Weight Sled Training

A popular training tool, weight sleds help fitness enthusiasts and competitive athletes stay in shape. Weight sleds are used to improve a variety of fitness components and to target various muscle groups. Generally used out of doors, weight sleds can be used on just about any surface, although dragging a weight sled over concrete or similar surfaces can be very noisy.
Weight sleds are normally made of metal and come in two main types. Some designs use a sturdy metal plate with an upturned leading edge while others use twin parallel runners. Both types of sled will have one or more vertical posts onto which weights can be loaded and a loop through which towing straps can be attached. The tow straps, normally made of very strong nylon or similar material, can be held in your hands or fixed around your waist with a belt, leaving your hands free.
Pulling heavy weights develops strength, whereas pulling light weights for long distances improves aerobic fitness. Sprinters use weight sleds to help develop speed, and football and rugby players use weight sleds to improve tackling and blocking power. The benefits of weight sled training are dependent on the loads pulled and the type of exercise performed.
All sled exercises use the legs but some exercises are specifically designed to target lower-body function. Walking or running forward develops your calves, hamstrings and butt muscles, whereas walking or running backward develops your quadriceps and hip flexors. Walking sideways works your inner and outer thighs. Lower-body exercises can be performed by holding the tow straps in your hands or by attaching them to a waist belt. Holding the straps in your hands increases the involvement of your core muscles and arms.
Many free-weight and resistance machine exercises can be performed using a weight sled. Chest presses, pec flies, rear deltoid flies, rows, biceps curls and triceps extensions are just some of the exercises that can be performed using a weight sled. In addition to working the upper body, all of these exercises also involve the core and legs simultaneously.
Although they are versatile and effective, not everyone has access to a weight sled. You can, however, make your own by tying a loop of strong rope around an old SUV tire. Alternatively, you can recruit a training partner to act as a sled for many weight sled exercises. For example, a training partner can gently hold you back by looping a tow strap around your waist as you perform forward, backward and sideways running drills.
When working out with a weight sled, be careful when performing high-speed running, as the sled may gain momentum and continue moving once you have stopped — which can cause injury. Also, if you are a sprinter, avoid too much heavy sled dragging as, although you will increase your running power, your actual speed may decrease as your running technique alters, resulting in a shorter stride length.

How Are Newton’s Three Laws of Motion Used in Baseball?

When a baseball is pitched, hit and flies in the air, one or more of the physical principles formulated over 300 years ago by Sir Isaac Newton act on it. Folklore tells how the mathematician and physicist first realized the law of gravity while observing a falling apple. Had Newton watched a baseball game instead, he might have formulated all three laws of motion by the seventh-inning stretch.
Newton’s First Law of Motion states that every object remains at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force. Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan recorded 5,714 strikeouts, as documented in the Baseball Almanac, using the first law when throwing his trademark fastball. Ryan held the baseball at rest in his glove as he looked at the catcher¡¯s signs. After receiving a sign, he went into his windup and set the ball in motion toward home plate with an overhand delivery. In addition to Ryan¡¯s ability to throw a fastball at 100 mph, he understood the physics of air pressure acting upon the surface of a spinning ball. Putting lateral spin on his fastball caused the ball to move several inches sideways as it crossed home plate, making it virtually impossible to target as a hitter. Prominent pitchers use the first law of motion to throw fastballs, sliders and curve balls.
Newton¡¯s first law is realized at both ends of a pitch. The pitcher¡¯s delivery sets the baseball in motion and the hitter sets the bat in motion by swinging. Newton’s Second Law of Motion (F=M*A) shows the velocity of a mass object changes when it is subjected to an external force. This second law demonstrates the force generated at the moment of contact is equal to the combined mass and acceleration of both the ball and bat. Hitters exploit this phenomenon in certain situations by swinging more easily to drop a hit between the infielders and outfielders. Newton¡¯s second law is dramatically illustrated when hitters bunt, because the mass of the bat is not in motion. The mass acceleration is provided by the pitched baseball. A clever bunter uses the mass-acceleration factors at the moment of contact by allowing the barrel of the bat to react slightly to the force generated by the baseball. The result is a bunt that rolls to a stop short of an infielder.
Newton¡¯s Third Law of Motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Outfielders understand this in terms of a baseball that goes up must come down. Newton¡¯s first law applies to the combined forces of air pressure and gravity that act upon a baseball hit in the air. Newton¡¯s second law regarding force, mass and acceleration applies to how high and far the ball is hit. Outfielders learn to gauge the overall distance of fly balls just before the ball reaches the height of its arc. Exceptional outfielders have the ability to make the same calculations as the baseball begins rising when hit. An outfielder might realize the distance between his location and projected the arc of the ball make it impossible to catch certain balls on the fly. Outfielders use Newton’s second law to get in position and field or catch fly balls.
Base runners make calculations based on all three of Newton¡¯s laws of motion?, whether attempting to reach base on a hit or steal a base. Hitters set in motion toward first base and simultaneously calculate the speed of a ground ball or the distance of a fly ball. Based on the second law, the hitter might elect to hold at first or continue running for extra bases. Proficient base stealers use Newton¡¯s third law to calculate the time it takes a ball thrown by a fielder or outfielder to reach the targeted base. Hall of Fame leadoff hitter Ricky Henderson used his speed and the laws of motion to hit, get on base and steal a record 1,406 bases during a career that spanned 25 years.

Why Do Football Players Tape Their Wrists?

If you watch football regularly, you may have noticed that players traditionally tape their wrists. Although a small amount of tape around a player’s wrist appears to have very little function, this tradition has multiple uses and may be an important part of a player’s pregame preparation. Although debate exists on how beneficial this tradition is for players, don’t expect it to go away anytime soon.
Football is a contact sport, with a fair number of injuries sustained in games. Pads, helmets and protective shoes support some vulnerable parts of the body, but football players limit protective gear around their arms and hands because of the constant need to grab other players as well as catch and throw the football. However, the wrist is one of the smallest areas of the body with little protection. To avoid the risk of injury and provide support without adding bulk, football players tape their wrists regularly. Although taping a wrist may not completely prevent an injury, tape may lessen the severity of a wrist sprain or prevent a fracture.
Athletic tape may not only prevent an injury, but also help a player returning to the field earlier. Following certain wrist injuries such as sprains, wrist strapping may be beneficial and support the injured area. A player may choose to tape his wrist and play with an injury instead of allowing the area to rest and heal as recommended. The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine does not promote wrist taping for wrist fractures or ligament tears in this area. But for an injury that has healed, wrist taping may provide extra support to help avoid reinjuring the wrist area.
Professional and collegiate players may believe that taping their wrists increases grip strength because of the supportive nature of tape. However, a study published in the “American Journal of Sports Medicine” studied 25 football players who taped their wrists during games. Researchers measured group strength in both taped and free wrists and determined that there were no significant differences in grip strengths. Although other factors play a role in hand strength, taping your wrist does not appear to cause any significant gains in hand strength.
As many sports enthusiasts understand, ritual plays an important role for football players. For a player who is used to having a certain pregame meal or performing a certain warm-up, these aspects of the game, although perhaps contributing minimally to the outcome of the game, mean a great deal to players. Even though taping may not be as beneficial as its promoters suggest, players don’t appear to be willing to give up taping up their wrists, hands and legs on a regular basis.

What Are the Benefits of College Football Teams?

Having a football team affects a college at every level. The effects vary based on the size and success of the program, but almost every team benefits its campus. Most of the biggest and most popular colleges have football programs that generate millions of dollars for other areas of campus life. The media and others on the outside of college football are aware of the money generated, but many do not realize how it affects the schools as a whole.
The most obvious benefit of a college football team is the financial benefit. While some small or less successful programs do not generate as much, almost every program generates significant revenue. In an athletic department with a Division I football program, such as Michigan, Texas, Southern California or Louisiana State, the football program is often the only program that generates a profit. The proceeds from the football team fund the other 10 to 15 other sports supported by the athletic department. Sports such as women’s tennis do not make any money but still require a budget for scholarships, equipment, tournament fees and other expenses. These are all paid for by the money made by the football program.
Schools with successful football programs are well-known around the country. Enrollment applications increase significantly following successful football seasons, and schools with a tradition of success always have a surplus of applicants. Because of this, a school’s academic programs can be more selective in choosing which students to accept, and its academic reputation can be enhanced. Merchandise with the school’s logo is sold nationwide, increasing its profile and popularity.
As football programs succeed, it becomes easier for a board of trustees to raise money for improvements to other aspects of the campus. While an athletic facility may be the first thing built, buildings all over campus are improved or built new. More classroom and lab equipment of higher quality can be bought. Student union buildings, often one of the most important buildings on campus, can be multimillion-dollar projects.
At the elite levels of college football, programs each year develop National Football League athletes, who can counted upon to provide both financial support and make personal appearances for fundraising through and long after their pro careers.

Baseball History’s Effects on America

Walt Whitman called baseball ¡°the American game,¡± and Babe Ruth said it was ¡°the best game in the world.¡± Although football eventually edged past it as the country’s most popular sport¡ª41 percent of respondents chose football over 38 percent who chose baseball in a 1965 Harris survey ¡ªthere’s no denying that the sport is and has been an integral part of the lives of millions of Americans.
In 1919, World War I had just ended. Baseball owners anticipated a lackluster season thanks to an uncertain economy. Instead, Americans went to ballparks in droves, eager to recapture the spirit of America. According to the website 1919 Black Sox.com, attendance more than doubled that year, jumping 3.5 million over what it had been the year before. The Chicago White Sox had the best record in baseball and met the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. Americans expected a rout over the Reds. What they got instead was a scandal that would set the tone for the ¡°anything goes¡± mood of the Roaring 20s, and that reverberated with changes made to baseball rules regarding gambling by its players for decades to come. Eight members of the White Sox made front page news when they allegedly threw the Series to collect on wagers, losing it in eight games.
In 1920, Boston traded Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. Well into the 21st century, the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is still one of the fiercest in sports, all stemming from this one transaction. Ruth energized the nation with his wit and antics, both off the field and on. He was exactly what Americans wanted at the time, and what the sport needed after the previous year’s scandal. He was a working man’s hero, having grown up on the streets of Baltimore. By 1930, he was earning more money per year than the president of the United States. As the nation fell into the Great Depression, Ruth kept spirits high. Americans still haven’t forgotten that. According to the website Babe Ruth Central, many fans booed decades later when Roger Maris¡ªfollowed by Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds¡ªbroke the Babe’s various home run records. Ruth was still featured in television commercials in 2006, and fans still send gifts and tributes to the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum each year on his birthday.
Jackie Robinson once said that a life is only important for the impact it has on other lives. His gutsy entry into all-white Major League Baseball in 1947 not only broke a color barrier in baseball, but began forging desegregation all over America. New York Dodgers president Branch Rickey asked Robinson not only to become the first black man in baseball since 1889, but to hold his tongue and his fists, and handle the inevitable racial backlash with dignity. Robinson did just that. President Truman desegregated the military a year later. Seven years later, the Supreme Court desegregated public schools.
According to ¡°USA Today,¡± the steroid era of the 2000s has convinced young athletes that unnatural size and strength is a player¡¯s only ticket to college scholarships and the pros, while at the same time bringing condemnation by fans. A 2005 survey by the newspaper in conjunction with CNN and Gallup revealed that 82 percent of baseball fans thought players should be stripped of their records if they were achieved while using steroids.

Allergic Reaction to Bed Sheets

An allergic reaction to bed sheets is most likely an allergic reaction to dust mites, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. While someone can have an allergic reaction to certain detergents and fragrances used to laundering products, the most common cause is dust mites. An allergic reaction to bed sheets is identifiable and treatable by seeing an allergist. An allergist can confirm and offer a professional diagnosis.
Bed sheets and other bedding are among the most common places dust mites are found, according to the Mayo Clinic. Dust mites are microscopic creatures that thrive in warm, humid fabric environments. If someone doesn¡¯t change or wash her bed sheets on a regular basis, dust mites can infest the bedding. One who is allergic to dust mites will experience the same symptoms every time he is exposed to bed sheets containing dust mites.
Someone who is allergic to dust mites, has a hypersensitivity to the proteins found in dust mite byproducts, according to MedlinePlus. When the body comes in contact with dust mites it recognizes the substance as a harmful threat to the body and tries to fight it off by producing IgE antibodies and histamine. This chemical release in the body results in common allergy symptoms.
The most common symptom affects the nasal passages, the eyes and the lungs, according to the Mayo Clinic. The sinus cavity becomes inflamed, causing nasal congestion, sneezing and nasal discharge. The swollen sinuses will also create pressure throughout the head, leading to facial pressure and sinus headaches. The eyes become irritated, red and can swell from a dust mite allergy. Those with allergy-induced asthma can experience shortness of breath, chest tightness and difficulty breathing.
Eliminate dust mites to alleviate symptoms of an allergic reaction to bed sheets. Strip the bed of all bedding and wash it on a weekly basis in soapy water, over 130 degrees. Dry cleaning will also kill dust mites. Cover the mattress and pillows with dust mite covers that prevent mites from colonizing. Keep excessive stuffed animals or throw pillows off the bedding area to prevent dust mites from reappearing.
An allergic reaction to bed sheets may the sign of a different condition and needs to be evaluated and tested by an allergist. If symptoms do not improve after implementing home treatments, talk to a doctor about possible medications that can be used to treat the allergy symptoms.

Side Effects of Playing War Games

Playing war games, whether from the couch with a video game or out in a field with a paintball gun, has been the subject of much debate over the years. Psychologists have sought to find out if playing way games can make people more violent. According to the American Psychological Association, a study in 2004 showed that such games can increase the aggression of children, but some of these negatives can be mitigated by parental influence.
Since war games, whether “World of Warcraft” or a paintball campaign, encourage aggression as a necessary means to win, over time the person playing can develop more aggressive tendencies. According to a brain scan study at the Indiana University School of Medicine, teenagers who played violent video war games had more emotional arousal than those playing non-violent games. They also had a lowering of brain activity in sections that pertain to their attention spans, inhibition and self-control.
Because of the increased aggression associated with war games, people playing them can experience a reduction in their ability to control themselves. This tendency can show itself in interactions with other people, including classmates and family members. They may explode in anger more readily or simply have less interest in helping or interacting with family members.
According to a study by the “Pediatrics” journal, excessive video game play can significantly reduce the amount of slow-wave sleep a person has. This type of sleep is deep sleep of the non-rapid eye movement (REM) type. While it isn’t clear how this affects people, a lack of sleep will be “made up” with more slow-wave sleep when sleep actually occurs.
Verbal memory, the ability to retain words that are spoken aloud, also has been shown to be reduced in excessive war video gamers. This can lead to poorer performance in school and lower grade-point averages. It also can cause difficulties between children and their parents since it is harder for children to retain what they are told. It may make communication difficult between game players, their parents, teachers and peers.
According to “Psychology Matters,” the time when children should be developing skills to deal with other people in a healthy manner is the age that many start spending their time with violent video war games. Instead of learning conflict resolution in peaceful terms, they are learning violence solves all problems in their games. This may put them back in the development of interpersonal skills.
The increase in aggression that has been shown in a study by Dr. Craig Anderson affects non-aggressive children at the same rate it affects aggressive personalities. His findings show that this reduces their interest in caring about or helping their peers. According to “Psychology Matters”, violent video games teach children quite effectively how to act and think, which in turn makes it more difficult for them to deal with the real world where violence is not the answer.

5 Components of Fitness in Gymnastics

Gymnasts are known for their ability to perform many tricks and stunts on beams, in the air and on the ground. In order to execute such tricks, gymnasts need to be in top physical shape. Successful gymnasts go through intense training to fulfill the top five components in gymnastics such as muscle strength, cardiovascular endurance and flexibility to ensure their safety and an optimal performance. Without these fitness components, gymnasts will most likely struggle while executing routine gymnastic moves.
It’s no secret that flexibility is essential to a gymnast’s ability to perform certain stunts such as splits and backbends. Flexibility refers to the ability to move or bend joints in a wide range of motion with ease and without injury. It may also be an asset to improving coordination and balance. Because flexibility is such an important part of the sport, many gymnasts are often tested to determine the level of their flexibility. According to USA Gymnastics, flexibility is determined via the ability to perform forward kicks, side kicks, leaps and splits. Should gymnasts not rank highly on their flexibility tests it is suggest they try to enhance flexibility by stretching frequently. Once common stretch is holding the leg straight up for about 30 seconds. In the event a gymnast doesn’t have a high range of flexibility she is at risk for injuries such as pulled muscles.
Strength is the ability of a muscular unit or combination of muscular units to apply force, according to Crossfit Journal. Adequate strength levels are a fitness component that forms the foundation for learning new skills in gymnastics. Without building up high levels of strength, gymnasts would be unable to execute correct technique when demonstrating skills such as handstands. If a gymnast didn’t have enough strength, she would have difficulty performing new skills and would need to spend significant amounts of time relearning them. As a result, gymnasts commit to consistent special training to increase muscle size to build up strength so they can lift their own body weight when practicing tumbles and be able to use proper technique. Regimens consisting of pushups, rope climbs and pulls up are often practiced to increase strength.
Agility refers to the ability to transition between several positions efficiently and quickly — important for completing floor routines and exercises on the balance beam, such as back flips and somersaults. A timed test is often administered to gymnasts to determine their agility level. During these tests, gymnasts are usually asked to run diagonally across a room within a certain time frame. Failure to meet certain time requirements means a gymnast needs to work on improving, says a 2012 study published by the “International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy.” Gymnasts can develop agility by practicing sprints in the shape of a figure eight or jumping from side to side very quickly.
Endurance, or a muscle’s ability to continuously perform without growing tired, is a fitness component that is challenged routinely during training. Gymnasts rely on endurance so they can repeat various movements repeatedly without losing momentum. Their ability to run through routines or training regimens during practice consistently may directly correlate with their ability to perform. Because a lack of power or endurance may hinder the execution of stunts, gymnasts may spend a great deal of time honing strength endurance by doing situps or other similar training exercises.
A precise body mass measurement of fat and muscle is a fitness component that is crucial to gymnasts. Too much body fat would make it difficult for gymnasts to move freely while having too much muscle would increase weight greatly and hinder the gymnasts ability to carry out various exercises correctly. As a result, gymnasts are weighed and measured frequently to monitor their composition. In order to perform at high levels, gymnasts strive to have compatible muscle, fat and bone ratio. This means that gymnasts work hard to make sure they do not have too much body fat in correlation to their weight. By following detailed nutrition plans and workout regimens, a gymnast will be able to control her weight while making sure she is fit enough to limit the amount of unwanted fat.

Meal Plan for Football Athletes

You can practice hundreds of different plays, spend hours in the weight room and run as many 40-yard dashes as you like, but if your nutrition isn’t on point, you’ll struggle as a football player. Making sure you’ve fueled your body with enough nutrient-dense, energy-providing foods to ensure that you perform at optimum levels in both practice sessions and in actual games.
Every football player needs a big breakfast, notes certified strength and conditioning specialist Jim Carpentier at Stack Performance Center. You need protein, carbs and fat at breakfast, but you should leave at least two hours between eating and playing to let it begin to digest properly. You can either opt for a whole-food meal, such as scrambled eggs with peanut butter on toast, some fruit and a glass of milk, or drink a liquid breakfast with a high-protein, high-carb smoothie consisting of protein powder, chocolate milk, nuts, fruit and yogurt.
If you’re eating lunch before training or a game, you don’t want the food to sit too heavily in your stomach, but you need to eat enough for energy. This means eating carb-dense foods along with a little protein. In an interview with The Daily Meal, Peyton Manning notes that his favorite pre-game meal is grilled chicken, a baked potato, pasta with marinara sauce and broccoli, while Willie Anderson opted for oatmeal, fruit, a baked potato and some sausage. Both players also included sports drinks for extra carbs. In contrast, quarterback Sam Bradford prefers to keep it simple by eating a plateful of fruit.
Aim for enough proteins, carbs and fats in combination to help you repair and recharge after a hard day of playing. Registered dietitian Mitzi Dulan, former team nutritionist with the Kansas City Chiefs, advises that you base your meals around lean proteins, plenty of vegetables and whole grains. For dinner, have a large mixed salad with a baked salmon fillet or a grilled turkey steak with carrots, broccoli and asparagus. Add some sweet or white potatoes, squash, brown rice or whole-wheat pasta for extra carbs.
Your diet may differ completely from other football players. Let your goals, the position you play, and how much you train dictate how much and what kind of food you eat. If you’re trying to lose weight to get lighter, leaner and faster, you may want to cut down on your starchy carb, sugar and fat intake to help drop a few pounds. If you need to gain some mass and bulk up, you may need a mega menu, with big meals and plenty of calorie-dense snacks. As an extreme example, Jordan Black, formerly of the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars, ate 7,000 calories per day to get to his ideal weight as an offensive tackle.

Does Playing Sports at a Young Age Affect Bone Growth?

Boys and girls have been playing sports for generations. Recently, doctors and exercise physiologists have realized that youth sports represent both positive and negative impacts to bone growth. Certain injuries carry the potential for long-term damage but usually are preventable. On the other hand, even moderate levels of sports and physical exercise reward young participants with improved health, including sturdier bones and stronger muscles.
According to the Center for Kids First, 30 to 40 million American children participate in some form of organized sports. About one-fifth of these children are members of school-based athletic teams. Nearly half of eligible children participate in organized non-scholastic sports such as Little League or Pop Warner football. Despite Title IX legislation in the 1970s, boys still have greater opportunities to participate in sports and therefore outnumber girls at nearly all levels, according to “Youth Sports in America: An Overview.”
Children’s bones are constantly growing. Growth accelerates during puberty before coming to an end in adulthood, but bones add material only in special regions called growth plates, located near the ends of bones and points where tendons and ligaments connect to the bone. Growth plates resemble cartilage in their structure and texture before transitioning into mature, solid bone. The longer bones of the legs and arms experience the most pronounced growth, while growth plates located elsewhere influence the contours of bones. Bone fractures that extend into the growth plate run the risk of causing permanent deformity or stunting. In most cases, however, doctors are able to set the bones properly and restore normal blood flow. Crushing injuries, though relatively rare in sports, represent the greatest potential for permanent disability.
Research has shown that even modest levels of physical exercise during the growth years has a measurable, positive impact on bone strength. One study in particular determined that active children accumulated as much as 10 percent to 40 percent more bone mass in certain areas than nonactive peers. However, the intensive and weight-conscious sports such as gymnastics and wrestling might lead to slower bone growth. Both female gymnasts and male wrestlers have later onsets of puberty and are shorter than children of the same age. Scientists suspect that a combination of high-intensity workouts and a restricted diet might work to slow overall development and bone growth.
Light resistance training performed under appropriate supervision both improves performance in young athletes and protects against injury. The important point is that youth training should focus on technique rather than building muscle. Lifting more than the body is prepared for does increase chances of strains and other injuries. Expensive workout machines or a gym membership are not necessary for a quality strength training routine. Many resistance workouts incorporate thick elastic tubing or the body’s own weight as an exercise tool.
The fear of injuries or delayed growth is no reason to discourage young children from sports participation. Most injuries can be prevented if children follow some basic fitness guidelines, such as warming up properly and stretching the major muscles groups. Sports build valuable life skills such as teamwork and leadership and bolster a positive self-image. The benefits of good physical fitness last a lifetime. Good habits start early and it’s almost never too early to push for a lifestyle of exercise and healthy competition.