• Finger Strengthening Exercises

    Finger-strengthening exercises help with everything from preventing sports injuries to easing of arthritis pain. Guitar players and rock climbers need to develop strong fingers as do typists who are trying to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome. Fitness enthusiasts often forget to include finger-strengthening exercises in their routines, trainers at Indoor Climbing report. Perform finger exercises daily toward the end of your regular workout, but be careful not to overstrain. Exercises should not be done to the point that you feel pain.
    Hold on to a gallon of milk or hold a dumbbell in each hand with your fingertips hanging loosely at your sides so your fingers do all the work. Walk for 100 feet holding the items, then set them down to rest. Count to 10 or 20 and pick up the items again. Repeat the action three times every other day to strengthen fingers.
    Squeeze different squeeze balls, stress balls or pinch grips by picking up the ball and holding the squeeze for 10 to 20 seconds. Release and rest for a count to 10. Make your own squeezing equipment by using a rubber ball or partially inflated medicine ball; the more inflated the ball, the stronger the grip needed to hold it. A tennis ball also provides a good amount of pressure to work the fingers. Hold the pliable item by your fingers and keep your wrist and arm out of the equation. Repeat 10 times.
    Increase your flexibility and strength with an easy exercise called a thumb opposition in which you hold one hand up straight with your fingers pointing upward, then take your thumb and apply it firmly to the fingertip of your little finger. Press as hard as you can without creating pain and hold it for five seconds. Move your thumb to the next fingertip and repeat. Perform this exercise on all four fingers three times, then repeat on the other hand.
    Perform the bend-and-fold finger exercises on both hands at the same time by first holding both hands up with palms facing away from you. Start at the little fingers and bend each outside finger at the second knuckle, careful to hold the other fingers still. Next bend the ring fingers, the middle fingers and pointing fingers. Imagine each finger is doing a little push-up. Rotate through all four fingers 10 times. This exercise also helps develop finger independence.
    Hold both hands together as if in prayer with fingers slightly splayed. Keeping your palms together, pull your fingers away from each other and tap twice. After tapping, hold your fingers together and push first to one side and then the other. The exercise should consist of tap, tap, then push, push. Repeat the exercise 10 times.

  • Muscles Involved in a Leg Press

    The leg press is an exercise performed on a weight resistance machine. As a compound movement, your hip and knee joints flex, or bend, and extend to perform the exercise. Some leg press machines place your body in a declined position, with your head lower than your lower body. Other leg machines place your body in a horizontal position. Resistance can be in the form of weighted plates that are placed on the machine or a weight stack that uses a pin for resistance selection. While your hips and legs bear most of the resistance, the leg press is a safer alternative to the barbell squat, requiring your whole body to bear the weight.
    The leg press exercise has two phases of movement. At the start of the exercise, your knees are bent at 90 degrees and your hips are bent at 90 degrees. Your feet are flat against the platform. As the exercise begins, your knees extend, pushing the platform away from your body until your legs are straight. Hold the extension and then bend your knees, bringing your legs slowly back to the starting position.
    Your quadriceps muscles contract to extend your knees. The quadriceps are a group of four muscles including your rectus femoris, vastus medialis, vastus lateralis and vastus intermedius. The quadriceps are in the front of your thigh, starting from your hip and ending just below your knees. Your hamstrings contract as you bend your knees to slow down the movement of the resistance. Your hamstring group consists of your biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus. These muscles are in the back of your thigh, starting from your hip and ending just below your knee. Your buttocks assist in the movement of extending your legs and stretch as you bend your knees. The buttocks group consists of your gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus.
    The leg press exercise increases lower body muscular strength and muscular endurance. For strength gains, use heavier weight, completing three or four sets of six to 10 repetitions. For endurance gains, use lighter weight, completing three or four sets of 12 to 15 repetitions. The leg press is a relatively safer alternative for strength training because your spine and upper body is supported throughout the exercise.
    Unlike squats, your hips do not fully extend when performing the leg press. This limits strength and endurance gains for your hip flexors and buttocks muscles. The leg press exercise is not recommended as part of a conditioning program for improving explosive athletic movements such as the vertical jump. Squats would be a more effective alternative.

  • Footballs & Newton’s Laws of Motion

    At the instant a football is snapped into play, Sir Isaac Newton¡¯s first law of motion has been demonstrated. During the course of that same play, his second and third laws of motion might be demonstrated more than once. According to folklore, the renowned physicist realized the law of gravity with the aid of a falling apple. Had football been played at the time, Newton might have formulated his laws of motion by observing a game.
    The first law of motion states that an object remains at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change by an external force. Once a referee places the football at the line of scrimmage, it remains at rest until the offensive center delivers it to his quarterback or kicker. Barring high winds, when a quarterback throws a pass to his receiver, the football remains in a straight line unless tipped or knocked down by a defender.
    Newton¡¯s second law of motion explains how the velocity of an object changes when it is subjected to an external force. This is demonstrated when a player uses his hands or body, which represent the external force, to catch the football. Newton¡¯s formula for the second law, (F=M*A), is applied to determine the impact that changes the velocity of the ball by entering the combined weight and speed of the ball into the equation. It doesn¡¯t take much in the way of algebraic calculation to realize players must have strong hands to catch a crisp short pass or a long pass descending from a high arc.
    The third law of motion tells us that every action is accompanied by an equal and opposite reaction. This is best demonstrated on long passes and punts where the the initial action of the football is upward to the point where it is affected by gravity. Receivers and kick return specialists have the ability to gauge the flight of a football from the quarterback¡¯s hand or a kicker¡¯s foot and get in position to make the catch. It might be fair to assume these players don¡¯t make rapid calculations as they track the football through its arc, but the average football player understands Newton¡¯s third law in layman¡¯s terms: A football that goes up must come down.
    Newton¡¯s second and third law are demonstrated as a football is fumbled or descends after being kicked. The weight of the ball and the rate of downward acceleration caused by gravity are proportionate to the force when it hits the turf. However, the oblong shape and pointed ends of a football result in an unpredictable bounce that finds players scrambling for the elusive prize. The farther and faster it falls or is knocked to the turf, the greater the opposite reaction, or bounce, will be.

  • Michael Jordan’s Baseball History

    Although Michael Jordan is best known for his accomplishments as a professional basketball player, he did also have a short baseball career. While Michael Jordan’s baseball career was not as successful as his basketball career, it is noteworthy because of Jordan’s ability to display a high level of skill in multiple sports.
    Although Michael Jordan had a successful professional basketball career, the sport of baseball was his first love. In July of 1993, Jordan’s father was murdered, and Jordan retired in October of the same year to focus on family. The following year, Jordan signed a contract with the Chicago White Sox to pursue baseball full time.
    Michael Jordan played his first game for the Birmingham Barons, a minor-league affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, on April 8, 1994. According to Sports Illustrated, the impact on the team was immediate, with Jordan’s fame fueling uncharacteristically high attendance numbers and minor league baseball highlights finding a prominent place on ESPN. Despite the notoriety, Jordan’s baseball career did not get off to a good start, going 0 for 3 at the plate, and the Barons lost 10-3.
    Although Jordan was not immediately successful at baseball, his career with the Barons did have some highlights. Jordan hit his first home run for the Barons on July 30, 1994, nearly four months after joining the team. The home run came in Jordan’s 354th at-bat.
    In 127 games for the Birmingham Barons, Jordan had 88 hits in 436 at-bats, earning a batting average of .202. Jordan finished the season with three home runs and 51 RBI. Jordan scored 46 runs and stole 30 bases in his only season playing baseball.
    After his relatively unsuccessful season playing baseball, Jordan decided to return to the NBA. Jordan issued a press release on March 18, 1995, that stated simply, “I’m back,” and returned to the Chicago Bulls the next day.

  • Circuit-Training Disadvantages

    In circuit training, a person moves quickly between single sets of exercises, completing one after another with minimal rest in between. She repeats the entire circuit for a number of rounds. Because circuits involve a variety of exercises, they are used for efficient full-body workouts, which have been shown to be effective for increasing muscular and cardiovascular endurance in both the young and the old. However, there are certain disadvantages of circuit training.
    Circuit training often requires advance planning and a lot of time and space, which can be a problem if you workout in a crowded gym. At some point during your circuit, as you move quickly from one exercise station to the next, it is likely that someone else will interrupt your circuit by using the space or equipment you need to continue, especially if you plan to use popular stations like the bench-press or pull-up bars. To avoid this disruption, you may have to schedule gym visits when it is less crowded or train from home with limited equipment.
    Circuit training is effective for improving muscular endurance, but it may have limited use for increasing strength and power. While it is not impossible to do low-repetition, high-weight exercises during a circuit, these types of exercises can be too exhausting to complete a full round of them, especially when performed with minimal rest. For this reason, circuits are usually designed to accommodate at least eight repetitions per exercise, which builds muscle size and endurance, but not so much strength. Because circuit training usually cycles between various muscle groups, it can also decrease the gains you might get from more specific muscle training.
    Circuit workouts can be highly fatiguing, and it is likely that beginners will work harder at the beginning of a circuit. For instance, if you begin a circuit with squats and finish with pushups, you may achieve lesser gains in the chest than in the legs. This is partly due to the fact that participants may minimize or eliminate rest between stations. It can be helpful to use an effective work-rest ratio of at least 1:1, for example, 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest.
    While these downsides are common in circuit training, they are not always the case and can be avoided with simple changes. For instance, training with free-weights in a gym¡¯s group fitness class can be a great way to perform circuits uninterrupted. You can use circuits for strength training by alternating between low-rep strength and high-rep endurance exercises, which helps avoid complete muscle exhaustion. Also, you can vary the muscles you target at different stages of the circuit rounds, which may allow you to get a more balanced full-body workout.

  • Ideas for Volleyball Tryouts

    There are many types of volleyball tryouts. Club team tryouts differ from school team tryouts, and development team tryouts differ from high-end travel team tryouts. The challenges, however, are similar at all levels, and so are the qualities of a good tryout. Coaches must identify and recruit the best players for their team. They also establish the tone for the practices and matches to follow.
    Luring the right prospects is the first step toward a successful volleyball tryouts. Scout players in advance to get a handle on the available talent pool. School coaches can create skills camps to get a read on younger players in the area. Arrange open gym periods to get to know potential players in an informal setting. School coaches should use all internal means to reach incoming students. Club team coaches should advertise and promote tryout information within the volleyball community. Recruiting is a key component to club volleyball success. School coaches might need to recruit, too, to attract multisport athletes on their campus.
    Script the tryout from start to finish. Plot the activities to keep the session moving. Create a smooth sign-in process, and distribute pin-on numbers for those players needing a number for identification purposes. Start on time. Accept stragglers, but stress the need for players to arrive on time for team activities. Club coaches should explain their season goals, team needs and selection process to the players and parents. Describe the expectations for players making the team. School coaches should compose written guidelines for the selection process and discuss them with the players.
    Start with a dynamic warm-up to allow players to increase their heart rate, raise their body temperature and stretch their muscles. Work on individual skills next, using serving, receiving, setting and hitting drills that fit the general skill level of the group. Move to game simulation drills next, testing the group without overwhelming it. From there, move to controlled scrimmages to see how the players communicate and interact. Finish the session with cool-down activities. Tell the players that the coaching staff will be in contact with them.
    Establish the selection criteria before the tryout. Make sure all the coaches and helpers understand what you are looking for in players. School coaches should use written evaluation forms, since parents tend to complain to higher authorities if their child doesn’t make a team. Focus more attention on unfamiliar players, but don’t ignore players you know well. Get as many trusted eyes on the tryout as possible and gain a consensus evaluation on all players of interest. The head coach must make the final decisions, but varied input is critical.
    Select the right players to blend with returning players, if you have them. Select players that fill needs and fit the team’s level of play and chemistry. Add versatile players to the bench, along with a raw but athletic prospect or two. Advanced club teams and varsity school teams may have nine to 12 players. Bigger rosters are appropriate for developmental club teams and junior varsity or freshman school teams.
    Club team coaches should contact the players they want in order of their value. Competition for talent is fierce in some areas, so players often have multiple options. Selecting a player is one thing, but securing that player is another. Allow the very best prospects some time to make the decision. Move down the list and get as many commitments as possible. Creating some roster size flexibility helps coaches leave a few spots open for top, undecided prospects. Contact unwanted players to explain why they didn’t get an offer, encourage them to continue playing and promise to keep an eye on them. Some of those players will blossom into better prospects. Make a good impression even while rejecting them. School coaches should meet with each cut player, thank her for trying out and explain their evaluation.

  • Soccer Tips on How to Shoot Long Range

    Shooting long range in soccer is difficult, but regular practice can improve your skills. If you’re having trouble achieving proper form while shooting, consult your coach or watch professional soccer players during a match. Note the movements they make to achieve distance shots. Don’t worry if it takes a long time to get better. Just focus on completing your shots correctly and maintaining accuracy, and over time your ability to shoot at a distance will improve.
    Perfect your form so that your shots are consistent and powerful. Plant your nonshooting foot a little more than 1 foot away from the ball and keep that leg slightly bent. Lift your shooting foot high behind you, then whip it forward while pointing your toes downward. The laces of your shoe should connect below the midline of the ball. Follow through with your leg. If the ball doesn’t go far or if your shot is inconsistent, practice kicking with correct form against a wall. This allows you to take shots repeatedly without having to chase after the ball each time.
    Start off by shooting the ball from a location at which it is easy for you to hit the target consistently and accurately. Typically, this will be in the center of the field a few dozen feet away from the net. Shoot repeatedly from that location, each time aiming at a specific area of the net. For example, shoot several balls toward the top left corner, then top right, then bottom left and then bottom right. Once you can perform these shots accurately, move away from the net to a distance that makes it more difficult for you. Stay at that distance until you improve and then move farther away.
    Once you have a decent range, it’s time to improve how you shoot on an angle. When you are directly facing the center of the net, you have maximum flexibility in choosing your shot location. But if you’re standing off to either side, the amount of open area that¡¯s available for targeting decreases, making it harder to score goals. Practice taking shots from a distance and at severe angles to the goal. For example, set up shots that are far away from the net and off to the side. If possible ask a friend to play goalkeeper to make your targeting opportunities more realistic. Visualize the open area of the goal and aim toward it. Move farther away as you improve.
    Kicking the ball far is not easy, so you might be tempted to use the tip of your foot to add some distance to your shot. While kicking with the point of your cleats does make the ball go farther, it is impossible to maintain a consistent, accurate shot when you shoot this way. The best way to shoot long-range is to use proper form — the instep kick — to launch the ball toward the target. It might not be easy at first, but over time you will develop accuracy as well as distance.

  • The Negative Effects of Youth Sports

    Playing organized sports can be one of the best experiences for any young person with an interest in sports. A player can improve his skills, make friends and learn how to be part of a team. But the experience is not always beneficial. Young athletes can get hooked up with a coach who is more interested in his ego than helping a young person. Instead of forming friendships, a young person might feel isolated. Injuries can also result from tough competition.
    The coach of a youth sports team has the ability to make the experience an enjoyable or miserable one for a young athlete. If a coach is in it to win games and championships rather than emphasize learning and enjoyment, then he is not the right kind of person to lead young people. Some coaches will act warm and friendly to young players when they perform well but then act like they barely know the youngster when they go into a slump. This can ruin a young person’s attitude and make the experience painful.
    Organized youth sports take steps to keep young people from getting hurt while playing. But sports are not risk-free and even with the right techniques, players are going to get injured. This is particularly true when they play contact sports such as football, hockey and soccer. Injuries can also occur in basketball, baseball, volleyball and tennis. Youngsters who suffer serious injuries (knee, shoulder, back and neck) might be hesitant to take the field in competitive situations again.
    Sometimes the parents of athletes put undue pressure on young performers. Some might be blatant and provide specific expectations. “I expect you to get at least two hits tonight,” a father might say because he hopes to bring out a good performance. Others might indicate that the family name is on the line and issue a threat. “You better not do anything to embarrass me,” could be a parent’s last words before their child takes the field. Those are harmful words. Even if the child does perform well after hearing those words, all he might feel is relief. He won’t feel any of the joy that these sports are designed to promote.

  • Can Running in the Rain Make You Sick?

    If running in the rain was the only recipe for an illness, then people in the perennially-wet Pacific Northwest would be stuck training on treadmills for most of the year. Fortunately, that’s not the case, and running in the rain is not necessarily going to make you sick. There are risks to running in the rain, but with proper precautions, you won’t have to resign yourself to endless hours running like a rat in a cage.
    When it comes to viruses like the common cold, you’ll contract them when you touch something that has a virus on it, and then you touch your nose, mouth or eyes. You’ll also contract a virus from inhaling mucus through the air, suggests the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. During the rainy months of the year, you’re more likely to spend time inside, which will increase your chances of coming into contact with viruses.
    While there is no conclusive evidence that says running in the rain will make you sick, there are still risks involved with running in the rain. Studies have shown that lowering a person’s body temperature may make them more prone to contracting viruses through the methods of transmission named above. In other words, it’s the coldness, not the wetness, that may make you more susceptible to succumbing to a virus. In some areas, the rain may be caused by excess pollution in the air — which could put you at risk of upper respiratory distress or an asthma attack. Rain also means wet conditions, which increases your risk of slipping and falling. Drivers are also less likely to see you in a rain storm, so the risk of getting hit by a car also increases. While that won’t make you sick, an injury could sideline you from running.
    When temperatures are low, layers are key. Wear a wicking layer made of wool or polypropylene near your skin, which will wick moisture away from your body, and then wear an insulating layer over top. Your very top layer should be made of a water-resistant, yet breathable material. Totally impermeable rain slickers like the kind fishermen wear are not ideal, since they don’t breathe. Wear a hat and water-resistant gloves, and consider wearing a backpack into which you can stash your insulating layers if you start to get overly warm. Running shoes are often made with compartments that allow lots of air flow — but these are not ideal for sloshing through puddles. Consider a pair of trail running shoes instead, which are typically made with a water-resistant upper. If you’re affected by asthma, check the local weather service for information on particulate levels, and don’t exercise outdoors when the levels are higher than your doctor recommends for your condition. And don’t skip the warm-up, which will get your body ready to tackle the obstructions, puddles and surprises that come with running in wet weather. To minimize the potential for illness or injury, keep an eye on the local radar and try to run when the rain is going to be lightest.
    If you’re running a race or you have to run in a downpour for another reason, set yourself up to get out of that wet, cold clothing as soon as possible. Stash dry clothing in a plastic bag and put it in your running backpack or in your car, where it will be ready for you right after the race. Your best judgement is key here; if the rain is so bad that you’re going to be soaked in a matter of a few minutes, chances are your body temperature is going to drop too low to make running outdoors worth the effort.

  • Zinc Deficiency & Stinky Feet

    Mineral deficiencies, including zinc deficiencies, are becoming more common in many regions around the world because of nutrient-depleted soil. Poor soil reduces the mineral content in the grains, fruits and vegetables that are grown in it. Zinc deficiency can also result from malabsorption problems in your intestines, but inadequate dietary intake is the primary cause. A lack of zinc hampers your immune response and affects your ability to metabolize fats and vitamin A, which are needed for healthy skin. Dry and stinky feet are obvious and relatively common symptoms of zinc deficiency.
    Zinc deficiency is estimated to affect at least 25 percent of the world¡¯s population, although the vast majority live in third-world countries, according to ¡°Contemporary Nutrition.¡± Zinc-deficient soil and vegetarian diets are common causes of zinc deficiency, but diseases of the intestines, liver and kidneys are important factors also. According to the National Institutes of Health, the recommended dietary allowance for zinc ranges from 8 mg to 13 mg daily, depending on age and, in women, whether someone is pregnant or lactating. The earliest visible symptoms of zinc deficiency are white marks on your fingernails, acne, scaly skin around your face and feet, and foot odor. Advanced symptoms of zinc deficiency include hair loss, diarrhea, reduced vision and sense of smell, poor immune response, deterioration of body tissues and organ failure.
    Stinky feet are a common occurrence, at least occasionally, for a lot of people. The most common cause is sweaty feet that are trapped within poorly ventilated footwear. Sweat doesn¡¯t often smell bad by itself; dark, moist areas promote proliferation of bacteria, and their waste products are the primary cause of body odor.¡± Socks made of synthetic fibers and nylons seem to promote stinky feet the most. You may sweat profusely from your hands and feet due to anxiety or hormone imbalance, which increases the chances of foot odor, but poor hygiene is a more common cause of stinky feet. Toxic build-up in your body or a poorly functioning liver can also cause your sweat to smell badly, regardless of hygiene or footwear. Foot odor from zinc deficiency is a much less common cause and a poorly understood one.
    Why zinc deficiency causes foot odor in some people is not well understood. One theory is related to reduced immune response leading to bacterial proliferation, while another suggests tissue deterioration, rancid fatty acids, toxin buildup or liver dysfunction, according to the ¡°Doctor’s Complete Guide to Vitamins and Minerals.¡± Regardless, there is substantial anecdotal evidence collected over many years that suggests taking zinc supplements or eating zinc-rich foods can eliminate chronically smelly feet in some people very quickly when other approaches fail. If zinc deficiency is the cause of your stinky feet, then your feet will most likely be dry and scaly too, as may your face, elbows and knees.
    Your body can only absorb limited amounts of elemental zinc at a time; any supplement should contain at least 30 mg of elemental zinc to be effective, but not more than 100 mg per day, according to ¡°Nutritional Sciences.¡± Zinc supplements should not be taken with food, especially whole grains, legumes and nuts, because the foods lower absorption rates. Good natural sources of zinc include oysters, red meat, poultry, crab, lobster and dairy products.