In order to appreciate my kids and all the cool things they do I can have my mind anywhere else.

Lastly, I want to get better when it comes to rehabbing my athletes from injuries. I’ve gotten pretty good at helping them avoid injury, but I want to be even better at helping them get better if they do incur an injury. So I’m going to be doing a ton of rehab research. It’s helped that I’m going through my own rehab currently for my ruptured Achilles, and I get to see a lot of stuff first hand. I also work with a guy who’s very good in the rehab area Mike Guadango. He’s been a great resource for me. One thing I’ve learned, especially dealing with pro athletes, your AVAILABILITY is sometimes more important than your ABILITY! I want to make sure my guys are always available!

 

What are you going to do to ensure constant improvement in your life/business? I’d love some feedback on this one, and if anyone has any great resources on mind set training/mental toughness, or rehab hit me up and let me know.
As always you can follow me on Twitter @CarozzaStrength and on Instagram @Carozza_Strength

If you are interested in online programming you can email me at pat.freakstrength@gmail.com and check out my ebook on how I trained one of my pro hockey players: http://freakstrength.com/downloads/the-training-of-a-hockey-player/