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Long Term Athlete/Archer Development

A splendid coaching document was brought to my attention by Tom Barker.  I’ve long known and respected the Canadians for their level-headed and all-inclusive approach to the sport of archery.  They often have a unique perspective on elements of coaching, as well.

While no program is perfect, the Canadians have seemed to me to often be on the leading edge of developing a more well-rounded program that does not sacrifice the well-being of the individual athlete for the sake of national dominance or even “excellence” to the elite level.   Excellence in a program is possible without disregarding the ultimate welfare of the participating athletes.

There is a philosophy of “you are not doing your best coaching unless you push all your athletes so hard, you lose 25% to injury or burnout.  The knowledge that for the limited number of spots on a national training team, the competition is so high that if coach “uses up” an athlete, there are plenty more eagerly waiting where that one came from who are just dying to get a shot seduces a coach into a win/lose coaching mentality.  It does not have to be that way.

This document might help you to develop a win-win coaching philosophy that does not require you to sacrifice *any* athletes in pursuit of excellence.

I do not believe there is a more well-developed overall plan of athlete/archer development for all levels of athletes anywhere. Every coach should read and evaluate this, and incorporate elements into your own philosophy for coaching.

Nerves. A Coach Often Struggles To Teach The Athlete To Deal With Anxiety Of Performance.

Mike Rowe has a way with words.  Here are some of his best on the topic of being nervous about a looming event.  To be direct, this was on FaceBook, and is copyright (as far as I know) for fair use.  Mike Rowe’s awesome website for his MikeRoweWorks program is well worth your visit and your support.

nervousness by Mike Rowe:

(A woman wrote to Mike to ask about her nerves at adopting the course of welding as a sea-change in her life’s course)

Hi Jenn

Most friends of this page know better than to ask me for advice, primarily because I’m known to give it. So heads up – while I can offer you a variety of words, I can’t vouch for their wisdom…

You’re 27-year old single mom. You’re about to enter what many still consider to be a man’s field. If you’re not nervous, you’re either arrogant or naive, two qualities rarely associated with great welders, and far more difficult to remedy than the apprehension you feel today.

Nervousness is like sea sickness. It’s a normal reaction to an unfamiliar setting. It won’t kill you, and it’ll probably go away as you become acclimated to your new environment. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Because like nausea, nervousness can turn you into a pathetic pile if ineffectual humanity. So it’s best to treat the condition before the symptoms really jack you up.

The first step is admitting that you’re nervous, and not just on Facebook. When I’m nervous or unsure of something, I make sure everyone around me knows it. Especially the people who are causing me anxiety. The more I try to appear “not-nervous,” the more likely I am to shit my pants. Nervous people who deny their apprehension are like seasick people who deny their nausea. It’s only a matter of time till the vomit squirts through their fingers, as they stand gamely on the Lido deck, trying to pretend that all is well.

Back in 1990, I had just been hired as a show host on QVC, and I was nervous. Very, dreadfully nervous. I had no experience on live TV, no prior training, and no knowledge of how the many products I was supposed to be selling actually worked. Plus, I really needed the job. (In those days, QVC hired anyone who could talk about a pencil for more than six minutes, and put them on live television for a three-month probationary period. The washout rate was 99%, and many of those who debuted on the graveyard shift never showed up a second time. Trust me – it was nerve-wracking.)
MikeRoweQVC
On my first night, I was a mess. My palms were sweaty and my stutter was threatening to return at any moment. My first item was something called The Amcor Negative Ion Generator. I had no idea what it did or why anyone would desire a preponderance of negative ions. So when the red light appeared on the top of the camera and the director pointed at me and said, “You’re up,” I looked into the lens and told something very close to the truth.

“Good evening. My name’s Mike Rowe. This is my first time on live television, and frankly, I’m a nervous wreck. Furthermore, I have no idea what to say about The Amcor Negative Ion Generator. So please, if you watch this channel often and have any useful facts about this particular item, call the number on your screen and tell the operator you need to speak with me right away. We’ll chat, and hopefully, sell a few of these things.”

The directors jaw hit the floor, and the lines immediately flooded with calls. For the next three hours, viewers offered all sorts of encouraging words. They explained the purpose of whatever crazy product had been plucked from QVC’s bottomless inventory of and made me feel welcome. In this way, I was trained for my job not by the people who hired me, but by the people who watched me. Interestingly, sales were brisk. And more importantly, my nervousness went away.

Point is Jenn, most nervousness comes out of fear and insecurity, and those things can usually be made much smaller with a big blast of unapologetic honesty. Also, curiousity is a great replacement for nervousness. The things that make people nervous – ignorance and uncertainty – are the same things that make people curious. And yet, it’s hard to be nervous and curious at the same time. Nervousness will keep you from trying new things. Curiosity will force you to. So try to replace your apprehension with a heightened measure of wonder. Be intrigued by the uncertainty before you. Don’t look at your ignorance or your inexperience as the enemy. Look at them as the necessary qualities which allow you to become a more curious person.

Finally, google women and welding. You’ll feel better. You’re learning a solid trade at the right time, and your gender has some real advantages in this career.

Good Luck.

Here ends Mike’s words.  Consider well how you can benefit, apply, these concepts.  As with Coach Wooden, the words are somewhat simple, but the reason behind them a golden nugget for the worthy prospector.

 

Why You’re Most Likely To Get Sick…

Addendum:

Or rather, Pre. dendum.  an article came to my attention, and I want to include it in this treatise on air-travel and infections.  It makes a few good points.  Hopefully this link will be active for the duration.

Fundamentals:

If you are serious about your archery game, you must attempt to compensate for the stresses your body must deal with.   Heavy physical training makes consuming adequate nutritional variety more difficult – how many great athletes do you know that are perpetually fighting some minor infection or flu bug? (lots)
Science has shown for many years that when a human body is “anergic” (lacking in total nutrients needed) that the first thing that gets sacrificed is the body’s primary defense barrier in the immune reaction system.

SO you must insure a good source for as wide of a variety of fruits, vegetables, berries, and proteins as possible, not just before a tournament but like the Olympics, EVERY DAY…  Of course you must also properly hydrate so that your kidneys can freely dispose of the metabolic wastes you produce.  Following the concept of compensation, recovery, and supercompensation is a good way to avoid overtraining and weakened immune function.

Traveling in an aluminum tube at 30+ thousands of feet

We have to get to where the action is.  Rarely will the tournament be at home. There are several risk factors to be aware of – most can be minimized – in flying for 8 to 12 hours (or more) en route.

Humidity in jet planes is virtually non-existent.  Why is this critical?  Your sinus cavity and throat, even your esophagus and bronchi, are lined with mucous membranes which produce a barrier of thick, gooey, mucopolysaccharides (aka snot) that are rife with white blood cells.  Any foreign bacteria you inhale gets physically stuck on this stuff, digested, and killed.   WHEN you are at a low humidity in a plane, your production of snot goes way down, and the mucous beds actually become much more thin, much LESS of a physical barrier.  You lose much of that first line of defense, so when the person in 12b from some far away country starts hawking up a lung, YOU are more at risk for absorbing his viral or bacterial donation.  Incubation periods vary, but this is often why 2 to 5 days AFTER your flight, you suddenly have a “cold” or a head full of phlegm and the grizzlies. Often that is right when you are supposed to perform at your peak.

Smart frequent fliers realize this humidity-related risk, and plan for each trip by spending a couple of bucks at the drug store buying “normal saline nose spray”, brands include Ayr and Ocean – these are sterile solutions of water with just enough salt to match your body’s own fluids – no stinging or burning.  During the flight, about EVERY 15 minutes, you should inhale in each nostril a shot of spray, and your membranes won’t thin out and your mucous production remains both more thick and effective.  Once you are home, throw that bottle of spray away – it contains no preservatives and so could become a host colony of bacteria over time, sitting in your travel case after having been used.

At the hotel

Another Frequent Flyer (FF) trick:  Run a hot shower, but stopper the tub drain, and leave the curtain open as much as possible without water on the floor.  Locate the bathroom exhaust vent on the wall near the tub, and place a kleenex over it to impede the loss of the steam.  If you have clothes on hangers that are wrinkled, hang them from the curtain rod – the steam will release the wrinkles (don’t spray them with the water, though).  Once the air is so thick you can’t see yourself in the mirror, breathe deeply through your nose, exhale through your mouth for at least 5 minutes.  You are rehydrating your breathing passageways – don’t be shy about clearing your sinuses by blowing them – the mother-nature method is much better than with a kleenex, by the way.  Once your tub is full, do NOT drain it.  Open the bathroom door, and let the steam escape into the room, increasing humidity and making it more sinus-friendly for you throughout the night.  This is especially useful during winter months when the humidity is, you guessed it, low.

Prophylaxsis

No, this doesn’t mean those things wrapped in a foil packet (although those are a good idea, always).  If you fear you are coming down with “something” despite your best precautions, you must be mindful of USADA restrictions on taking certain drugs both in and out of competition. Sudafed, for example, is a definite no-no.   The only true immune booster that you can take without a prescription, that has zero adverse side effects, and actually increases T-Cell production, Interferon production, and improves the motility of your macrophages (your white blood cells get around better to englobe foreign invaders, is known incorrectly as “vitamin D”, and USADA has no problems with it.
It’s not truly a vitamin, but that doesn’t matter – your body can make it, the Over-The-Counter version is called D3 and is exactly the chemical your body makes so there is little chance of an adverse reaction.  MOST people are deficient in it, so their immune systems are challenged.  Taking 50,000iu a day for 3 to 5 days is much more than the minimum daily allowance, but will not be dangerous for the otherwise healthy athlete.  What it will also do in addition to the above mentioned benefits is enable your body to create “cathelicidin”. (hint: follow the link)
Since insuring your blood level of D (test is a “25(OH)D” test) is 50 to 70 ng/ml has been shown to improve balance and muscular strength, it is a win-win.  Since it is safer than water, cheaper than bottled water, it is actually a triple win!  BTW: A ng is a billionth of a gram, which means that not much at all can sure have a hugely beneficial effect on health.

I still don’t feel good

Despite your best efforts, your head is about to explode,  Or, you can’t take ten steps away from the toilet without feeling *very* insecure.  Being a Boy Scout (be prepared) can be a life-saver and keep you competing.

USADA is your friend.  Check ahead of time for what you can pack with you “just in case”.  Pepto Bismol for stomach cramps and upset?  In-competition archery, it’s legal.  Plain antihistamines for sinus symptoms like Claritin or Zyrtec?  OK.  (but NOT the combinations with pseudoephedrine!) Phenylephrine (a weaker version) – ok.  Afrin, a nasal spray that can relieve clogged sinuses quickly and for just a few hours – legal – but do not over use it or it will stop working for you.
LOPERAMIDE (Imodium) – this can be a huge comfort, as it can stop diarrhea – is legal in archery for both in and out of competition.  These are all available OTC, as individually wrapped tablets/capsules, so they travel well and don’t take up much room, and you can carry them with you to the field.  Don’t expect finding these will be easy at your competition city!   And if you are in doubt – always check the drug against USADA’s search tool, and printscreen the USADA results page that say it is ok – the page includes a reference numbeR that *may* be useful in arguing.  Bottom line, check USADA about *anything* that is a medicine, that you are taking to cause a change in your body’s functions especially if it is available without a prescription.  Do NOT remove these tablets from their packaging that positively identifies them.  Mysterious tablets in one’s possession in foreign places can be a distraction from competition!

MORE PRECAUTIONS

For the seasoned traveling competitor this is an obvious, but…Never drink from a water bottle that has been opened outside of your immediate control.  If you have a doubt about which one is yours, toss it and get a new one.  DO stay hydrated – if you are not feeling the need to urinate every hour or so during competition, you are possibly falling behind in hydration BUT DO NOT OVERDO!  Don’t drink only straight water in hot sweating occasions – alternate with propel, gatorade, etc. for electrolytes and variety in flavor as you are more likely to stay caught up.  NEVER ever accept an open drinking container from another competitor or coach that is not a member of your team, and likewise be cautious with anything taken internally – food, candy, gum, etc..   Another good reason to know your balance needs – when USADA does come calling on you after an event, if you are dehydrated your urine will not be acceptable to the test.  You’ll have to drink, wait for it to percolate through the kidneys, and then test.   If you have been TOO aggressive in hydrating, your urine will actually be too WEAK in concentration, and then you must wait even longer before you are able to provide a testable sample.  Smart athletes gauge the conditions, and drink accordingly.

BEFORE Competition

Sure, you are in a new country with exotic and fun things, including foods.  Before your competition, stick with the “normals” as much as you can, including ENROUTE.

Travel with your comfort foods in your carry-on, along with your finger tabs, releases, (yadda yadda you know the travel drill for your gear!) peanut butter (including the pre-mixed-with-jelly, and the packaged in squeeze tubes kind), beef jerky if that is your passion, craisins, trail mix, etc…  And try to buy several smaller sizes rather than one big size.  Makes for easier packing, and reduces the chances of contamination.

If you want a personal recommendation on a neutraceutical, USADA-safe, that travels extremely well and insures nutrient intake is maintained under *any* circumstances which I recommend and sell, email me.  Athletes the world over (23 countries so far and in a number of NGB-sanctioned diets) are discovering what I have been using and recommending for more than 8 years, it again is USADA safe and has more gold-standard studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals than any other neutraceutical.

Addendums after the post:

If you do develop diarrhea be aware that your hydration needs will triple or quadruple. Imodium is much safer than Lomotil for a competitor, but if Imodium(loperamide) doesn’t work resorting to Lomotil may be a rational decision but be aware that Lomotol WILL alter your senses.

Technical Medical/Clinical Talk

Normally, your large intestine’s main function is to regain water from your gut to help homeostasis.  That means muscles of your large intestine squeeze the water out of your stool, kneading it like bread dough, and return the water to your bloodstream so that you do not endure wide swings in your blood thickness.  That is why when you are dehydrated, like when you go to the AZ cup, you are more likely to be dehydrated AND constipated, with harder, smaller stools.

But things like unusual bacteria (which are not pathological in the traditional sense) that cause diarrhea to the unfamiliar switch the great bowel muscles from the kneading dough mode to a propulsion, get the heck out of dodge mode, forcing the contents that offend your body out as quickly as possible, homeostasis being less important than hydration stability.  In essence, mother nature knows it is better to be dehydrated than retain that which offends and might rot your gut.  IF you develop diarrhea, taking more fluids, especially with electrolytes, is critical for maintaining muscle strength.  After a bout of diarrhea, you WILL be weaker even if you do not feel such is the case.  Rehydration, but with the right mix of electrolytes, is key.  (No, drinking lots more beer is not going to help)

In the timing of competition once begun, it’s likely that what you do in the the short term is what wins out.  Regaining fluids, simple sugars for short-term energy, potassium and magnesium for muscle contractility, these are paramount.  AFTER the event, taking probiotics you carry with you or eating local yogurts, to re-establish the flora in the gut will provide the faster path to normalcy.  It is suspected that the appendix provides the inoculants of beneficial bacteria for the recovery after the diarrhea attack but that takes longer time for the colonies to multiply and spread.  It’s much faster to supply the gut with probiotics, which are encapsulated and USADA safe.

The bacteria making up yogurts in say, America, will be FAR different than that found in perhaps, Turkey or Mexico.  NOT PATHOLOGICAL, (DISEASE CAUSING), JUST DIFFERENT.   During a prolonged stay, for say the Olympics, where the athlete will likely be exposed to foreign bacterias for many days, inoculating yourself early after arrival with native bacteria can actually LESSEN the debilitating effects which might occur during competition by precipitating them during the acclimation and practice periods.  I for one am NOT a fan of having the athlete stay at the Oly village and eat nothing but McDonalds – it might be “safe” from a bacterial sense, but a cratering of nutrition otherwise and very, very bad for supercompensation goals.   NO smart US athlete eats nothing but McDonalds (and yes, Usain Bolt swears he ate nothing but chicken nuggets during his games, but that *may* have been a step up in his dietary quality) on the way to the games so why eat that way in the moments leading up to the penultimate competitive moment in an 8 or 12 year odyssey?  No sense there.

 

What can you do?

Your fairly inexperienced archer shows up with not one, not even two, but multiple things changed, such as:

  • new, heavier limbs (by more than 2 pounds difference)
  • a new fingertab
  • altered bow grip with plumbers’ epoxy
  • clicker (for the first time)
  • added weights to the stabilizer
  • added lateral bars to the stabilizer setup (with weights)

So what do you do, coach?  Hissy Fit?

You may need to decide what the net impact is, when the archer realizes he/she has lost all semblance of the shot skill from before.

There is the distinct possibility that this is a good thing – get it all over with faster – by making so many changes that the archer’s brain is totally discombobulated and you can make huge strides in correcting form issues and technique bad habits.  It provides an opportunity for you to stretch your coaching muscles.

Or, this has such a negative impact on performance, or else you kneejerk the reaction so badly, that the athlete becomes disillusioned and quits the sport.

Finally, more cautiously, sometimes the best coaching technique is that of benevolent observation and inaction, followed by acute inquiry….After all, the coach has an obligation to WORK with the athlete, as long as the athlete is working.  I think I like this approach the most – it’s like, “hmmm, very interesting.  How does that make you feel”? that psychiatrists are so famous for using in *any* situation.  SEE what negatives crop up, deal with/knock them down one at a time, and seize upon the positives that arise from the archer feeling they’ve done good.

It may very well be that the way you handle the athlete doing something that demonstrates just how badly he/she needs you such as mega-changes, defines your own capability as a good coach.  It’s worth thinking about now, so you will be more comfortable and react optimally, when it does happen to you. And it will very likely happen to you.  Remember when you were starting out?

My Favorite Vitamin For Performance

I’m thinking today about one thing in particular, having today come across yet another study indicating the lack of a fundamental element of health in athletes.  NCAA Athletes in Southern California…, wherein about one-third of these subjects are either deficient or insufficient in a fundamental nutrient which is critical for health and vital for peak athletic performance.

As with so many such studies, I feel the actual “situation” is much worse than it appears from that study as the typical researcher sets the bar far too low.  In this study they called a vitamin D* blood level of ~32 ng/ml to be the desired level which is wrong.  When mother nature is in control the blood level is actually nearly double that!

There are studies indicating that blood levels approaching 70 ng/ml (but no higher) yield positive changes in muscle performance.  If they had set the bar to 50 ng/ml a far greater percentage would be insufficient/deficient!

TO QUOTE the authors of that study: “Recent studies have demonstrated a direct relationship between serum 25(OH)D levels and muscle power, force, velocity, and optimal bone mass. In fact, studies examining muscle biopsies from patients with low vitamin D levels have demonstrated atrophic changes in type II muscle fibers, which are crucial to most athletes. Furthermore, insufficient 25(OH)D levels can result in secondary hyperparathyroidism, increased bone turnover, bone loss, and increased risk of low trauma fractures and muscle injuries.”  (Atrophic in this sense means the the more critical fast-twitch muscles fail to grow to potential during training – the exercise training is not having the desired effect.)

The Encyclopaedia of Sports Medicine: An IOC Medical Commission Publication, states very much the same thing, “maintaining adequate vitamin D blood levels may reduce risk for stress fracture, acute infection, inflammation, and impaired muscle function”.  The”may” in that sentence is again a timid researcher avoiding responsibility.

What virtually no researcher will go on record saying, is WHAT the ideal blood level of vitamin D should be, always instead cautiously calling “for more research”.  So why am I, a simple pharmacist and an archery coach, confident in calling for at least a blood level of FIFTY nanograms/ml (50 ng/ml)?  Because 50 is the natural, optimal, desirable blood level in humans.   I know this because, if you take ANY person of ANY skin complexion, and put them firmly in the sun’s grasp (ie, scant clothing and NO sunscreen) close to the solar noon, in Austin, Texas during the spring, summer, and even early fall, that athlete will generate enough vitamin D in as little as 15 minutes to an hour, to achieve a blood level of ~50 ng/ml. That’s mother nature, evolutionary process for millions of years, at work.

Darker skin requires more UV-B, lighter skin less exposure so the times will vary BUT what is obvious is that the body generates vitamin D in response to sun exposure, as a means of providing health.  Mother Nature says 50 ng/ml is optimal, in other words.  Some studies in athletes do show improved performances going to 60-70 ng/ml, but I have yet to find any speaking to > 70 ng/ml.  Some people will have issue with my choice of  “Mother Nature” as the controlling entity, so let me say it differently by paraphrasing the words of one of the foremost authorities in the world on vitamin D effects, Dr. John Cannell:  “God designed us, God gave us the ability to respond to God’s sunshine, to generate our personal health.  It is clear to me that in order to be healthy we must not shun that which God designed.  That does not mean we promptly go out and get sunburned to a crisp, but that we act in accordance and prudence to treat our bodies as our temple, with the respect God demands.”

Yes, coaches must focus on the sport in their mentoring, but I also feel the good coach must address in an appropriate way those “outside” elements like diet, sleep, hydration, nutrition (not the same as diet), and yes, sun exposure & vitamin D acquisition.

By the way, the athletes in that study I started out with, where 1/3 to 1/2 were deficient?  They  lived and exercised in “sunny” southern California where they had a superb opportunity to get adequate sunshine (but obviously were not)!  Know that the further the athlete lives from the equator the less sun intensity they will receive.  For example if those athletes were in Chicago, New York, Seattle, etc., the number of months of the year where “good sun” could happen would be far, far fewer and they’d be more deficient.  That means that the study looked at a “best-case scenario” where the athletes were MOST LIKELY TO HAVE GOOD LEVELS, yet even they came up short by a significant number.  That study, were it done in any university north of the Red River in Texas, would show far more deficiency. Period.  Thought: where do YOU coach your athletes – how far north (or south) of the equator?

Safety?  People are admitted to the ER on a daily basis for overdose of “multivitamins” and iron tablets, which can actually cause death.  Yet, there is an astonishing absence in the literature for any cases of the over-the-counter, inexpensive vitamin D anywhere causing any kind of overdose!  Vitamin D can be accurately said to be safer than water, since more people are admitted with life-threatening “water intoxication” than ever for vitamin D overdose!  In my own professional opinion,  multivitamins are never to be recommended to an athlete. Never.  That’s right – as a pharmacist I quit recommending every vitamin aside from D years ago.  Pardon my Texan but multivitamins are just plain bullsh*t.  Even the AMA recently proclaimed an absence of science to justify multivitamins.

Just so we are clear: vitamin D is not a vitamin.  Vitamins are substances humans must take internally (eat) because they cannot make it, that are necessary for health.  Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a good example – without it your teeth fall out and you die.  You can’t make vitamin C, so you should drink a margarita often.  (Or, maybe some orange juice or other citrus). :)  But “vitamin D”?  You make it!  Therefore, it is NOT a vitamin.  But just call it one to avoid distress.

To help you arrive at your own dosing regimen I can share what I do for myself:  I take vitamin D based on the formula of 1,000iu per day for every 25 pounds of body weight, always rounding “up”, so for 100 pounds a 5,000iu capsule (commonly marketed) is logical to me, and at 6’5″ and 235 pounds, I usually take 10,000iu per day unless I get some “good” sun which I would rather do than take a pill.  Being a health professional, I also get tested at least once a year for my 25(OH)D level, and it’s always between 50 and 70 ng/ml, depending on the time of year – runs higher in the summer because I try to also get routine sun exposure to boost my levels “naturally”.   Why “round up”? Your body will not activate the D3 into 25(OH)D unless it needs it.  Taking a small amount extra insures that your body stores away some vitamin D for when it needs extra.  If you break a bone, your D levels actually disappear!   If you acquire an infection, your body converts D into cathelicidin (google it).  If YOU TRAIN HARD, your body uses it to reduce inflammation and help build muscle to recover better, to actually achieve supercompensation.  If you have excessive body weight, your needs do go up as well.   For any other elite athlete, I would do as I did with my daughter – dose per my guideline, then get a blood level to make sure you can “check off” this concern, and then deal with other things, knowing you’ve done the right thing and that base is covered.  She won’t get sick as often, won’t risk injury as much, and will benefit to the max from training.

If you are not an athlete, everything regarding D still applies.  If you are an athlete, vitamin D can be that which allows you to focus on the top step, instead of trying to breathe through a sinus infection while you draw down on the X.

* I call it Vitamin D throughout this article – what is measured is actually the active form of the chemical, 25(OH)D , which your body makes from regular, over-the counter vitamin D3 aka cholecalciferol.  Incidentally, what you body makes from the sun’s rays is the same cholecalciferol as the capsules you can buy and take when the sun isn’t available. Sun is better, but the capsule is vitally better than going without.

Vitamin D3 is available in a variety of strengths, over the counter, in drug stores and big box outfits like Costco and Sams, as well as online.  Don’t waste your time with anything less than 5,000iu capsules and be careful online with your source.  I see prices of $17 for 300+ capsules of 5,000iu at Costco.  Years ago, I started buying from BioTech directly over the net because 5,000iu caps weren’t yet available, and I supply *every* extended family member that wants it.  50,000iu D3 caps allow for a less-than-every-day dosing regimen.  I do not like it, as a pharmacist I know that people forget to take meds, and missing once a week can be pretty important.  Missing a daily dose, not such a big impact.  Also, you can refine your dosing a little more easily with daily dosing.  Some might take 10,000iu one day, 5,000iu the next, alternating….  All good.

Cover your bases, coaches.

Knees

Last month during the annual USAA Coaching Conference in COS, we were informed that a slight enhancement to the stance of the shot cycle was being considered.  When weightlifters “lock” their knees and undertake a strenuous lift, they increase the risk of momentarily blacking out due to an impediment in circulation caused by the overwhelming contraction of muscles throughout the body and in particular, the lower body.  There is an Fainting after Strenuous Exertion or two on YouTube showing this effect.

Those educated in physiology are taught this characteristic, as Coach Kisik Lee was, and it was logical to extend this caution to archers who have a similar stance, similar posture (when doing it right) and experiencing the duress of holding 40 or 50 pounds for a time very similar to that required of a weightlifter qualifying for a clean lift.  So, in the beginning of the NTS, we were taught to be mindful of this and to insure that the archer did not lock the knees.

Careful consideration of the current evidence including the absence of archer faceplants,  has led Coach Lee to conclude that locking the knees does not create the same internal obstructions to circulation as in weightlifting.  Today, I received an email that clarifies further what we were taught, from Steve Cornell, the new head of Coaching Development at USAA (and congratulations to Steve!):

“Stance
We are now asking archers to completely lock their knees when they shoot. There is a
universal concept that if you lock your knees you will pass out; however, archers will not
pass out for the amount of time it takes to execute the shot cycle.
Locking the knees provides several benefits in terms of stability, including keeping the
body still during shot execution.  Archers should start locking their knees completely at the
completion of the Set position, but can relax their knees after the completion of each shot.

As you know, archers “coil” – rotate the upper body – from Set position through Setup, and
remain in this position through the shot cycle. We have seen that a lot of archers are having
difficulty keeping their hip position as they coil when they do not lock their knees.

Losing the hip position will reduce the amount of tension the archer feels in their back, and
will also cause the hips to move upon release. Keeping the knees completely locked
through the shot process will allow the archer to keep his/her hips from moving as he coils
to setup and a she releases the string.

We have included three photos to illustrate this concept (Page2). Notice that Ki Bo Bae
(pictured in both images on the left) has her knees completely locked, while the knees of
the archer on the right are not quite straight, and almost bent.  The knees should be
completely locked and not relaxed.”

Now, as a coach, I have been teaching this since January, and I’ve noticed that for some athletes this locking mechanism allows them to stand comfortably in a positive way, coiling, and assume a stronger posture overall, and improve their performance and happiness.

I have also seen that this does not work for 100% of the athletes – in some unique situations going to a “neutral” knee position that is slightly short of “locked”  MAY be warranted.  But every archer should be given the opportunity to benefit from this knee position before you surrender it as a goal to the more perfect shot cycle.

And these photo examples were provided.  Note that this information was sent to each NTS coach.

kneelock

George’s Blog

GTIf you are not privvy to this blog of George Tekmitchov’s I am pleased to bring it to your attention.  Incidentally, George is a long-time engineer and designer of risers at Hoyt AND the “voice” of Olympic Archery for a number of Olympiads (but for not the Paralympics, unfortunately).  George has extraordinary insights in archery.     HIGHLY recommended.

Customizing A BowGrip

There are only a couple of different bowgrips, as they come from the factory.  If you wish to shoot to the best of your ability, or to coach someone into their best, using the NTS, then improving the bow grip is an integral part of your efforts.

In order to achieve a knuckle angle on the bow hand that approximates 45 degrees the grip must be changed to a “higher” grip.  Higher in this case means that the hand becomes more flat/horizontal instead of vertical.  When you grip a baseball bat, THAT is a vertical/low grip.

The lowest bowgrip, for example, is that found on certain compound bows where there are only the slightest mounds of plastic or wood attached to the sides of the riser.  A higher grip allows the recurve archer to bring the pressure point and the bow’s pivot point closer together, and also lessens the angular movement of the bowhand upon release – less side-to-side motion and more “to-the-target” motion.  As the bow moves forward towards the bowsling, the archer’s hand MUST move in reciprocation to the string arm follow-through motion, the index finger describing a “sit” motion down.

Anyway, I learned from Don Rabska in around 2004, how to use plumbers epoxy putty –

about $6 per tube and enough to enhance 3 or 4 bowgrips.

about $6 per tube and enough to enhance 3 or 4 bowgrips.

a compound material that can be found in small tubes in the hardware store’s plumbing section.  It’s much thicker than bondo, and when blended the two parts undergo a chemical reaction and become rock-hard in just minutes.  Perfect for building up a bow grip or otherwise customizing it for your own preferences.

My original writeup for the TSAA website can be seen here.

Epoxy Putty movie short

Youtube link to video clip

I also came across a very neat website, that sells innovative, inventive products, including one called Sugru, invented by Jane in the UK.  It comes in small sealed foil packets of colored rubberized silicone putty.  If you want to make a color it does not come in, you can combine several colors such as yellow and blue to make green.  It cures in about 24 hours, and at that point it feels soft and rubbery.  JUST right for the flesh-to-bowgrip interface!   You can get fancy with the finish – get some screen mesh, for example, and press it into the surface and peel it away, to leave a high-traction surface. You can press anything into it and remove it, to leave a bas-relief impression – a coin, a seashell, sea urchin shell, a leaf, coarse sandpaper, feather fletching, etc… If you allow it to simply cure after shaping it, the surface will be pretty smooth, so texturing the surface is a good idea, such as apply a mesh imprint.

Put a little Sugru on it… – a short movie

Youtube link to video clip of Sugaru

How Do You Get To Carnegie Hall?

You practice, practice, practice…goes the old joke.  If all your archer does is practice flinging arrows, you’ll never get her to Carnegie Hall, though, because it takes more than just practice.

It is a fairly well-accepted rule that in order to be the best at “something”, you have to put in a lot of work, and a general rule of thumb popularized over the last few years is 10,000 hours.

That’s right, they say – Michael Phelps spent 10,000 hours swimming laps, Michael Jordan playing pickup on the neighborhood basketball courts for 10k hours .  There is a lot of evidence when you look at various successful olympic athletes, that something similar about “time invested” applies.  Another argument is that there really aren’t any “child prodigies” for sports, that the overnight sensations are usually people that labored (practiced) anonymously for years until they were discovered (or had honed their skills till they were “good enough”.

I fell in love with this whole concept when I first was told about it during an olympic coaching seminar held for all sports disciplines in Colorado, and I took it to heart since it merged with what through personal experience I felt I already knew.  I also came home with the understanding that it is not merely “doing it everyday” instead of once every four years, but that it had to be purposeful practice.

This concept struck a deep chord, for I had unwittingly performed much this same concept in working with my athlete that ultimately medaled in Beijing. Coach Tom Parrish had told me as early as 2001 that Korean archers (then as now renowned as some of the world’s best) always practiced with a coach so that no bad habits were allowed to creep in.  Therefore, I had resolved to coach my daughter this same way.

For my archer, it was that nearly every arrow, of nearly every single practice day during more than 8 years of dedication, was done with me coaching – analyzing, assessing, judging, providing instant feedback and reinforcement.  The archer was incredibly adept at receiving the observations and adjusting continually.  I would guess this applied for 80% of her practice time – the rest of the time she diligently worked on her skills by herself, almost always with a set of particular element(s) to improve.   She rarely met the “4 to 6 hours per day” workload due to physical limitations.  However, when she was training she put 100% of herself into it, a higher commitment than most athletes can manage for such an extended time.  She was deeply invested in “purposeful practice”, and though I estimate she put in “only” 8,000 hours, it proved enough.  Which brings me to ….

Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence , by Daniel Goleman

This book confirms in many ways the need for the “whatever-the-heck-number-of-hours-you-can-get-out-of-your-athlete” are, to be purposeful, innovative, challenging, stimulating, non-boring, enjoyable, well….you get the idea.  I know it is a fact that in at least one medalist’s case, that if done with the right technique, you don’t need 10,000 hours and that is part of Goleman’s argument.  It can be done with far less, (as well as require far more) – the 10k rule makes the assumption that the individual actually has the core strength in all the elements that define “elite” to rise to the top step.  In reality few will, but I do believe the investment of hours will lead that athlete to be the best that she or he “can” be.

This book should be on your shelf, coach, with ample highlights, underlines, quotes identified, and with the understanding that like the other books in my bibliography up here, it’s both completely right and maybe all wrong.  Take the parts that work best for your coaching philosophy and own them.   If you are fortunate enough to encounter an athlete dedicated enough to attempt 10,000 hours of purposeful practice, you must be prepared to contribute your part to making those hours to be….purposeful enough, useful enough, effective enough, RIGHT enough, to enable that athlete to rise to his or her full potential.  Will it be on the medal stand?

Only the gods of sport will decide upon which head the laurel wreath will rest.

It’s OK To Lock?!

NTS coaches have long known that one fundamental key is the alignment of bones – the bow forearm bones (radius and ulna) into the humerus with the hinge vertical for optimal stress resistance, in example.
And we’ve also been taught that locking the knees, placing the near-to-the-joint leg muscles under tension can actually decrease blood flow and possibly lead to instability and even fainting.

Extreme example of muscle-contraction caused fainting
After several years of observation, Coach Lee has concluded that the risk of archery-induced NTS-method fainting is zero. As he mentioned in a recent seminar, “never see any archer faint, and lots of archers lock their knees”.  And he had a video that he showed without much comment – showing the knee joint and how when the joint is “locked”, the boney aspects interlock in a more favorable way.  Mother nature designs, evolves, our body’s joints to serve well certain functions.

Now, archery is NOT one of them.  But standing stock-still is – and if done with little or no cargo onboard to load up the body, the locking stance of the legs will provide an enhanced stability FOR SOME ATHLETES!  Not necessarily for ALL, but it is both safe and appropriate to evaluate in your archer whether this will provide better performance.

The locking knee in diagram is similar to the video Coach Lee showed – that one is not available to me – but this displays the same slight rotational aspect as the knee “locks”.

In short, it’s OK if your archer likes to lock her knees to get a more stable shooting platform, provided it does not cause pain, and is not allowed to interfere with the rest of the posture requirements of the NTS, AND that it provides a verifiable advantage.  (Straightened lower back, the arrow stays over the rear edge of the ball of the foot of the archer’s back foot, chest down, shoulders down, etc….)

So let your archer try to find a more sturdy leg platform, more comfortable, more natural, stance.