Monday, December 17, 2012

Random Thoughts on Finals, Workouts, Nutrition

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” John Wooden, Basketball Coach UCLA As you approach finals this next week I want to write some things down for you to consider as we approach the coming challenges and the last half of the college season. I hope that you’ll take the time to read and think about the things which I am going to share with you. Each item in the following paragraphs has reference to Coach Wooden’s quote at the top of the page. You must take care of the “little things” so that you will be able to make “big things happen”. “It isn’t what you do, but how you do it.” John Wooden When I was a ninth grade swimmer at my high school in California there was a young man by the name of John Knight. I looked up to John, not because he was taller than I was but because of what he did. John was probably the shortest swimmer we had on our team, barely 5 foot 5 inches. In addition to his lack of physical size, he was also born with a birth defect. John had to wear a medical alert bracelet because his heart was entirely on his left side-it was completely out of position because he had a severe concave chest. However what John had was a huge desire to be successful in every aspect of his life-including swimming. John never thought of himself as being at an disadvantage. He looked at himself as having an advantage because he believed he could do anything as long as he was focused and did everything the right way. At our high school our coaches organized and hosted an annual college type invitational. We swam 200s in all the strokes, the 400 IM (my event) and the 800 Freestyle. John was a 200/500 freestyler and so he was our top seed in the 800 Freestyle at the meet. At our Invitational in John’s Senior year, he was up against a swimmer by the name of Paul Gollenberg who was a product of the Santa Clara Swim Club, coached by our National Team coach at the time George Haines. John did not back down or cave in to the presence of the taller and more fit looking Gollenberg. Instead John rose to the challenge and pushed Gollenberg for all he was worth. John didn’t win the race, as he was just touched out at the final. From the time that John stepped up on the block he believed he was going to win the race. His attitude was if you are going to beat me then you must hurt more then I will. What I remember from this race was that John did everything he could do to beat the bigger Gollenberg. John built each 100 and reached down inside to find the heart to stay literally stroke for stroke. At the conclusion of the race, everyone in attendance at the meet gave John and Gollenberg a standing ovation for their performances. When they received their medals Paul Gollenberg had John stand with him on the top stair of the podium. It was a great example to a young swimmer of two rival competitors who had a tough race and yet had the sportsmanship to recognize each other. Additionally I learned that no matter your size or individually challenges you can be successful if you will do the little things right all the time. “In order to get meaningful results from training and competition it is imperative to focus on what matters. It is how you do what you do when you do it that counts.” Vern Gambetta Practice Sessions During finals, as at other times it is important that you are in the water getting ready to swim fast and compete at the highest levels possible. Everything we do in the water is designed to help prepare you to achieve your personal goals and those of the team. In every swim, set and practice session there are some critical things that you must do: 1. Always use proper head and body position, hip/shoulder rotation and distance per stroke (Early vertical forearm-EVA),and tempo in your training swims and races 2. Streamline off every wall beyond flags-using three fly kicks 3. No breathing flags to wall on finishes 4. Using and building legs in pace and longer swims 5. Building into walls on turns-fast in=fast out. 6. Developing a “mind set” that you can and will get better as you fully embrace the sets in each practice session Time Management Prior to, and during finals you need to study and prepare for your final exams. This means you need to manage your time so you can be rested and ready for your tests, but also so you can get in your practice sessions. You need to remember that what matters most, MUST matter most. Make sure you are getting the right amounts of rest, nutrition and fluids. Please take care of your time and manage it well so you can be ready to perform in the classroom and the pool at the highest possible levels. Winter weather and Nutrition I am sure that everyone has heard the trite saying, “garbage in = garbage out”. This saying applies to everyone’s diet. If all anyone takes in is “garbage” or “junk” foods then you will only get “junk” out in your performances. With the colder weather of winter finally arriving it is important that you take care of your bodies. This means that you must get proper nutrition, sleep and hydration. Add to this proper stretching and core work. You will also need to make sure that you wear a good quality sunscreen. These items take on added importance if you are teaching swim lessons and life guarding right after morning practice. I have attached for you three very important articles from US Swimming. Please take the time to read these and hold on to them for reference in the future. Nutrition, hydration and sleep are three very important elements in the “hidden training” categories that we as coaches are not able to manage as this is something that only you, the swimmer and your parents can take care. Please make sure that you are eating, sleeping and drinking the right amounts of fluid to sustain activity, growth and health. This is the only way that you will be able to get the most out of your summer participation and competitions. Below is an article found at in Nutrition Tracker. It is very good and contains some important information. Nutritional Cheat Sheet PART ii BY MIKE MEJIA, M.S., C.S.C.S//Special Correspondent Provided that you've adhered to the guidelines we published in last week's article, there are a couple of steps you can take the day of the meet to help make sure that you perform at your best. Eat Breakfast Start out with a proper breakfast. This does not entail grabbing a bagel with cream cheese and eating it in the car with a large orange juice on the way there. The bagel, especially if it's made with white flour can really jack up your blood sugar levels. Granted, the fat in the cream cheese will blunt this affect somewhat, but add in the OJ and you'll be all fired up for warm-ups and likely crash shortly thereafter. The best-case scenario is to sit down and eat some slow cooked oatmeal (prepared the night before) with fruit, or some eggs and whole grain toast, or whole grain cereal with skim, or low fat milk. If it's an early meet and you must eat on the run, at least make it a whole grain bagel with peanut butter, as the these two foods together make up what is known as a complete protein by providing your body with all the essential amino acids it needs. Trade in the OJ for a lower sugar sports drink and you're good to go. Some more foods to stay away from include bacon, sausage, croissants, doughnuts and sugary breakfast cereals. As far as what you should have in your bag for snacking, I think the best way to address this is with a list of what you should bring, vs. what you should not bring. What to Bring: 1. At least 32 oz. of water to drink during and after the meet. 2. No more than 16-20 oz. of sports drinks that meet the above criteria. 3. Energy bars: Try to stick with bars that have less than 10 grams of fat, and less than 35% of their calories from sugar (the lower the better). To calculate this: multiply the number of grams of sugar by 4 and then divide that number into the total calories. Some recommended brands include: Kashi TLC Bars, and Odwalla Bars. 4. Whole grain pretzels, crackers and cereals. 5. Nuts, seeds and dried fruit (in limited quantity due to the relatively high sugar content). 6. Lower Sugar Fruits: Strawberries, Apples, Cantaloupe, Blueberries, Raspberries and peaches. What not to bring, or bring less of: 1. Chips of any type. Most are loaded with fat and calories. 2. Goldfish, Cheese Nips, or any other types of crackers made with white, enriched flower. 3. White Bagels and Breads. 4. High Sugar Fruits: Bananas, Raisins, Pineapple and Grapes. 5. High Sugar Energy Bars: Many types of Power Bars fall into this category. 6. Fruit Juices of any type: Too high in sugar and don't clear the gut as rapidly as sports drinks, possibly leading to stomach cramping. 7. Soda. This one's an absolute no-no! (Remember Coach Brooks has asked us to avoid soda) 8. Cookies, candy, gummy bears, or anything else along those lines.