Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Cutting Weight in Wrestling: A Tale of Two Hormones.

Wrestling is hard! It is perhaps the most difficult sport for which to prepare: Wrestling requires athletes to be both strong and fast with great endurance; to possess the flexibility of a gymnast and the ability to prepare technically and tactically for all opponents. Great wrestlers aren’t just well rounded; they must be exceptional at all physical and mental aspects of their game. To make it even harder, the process of cutting weight adds a challenge and stress to wrestling that most other athletes never experience.

In order to be prepared, wrestling has no off season. As soon as the competitive season ends, preparation for the next begins. The off season is dominated by strength and conditioning work. Wrestlers building their bodies, increasing strength and muscle mass to prepare the largest body possible to enter into their weight class. A huge price is paid for every ounce of muscle--wrestlers can’t afford to give that away with poor weight cutting practices. It’s important to understand, that when weight is cut properly, the wrestler can gain a competitive advantage. But done wrong, hours of hard work go down the drain.

Cutting weight correctly gives a wrestler an advantage. It involves two elements: (1)stripping out as much fat as possible and (2) wrestling lean, with short-term dehydration to accomplish the rest.

In order to strip or use body fat, athletes must understand the role of the hormone insulin. Insulin is the dominant hormone involved in fat storage or usage. When insulin is low, stored fat can be used for fuel. When insulin is high, the body will not release fat for fuel, it will simply try to store more fat. The key to lowering insulin is lowering the glycemic index of the food and fluid you consume. If you’re a wrestler cutting weight, you should eliminate refined sugar products from your diet. Drinking sugar-based products (including popular sport drinks and protein bars) is completely counter productive. Not only is the sugar creating a strong insulin response, it passes through the stomach quickly providing no appetite satiation. Being hungry and burning up your valuable protein stores is no way to cut weight and win.

Many wrestlers can successfully dehydrate for short periods of time (less than 24 hours), rehydrating following weigh-in with no remarkable impact on performance. The key, though, is to keep the dehydration period as short as possible. When you dehydrate for longer periods, you body produces another hormone called vasopressin. Vasopressin causes the kidneys to restrict water loss. Your body views this as stress and will not only restrict water loss through urine and sweat, but will also begin to regulate the amount of energy your can produce, causing fatigue and sluggish performance. Being fully hydrated at the time of competition is important. It’s also important to be fully hydrated throughout your training.

Hydrus Performance Hydration Concentrate hits the two things wrestlers need to be lean and fully hydrated at the time of competition. Hydrus has no sugar! No sugar means no insulin response from Hydrus and you stay in fat burning mode longer. When you’ve made weight and it’s time to re-hydrate, Hydrus’ exclusive NanosomeTM Technology provides higher electrolyte and water absorption—"5x and up to 8x more effective"*—than traditional hydration products. That means more water to the cells and your back to full strength at match time.

Bad weight cutting causes you to lose muscle and lose energy. For optimum performance and weight management, the key is to eat a diet high in lean proteins and good fats with low glycemic index carbohydrates which means no sugar.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Cost of Coach's Bad Communication

As athletes, we invest our soles and, according to researchers, on the average of 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to achieve excellence.  As high school coaches we trade time with our families and leave part of ourselves preparing our athletes.  As college coaches we pay our bills with the vocation, but our investments in the athletes begin to climb financially too.  As professional coaches, our organizational investment in our athletes is beyond belief.  This article very elegantly addresses how all of those investments can be vaporized with a single athlete/coach mis/mal-communication.  I've excerpted several portions of the article Coaching communication issues with elite female athletes: Two Norwegian case studies  Kristiansen  2012  Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports.  This is an important read for any coach.

"An important aspect of the coach-elite athlete relationship is to produce enhanced performance and success in elite competitions."

"while communication may seem to be working well from the coach's perspective....athletes often disagree.  It is the perceived ineffective communication that may become a major source of strain for elite athletes."

"Coaching is more than is 'a set of strategies designed to increase a coach's ability to influence the behavior of others more effectively."

"A good coach must be able to see each athlete as a unique persona and adapt his/her performance enhancement system to each athlete's particular needs."

"Part of the demand placed on the athletes was the expectation that they would become '24-hour-athletes."  "They went from 'deliberate play' to 'deliberate practice' in one ..jump."

"It was all about 'you follow the routine or you are out of the team.'  They would not accept my views...I was labeled difficult and unwilling to work hard."

"finding the right training strategies is very demanding."

"A good coach is characterized by the understanding that "different athletes require different things from their coaches at different points in their careers."

"Having several coaches may negatively affect communication if the roles are unclear within the teams..."

"Different coaches did not seem to talk together about the total training load."

The athletes "perceived that they were the problem and not their interpretation of the training load to which they were assigned:  the more they asked, the less they were listened to and they then become difficult "problem athletes'"

"their experiences are not unique.  There is documented evidence that a lack of knowledge and awareness of risky strategies may be detrimental to the long-term development of athletes."

"It was quite clear...that they experienced demotivation when they perceived that they were failing to achieve the training load criteria of the coaches.  And when their performance also deteriorated, then this was even more demotivational.  In the motivational literature, it is recommended that for long-term development and persistence, athletes should have internal criteria of success."

"A mindful organization will notice novel events quickly, such as when an athlete is struggling with recovery.  NGBs should have routines that will lead to critical self-reflection, learning, and action.  In the sport context, the ability to differentiate between being tired and being in the early stages of burnout may be analyzed by these principles."

"The opposite of being mindful is being mindless.  The is a behavior characterized by being rule and routine governed and on autopilot.  Hence, to treat all athletes the same way may be considered a mindless behavior."