Monthly Archives: April 2014

Apr 29

Three New Types of Push-ups for Youth Sports Strength

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Have you ever heard of Paul Tsatsouline? He is a former Soviet fitness instructor who has a good following here in the States. He’s fun to read and has a different take on fitness and strength than most American strength trainers.

Get the hips down!

Pavel is a proponent of doing a few difficult exercises and mastering them. He doesn’t believe in variety.

I disagree with him, especially when it comes to kids and fitness. And for that matter, myself. I don’t have the discipline to focus on a few exercises. I get bored very easy. One of the reason I’ve been able to stay with my current fitness program is because it changes frequently.

In his book, The Naked Warrior one of his exercises is the one arm push-up. I remember being able to do these very well back in my 20’s. (The other memory of them is of 80 year old Jack Palance ripping them off at the Academy Awards. Check it out here.

Recently, I reread his book and thought I’d try them out. I’m doing (attempting) every time I come through the front door. I try about five modified on both my right and left arms.

What I like about them is they work the whole body. My core muscles go into overdrive trying to stay stablized. I can feel my glutes, legs and back working as well. I hold the up position and go down as far as I can (about five inches!) and then come up.

Just holding the up position is an isometric challenge. By engaging the core, kids will be working on the strength they need to run, jump, swim, kick and throw.

They are very difficult but fun. I think kids will like them as a challenge.

Two others which are similar because they are mostly an isometric hold are the extended and wide push-ups.

To do the extended push-up, begin on your knees. Reach both arms out in front about 45 degrees and then bring the legs back so you’re holding your body up in an extended plank. This itself is a great isometric hold.

I like to slightly bend the elbows and go down a few inches and then come back up. But either way works.

To do a wide push-up, start on your knees and place your arms out to the side. Have your fingers point away from the midline (point away from the body). They should be about double shoulder width apart.

Now bring your legs back and go into a plank position.

Again you can hold it or slightly bend the elbow and sink down.

Kids love challenges and these will definitely challenge them. Or try them yourself!

Coach Ron Usher

Apr 28

Social Skills for Youth Athletes

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

My wife brought up an interesting idea tonight at dinner. “Why don’t they have classes or a summer camp on social skills for youth athletes? They would learn how to shake hands, make interviews, stuff like that.”

What social skills should kids be taught for youth sports?

It’s a good idea. Certainly from the behavior of some of the  professional and college athletes there should be.

I’ve read a ton of sports psychology books, blogs and articles. I took a semester course from one of the pioneers of sports psychology, Dr. Tom Tutko. (He was so fun, I took every course he taught at San Jose State.)

But I’ve never seen mention of teaching these skills to kids. Maybe programs that work on getting kids scholarships to colleges teach this; I don’t know.

It reminds me of that class scene in Bull Durham where Kevin Costner is on the bus teaching Tim Robbins what to say to the press. It’s funny because it’s so true.

As a coach, do you teach personal skills to your team?

I tried teaching personal skills along with sports psychology to many of my teams with some success…and some failures. Sometimes the kids had serious mental health issues that prevented them from being able to control themselves.

I felt it was important to allow them on the team but sometimes I questioned my wisdom. This was on a community college team where I felt the education and participation was more important than the winning.

Between teaching the X’s and O’s, conditioning and dealing with the parents, board and everything else, it can be a daunting task. You have to incorporate it as part of your psychological sports program.

What and how do you teach your team about social skills? Do you teach sports psychology do you team? If so, what and how do you get it in?

Coach Ron Usher

Apr 25

Using Mental Rehearsal for Sports

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

How many of you have kids that are super busy to practice their skills as much as they should?

Visualization helps with all sports and for a athletes. Even me!

Or maybe they need to work on skills that aren’t so easy to practice such as confidence, self-control, or being resiliant.

I’ve always been a big proponent of visualization and mental rehearsal but lately I’ve been using it for one very specific skill. See, I love to play basketball. I play with my friends on Wednesday and Saturdays as much as possible.

The problem is that I’m not very good. As one of the oldest and smaller guys playing I’m at some disadvantages. Add to it that I’m just not very good at ball handling or shooting then I’ve got some real problems.

Lately, I’ve been working out a lot. I’ve lost weight, gained a ton of strength and am moving better than ever. But my shooting still sucks. The guys that are covering me know I can’t make the basket so they play off of me. And then I can’t drive past them for the easy lay-up.

When I’ve had time and a good location to practice, I improve and have a pretty nice shot from 15 feet. But recently, there just hasn’t been any time.

So I decided to do a little experiment.

Every time I took the dog for a walk and pass a tree, I would think of it as a basket. I would imagine the ball arcing through the air and going “SWISH” right thru the center of tree. I imagined what it felt like to have my body in the right position, to have my arms in the right position and have the ball leave my hands perfect.

As I got better at visualizing I imagined passes coming from the right and left sides. I imagined rolling off a screen to make the shot. I even imagined being tired and having confidence to take and make the shot.

Well, my shooting has greatly improved.

Guys are no longer playing off of me. As a matter of fact, I’ve even faked the shot, had my defender go past me and go up for the lay-up. It is a great feeling when you fake someone out like that.

Recently, I’ve discovered some sources that go into visualization in more details. I’ll talk about them in a later post. But for now, talk to your kids about mental rehearsal. Have the practice it. It can be done almost any time…and any place.

In my next post, I’ll go into some techniques and strategies to use for any sport.

Apr 24

Is It Sustainable? Fitness, training, diet, work, and goals

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Charles Staley made a Facebook post the other day. “If it’s not sustainable for a week, if it’s not sustainable for a month, if it’s not sustainable for three months…it’s not sustainable”.

I’ve taken this to heart. In my life, especially around fitness, diet and my business working with kids, it is certainly true.

Typically, I’ll start working out like a beast…and then I get hurt or burnt out. It slows down and eventually almost stops.

Or my diet. I’ll be careful with what I eat; eating more fruits and vegetables, cutting back on soda and fast food. I’ve gone as long as three months. But I would go back down that slippery slope…slowly at first but eventually, I’d be back almost to where I started.

And blogging. I get on a tear and do two to five posts a day. I keep it up for a month or so. Then it gets to a reasonable number (four a week) and then it drops down to zero. And working on new books, products and marketing techniques is almost impossible.

Today, one of the teachers I work with came back from Spring break and had lost 17 pounds in nine day. He was on citrus diet of some sort. It’s basically fruit and veggies blended together three times a day. Sounds horrible.

There’s a lot of things wrong from an exercise/fitness standpoint with this technique. But the main problem is that it is not sustainable. You can’t keep it up.

So I’m working on establishing patterns, goals and routines that are sustainable. So far, I’ve been pretty good.

I started out in January by working out. January was a great month and then February was horrible. But I got back into it and March and April have been great. I’m working out a lot but not over doing it. I’m holding myself back a bit and allowing myself rest if I’m feeling too beat, tired or sore.

Perhaps most important, I’m having fun.

I’m also trying to get my eating habits in order. Using some ideas from the 10 Day Detox plan, I’m trying to stay off of caffine and sugars. I imagine all the chemicals and sugars irritating my stomach and intestines and swelling them up with gunk. I’m having a breakfast shake in the morning, a big salad for lunch and then salad, veggie and protein for dinner.

I’m not sure if this is sustainable but it might be. It’s quick and and fairly easy to prepare.

As far as blogging and working on my Internet business, I don’t have a goal or a plan yet. I begin to get one and then don’t take the most important first step (starting).

But it looks like I did something today.