Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Assist Award - 2008

This Year's Winner of the Holiday Assist Award goes to Dwayne Wade.

Read this article from and you'll understand why.

I've said before that while basketball is just a game, it is also a way to learn life skills, like how to work with others, develop trust, and reveal your true nature.

Happy Holidays to You and Your Family.

And Kudos to Flash.
This assist is even better than his pass to Kobe vs. Greece.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Recently, Nike and Kobe Bryant introduced their latest basketball shoe.

What's so special about them? They're not the usual high-tops we're used to seeing.
In fact, the low cut design brought back the argument about what type of shoe is best for basketball. Many experts have said that high tops are better at reducing ankle sprains (the most common injury in basketball), while others have said that high-tops limit performance.

During a recent interview with , Mr Bryant brought up lots of reasons for his decision to go to this new model.

  • Soccer players cut harder and put more torque on their ankles than basketball players do, but they play in shoes lower cut than his new one.

  • "High Tops were becoming more restrictive" and he wanted to make the shoe "as snug as possible" .

  • "I've rolled my ankles a lot of times wearing high tops". Like his severe Right Ankle Sprain in 2005 .

  • "If you come down on somebody's foot - there's nothing you can do about that"

  • The current design "cuts the weight of the shoe"

  • "gives your foot a little more freedom to change directions"
When asked how it will translate to the average, chubby, middle america basketball playing guy ? "the shoe will actually make you faster" and make you jump higher.

So what do I think? (Thanks for asking)

He's right about several things:

  • Soccer players do cut hard and wear even lower-cut cleats.

  • If you land awkwardly on someone else's foot, there's a good chance you'll turn your ankle regardless of the type of shoe you're wearing.

  • A lighter shoe can help you jump (relatively) higher and move (somewhat) faster. Although I doubt it's going to significantly affect how tired you get on the court.

But Here's One Thing That Nike And Kobe Are Not Discussing - as reported in The Canadian Press , Kobe may be wearing a new low-cut shoe but "Bryant is sticking with plain old athletic tape for ankle support").

Why's that important? Taping ankles and/or wearing ankle supports has been shown to reduce the risk of ankle injuries (especially in athletes who have already injured their ankles before).

Just like the professional soccer players he watches and admires, Mr Bryant has a professional trainer at his disposal who will wrap his ankles before every practice and game.

Do you? Didn't think so.

Take Home Message Number 1
If you want to play in Kobe's low tops, either get someone to tape your ankles (will provide support for a limited time, depending on the type of tape and how it's applies) or put on an ankle support (will provide continuous support) before you hit the court.

Take Home Message Number 2
Regardless of what some people wear, they'll still sprain their ankles. Like Kobe says in his interview, "if you get crossed up, that's your fault" .

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nutritional Supplement Use in the UK

Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, December15, 2008

In an article published earlier this week in the Journal of the Internation Society of Sports Nutrition , researchers from Kingston University in London reported on nutritional supplement use among young (ages 12-21) elite athletes in the United Kingdom.

Athletes take supplements for different reasons: to improve their health, enhance their performance, round out their diet, and increase their energy.
One concern I have is that many young athletes take the wrong supplements, in the wrong amounts, at the wrong times.

In this study, young elite athletes most often reported taking (in descending order) energy drinks, vitamin C, multivitamins, whey protein, creatine, echinacea, caffeine, iron, ginseng, and melatonin. Often, though, they weren't able to correctly match their reason for taking a supplement with the supplement needed to reach their goal .

Take a look at the graph above.
When asked about the source of advice to take three of the most popular supplements (creatine, whey protein and energy drinks) most young athletes reported they took them without advice from others. While it's comforting to see that the second most reported source of advice was their coach, the coaches themselves, while well intentioned, might not be giving out correct advice.

What about health care provider's advice? Nutritionists were the 3rd most common source of advice (after NONE and coaches). Team doctors and general practitioners? Way behind even fellow athletes and friends.

This needs to change. Athletes, especially those who are still growing, need credible, reliable advice on ways to safely optimize their health and performance. Doctors are partly at fault, because most are not up to date with current evidence-based sports nutrition. Hopefully, health care professionals can work to translate the latest research results to the everyday player so that s/he can make informed decisions about what, and what not, to put into their bodies.
Want more information? Just search this blog using the keyword NUTRITION.
You can also get more resources by going back to this blog post.
Looking more critically at the article, it's notable that the response rate (those who sent back their answers) was only 1/4 of the 1,674 athletes who received the questionnaire. For our interests, it's also important to know that basketball players were not studied here ("Game On"?) . I also don't know what constitutes "energy drinks" in the UK (are they hydration drinks, recovery drinks or something like Red Bull - ugh). I've asked the lead author to answer this last question. Will let you know when I do.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Around the World

I've been blogging here for about a year and a half now, trying to help young basketball athletes improve their health, fitness and performance.

Until this past week, however, I didn't know who was actually reading this blog.

Thanks to some technical assistance (Thanks, Jessica!) and a neat program called Sitemeter, I've recently discovered that this blog is not only getting hits from across the United States, but from across the world as well.

The picture above is a graphical representation of today's most recent visitors, including:

* Someone from Houston Texas (where I did my residency training) who read about ankle injuries.
* A person in Rochester, NY who wanted more information about plyometrics.
* A reader from Badalona Spain who was interested in learning more about mouthguard use.
* Someone who has (or knows someone) with patellofemoral syndrome from Bogota, Columbia.
* A Canadian who read about miserable malalignment syndrome.

When I first started this blog, I hoped it would at least help people across my home state of North Carolina. In fact, a little less than 2/3 (65%) of hits are coming from the United States. The rest come from Canada, the UK, South America, etc. It's opened my eyes about both the power of the internet as well as the international interest.

So please (por favor, 請, tevreden, παρακαλώ, svp, bitte, пожалуйста), wherever you play ball - jump on in and join the discussion! You've got friends here from around the world.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Keep It Clean !

At 7'7" (7'9" in shoes), Kenny George had a huge presence on the basketball court. (That's him, making 6'9" Deon Thompson look like Mugsy Bogues) .
The 2008 Big South Conference Defensive Player of the Year was a shot-blocking machine who improved his game enough to start getting looks from NBA teams (like they say - "you can't coach height").
This past Summer, he returned from Pete Newell's Big Man Camp in Las Vegas with a skin infection. While it may have started with a small cut or an abrasion, the infection was caused by MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staph Aureus) an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can cause life-threatening illness. Complications from the infection led to the partial amputation of his right foot, eventually knocking this giant of a man off the court.

Life for him will go on. As his coach said, “There's much more to Kenny than just basketball" and I hope that he finds success and enjoyment in whatever field he eventually enters.

I also hope that YOU learn from this unfortunate story and make the effort to reduce your risk of contracting this serious disease, which can be found in locker rooms and gym bags. In fact, participation in contact sports (and yes, basketball is a contact sport) increases the risk of getting this type of infection. Sometimes Community Associated MRSA (CA-MRSA), can spread from teammate to teammate quickly.

So what can you do? As the Centers for Disease Control recommend, you should always:

* Keep your hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
* Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed.
* Avoid contact with other people’s wounds or bandages.
* Avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors.

The National Federation of State High School Associations has this to say about CA-MRSA.

And last, but certainly not least, the American Academy of Pediatrics has a good webpage about MRSA at

Take a few minutes to go there, learn more about what you can do, and take the steps to reduce your risk of going through something like Kenny George had to endure.

MRSA infection changed his life.... don't let it change yours.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

One Step at a Time


Baby steps.

That's the way someone usually learns how to walk.

You know, take a step forward; fall down; get back up and try again.

For most of us, we accomplish this before our first birthday and never give it a second thought.

For others, life sometimes brings the challenge back around again.

Wayman Tisdale had an incredible career as a basketball player- The first college Freshman to ever be named an All-American, a member of the 1984 gold medal-winning US Olympic team, the 2nd player taken in the NBA Draft.

After 12 years in the NBA, he retired in 1997 to pursue his next career as a jazz musician. But basketball was such an integral part of who he was that he could never separate himself from his past athletic accomplishments. Many of his album titles reflect his love of the game ( Power Forward (1995) , In The Zone (1996), Hang Time (2004) ) and his music often flows like a well-orchestrated run.

Last year, he was diagnosed with cancer and eventually had to have his right leg amputated above the knee. And there he was, lying in a bed with a different body and a new challenge. The way he responded demonstrated both the person he is and the lessons he learned from playing basketball.

As a basketball player, he was already familiar with the need to train his body and took to his rehabilitation with the same intensity he often showed on the court - learning to use an artificial leg 3-4x faster than the average amputee.

In an article, he discussed how he also used the inner strength and resolve he developed during his basketball career to deal with his disease and his new physical challenges, specifically recalling, "I had some coaches that literally didn't want me to make it, and one in particular was Bobby Knight. At the time, I frowned on that … I look at it today that had I not persevered through a lot of the stuff he put me through, I probably wouldn't be here today. I thank God for that dude because he pushed me."

I'm a big believer that basketball can help young athletes learn lessons and gain experiences that will help them later in life. It's obvious that Mr Tisdale is a talented, creative and motivated individual who became stronger through time on the basketball court. Trying to make the 1984 US Olympic team despite having a coach who was anything but supportive could have been a disaster, but he didn't let a difficult situation get the best of him.

So the next time you have a coach who gets on your nerves, try to look at the situation not as a problem but as an opportunity.
S/he yells at you/picks on you/doesn't give you the playing time you feel you deserve?
Keep your head up and keep working hard through it.

It's a chance for you to grow by overcoming adversity.
One step at a time.

Monday, December 1, 2008


An article last month described Derrick Favors (one of the top-ranked high school players in the country) as his team's "meal ticket" .

Unfortunately, he and his teammates were never taught what type of meals they should, and should not, eat before games.
The article describes what happened to him and his teammates before a state tournament game last year where they lost in the first round.
They "had a transportation issue before that first-round game. The bus was late by 90 minutes or so. The Hornets arrived about 30 minutes before tipoff, and perhaps worst of all, somebody -- a parent, a fan, nobody seems sure -- decided to try to help by buying dinner. Those bacon cheeseburgers were good."
Ah, if only they had read my post from last year ("You Are What You Eat"- August 2007) and gone to some of the websites about nutrition for basketball players, they would have known that you don't eat greasy bacon cheeseburgers any time before an important game or practice.
What you eat before games depends upon how long you have to digest the food. Carbohydrates are the best and most easily digested types of pre-game meals. A little protein can be added if you've got a while before gametime.
And the bacon cheesburgers?
"four players suffered cramping problems during the game, Favors landed in foul trouble, and the Hornets -- who averaged 83 points per game last season -- scored six points in the fourth quarter".
Moral of the story? You are (and might play like) what you eat.
Moral #2: Bacon cheesburgers should NEVER be (or be eaten by) your meal ticket.