110% Effort vs Rest & Recovery

leading the pack ltGo 110% all the Time! 

We have all heard a coach saying give me 110%. While in theory this would be great, our bodies do NEED rest periods. Within a training week we must take at least 1 day off. No matter where you are in your training, you need a day off to allow your body to rest. In addition to this, we can’t always go 100% the other 6 days a week. To understand this, we must understand how our bodies recover. 

We do not build muscles during workouts; rather we build muscles during the recovery. The workouts themselves make micro tears in our muscles, that later heal stronger. Imagine you are taking a test, and you do not pass. The next time you take the test you will have built up your knowledge and will do better. You do not want the same questions to trip you up a second time. This is how our muscles work. As they tear, they do not want the same weight or load to tear them again, thus they come back stronger. However if you do not allow for recovery you will only continually tear the muscle, until it becomes weaker or injured. 

So within a given week we must have recovery days. If you do a strength based day you will need 1-2 days of recovery. That doesn’t mean you take these days off. These days could be lighter in intensity, more cardiovascular based, or even focusing on technique for your sport. 

This is the idea behind what is called a micro cycle. With this in mind we also need to take into account macro cycles. This is a time period of 4-8 or so weeks. If we compete every weekend, we can not be at our absolute best every race. We need to pick 1 race every 4-8 weeks, that we will peak for. This means a series of building weeks, where strength work is at a premium, followed by a speed week of less length but higher intensity, and lastly a recovery week. We must lower intensity immediately before a peak race. So a week or two before your peak race we need to reduce the intensity and do what is called a taper. 

In my current training cycle I am in my last intense build week, before I begin to taper 1.5 weeks before nationals. My workouts will get shorter and faster with longer recovery until the day before I compete. During these build weeks I will knowingly sacrifice some top end speed in order to train with less recovery. These are the hardest weeks in the cycle and the last opportunity I will have to actually get faster before my peak competition! 

So the next time your coach asks you to give 110%, take that term with a grain of salt. BUT STILL GIVE IT YOUR BEST!

-Kyle Essex (http://www.gofundme.com/speedskate)


Why You Need to Get Active for Your Kids

Ferrying your kids between team practices and sports events might be helping them develop a love of fitness that will see them through life. But, if you’re not practicing what you preach, they could still inherit your lazy ways.

Encouraging your kids to get active is all well and good, but if you’re a coach potato, your bad habits might still rub off on them. Recent research has highlighted the importance of parental activity, and you might be surprised to hear that the activity levels of both parents were important for encouraging good fitness habits in children.

Research published in the J Sports Sci Med in September 2014 studied the link between parental activity and childhood weight and activity levels (you can read the full research study here). Researchers found that children with inactive parents were more likely to be overweight. The study also found that children’s BMI percentiles were lower if both parents were physically active, compared to children who had just one active parent. That said, even having just one active parent had a positive effect on the amount of time children spent participating in organized sports.

The researchers also identified a strong association between parental physical activity and the amount of time children spent participating in organized sports each week.

Making a Change

If you find yourself slotting into the inactive parent group, it might be time to make a few positive changes to your daily routine. You’ll be pleased to hear it doesn’t take much effort to switch to a healthier lifestyle. As well as helping your child to develop a love of health and fitness, you’ll also improve your own health by making the few small changes listed below:

  1. Ditch the car – don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you’re destined for a life on public transport, it just means you need to make better choices about when to use your car. Lots of people are guilty of using cars for short journeys that could easily be made on foot. As a general rule, you should avoid using the car for journeys of less than one kilometer. Try limiting your car usage and increasing the number of steps you walk each day. The average person should be walking at least 10,000 steps each day, so get a pedometer to see how close you come to that target.

  1. Get some wheels – cycling is a great way to get fit, and the perfect way to discover the world outside your door. For journeys that are a little too long to make on foot, cycling is a perfect option for anyone wanting to improve their fitness levels. Invite your family to join you on a cycle ride through the countryside, or challenge them to a day at a BMX track. Cycling holidays are a great way to enjoy quality time as a family whilst seeing the great outdoors and staying active.

  1. Schedule in some family time – spending time as a family doesn’t have to mean a trip to the movies or staying in and ordering a pizza, there are plenty of ways you can get active as a family. See if your loved ones fancy joining you for an adventure, and head out for a walk or hike in the countryside. Without the distraction of a screen, you’ll get to enjoy some quality family time whilst staying getting your heart pumping.

  1. Find an exercise you love – they key to staying active is to find an activity you love. Whether it’s evening dance classes, stress-relieving yoga, an early morning swim, or a spin class with your friends, find something you love and it won’t feel like a chore. Make it a regular part of your week and you’ll soon be reaping the benefits of a more active lifestyle.

  1. Join a team – team sports aren’t just for children, there are plenty of sports teams you can join as an adult. Think back to your favorite sport at school, and then search your local area for a team you can join. Soccer, basketball, netball and hockey are just some examples of teams you can join as a hobby.

  1. Use your time wisely – while your child is at practice, walk laps around the field. Instead of just sitting on the side chatting, you can be getting in a good 45 minute brisk walk and even still chat with the other parents that will join you too!

The Rise of ACL Injuries in Youth Athletics

Concussion prevention should not be the only prevalent topic in regard to injuries affecting youth and adolescent athletic participants. The number of young athletes damaging the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) has increased significantly over the last 15 years. Parents, coaches, and youth athletic organizations must take steps to correct this problem.

Of the four ligaments which connect the bones of the knee and provide stabilization during movement, the ACL carries the biggest workload. Orthopedic surgeons nationwide have seen as much as a 400 percent increase in ACL injuries over the past decade. These medical professionals point out today’s youth athlete is subject to an increased amount of participation hours compared to similarly aged athletes of earlier generations.

Example: Consider the athletic participation by the average high school soccer player. Children as young as four begin their organized soccer experience. There are fall and spring seasons, as well as indoor soccer sessions. In theory, the body of a 16-year-old may have been subject to 36 soccer seasons during the 12 year span. The same can be said of other ‘year round’ sports such as volleyball and basketball. Children playing baseball or softball are involved in seasons running from early spring through late summer, and those same players will then participate in fall leagues lasting one to two additional months.

For decades, many youth athletes would participate in shorter seasons which allowed them to play two or three different sports during the year. Athletic organizations are now pressuring prepubescent and adolescent athletes to specialize in a single sport at an earlier age. The age of specialization has created an increase in repetitive, or ‘overuse,’ injuries to youth participants. Whereas a change in sports meant a change in how an athlete’s body was being used, the single-sport athlete now uses the same muscle groups continuously throughout the year.

Some doctors worry the way children are now being trained for a sport is too harsh for the undeveloped body. Many youth coaches use the same training approach as is used with professional athletes. A child’s body is not fully developed and injuries to such areas as the ACL come into play. Teaching the proper fundamentals to young athletes does not have to include training sessions geared for an adult’s body.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons believes more studies are necessary to improve the knowledge of injuries occurring to youth athletes. An increase in proper conditioning can reduce the injury numbers. In the case of older children and adolescents, strength training programs need to focus on muscle efficiency and strength. This differs tremendously from adult-oriented bulk strength training.

Just because youth athletes play multiple sports does not guarantee a lesser chance of an ACL or other serious-type injury. Rest also plays a huge part into recovery time for a child’s body. Consider placing the child on a less competitive league, or one which has a lesser amount of games for the season. There is also nothing wrong with a child taking a break from a sport. Giving up fall baseball or indoor soccer may lead to an overall healthier environment for a youth athlete.

This research coupled with “over-use” injuries that are growing, it is important to be an advocate for your child when selecting programs, teams, coaches, and camps.

Goals and Commitment from Salt Lake City

My training has recently been upped to 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. I have learned a lot about my commitment to sport and commitment to self.

I set goals for myself, and understand that I can do a lot to help myself achieve these goals.

It is important for our young athletes to begin to set goals for themselves; both long and short term. These goals should be specific, as vague goals allow for slips.

 cross me

My personal goals, are clear cut. I have a specific time I want to achieve. I will get this chance at the upcoming nationals in March, at Madison, WI.

Goals must also be realistic. The times I will achieve at Nationals are challenging yet realistic. I understand i will be competing against some of the best skaters in the nation. It would be unrealistic to challenge myself to win the competition, against Olympians! But I must also push myself.

Our young athletes must also take ownership.

Notice I said “I WILL…” this phrasing will not afford me the opportunity to fail. If I say “I may…” then I will open myself up to coming short of my goals.angry face


Goals are something every athlete should think about; however, he/she MUST do this for him/her self!

No Athlete is too young. I always say…(every morning)… To be a champion one day… I must train like one now!


Greetings from Salt Lake!

-Kyle Essex


Are Your Kids Learning Integrative Muscular Training?

Synopsis: Sports injuries for children can be painful, upsetting and expensive. A recent study found that a great number of them can be avoided with the simple implementation of a good old fashioned workout before the game starts.

Health is one of the most commonly cited reasons parents give for encouraging their children to play sports from a young age. Parents believe that playing sports will help their children develop a love of fitness, avoid obesity, and promote great physical development. Many parents also believe playing sports from a young age will reduce their child’s risk of injury in the future.

Researchers have identified, however, that engaging in sports is not enough to reduce the risk of injury in children. In an interesting research study published in Curr Sports Med Rep, researchers looked at ways to reduce the risk of injury through sports. In many ways, risk is an integral part of sports, and many parents encourage sports participation as a safe way of letting their child take risks.

Though integrative neuromuscular training (the fancy term for warming up) is considered a normal part of sports practice for adolescents and adults, it is not yet commonplace on the fields of younger sports teams. Neuromuscular training does come with its own set of risks, and it was previously thought that younger children were not old enough to handle warm ups safely. The research study published in Curr Sports Med Pub, however, found that age appropriate, properly supervised integrative neuromuscular training progams may reduce the risk of sports injuries in younger athletes.

Integrative neuromuscular training is a particular type of warm up program that teaches athletes safe ways of moving during play so that they are less likely to injure themselves during the game. Individual programs differ, but many contain elements such as squatting, marching, side-to-side shuffling and jumping, with particular attention paid to alignment and positioning. Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament are unfortunately common amongst sports players of all ages, but integrative muscular training can reduce the number of these injuries by as much as 50 percent.

The researchers identified that this type of training may even be most beneficial during pre-adolescence, highlighting the importance of more youth teams taking up this important training technique. Training programs should be tailored to accommodate the individual needs of each child, focusing specifically on developing motor skills. It is believed that introducing this type of training early will reduce the risk of sports related injury both now and in the future.

The cost of introducing a new training program like this is estimated to be less than $2 per child, making it financially beneficial compared to the cost of potential medical bills. Speak to your child’s coach to find out whether they are currently using an integrative neuromuscular training program, and if not, why not?

My Journey Into Speed Skating

speed-skate Hello… From Salt Lake City!

My journey into speed skating started not too long ago. It was around 3 years ago that I began. My sophomore year of college saw my Track and Field career come to an end, but my competitive itch was still there. Having been a hockey player and Track runner, I saw speed skating as the only logical option.

That winter break, my sophomore year, I gave this obscure sport a try, right here in our very own Flushing Queens. I was relatively fast but had little technique. I quickly realized that this was going to be something I would have to work at. I began training with two clubs up by my college (Syracuse and Binghamton). Although my skill was lacking it was the knowledge and drive from my other sports that allowed me to succeed. The same lessons I try to instill in our campers at Future Stars.DSCN4583

My Journey followed the same path until this past summer. Knowing I was going to graduate in the fall I began to prepare for the next step in my athletic career. Being a sport that isn’t high profile, there are select few places to train at an elite level. Summer training intensity grew as I was preparing to move to Salt Lake City, Utah. Home of the Fastest ice on earth, and is now the home to myself.

I have been here 3 weeks and have already improved tenfold, but it hasn’t come easy. I train every morning for 2-3 hours, and again at night for 3-5 hours, leaving me little time for a normal job. But it is this kind of commitment that success, at any sport or any goal, requires.

I look forward to keeping you all posted throughout my training, as well as seeing you all this summer!

-Kyle Essex

Kyle has worked at Future Stars Summer Camps at The College of Old Westbury since 2012 as our Swim Camp “dry land trainer” and our Off Court Tennis Camp Group Leader.

Stepping Into The Shoes Of A Coach

640Synopsis: By following a few simple guidelines, first-time youth coaches can create a rewarding experience for players, parents, and themselves.

One of the first places an athletic organization looks toward when there is a coaching vacancy is usually in the area of the bleachers where the parents sit. Whether a parent seeks to fill a coaching vacancy or the organization seeks out the parent for the opening itself, agreeing to become the new coach creates an interesting situation – that of coach/parent. No longer is the person just one of the moms or dads in the stands. This person has accepted the ‘whistle of reason,’ and while it may look to be a daunting task, becoming a coach should be accepted with the same enthusiasm as a new job assignment or as would being appointed an officer in a fraternal organization. These roles require some homework, some leadership awareness, and an outline of how to be most successfully developed. It is no different becoming a first-time youth athletic coach.

Starting Points

  • Take into consideration what age group needs coaching. Practice drills and sessions need to be implemented accordingly. Do not use advanced drills or strategies if the athletes are at the beginner’s stage.
  • Learn all rules specific to participation in the organization or league. For instance, the league may require teams to follow ‘minimum play’ guidelines, or there may be a distinct pitch count in place in a baseball league. Make sure assistant coaches are also aware of these special rules.
  • Attend organization meetings, specifically the pre-season informational sessions. If the organization offers a coaching clinic, attend it as well.
  • Search the internet for any tips on drills and coaching. The parent may have played the sport before, but there are always new twists and wrinkles to teaching sport-specific techniques.

After all the pre-season legwork is completed, make sure to schedule a ‘parents only’ meeting. Emphasize such important points as player ‘drop-off’ and ‘pick-up’ times. A coach is not a babysitter. Make certain they are accountable for arriving promptly pre- and post-practice. Explain in detail the fact playing time is based on items such as practice attendance, attitude toward the sport, child safety, and performance.

To prevent future headaches, let the other parents know there will be no discussion regarding playing time. Coaches may want to print out a form with all the team rules and expectations and have the parents of players sign off on it. This can avoid trouble down the road for that soccer coach approached by a dad angry over his daughter playing a limited role on the team. The coach should, because the child was absent from practice once a week because she is also involved in the volleyball team, simply pull out the signed form and point to the section explaining practice attendance.

There are two specific watch outs for new coaches. The first is to make practices is enjoyable as possible. This falls into the area of age-specifics, but in today’s instant gratification world it is important to maintain the attention span of youth players. If a drill is plodding along, take the initiative and change to another drill. Before introducing a drill, look at it from the players’ point of view. Is it interesting? Is it helpful? If a coach thinks it is boring, what will the players think?

The second watch out is for new coaches not to forget they are still parents. Make sure all players are treated the same, regardless of their ages. Coaches can tend to be harder on their own sons or daughters. Or, worse, coaches put their own kids on a pedestal. Be sure every player is treated the same.

Finally, it is critical to remember that your goal should be for the long term development of each child, not just to “win the next game.” Developing the technical skills in the sport correctly will greatly benefit the players in the long run and this goes back to insuring all activities are age/level appropriate.

Three Hard Lessons Kids Can Learn From Sports

cryingbaseballSynopsis: Kids can learn a lot of great lessons from sports, even if some of them are a little painful at the time.

The benefits of sports for young people are many, and they are well-documented: physical fitness, confidence, and making friends are among the top reasons to engage your kids in various sports. Whether they only play for a few years while they are young, or play all the way through high school and beyond, the benefits of playing sports can last a lifetime.

One of the challenges that some parents face when placing their children into sports is that not all of the lessons they learn will be painless at the time. In addition to the many great times that will be had on the field or the court, there are likely to be some tough times as well. It is likely that those difficult moments will be even more valuable compared to positive experiences in the long run, but it might not feel like it in the moment. It is important for parents to let their kids learn these lessons so they can grow both on and off the field.

Below are three hard lessons that kids can learn from sports –

1. You Won’t Always Be the Best

It is rare for anyone who plays sports to never come across someone who is better than them. If you played sports growing up, you surely know the feeling of realizing that there are kids who are better than you. This moment comes at a different age for everyone – maybe it happens early in grade school, or maybe it doesn’t happen until college if you are essentially the star athlete in high school.

Learning this lesson as a young person is invaluable because it shows kids that it is okay not to be the best, or the most talented, as long as they work hard and try their best. Success in life is more about effort than talent, so learning to compete against those who are more talented than you is a great lesson to learn.

2. Things Don’t Always Go Your Way

Adversity and sports go hand in hand. Anyone who has ever stepped onto a field or court to compete in a sporting event understands that there will be challenges along the way that you don’t expect. Sometimes, it comes in the form of a bad call from a referee. Other times it might be making a crucial mistake at the wrong time that costs your team the game. Of course, adversity in real life is just as common as it is in sports, so learning to deal with it is a great thing for a young person.

3. Losing Happens

Most kids are naturally competitive, and want to do everything they can to win. There is nothing wrong with that, but losing is a part of sports – and a part of life. Some kids have trouble dealing with losing at first, so it is important that they experience this feeling and learn how to deal with it. When kids learn at a young age that it is okay to lose as long as they try their best, that lesson can serve them well as they move on in life.

Let Your Child Make The Decision Continuing To Play A Sport

DSC_05860Synopsis: Many factors should be considered before a parent talks to a child about leaving a team sport.

When your child is visibly succeeding while playing a sport, it is easy to recognize how much the child enjoys being a participant. The same cannot be said if your child is an average or below average performer. Whether it is the limited playing-time, or the fact your child is playing a supporting role to the better players, it is more difficult to see whether your child is enjoying the athletic experience or not. If your child fits into the latter category, you need to be very careful in approaching your child to determine the answer.

The first place to start involves the age of your child. Your ten-year-old son may be only playing two innings per baseball game, may be prone to making more than his share of errors in the field, and is batting a lowly .224 on the season. You may look at his display of athleticism as being the worst on the team, and your protective parental nature may be clouding your fair assessment of whether your boy is having fun. Kids develop at different times in their lives. Your weak-hitting, two-inning left fielder may hit his growth spurt two years later and start leading the team in doubles and runs by the time he celebrates his 13th birthday. Saying the wrong thing to him about baseball when he is ten may prevent him from wanting to stick with the sport later on. Once you determine your child is enjoying the sport, do not offer derogatory comments which may be seen by the child as your disapproval.

The parent in you should gauge if your child is having fun participating in a sport. You may have told your daughter how great it was when you ran up and down a soccer field. Your daughter goes out for the sport, but does not find the same enjoyment that you had. However, she wants you to be proud of her. She would never ask you to quit the team, or want to be signed up for the next season. Notice her actions around her teammates, especially if she has friends whom are also on the team. If friendship and companionship cannot create a source of enjoyment for the child, it may be time for you to start a conversation with your daughter to find out her true feelings. She may shock you, and want to continue with the sport. The fact you initiated the talk may allow her to truthfully tell you how she feels.

Watch for how active your child is during the practice sessions. During games watch the interactions with teammates. Is there a smile on your child’s face? Has the sport become grueling for your child? Be fair in your observations. After all, you want the best for your child.

How To Help Your Kid Turn A Hobby Into A Career

Essentially all parents will tell you that all they want for their child is happiness. You want your child to grow old and happy, spend his days doing something he loves, surrounded by people who love him. So, how can you help him achieve that dream job on the field?

Turning a hobby or a passion into a career is most people’s idea of heaven. Being paid to do something you love, and earning a living while enjoying yourself, is pretty much a universal dream. “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”Parents especially love to help this dream become a reality for their growing children.

If your child is gifted at sports, and passionate about the game, he is probably dreaming big and hoping that he will one day play professionally. As his parent, you want to believe it can be done, but you also know how slim the odds are for anyone wanting to become a professional sports player.

So, what can you do to help increase your child’s chance of achieving pro status?

Keep it fun
Your child wants to be a professional sports player because he loves the sport. To allow him to compete to be a pro, you need to let his love for the game continue. This means following his lead, letting him play as often as he likes, and not ‘forcing’ him to play when he doesn’t want to. The game he loves shouldn’t feel like a chore, it should be something he loves doing most of the time.

Encourage diversity
Most professional sports players played a variety of sports when they were growing up. Committing to a single sport too soon actually increases the risk of injury. You may want to encourage your child to spend time playing as many sports as possible, and not just sports that you feel will complement his favorite sport; let him experiment with any sport he wants. All sports improve fitness and teach important lessons in confidence, self-esteem, coordination, and social interactions.

Seek out opportunities
There are plenty of opportunities out there for your child to get noticed. Seek them out and encourage your child to give them his all. There are summer sports camps, county teams to try out for, scouts to play in front of, and sports scholarships to win. Consider yourself your child’s career coach and help him make the most of the opportunities available.

Be realistic
It’s important to stay realistic, and it’s even more important to help your child stay realistic too. There is nothing wrong with dreaming big or aiming high, but it’s important to know that it will require a lot of hard work to reach the top. Make sure your child works hard on his studies, and spends time on other hobbies and passions, so that he has a fall back plan in place. There are many ways that your child can turn their love of a sport into a career beyond playing.

Nurture him
A career in sports isn’t easy. Once the struggle to the top is over, and you’re signed to a professional team, there is plenty of hard work and pressure to come. Your child will need to grow up and know how to handle stress, react well under pressure, and cope with the emotional strains of both winning and losing. The best way to teach these skills to your child is to model them yourself. Nurture your child, give him the best start in life, and allow him to grow into a well-rounded adult who can excel at sports, even when it comes to coping with being at the bottom of the league.

Are you the parent of a future professional sports player? What steps are you taking to help your child achieve his dreams? What other ways can your child stay involved in sports as a career?