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Finding Your Passion To Be The Best You Can Be On And Off The Court

Finding Your Passion To Be The Best You Can Be On And Off The Court

Diego Moyano is an accomplished former professional tennis player from Argentina. As a USTA coach, he has trained ATP players Tommy Paul and Reilly Opelka, and coached Denis Kudla and Andrea Collarini. Currently, he’s coaching world ranked number 82, South African player Kevin Anderson. We caught up with Diego in the middle of the Vienna Open in October of 2020, while Kevin was on his way to the semi-finals.

Diego joins us in today’s episode to discuss his incredible journey from leaving home at a very early age to set out on his quest for tennis greatness, having nothing and working his way to the top. Hint: It’s all about unlocking your passion for the game!

Take a listen to this episode below, and then connect with Diego via his Instagram, Twitter or Facebook page, as well as his website, diegomoyanohighperformancetennis.com

3 Easy Ways to Ditch Seasonal Affective Disorder This Winter

3 Easy Ways to Ditch Seasonal Affective Disorder This Winter

The gray skies and cold weather of winter are in full swing, and if you’re finding yourself feeling a little less motivated and heavy-hearted, know that you’re not alone. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)  is a form of depression that is related to the changes in seasons, usually beginning in the late fall or early winter days. SAD is a physiological condition where the brain and the body are not getting enough sunlight. Some of the symptoms can be feeling lethargic, irritable, and an overall feeling of sadness. 

Seasonal affective disorder is common among adults and young adults, but don’t brush off that feeling as something that you have to get through on your own. Here are a few ways to keep your mood and motivation steady to help you ditch that gloomy feeling this winter. 

Realistic Exercise

Exercise is an effective way to reduce feelings of depression for many reasons. First, while exercising, you release endorphins, which are chemicals in your brain that create positive feelings. These changes in the brain are necessary to promote positive feelings and an overall sense of well-being. Taking a walk, weight lifting, swimming, or anything to get your body moving will release endorphins to make your body happy and full of energy.  

No matter your age or fitness level, even just 30 minutes of daily movement and exercise can be used to boost your mood. 

Light Therapy

Phototherapy, also known as light therapy, is a form treatment involving artificial white light to mimic sunlight. It is meant to compensate for the lack of sunlight in the winter months. Sitting with a light box, or form of white light therapy, for 30 minutes to an hour a day can trick your brain into thinking the day is longer. Even in that short period of time with a light therapy box, your mind can be tricked into being more productive and energized, increasing mood and motivation. There are many types of light therapy devices with different levels of white light that can be purchased easily online. It’s a great investment for your mental health.

Create a Plan

Having a proper schedule in your day or week will allow you to hold yourself accountable, while being at your best mentally and physically. Using a planner can help break up your short-term and long-term goals and create a realistic vision to achieve your goals. Writing down your goals will lead to forming new positive habits, which will ultimately help strengthen your mental health and motivation during the winter season. Creating a practical plan for yourself involving school, work, exercising, and eating healthy will help you get in the right mindset to drive yourself forward. 

You don’t have to suffer with SAD this winter. Remember that talking with a licensed therapist is also a great place to process your feelings and learn new tools to help you cope. Try out these easy DIY ways to ditch seasonal affective disorder, and let us know what works for you in the comments section!

6 Athletes To Watch For In The 2021 Olympic and Paralympic Games

6 Athletes To Watch For In The 2021 Olympic and Paralympic Games

As the 2021 Olympic and Paralympic games draw near, we’re keeping our eye out for up and coming athletes. Whether it’s gymnastics, wheelchair racing and beyond, these athletes are hopeful for the opportunities ahead. Check out these 6 Olympic and Paralympic athletes who are aiming to compete in the 2021 games.

Luca Urlando

A swimmer with a long family history of Olympic competition, 18-year-old Luca Urlando is a 2021 Olympic hopeful. Multiple members of Urlando’s family have represented Italy; his grandfather was a hammer thrower, his grandmother threw javelin and his father was a world class discus thrower. Luca Urlando decided to take to the pool instead of the field; his race of choice is the 200-m butterfly. 

He began swimming in his grandparents pool in Sacramento, California with his younger sister when he was little. As Urlando got older he started playing more sports, but ultimately returned to swimming, citing the individuality as to why. Due to his family history, Luca has dual citizenship in the US and Italy. Despite the Italian Swimming Federations interest in Urlando, he declined to be a part of Team USA.

Hannah McFadden

“I really just like going fast.” says Hannah McFadden, a 2 time paralympic wheelchair racer. McFadden was born with a bone deformity leading to an above the knee amputation. She was adopted out of Albania as a baby. Growing up she was involved in a lot of different sports until finding a passion for wheelchair racing.

This will be McFadden’s third time competing in the paralympics. In her first games, her and her sister made history by being the first siblings to compete in the Paralympic Games. Her sister, Tatyana McFadden, is a 5-time paralympian. Hannah states that she is close and competitive with her sister and hopes that 2021 will be the year she finally beats her.

Sunisa Lee

The day before gymnast Sunisa Lee, a Southeast Asian America from the Hmong community, was off to the gymnastics national championship her dad fell off a ladder and was paralyzed from the chest down. Despite the accident, she traveled to Missouri and competed to her fullest potential. She finished second all-around event behind Simone Biles and first in the uneven bars. She cited her father as her inspiration to compete at the highest level.

After proving herself as a great asset in the 2019 championship, Sunisa got the tap to be a part of the USA 2020 Olympic team, a dream she’s had since she was 6 years old. Like so many of us COVID has made her life and her training a lot more difficult. Lee says she’s had to adapt her training as much as possible to the stay-at-home orders. She’s begun incorporating running into her training for the first time, but has limited access to gymnastic training. She eagerly awaits the opportunity to get back in the gym with her teammates.

Michael Norman

The son of two college track athletes, Michael Norman was destined to run. At 23, Norman is an all-star sprinter. After finishing up a strong college career at University of Southern California, Norman went pro. In his first professional season he ran a PR 400 and some strong 200s that allowed him to compete in the 2019 T&F World Championships. Unfortunately, during the 400 Norman suffered an injury causing him to back off and not qualify for the finals. At the start of the 2020 season, Norman came in strong and ran a record 9.86 second 100m. Due to the Coronavirus this was the only race Michael Norman would get to run in 2020.

Norman has used the pandemic to reevaluate his previous seasons and up his training. Him and his roommate from USC have continued to train with Coach Watts and Gilbert from USC. Norman credits both coaches with his huge successes during his time in college and now as he begins to cement his professional career. The biggest decision to be made prior to the 2021 games? Which distances Norman will run in.

Morgan Hurd

Morgan Hurd began gymnastics at just 3-years-old. After being adopted from Wuzhou, China, Hurd joined a gymnastics class in Delaware. She quickly impressed her coaches and peers with her dedication and focus and at age 5 moved to a bigger gym to focus on her training. As her training increased, so did her passion for the sport. Her most notable achievement: becoming the 2017 World All-Around Champion. Hurd’s strength lies in her consistency across all events.

Since then she has struggled some with injury, but the delaying of the Olympic games might benefit her. Hurd is looking at the delay as a time to build her strength and confidence. Though it is difficult to find somewhere to train, she is hoping to upgrade during this time. 

Ezra Frech

Paralympic hopeful Ezra Frech is just 15 years old and an advocate for those with disabilities. Frech was born with congenital limb differences; missing both his left knee and fibula as well as fingers on his left hand. At 11 months, he received his first prosthetic leg and he has been playing sports, particularly track & field, nonstop since. His passion for all sports led to him and his family starting the Angel City Sports group and the Angel City Games to allow para-athletes to compete in sports year-round.

Frech has set records in field events over the years. He competes in high jump, long jump and more. In 2019, Frech was a part of the World Para Athletics Junior Championships where he won gold in high jump and bronze in both long jump and the 100m. He also competed in the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai, but did not medal.

Who are you excited to see in the upcoming Games? Tell us in the comments below!

Which Famous Athlete Are You Based On Your New Year’s Resolution?

Which Famous Athlete Are You Based On Your New Year’s Resolution?

If you’re the type of person who makes a New Year’s resolution (or even if you’re not!) this quiz is perfect to help you find a little inspiration as we move into 2021.

Find out which famous athlete your goals match up with, take the quiz below and then share it with a friend!

5 Elite Athletes Who Also Give Back In A Big Way

5 Elite Athletes Who Also Give Back In A Big Way

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” -Winston Churchill

While every sport was thrown a curve ball for each season in 2020, many elite athletes responded to the challenges that this year brought on with their own kindness and supportive efforts to keep team spirit alive; showing leadership, initiative, and courage. Here are some athletes who are giving back in a big way. 

Jrue and Lauren Holiday

Milwaukee Bucks guard, Jrue Holiday, has pledged to donate the rest of his 2020 NBA salary to black-owned businesses, nonprofits, and city initiatives to benefit lower income communities. Lauren Holiday, former USWNT member and wife of Jrue Holiday, has partnered with multiple organizations and leaders to organize and make donations in partnership with her husband. The Covid pandemic and rising racial injustices that occurred this year were the driving force behind this generous decision. 

From Jrue’s Instagram post: “With the Covid-19 Pandemic and heightened racial injustices in 2020, many of us have been looking for answers. Lauren & I found ourselves searching for ways to help our community at a time when they needed it most. Pledging the remainder of our 2020 NBA salary to small black owned businesses, nonprofits and initiatives is how we felt we could make a lasting impact.” 

Yusra Mardini

Olympic swimmer, Yusra Mardini, was part of the first Refugee Olympic Team at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. She has given hope to many across the world, and continues to inspire athletes with her efforts. Recently, Mardini organized the Yusra Mardini Swim Camp in Germany to introduce the sport of swimming to refugee children. Teaching young children how to swim is an incredibly important and useful skill and it is essential to safety. Drowning is a leading cause of unintentional injury to children, and Mardini is giving back to her refugee community to help end this problem and to introduce the sport and competitiveness of swimming. 

Lebron James

Lebron James is known for giving back to the community. James recently announced the concept of House Three Thirty which would be an extension of the Lebron James I Promise School for the youth of Akron, Ohio. House Three Thirty will be a resource for students and families to obtain educational tools and resources to grow independently.

In a press release, James said, “It’s another win for our families, but also a win for the city of Akron, and then for the people that are actually going to be there and see our model and hopefully they take it to another community as well.” James is always thinking about what to do next and who he can inspire next. With House Three Thirty, families all over Akron, Ohio will be able to grow, and pursue their careers. 

Sydney Clarke

Although Sydney Clarke is not a professional athlete, she has helped her community and those around her in a big way. Clarke is a member of the women’s tennis team at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and was awarded the Ministry of Sports’ 2020 Athlete of the Year. Clarke has organized a food and toy drive for the Bahamas Children’s Emergency Hostel. Clarke said in a recent interview, “People are always helping me, so I felt it was my duty as a citizen to step up and help in any way I can.” Although the pandemic has prohibited a lot of things, Clarke has not stopped to help those in need around her. 

No matter how big their platform, from the professional level, to collegiate level, these athletes are making a difference in the world. These athletes, among many, are a model to us all.

6 Crazy Sports You Need To Check Out

6 Crazy Sports You Need To Check Out

While we all enjoy watching mainstream sports like basketball, soccer, and football, sometimes you just need a change. The wide world of sports has a lot of options to choose from. Check out these 6 crazy sports you’ve probably never heard of.

Sepak Takraw

Sepak Takraw, meaning “kick woven ball”, was invented over 500 years ago and is the national sport of the Philippines. With a similar look to volleyball this sport uses anything but. The ball, called a rattan, is hit over a net using feet, legs and chest. It is much smaller than a regular volleyball. There are only four players on the court at a time per team.But otherwise, the rules are pretty similar to volleyball. You can only play the ball 3 times in succession and you cannot cross over the net. Your team receives a point when the ball touches down on their opponents side of the net or if they hit the ball out of bounds. 

Cheese Rolling

The funny name is a little misleading, cheese rolling doesn’t entail only rolling cheese. The competition actually involves rolling your body down a hill. The annual Cheese Rolling and Wake event is held in England. Over the years more and more people have started to participate, the winners come from all over the world to compete. After rolling a large round of Double Gloucester cheese, participants race down the 200-yard hill with the goal of catching the cheese. The cheese has a 1-second head start and can reach 70 miles per hour. The competition is intense.   With the high speeds the cheese and people can reach, injuries have occurred. In 2013, the 9 pound wheel was replaced with a foam replica. 

Fierljeppen

Fierljeppen is a dutch invention that translates to far leaping, a quite literal definition of the sport. The premise of Fierljeppen is similar to pole vaulting, but instead of height the competitors are aiming for distance. The jump is a little more complex; instead of running with the pole competitors run up to it and grab on at the same time they jump. The athletes have to climb the pole while propelling forward. 

The really cool part of this sport is more the location. Competitors attempt to clear a bar and a body of water, typically a river, and land on the other bank using a 26 to 43 foot pole to propel their leap. The record for longest leap is 70 feet and 7 inches. 

Caber Toss

The Highland Games, a popular event hosted in Scotland, feature several field sports including the Caber Toss. The Caber Toss entails throwing a large wooden pole cut from a local tree; the pole is made smaller on one end than the other. The “Throwers” or “Tossers” pick up the smaller end of the caber. Once they balance it, the competitors can run a short distance before tossing. The wood must complete one full revolution before landing with the smaller end facing away from the thrower. You might be thinking that the winner is determined by how far they throw, however you’d be wrong. The object is to throw the caber to land facing exactly away from the thrower.

The ideal beam should only be able to be picked up and thrown by a few throwers. If the caber cannot be picked up by anyone, it’s too heavy. If the caber can be picked up by everyone, it’s too light. The games remedy this by either cutting off a chunk of wood or replacing the whole beam. 

Bo-Taoshi

This Japanese game Bo-Taoshi is a chaotic game translated to topple the pole. Each team is made up of 150 players, 75 offensive and 75 defensive. The goal of the game is to topple your opponents pole. Though it may look like there’s no strategy to the large crowds, Bo-Taoshi takes elements from football, rugby, and martial arts and combines them into a strategy to knock over their opponents pole and keep their own pole up. 

Defensive players can take up several positions, including pole support, barrier, interference, scrum disabler, and ninja. Pole support works to keep the pole upright in its vertical position. The Barrier prevents opponents from getting to the pole. Interference stops people from starting an attack on the pole, while the scrum disablers prevent attackers from running up the pole. The ninja is a single individual that climbs to the top of the pole leaning in the opposite direction that the opponent is trying to topple it.

On the offensive end, a player is part of the springboard/scrum, pole attackers or general support attackers. The springboard/scrum lead the attack to create a path to the pole. Pole attackers try to take down the ninja and topple the pole. The general attackers work to support the others in their endeavors. 

Underwater Hockey

Hockey has several very popular forms, such as ice, field and floor. But have you heard of them playing underwater? The wacky sport is also known as Octopush, a low contact version of hockey that happens in a pool. The two teams push the puck across the floor using a stick trying to score in one anothers goal similarly to ice or floor hockey. Players wear a mask, snorkel, cap, gloves and fins while playing. 

The Underwater Hockey World Championship was first held in Canada in 1980. It was started in 1954 in the United Kingdom. It has continued to grow in popularity every year since. The sport even has its own governing body!

For more sports and fitness resources to keep you at the top of your game, make sure to create an account with Sports Fuels Life and claim your free Make it Happen Athlete’s Journal!

Clearing The Bar Of Life With Paralympic High Jumper Isaac Jean-Paul

Clearing The Bar Of Life With Paralympic High Jumper Isaac Jean-Paul

Isaac Jean-Paul is a Paralympic Track and Field Athlete with a visual impairment who set a world record in the men’s high jump at the 2017 World Para Athletics championship in London. He joins us on this episode of the Sport Fuels Life podcast and shares how he’s cleared the bar on so many of life’s challenges to defy the limitations that most people said would hold him down. Now he’s training at the Olympic Training Center in San Diego, aiming for the 2021 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

Take a listen below and then come back and let us know what inspired you most about Isaac’s journey!

5 Reasons Women Belong In The Weight Room

5 Reasons Women Belong In The Weight Room

Attention ladies, it’s time to start lifting! Many women cringe at the idea of weightlifting, buying into the myth that it will make them look more masculine. Lifting is a great source of exercise and can help you attain your goals faster than just doing cardio. Here are some added benefits to weight training.

Burns More Calories

Over the course of a 30 minute weight lifting session, the average person burns about 90 to 130 calories. While that might not be a lot in comparison to a long run or HIIT workout, weight training is helping you burn more calories at rest. Lifting helps build lean muscle. Muscle tissue is significantly more active than fat and burns more calories for longer after your workout. Even when you’re sitting around doing nothing your lean muscle is burning calories. 

Build Muscle Tone

Toned muscles look and feel firm even at rest. Weight training can give you that basis for the defined muscles and nice physique we’re all looking for. A lot of women have bought into the myth that lifting heavy weights all the time will make them “look like a man”. Barring a few cases, women lack the hormones needed to bulk up from weight lifting. Instead weight training can help decrease your body’s fat content and increase the visibility of your muscles. When building muscle mass it’s important to focus on exercises that target large muscle groups. These exercises will be more helpful than working isolated muscle groups. Muscle mass weighs more than fat, but it takes up less space. However, despite the number on the scale your clothes will likely fit you better and you’ll feel healthier. 

Short Term Health

Regular exercise can benefit your posture, sleep, weight loss and metabolism. While we already discussed the weight loss benefits of weight training. Weight lifting can increase blood flow to the muscles and the brain which boosts serotonin and can improve your mood. Regular exercise can help diminish excess energy allowing for better sleep. 

Increased exercise has been proven to benefit total body health. Building muscles in your back, neck and legs can help strengthen your posture. A lower fat index can help relieve muscle and joint pain. Over a longer period of time, weight training can help improve balance and ensure your equilibrium.

Long Term Health

Weight training can build a healthier lifestyle. Long term benefits of lifting can include gaining bone density, lowering inflammation and staving off chronic disease. As we get older, our muscles naturally deteriorate as we get older. It is important to challenge and train our bones to maintain bone health, especially as women. Women make up 80% of osteoporosis cases because we do less to maintain our bone health. After 30, you start to lose bone density putting us at a higher risk of bone disease. Lifting helps us build muscle in order to support our bones and maintain their health over a longer period of time. 

It also helps us fight off disease. Any form of exercise helps stave off many cardiovascular diseases. A lot of chronic illnesses are due to unhealthy food and exercise habits, increasing weight training can improve heart and vascular function as well as mental health.

Strong is Beautiful

Lifting will help make you strong which, especially in athletes, should be admired. It can add to your game allowing you to push harder and move faster. Not only does it help you look better, it helps you move better and feel better. Even if you’re not seeing progress on a scale, you’re seeing it in your game, in the way you walk, in the way your clothes fit, and your confidence. 

Strong is beautiful! Your body is yours. You are the only one that gets to decide what is good for you. If you’re treating your body right and taking care of it, you are one step closer to your goal. Don’t be afraid to get creative when trying to find workouts that work for you. The more you enjoy your workout the better outcome you’ll have.

Louisa May Alcott said it best, “The emerging woman…will be strong-minded, strong-hearted, strong-souled, and strong-bodied…strength and beauty must go together.” (P.S. You’re already beautiful, now go build some strength!)

For more great fitness resources to keep you at the top of your game, make sure to create an account with Sports Fuels Life and claim your free Make it Happen Athlete’s Journal

The Best 5 Workouts You Can Do From Home In Less Than 30 Minutes

The Best 5 Workouts You Can Do From Home In Less Than 30 Minutes

Many of us struggle to fit a workout routine into our busy schedule. The human body was designed to move, and with just 30 minutes of exercise a day, you can decrease stress and anxiety and actually improve your energy levels.

The secret to shorter workouts is High Intensity Interval Training, also known as HIIT. This is a training technique where you give all out effort for a short period of time, followed by active recovery. Because of the high intensity of the workout, you can complete it in less than 30 minutes. It’s a short workout that can be done anywhere, even at home. There’s no equipment required, so there’s no excuse not to build a regular exercise routine!

If you’re the type of person who seems to run out of hours in the day, HIIT is perfect for you.  It gives you the ability to mix things up, and target areas of your body that you really want to focus on. 

We’ve got the 5 best HIIT workouts you can do in less than 30 minutes at home; this 30 minute workout is separated into five, five minute segments. Each segment focuses on a different area of the body. Hitting each of these segments in a HIIT format will result in a well rounded full-body workout.

  1. Dynamic Stretching

Stretching should always be the start to any workout. Start with your favorite stretches to get your blood flowing and your body ready to be activated. Dynamic stretches are the best option to start a workout. Dynamic stretches are controlled movements that prepare your body for intense movement. A five minute dynamic stretch flow will warm your body up for the HIIT workout to follow. 

  1. Cardio

This 10 minute HIIT cardio workout is guaranteed to get your heart rate up and burn some serious calories. Do each exercise at high intensity for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest. Switch up any exercise to your liking, but a few great suggestions are: Mountain Climbers, Squats, High Knees, Jumping Jacks, and Lunges. Repeat the sequence twice.

  1. Core

Cardio and muscular exercises are most often the primary elements of workout routines, but a well-rounded workout always should include core exercises. Strong core muscles can help you prevent injuries and perform everyday physical activities comfortably. This is a similar 10 minute HIIT format as the cardio, but focusing more on the core and abdominal muscles. Do each exercise at a high intensity for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest. Repeat the following sequence twice for a full 10 minute core workout: Cross-Body Mountain Climbers, Straight Arm Plank, Bicycles, Hollow Hold, and V-Ups.

  1. Static Stretching

Ending a workout with stretching/recovery is just as important as starting a workout with stretching. Static stretching involves stretching a specific muscle and holding a position for 20-30 seconds. The best time to do static stretches is when the muscles are warm. Stretches for your hamstrings, shoulders, or any spot you need to focus on after a workout will help your body recover and overall, make your workout more effective. Static stretching for just 5 minutes after an intense HIIT workout will help you make the most out of your short workout routine. 

For more great fitness resources to keep you at the top of your game, make sure to create an account with Sports Fuels Life and claim your free Make it Happen Athlete’s Journal!

5 Cool New Sports to Check Out in the Tokyo Olympics

5 Cool New Sports to Check Out in the Tokyo Olympics

After being delayed due to COVID-19 in 2020, the Olympics are slated to return in the summer of 2021. These sports are making their debut (or comeback) in the Tokyo Games. Here’s an update on the new sports for this upcoming summer.

Skateboarding

The Olympic Committee took into account several factors before deciding which sports to add to the games. The addition of skateboarding took into account the appeal to the youth. The addition of the sport to the 2021 Tokyo games will include 2 events: Park and Street.

In the street event, athletes compete individually to show off their skills. The course includes stairs, handrails, benches, curbs, walls and slopes for athletes to complete tricks on. The competitors are scored on several factors including the difficulty, height, speed, originality, execution and move composition. 

The Park event consists of three 45 second runs through a course featuring steep drops and curves. Athletes will drop in the hollowed-out course and race through the curves and steep drops, picking up speed to perform tricks midair. They will be scored on their originality, difficulty, and execution.

Surfing

Surfing is making its debut at the Olympic games on the beaches of Shidashita, 40 miles outside of Tokyo. The competition will be structured in 4 man heats and the athletes will be asked to follow common surfing etiquette. This includes one rider per wave and giving the right of way to the surfer closest to the peak. 

Surfers will try to get up on the best waves to showcase different maneuvers. They will use shortboards (6-feet) for added speed and precision when tackling big waves. A panel of judges will score each competitor based on the difficulty of the maneuvers and how well they were executed. The speed, power and flow of each rider will also be considered. Riders can use tactics such as pretending not to be interested in a wave or paddling and not catching, to try to psych out the competition.

Climbing

Over the last couple years climbing (specifically sport climbing) has seen an increase in popularity. The IFSC, International Federation of Sport Climbing, says that there are an estimated 25 million people who are climbing regularly. The Olympics will take a combined score of 3 different styles of climbing: Speed Climbing, Bouldering, and Lead Climbing.

Speed Climbing is sort of what it sounds like. Two competitors will race up the 15 meter artificial climbing wall. The competitors are given a fixed route to follow and it’s the same for both the men and the women. The goal is to have the fastest run of the competition.

Bouldering showcases a different set of skills. Without a rope, competitors are asked to scale as many fixed routes within a given time as they can. The 4 meter artificial wall cannot be viewed by competitors before their initial run. Climbers will try to do the routes in as few attempts as possible. The competitor with the fewest attempts and the most solved routes will be the winner.

The scores for speed climbing and bouldering are combined with the score for lead climbing. In the Lead Climbing event, climbers are asked to climb as high as they can in six minutes on an overhanging 15 meter wall. A safety rope can be attached to quickdraws along the route that allow the climber to climb freely. Athletes try to reach the top of the wall, if they fall the height they climbed to is recorded; there are no re-climbs. Climbers are only allowed to observe the wall during a group observation period to prevent gaining an advantage from watching your competitors. Speed is still a factor in this climb though: if more than one athlete reaches the top of the wall, the one who does it the fastest is named the winner.

Karate

Karatekas (people who do karate!) will get to compete in the games this year. Having originated in Japan, the Olympic Committee thought it would be a great idea to add the ancient art to the summer games. Over 80 athletes will compete, in the traditional karate gi, in two forms: Kata and Kumite. 

Kata is a demonstration of different karate forms. A series of offensive and defensive movements can be chosen by the athlete to be performed for the judges. The karatekas will be judged on the strength, speed, rhythm, balance, power and clarity of the strikes and kicks. Their technical and athletic performances will be evaluated closely.

Kumite is sparring. The athletes will compete in three weight classes on a 8×8 meter mat. Athletes will be able to use 3 different techniques including striking, kicking and punching. Points are rewarded for delivering blows to certain target areas of the body. One point for a punch to the head, neck, belly, back or side; two for a kick to the body; three points for a high kick to the head. The quality of the karatekas form could award them more points.

Baseball/Softball

After last being seen in the summer of 2008, baseball and softball are making their return to the Summer Olympics. The host country of Japan requested they be included in the games this year due to their popularity in the country following an invitation to do so by the Olympic Committee. 

The rules of baseball and softball are pretty universal. Six countries will field a team of 9 players. Two teams will face off during 9 innings switching between fielding and hitting. The key differences between Men’s baseball and Women’s softball are playing area and pitching. The baseball field has a longer distance between the pitcher and the batter. Softball pitchers must throw underhanded, releasing the ball when their hand is at their hip.

The addition of these sports give new Olympic dreams to more obscure athletes. We are excited to watch these new faces compete this summer and learn more about the interesting sports they play.

Write It Down: Here’s How You Can Reach Your Athletic Goals

Write It Down: Here’s How You Can Reach Your Athletic Goals

For many of us, the phrase “business as usual” was impossible in 2020. However, that doesn’t need to be the same for the New Year. With just weeks left until 2021, Sport Fuels Life just made it easier for you to devise a plan to maximize and track your athletic performance, guiding you as you set the bar higher and reach for the stars. 

Created for athletes and coaches, our new 90-day goal journal is the ultimate way to track your progress throughout your season, and see if you can pick up on any patterns in your daily life that build upon and open the door to great athletic performance. There is so much power in writing down your goals that leads to forming new good habits. Studies show that you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. Making it part of your daily training to write down your goals will give you clarity and definition, which is something that digital planners cannot guarantee. 

It can be hard to commit to a full year planner (hello, overwhelm!), which is why we chose to create a 90 day journal. It only takes 21 days to break or make a new habit, and 90 days to create a whole new lifestyle change. By encouraging daily and weekly goals, this journal can help organize your life to become successful with your goals. With your 90 day vision, it will become easier to break up your long-term goals and create practical strategies and action plans to achieve them. It’s easier to visualize yourself in 90 days versus 365, creating a realistic vision.

With our 90-day Goal Journal, the pages are spacious, giving plenty of room for listing tasks, priorities, and goals, and overall, helping monitor the things that matter the most to you. It offers a practical and functional plan to commit to your long-term goals, short-term goals, and to yourself. 

If you’re an athlete or coach that’s looking to utilize a daily journal to fuel yourself, or anyone looking to get in the right mindset to drive yourself forward, then The Sport Fuels Life 90-day Goal Journal is the perfect tool for you! Get serious about achieving your goals for the New Year, maximize your everyday life with this completely FREE tool (while supplies last!), when you register to become a member of Sport Fuels Life. Click here to find out more on how you can claim your free membership and journal today!

Live intentionally, write things down, stay organized and Make It Happen!

QUIZ: Which NFL Player Are You Based On Your Thanksgiving Plate?

QUIZ: Which NFL Player Are You Based On Your Thanksgiving Plate?

America’s favorite holiday feast might look a little different this year as you practice safe social distancing, but your Thanksgiving plate can still be the MVP! Find out which famous NFL player your turkey day plate matches with this fun Thanksgiving themed quiz!

What to Get Your Favorite Athlete This Holiday Season

What to Get Your Favorite Athlete This Holiday Season

The holidays are fast approaching and while some might think they are a time for rest and relaxation, others are just itching to pick up their training. Your favorite athletes don’t stop working out just because it gets a little chilly outside! Here’s how you can help keep your super star athletes going strong with our Sport Fuels Life Gift Guide.

Running Shoes

While there is no such thing as the perfect running shoe, there are several options that make training easier. Many runners will tell you that their favorite running shoe compliments their running style and body type. The key is finding a shoe that won’t pinch their feet or make them sweat; it also shouldn’t be too heavy or too stiff. 

Based on Runner’s World Magazine, the Mizuno Wave Rider 24 was named the best in test running shoe by over 200 runners. The Wave Rider has always been considered a great running shoe, being rated 5/5 by almost every tester. It is said to have a great balance of all the things runners want: cushioning, flexibility, durability and grip all in a nice, stylish shoe. These shoes retail at $160.

Headphones

There are many important factors in choosing a good set of headphones, especially as an athlete. Several factors have to be considered: audio quality, fit, comfort, and battery life. Each one has a different weight depending on what you will be using them for. 

The Sennheiser CX Sport Wireless headphones are a good choice for running. They offer a good audio quality with a deep and lively bass. The earfinns and neckband offer stability and comfort for casual runs. The battery life lasts up to 6 hours–great for the average run, but maybe not for a marathon. You can find these headphones on Amazon for $99.

Water Bottle

Everybody needs to drink water and a healthy, reusable water bottle can be a great motivator to do just that. Carrying a reusable water bottle around is beneficial for everybody. It is more environmentally friendly and cost effective than buying pre-filled plastic bottles, plus they’re usually way cuter. Reusable water bottles, also, have the added benefit of keeping your water colder for longer.

The Takeya Actives water bottle with a spout lid was named the most versatile water bottle by the New York Times. The rubber base on this water bottle is good for any situation whether it’s sitting on your desk during class or with you at the gym. The spout lid allows for easy pouring with no spilling and the lid is lockable so it won’t swing back and hit you in the face. These awesome bottles come in a wide range of colors and sizes. The 22-ounce bottle retails at $32.

Yoga Mats

Home workouts have grown in regularity lately and will likely remain popular for a while. A reliable yoga mat can make the difference in a workout. Whether it’s being used for a restorative flow or a  sweaty strength session, a good mat can keep you centered and on our feet (or hands!). A lot of yogis will judge a mat on factors like slip, grip and cushion.

The top rated, affordable yoga mat of 2020 was the Jade Level 1 mat. This lightweight mat offers good traction which prevents you from slipping. Just the right amount of cushioning helps prevent unnecessary soreness and injury. The 4mm thick mat comes in 2 colors and retails at $40.

Foam Roller

Sore muscles are a familiar feeling for all of us. Whether you’re training for a big game or just trying to get in shape, the buildup of lactic acid can put a damper on anyone’s training. It’s important to work on breaking it up. A foam roller can be a great addition to any athletes recovery program. 

The best reviewed foam roller is the TriggerPoint GRID. Its bumps and ridges are a favorite of marathon runners and ballerinas alike. The firm center helps the roller keep its shape, while the foam outside helps break up lactic acid. The TriggerPoint is firm without bruising which is why it’s ranked so highly amongst athletes. The roller retails for $35.

Regardless of what you decide to give this year, let your athlete know how much you care by offering up some words on encouragement as we all look forward to wrapping up the strangest year for all sports and ring in the hope of a new year. 


Make sure you start 2021 off right, claim your free Sport Fuels Life membership today for exclusive members only deals, resources and more!

Tracking Success With Dan Jansen

Tracking Success With Dan Jansen

Dan Jansen is a four-time Olympic long track speedskater, who won an historic gold medal in the 1,000-meter during his fourth and final Olympic Games. He set a junior world record at only 16 years of age during his first international competition, and he made the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team when he was just 18. Jansen was a seven-time overall world cup champion and two-time world sprint champion, holding eight world records and over 75 world cup medals. Though Dan had realized success outside of the Olympic Games, he hadn’t won an Olympic medal until the final event of his Olympic career. He beat the 36-second barrier four times leading up to the Olympic Winter Games Lillehammer 1994–something no other skater had accomplished at that time, and finally earned his first Olympic medal in the 1,000 with a world-record time, additionally winning the 1994 James E. Sullivan Award for the nation’s most outstanding amateur athlete. After retiring from speedskating, he served as a CBS sports broadcaster and established the Dan Jansen Foundation to help aid in leukemia research and youth sports programs.

Listen to this episode of the Sport Fuels Life podcast featuring the incredible Dan Jansen below, then come back and tell us what you thought of this conversation!

3 Easy Tips to Keep Fitness a Priority During the Holidays

3 Easy Tips to Keep Fitness a Priority During the Holidays

The holiday season is in full swing and everyone’s schedules are going from busy to chaotic. It seems like any free time we have is going towards shopping, family events, and/or holiday festivities (while celebrating responsibly and staying COVID-safe!) 

When things start to get hectic, our priorities start to shift, and, most often, exercise and fitness is the first to go…it can be easy to lose track of priorities. The good news is that this doesn’t have to be your story this year! We’ve got 3 easy tips to help you keep fitness a priority during this holiday season. 

Balance and Moderation

Balance and moderation are key in every aspect of our lives–fitness, social life, work, and family life. Just because you may not be able to fit a normal workout in your schedule doesn’t mean you have to live a lifestyle as a full-throttle couch potato. Get creative about being active, and practice moderation so that your wellness practice is compatible with the rest of your busy schedule.

Balance in your holiday indulgences is important, too! Go ahead and enjoy those cookies, alongside your great eating habits (healthy fruits, veggies, proteins and fats),  drinking lots of water and getting good sleep. Life is a dance, as they say, and you deserve to enjoy the party!

Keep your body moving

Keeping your body active is extremely important during the holiday season. This time of year can often be a stressful season of cheer, but staying active is a great release of stress and decompression that can support your mental health.

Making time for a quick walk around the block, parking further away than normal from the store, or just simply taking the stairs instead of the elevator are some tips that can increase your physical activity. 

Plan Ahead

Holiday travel and seasonal activities can really complicate your calendar, but you still deserve (and need) to make time for self-care. If you know you’re going to be with family at a certain time, make sure to also prioritize time for a quick fitness check or routine. Keeping yourself on track and being prepared will set you up for success. 

With the hectic schedules that the holiday season brings, it is easy to lose focus on what keeps us calm and energized throughout the season, but you don’t have to lose sight of your fitness goals. Give yourself permission to be flexible and open to change. If you fall a little off track, it’s totally okay! It is possible to enjoy yourself and move on. Most importantly, remember that guilt is part of the lie we believe when we think we’ve fallen off the fitness wagon. It keeps us stagnant when what we really need to be doing is jumping right back into practice!

Enjoy yourself, love yourself, and keep going!

Want more tools for living your healthiest life? Make sure to create an account with Sports Fuels Life and claim your free Champion’s Guide Playbook digital download!

Transform Your Mind and Body With The Healing Power of The Great Outdoors

Transform Your Mind and Body With The Healing Power of The Great Outdoors

When former collegiate athlete and competitive skydiver, Sydney Williams, unexpectedly found herself on the receiving end of a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis, while grappling with unresolved trauma from a decades-old sexual assault, she set out on a mission: turn her pain into power. Two hikes across Catalina Island and 80 miles later, she founded Hiking My Feelings to help others tap into the mind-body connection and healing power of nature that helped kick her self-limiting beliefs and put her disease into remission. 

Having more than 12 years of marketing experience with Fortune 500 companies and emerging brands, Sydney serves up her “truth juice” style of storytelling to break wide open tough conversations with practical, powerful content and experiences. Over the years, she’s been featured on the SXSW stage, as well as in the Huffington PostPsychology Today and numerous other publications. Today, she is the author of Hiking My Feelings: Stepping Into the Healing Power of Nature and travels across the country empowering others to summit their personal mountains on their way to becoming Well Beings. 

Listen to this episode of The Sport Fuels Life Podcast below. If you enjoy our podcasts, be sure to subscribe and review–it helps others find us more easily and means a lot to us when we receive your feedback!

Celebrating 5 Veterans Who Are Also Professional Athletes

Celebrating 5 Veterans Who Are Also Professional Athletes

We’ve always considered professional athletes our heroes and there’s no doubt about it they inspire us daily. But a few of them are heroes beyond their sport. As we celebrate Veteran’s Day and those who have fought for our freedom, we honor these 5 athletes who have served our country.

Pat Tillman

One of the most iconic of these athletes is Pat Tillman. Tillman was drafted into the NFL in 1998 by the Arizona Cardinals. He worked his way to becoming a starter and set a team record for number of tackles in the 2000 season. 

In 2001, tragedy struck the United States when the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center occurred. Shortly after the tragic event, Tillman decided to leave the NFL and enlist in the military. He and his brother trained to become army rangers and served a tour in Iraq. Tillman served several tours including one in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

In April of 2004 while in Afghanistan, Tillman was killed on duty in a friendly fire incident. Since his death, the military has awarded him the Silver Star and Purple Heart in honor of his bravery and both the Arizona State University Sun Devils and the Arizona Cardinals have retired his number. We see his legacy honored through the Pat Tillman Foundation and the NFL, who starting in 2010 have awarded someone the NFL-Tillman Scholarship that honors an individual who “exemplifies Pat Tillman’s enduring legacy of service.”

Willie Mays

A world class baseball player and athlete, Willie Mays began his career in the Negro American League at the age of 16. His contract was soon purchased by the New York Giants in 1950 and he became a center field starter immediately. At the end of the 1951 regular season, Mays was awarded Rookie of the Year and in 1952 he was drafted into the Korean War. 

Mays played the first few weeks of the season with the Giants before reporting for duty in May of 1952. He served for two years, missing the rest of the 1952 season and all of 1953. Many major league baseball players had been drafted during this time period and Mays was able to spend much of his time at Camp Eustis in Virginia playing on the military baseball teams. 

Mays was back at Giants spring training the day after his discharge in March of 1954. That same year he was named League MVP and won a world series. He continued to have an illustrious career in the National League earning 660 home runs, 24 all star games, 12 golden gloves, and 2 NL MVPs. Willie Mays was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979.

Ken Norton, Sr.

Ken Norton Sr. picked up boxing while enlisted in the Marines. Norton was an outstanding athlete growing up, earning all-state in football in 1960 and receiving a scholarship to play in college. After college, he decided to enlist in the Marines and served four years as a manual morse intercept. 

During his time in the Corps, Norton picked up boxing. While competing in the Marines, he boasted a record of 24-2 and was en-route to winning 3 All-Marine Heavyweight Championships. Norton is known as one of the greatest Marine Corp boxers and in 1967 he turned professional. 

In that same year in his first fight against Muhammad Ali, Norton entered the match as a clear underdog. It took 12 rounds, but Norton prevailed handing Ali only his second loss in his career. Norton continued on to have a great career. He retired in 1981 and was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1989, the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992 and the United States Marine Corp Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.

Art Donovan

Prior to college Art Donovan served as an anti-aircraft gunner with the Marine Corps during WWII. He spent a little over a year at sea from 1943 to 1945, before volunteering to be a part of the Fleet Marine Force in Okinawa. Donovan was directly involved in some of the fiercest battles during the war including the Battle of Luzon and the Battle of Iwo Jima. He earned the Asiatic Pacific Area Ribbon and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon for his service.

Following his service Donovan completed his college career at Boston College. He then went on to become part of the NFL and in his first three years played on three different teams that folded. His career really began in 1953 when he began playing with the second Baltimore Colts. During that time the Colts won two straight NFL Championships in 1958 and 1959. Donovan was rewarded 4x First Team All Pro and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968. Art  Donovan was the first pro football player enshrined in the Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame.

Angela Madsen

Angela joined the Marines in 1979 and served as a military police officer and a member of the Women’s All Marine Corps Basketball team. In 1981, she suffered a back injury while playing basketball and was forced to medically retire. Several years later, while in surgery for the same injury she awoke to find herself paralyzed from the waist down.

This tragic accident left Madsen wheelchair bound and in search of something new. She eventually picked up rowing. Madsen joined competitions and won multiple gold medals and the world rowing championships. She joined the paralympic rowing team 3 times during her rowing career.

Madsen wasn’t satisfied with just competing, she moved on to breaking records. Madsen decided to row the oceans: she conquered the Atlantic (twice!) and the Indian ocean and even circumnavigated Britain. All of these were completed with a rowing partner or team. Her biggest goal was to row the Pacific Ocean from California to Hawaii alone. Madsen was able to complete the journey with a partner in 2014. Madsen passed earlier this year while attempting to reach this new record.

Queen of the Court: Q & A with Tennis Pro Jennifer Brady

Queen of the Court: Q & A with Tennis Pro Jennifer Brady

Jennifer Brady is no stranger to hard work or determination. In fact, she was only five years old when she discovered her passion for tennis in her hometown of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Two decades later, Brady finds herself among the tennis elite and for good reason. Ranked #24 in the world of women’s tennis, Brady played for UCLA before turning pro in 2014, making her Grand Slam Debut at the US Open. Now, just six years later, Brady has gone toe to toe with legendary names, even coming out victorious against Maria Sharapova in 2020. Read on to learn more about this powerhouse player!

How did you discover your passion for tennis?

When I was 5 years old my parents took my twin sister and I to the park near our house in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. We brought racquets and balls with us to the tennis courts there. We just started picking up balls and then hitting them with no clue what we were doing. It just so happened that there was a tennis clinic going on at the time and one of the coaches came up and asked my parents if we wanted to join. I immediately fell in love with the sport and always asked my parents to take me to the courts and so I could play. I’d also hit off the garage door in the basement of our house growing up. Finally my parents made a backboard that I could hit off of, by using a bed sheet!

Who are your sports heroes that inspire you to pursue excellence on the court?

I think Lebron James is one of the greatest athletes of all time. He’s a great sports hero to look up to, having been through many ups and downs and still continuing to achieve greatness. I also love watching Rafael Nadal play tennis. For me, he has the biggest heart and fights for every single point. He is such a great champion of our sport and what he has achieved so far in his career will never be broken!

What is one of the greatest pieces of advice you have ever been given? Who gave you this advice and what did it mean to you at the time you received it?

A coach once told me to work smarter, not harder. I think this made sense to me because while I was always a hard worker I may not have always worked hard at the right things. I began to wonder what this meant and realized I needed to work hard and smart on areas that needed improvement, rather than everything.

How would you say your relationship with your coaches over the course of your career has helped to shape you as an athlete (and in life)?

I have always had a good relationship with all of my coaches growing up. Each coach has given me a different point of view and piece of advice. I have taken each and every piece of advice given to me over the years and have tried to apply it to my life on and off the court. 

What mental tools do you use when you’re under pressure on and off the court? Please describe a time when you had to overcome your mental blocks to go for the W.

I try to stay in the moment and not look ahead or behind. By focusing on being present I was able to win my first WTA title. I was up a break and serving 5-3 in the first set in the finals. I started looking ahead and then dropped a few loose points, which resulted in me becoming a little frustrated and tense. I then quickly reminded myself that I am the one ahead and just need to focus on this point and take it one point at a time. I was able to close out the match in 2 sets and win my first WTA Title!

Can you describe the emotions you feel when you’re preparing to compete in a big match, such as the US Open? Do you have any pre-match rituals that help you to feel confident and powerful before competition? 

When prepping for a big match I usually have a routine I do (which is the same for every match). I have a good warmup and then have a quick chat with my coach to go over the tactics and let out any thoughts or emotions that I may have. Usually this helps me to manage the emotions before a match so I can keep my anxiety levels down. Sometimes I’ll listen to music before the match if I want to really get my mind off of the match and just try to get in a good mindset. 

When you’re training for an important match, what part of your workout and training process do you believe gives you an edge on your competition? How do you develop deeper endurance and speed?

When training for a match I tend to spend more time on specific patterns and tactics the day before/day of. I think most tennis players have a very similar routine when it comes to the competition phase. Usually we taper down and do less in the gym and on court to be fresh for the matches. I will usually do quicker, more explosive exercises in the gym, and more point play practice on the court to prepare. 

Are you doing anything different to prepare for this year’s US Open knowing that due to the pandemic, there will be no fans watching? And from your perspective, how does having no spectators change the atmosphere for competition?

My preparation for this year’s US Open was the same with or without fans. I think having no fans helped me, since there was nothing else to focus on but myself and the match. There were no distractions which made it similar to a practice where no one is watching but your team and the opponents team.

Congratulations on such a fantastic finish at the US Open! What is your biggest takeaway from your experience this year, and how do you think this year’s tournament will impact your approach to the game moving forward?

This year was such a great result for me by reaching the semi-finals. I am absolutely thrilled to have made my first semi-finals in a Grand Slam, especially my home Grand Slam. I want to take this experience and apply it to each and every tournament I play in. I take a lot of confidence from this result and a lot of confirmation in myself from the hard work I have been doing and will continue to do. 

With such a strong finish in this year’s US Open, how do you approach goal-setting and moving forward with your game to help you continue on the upward path?

I’m happy that I have the experience of what it feels like to reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam. I definitely walked away from the US Open extremely proud but also hungry for more! I will reset my goals with my team and continue to work hard and improve each and every day on and off the court. 

Coming down from such intense play these past few weeks has had to be a challenge. What do you do to keep yourself centered and grounded once the match is over?

During the US Open there are a lot of emotions, but since it is a Grand Slam it seems to be more mentally draining because it takes place over two weeks. I love to watch the tennis matches once I get back to the hotel, so I usually turn on the live tennis and then have dinner with my coach/other American players. I am a very easy going person and have always been very humble. I try not to get too high on wins and too low on loses. I think in order to be successful in this sport you have to learn to manage your expectations and emotions, and that is definitely a work in progress!

Please share a story of how sports has positively impacted your life.

Tennis has impacted me both on and off the tennis court in many positive ways. For example, playing tennis has given me many opportunities to travel the world. I have been able to experience a ton of different countries and their cultures. I’ve been able to travel to Qatar and ride a camel, I’ve seen the world’s tallest building in Dubai, I’ve visited the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and I even went to the Great Wall in China. Without playing this sport I would not have been able to experience all of these things!

Jennifer Brady knows what it means to play like a champion, and you can too! Thanks to Asics Tennis for your great partnership! Make sure to create an account with Sports Fuels Life and claim your free Champion’s Guide Playbook digital download!

How to Fuel Your Body to Run Your Best

How to Fuel Your Body to Run Your Best

Running is a great way to get healthy and keep in shape. It requires loads of physical training and effort, but it also requires a lot of intention outside of training. Training for long runs can be a great time to address your overall nutrition. Applying proper nutrition can help fuel your body for training and build your confidence. Here are a few tips for the creation of a healthy meal plan.

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Build an Attitude of Gratitude With Our Latest Playlist

Build an Attitude of Gratitude With Our Latest Playlist

Science has proven that practicing gratitude improves your physical and mental health, enhances empathy, improves self-esteem and can even give you a better night of sleep!

There’s no better time to drum up gratitude in your heart than the month of November. As we lead into the Thanksgiving holiday in the coming weeks, we’ve built a super fun and eclectic mix of songs to inspire your thankfulness and help you build the ultimate attitude of gratitude.

Take a listen below!

Only Volleyball Players Will Be Able To Ace This Quiz

Only Volleyball Players Will Be Able To Ace This Quiz

How much do you really know about volleyball and the terms that define the game? Find out if you’re an ace or a side-out disgrace now!

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How To Activate The Power of Failure In Your Athletes

How To Activate The Power of Failure In Your Athletes

Every time my high school volleyball team lost (which was more than we ever won) our coach would always give the same half-hopeful speech. It went something like, “All I ask is that we go out and give it our all as a team each week. If we’re doing that, then this loss must be meant to build our character.

As an athlete who was growing very comfortable with defeat, I always left these losses thinking, “Our team must have more character than any other school district within a 100 mile radius.”

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Quiz: Which NBA Star Are You, Based On Your Morning Routine?

Quiz: Which NBA Star Are You, Based On Your Morning Routine?

We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but how does yours stack up against basketball’s greatest players? Take this quiz to find out if your morning routine is a slam dunk, or a total snoozer.

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QUIZ: What Animal Represents Your Athletic Resilience?

QUIZ: What Animal Represents Your Athletic Resilience?

The animal kingdom has so many examples of resilience and strength that we can learn from as athletes. Find out what your athletic spirit animal is, and what it can teach you about your own competitive spirit with this quiz!

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How To Control Your Competitive Performance By Controlling Your Mindset with Tri Bourne

How To Control Your Competitive Performance By Controlling Your Mindset with Tri Bourne

The Sport Fuels Life podcast is excited to bring you the Mizuno Volleyball series! Mizuno has been an elite performance brand for decades helping volleyball athletes attain peak performance on and off the court. 

This episode, we’re speaking with Mizuno athlete Tri Bourne; professional beach volleyball player, former professional indoor player and NCAA Division 1 Men’s Volleyball player for the USC Trojans. He’s a native Hawaiian, born and raised on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, and spent lots of time on the beach, where he discovered volleyball.  

Mizuno Athlete, Tri Bourne

We cover a lot of topics with Tri, including coaching, goal setting and how learning to control your mental state can help you stay in the game. 

Listen to the episode below to find out why Tri says there’s no such thing as a perfect coach, why setting personal goals and aligning those goals with your team matters, and how his mental state plays such a massive role in his physical performance.

How To Cultivate Winning Qualities In Young Athletes That Last A Lifetime

How To Cultivate Winning Qualities In Young Athletes That Last A Lifetime

Studies have proven time and time again that being part of team sports is one of life’s greatest teachers for young student athletes, who carry the lessons they learn on the field far beyond the game. But what positive characteristics do elite athletes harness so well, helping them to elevate their performance and meet their goals? Here are 5 traits that can help coaches and athletes make a positive impact on their game (and their life!)

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Strategies To Perform Your Best With April Ross

Strategies To Perform Your Best With April Ross

Since her debut on the pro beach volleyball scene in 2006, April Ross has cemented her role as a champion and one of the most universally loved players on tour. Lauded for her powerful serve, energy and competitive drive, April’s easy going personality off the sand makes her one of today’s most authentic, engaging and accessible athletes.

After nabbing several FIVB championships, including the 2009 FIVB World Championship, April and her then partner, Jennifer Kessy won a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics. April partnered with Kerri Walsh-Jennings for the 2016 Rio Olympics, sweeping every AVP tour stop en route to an inspiring Olympic Bronze. April is currently playing with breakout star Alix Klineman, and aiming for Tokyo in 2021.

April shares with us her fascinating journey to becoming a two-time Olympic medalist as well as strategies for gaining the home court advantage no matter your physical location, and how having great coaches to push her athletic performance has made her the player she is today. 

Special thanks to Mizuno for sponsoring this episode of the Sport Fuels Life podcast, check out the April Ross Mizuno collection by visiting mizunousa.com 

Check out this episode below and let us know what you think in the comments!

How Much Do You Really Know About NASCAR?

How Much Do You Really Know About NASCAR?

NASCAR and the world of racing received big news this week when Michael Jordan announced he was joining forces with Denny Hamlin to launch a new team for the 2021 season with Bubba Wallace behind the wheel. Jordan becomes the first full-time Black NASCAR Cup Series team owner since Wendell Scott nearly 50 years ago, in 1971.

We’re celebrating this exciting announcement with this NASCAR trivia quiz! Test your knowledge of the sport and see if you’ll be taking a victory lap, or if you’ll crash and burn!

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6 Tips To Help You Keep Your Players Motivated

6 Tips To Help You Keep Your Players Motivated

A team’s motivation can shift from day to day, partially because it’s dependent on each individual player. The most successful coaches find positive ways to engage their athletes, so today we’ve got six small habits that will help you inspire and motivate your team.

Cultivate a positive team culture. 

Team culture is the expression of your team’s values, attitudes and beliefs about competition. It is heavily reliant upon open communication. Coaches must take the lead and have open discussions with their athletes to determine what they value. It’s vital that the players see what they hold important reflected in the culture. Creating a safe space to communicate their perspective and experience is the best way to improve your team culture.

This can also be perpetuated through a combination of positive reinforcement and honest feedback. Various forms of communication will have different motivational impacts on each player. Make it a priority to balance multiple types of communication to foster growth.

Use positive reinforcement to engage your players

Making sure to highlight when a teammate does something awesome (on or off the court) can cultivate confidence. Work on celebrating the small victories, as well as the big ones. This reassurance can help boost a player’s mental game and get them reinvigorated for their next time on the court. Small gestures like high-fives or simply saying “great job!” can motivate your team to keep doing good work. 

Honest feedback is important to help encourage growth

Constructive criticism helps refine individual skills and solidify team standards. It is important to remember that every player will not respond to criticism the same way; you may have to alter the way you deliver it for a more receptive response. Many players appreciate being pulled aside for a quick conversation on what they can improve, versus being called out in front of the whole team. When offering honest feedback, make sure to highlight the why behind it. Developmental players often benefit from understanding the reason behind the new actions you want them to take. 

Find what sets each of your players on fire.

What is the one thing that makes them tick? Each player is going to be driven by different motivators. The same tactics aren’t going to work for every individual, just like they won’t work for every team. Taking time out to learn about what inspires them both on and off the field will not only help you to understand your athletes better, it will also let each player know that you are invested in who they are as people, beyond the game.

Activate unity through teamwork

Though the team is made up of many moving parts, they’re all fighting to achieve the same goal. Highlighting the importance of teamwork can help motivate players. Many athletes are willing to work harder for a team than they are for themselves, as they feel a sense of responsibility to the whole. Emphasize how much stronger they are as a team than on their own.

Encourage competition within the team

To get players to perform their best every day, create a competitive environment during team practice. Players will be more invested if there’s something on the line. Adding competitive drills to your practices can increase player engagement.

While there is no one formula that works across the board for all coaches or teams, using these tips above can help you develop your own style. Remember that if you’re having fun, then your players are more likely to enjoy themselves which will always increase their engagement.  


Are you a coach (or do you know one) who has cracked the code for uniting the team and making a difference in the community? Click here to tell us your story for a chance to be featured on our blog!

Setting Good Habits That Lead To Greater Productivity with Coach Heather Macy

Setting Good Habits That Lead To Greater Productivity with Coach Heather Macy

This episode of the Sport Fuels Life podcast features the all-time winningest coach in the history of East Carolina University women’s basketball: the great Heather Macy.

She’s not only a coach, but also an author, motivator, and leader. Heather prides herself in helping others reach their goals. Her philosophy of impacting and influencing is based upon building confidence, instilling discipline and keeping the intent based upon, YOU winning. One of only 300 coaches in the country Heather received a Certification in Emotional Intelligence in 2016. She currently travels speaking to teams and organizations on how to use EQ to become an elite performer.

Heather covers a multitude of topics from failure, pressure to succeed and the top three traits that create strong coaches:

  1. Be a competitor
  2. Practice humility
  3. Ignite your passion and discipline

Listen to this episode below and then connect with Heather here

Be The Best You Can Be With Diego Moyano The Sport Fuels Life Podcast

Diego Moyano is an accomplished former professional tennis player from Argentina. As a USTA coach, he has trained ATP players Tommy Paul and Reilly Opelka, and coached Denis Kudla and Andrea Collarini. Currently, he's coaching world ranked number 82, South African player Kevin Anderson. We caught up with Diego in the middle of the Vienna Open in October of 2020, while Kevin was on his way to the semi-finals. Diego joins us in today’s episode to discuss his incredible journey from leaving home at a very early age to set out on his quest for tennis greatness, having nothing and working his way to the top. You can connect with Diego via his Instagram, Twitter or Facebook page, as well as his website, diegomoyanohighperformancetennis.com
  1. Be The Best You Can Be With Diego Moyano
  2. Clearing The Bar Of Life With Paralympic High Jumper Isaac Jean-Paul
  3. Tracking Success With Dan Jansen
  4. Transform Your Mind and Body With The Healing Power of The Great Outdoors
  5. How To Control Your Competitive Performance By Controlling Your Mindset

This Just In: Big Ten Football is Back!

This Just In: Big Ten Football is Back!

Just one month after the announcement to postpone football to a spring 2021 season, the Big Ten just announced that they will return to competition on October 24th.

ESPN reports that officials voted to begin the fall 2020 season thanks to new rapid testing opportunities and medical information that has brought new confidence around the safety of players and the ability to complete a season with minimal interruptions. This is going to be a tight season, with no room for error or bumps in the road if the Big Ten wants to participate in playoffs, which was absolutely the motivation for the Big Ten’s return to competitive play.

All 14 Big Ten teams will take the field in just over one month, while Pac-12 is on a more conservative timeline since a good portion of the league has yet to be cleared by public health officials to resume full contact practices.

The Big Ten’s top teams have been pivotal to the decision-making process, namely, Ohio State, who has the season’s most illustrious quarterback in Justin Fields. Fields shared his joy in the decision with a Game of Thrones-style tweet that depicts him in battle as the hit HBO character, Jon Snow. 

To say that players, coaches and fans are thrilled with this decision would be a total understatement. It seems everyone is looking forward to college football season resuming (safely). 

Are you confident that Big Ten officials are making the right choice? Tell us in the comments below!

Choose Your Own Adventure With Ultrarunner Pete Ripmaster

Choose Your Own Adventure With Ultrarunner Pete Ripmaster

Iditarod champion, adventurer and ultrarunner Pete Ripmaster shares his unbelievable and inspirational journey on this episode of the Sport Fuels Life Podcast. Not only has Pete faced howling wolves, a brush with death, and a daunting journey across the Alaskan wilderness to win the 2018 1000-mile Iditarod Trail Invitational, he’s also a keynote speaker and soon to be author! 

Currently, Pete is recapturing the spirit of adventure that won him the Iditarod and inspired him to complete 50 marathons in 50 states. With his Owl Run Hundreds Project he is trailblazing a new adventure in hopes of inspiring others to dream big and create positive change along the way. 

Check out this conversation with Pete Ripmaster to learn how you can create your own life of adventure, and learn more about Pete by visiting peteripmaster.com.

The Path To Victory: 3 Winning Strategies for Volleyball Coaches

The Path To Victory: 3 Winning Strategies for Volleyball Coaches

You’ve just coached your volleyball team to victory in game two after a tough loss in the first game with a deficit of just two points. Your team is thrilled to have another opportunity to grab the W, but as a coach, how can you adjust your strategy for game three to keep your team’s momentum?

We’ve got three common strategies coaches should think about to continue your winning momentum (or recover from a game two loss and shift the game back in your favor).

Starting Rotation

The starting position of your players has a lot of impact on the quality of play. How you start your team can greatly benefit you, depending on whether you’re on attack or defense. 

Take into consideration that your player in the front left position on the court will rotate twice through the front row and once through the back row, while the person starting in the right back position will only have three opportunities to hit. Starting your best hitter at front left will maximize their hitting potential and give you more opportunities to score.

Since game three is played to 15 points rather than 25, starting this player in the right back position during the first two games could be a great serving strategy; however, it may not benefit you much in game three. Despite a great hitter’s killer serves, in a game three scenario, they get a significantly decreased chance to attack.

Serving Strategy

Coaches often make the assumption that if your best hitter is also your best server, you should start her in the back right, believing that starting your top players in the serving position is the easiest way to begin the game with points on the scoreboard. 

Great servers can get you points by keeping the other team out of the game, by delivering consistent aces, or the other team returning a non-attack, setting your hitters up for a perfect pass. 

A big part of your serving strategy also includes choosing whether or not you want to serve first or second in the final game. A strong serve can be a great weapon against a strong opponent. Opting to serve first eliminates one of the harder aspects of the game: passing. Especially in younger teams, players may have a harder time receiving serves, resulting in shanking the ball out of bounds or missing opportunities to properly set up their offense, resulting in scoring uncontested points based on the other team’s receiving errors.

Player Execution

As a coach, you’ve got to quickly analyze how your team performed in the first two games. Rotation and serving are great indicators of how the day has been going.

Ask yourself these three questions to help you form a quick analysis:

  1. Has blocking or serving benefited you more today?
  2. Are you having a good scoring day, or are you barely scraping by? 
  3. Is your team holding onto their mistakes, or are they living in each moment without worry of the last error?

    The answers of these questions will help you position and maximize your player execution that day.

While strategy is important, the player execution is completely dependent on the makeup of your team and specific to their mental state going into the game. Great coaches rely on knowing each player’s strengths and understanding their weaknesses to win the game. Your team’s structure is likely very different from your opponent’s, so keeping your strategy fluid depending on the moment will help you bump, set, spike your way to success.

Do you know a coach or athlete who is doing amazing work? Nominate them today for a chance to be featured!

How to Prevent Soccer’s Most Common Injuries

How to Prevent Soccer’s Most Common Injuries

Although sports can provide great health benefits, common soccer injuries can put a strain on the physical, mental, and emotional health of even the best players. It’s important for athletes to know the risks, best practices for prevention, early detection and treatment to keep them on the field safely all season long.

Common soccer injuries include cuts and bruises, concussions, ankle sprains and knee injuries, specifically ACL. While cuts and bruises are unavoidable in such a high intensity contact sport, a lot of the other injuries can be avoided through the correct combination of injury prevention protocol, early diagnosis and rest.

Concussions

Concussions are a brain injury (usually mild) that not only disrupt a player’s ability to perform, but also their everyday life (because you are more than just athletes!) Common causes of concussions are collisions between players or the ground and improper heading technique. 

To head the ball correctly takes practice. It’s important for you to practice heading the ball outside of games to understand the proper technique. The most important things to remember for a powerful and safe header are to make contact on your forehead along your hairline and to keep your neck stiff, moving from your core. 

While collisions are sometimes necessary to win a challenge, it’s important to abide by the rules and avoid going into tackles out of control. You will not be able to control every tackle, so it’s important to have a conversation with a healthcare or sport medicine professional about symptoms that manifest from a concussion.

Many recreational leagues are trying to prevent concussions through different tactics such as not allowing players under a certain age to head the ball, or requiring a player to exit the game if they get a head or neck injury. If you start to experience any symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea, light sensitivity, trouble thinking or remembering things, exit the game immediately and talk to your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment will help prevent you from experiencing long-term health effects. Rest is often the quickest path to recovery.

Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains are one of the most popular injuries across all sports, and soccer is no exception. It occurs when you roll, twist or turn your ankle in a way that over-stretches or tears ligaments. These injuries can cause painful swelling, bruising and trouble walking. Because of the commonality of this injury, players tend to play through the pain, but it’s important to address it to prevent long-term damage.

Strengthening and stabilization are key to preventing ankle injuries. Flexion exercises can strengthen tendons around the joint and prevent that awkward rolling. Allowing a sports medicine professional to tape your ankles before physical activity can provide increased stabilization that might not be provided by your own tendons, especially if this isn’t your first ankle injury.

It’s important to rest your ankle when you are off the field to prevent your injury from worsening. Your trainer might suggest wearing a boot to relieve pressure while you walk. Taking the time to immediately submerge your ankle in freezing cold water to alleviate swelling can be a welcome relief after a day of practice.

Knee Injuries

Knee injuries are common in soccer, specifically injuries to the ACL. Sprains and tears in the knee are more often a result of sudden stops and changes in direction than collisions. ACL injuries are 4 times more likely in women’s soccer than men’s; therefore, prevention has become a major focus for coaches, players and sports medicine professionals. 

Over the years, strength training and warm up regimens have been targeted as injury prevention. Building strong quadriceps, hamstrings and core muscles have been proven to help avoid knee injuries. If the muscles around the knee are strong and flexible, they will help stabilize the knee. Exercises for balance are also beneficial for injury prevention. 

Once an injury occurs, you might be in for a long recovery, but the more intentional you are about your rehabilitation (and the longer you spend focused on strengthening the muscles and tendons surrounding that area) the sooner you’re going to return to the game. Coming back from an injury is just as much work as any game or practice. It’s a challenge, and some days you are going to want to quit; however, the more time and effort you put in, the stronger you can become. 


Check out our series on strength and speed training with Coach Mike Srock for more on how to build strength to prevent injury and develop speed for the field; plus drills that will greatly improve your game.

Can Listening to Music Help Boost Your Workout?

Can Listening to Music Help Boost Your Workout?

According to the National Center for Health Research, “Listening to music while exercising doesn’t just relieve boredom — it can help improve the quality of your workout by increasing your stamina and putting you in a better mood.” 

And now that the September edition of the Sport Fuels Life workout playlist is here, you can let the latest hits from BTS, Katy Perry, Cher Lloyd, The Weeknd, DaBaby add a little pep in your step while you work up a sweat with us!

Take a listen below!

Can Unorthodox Coaching Methods Change Your Team For The Better?

Can Unorthodox Coaching Methods Change Your Team For The Better?

Part of the coaching journey is the pursuit of new ideas and approaches that elevate the game. The NFL’s New York Giants new head coach is no exception, and he’s making waves with the unorthodox methods he’s bringing to the team culture. Prior to joining the Giants, Judge spent 8 seasons with the New England Patriots as an assistant coach where he contributed to The Patriots three Super Bowl wins. We’re taking a closer look at what creative (and maybe even a little controversial) strategies Joe Judge is bringing to MetLife Stadium this season.

Get used to the new normal.

Judge has made the call to allow his team to assimilate to playing on the field with no fans in the stadium. Since the coronavirus has derailed preseason games, Giants have a team scrimmage scheduled at MetLife stadium on Friday night. The New York Post reports that Judge said this provides his athletes with a situational walk-through before competition returns. “We wanted to take the time to really let the guys get their legs back under them,” he noted. 

Build unity.

The Big Lead reported that Joe Judge is bringing the team to a higher expectation of unified performance, and that he’s opted to run players and coaches when someone makes a mistake. Sterling Shephard, Giants wide-receiver says he’s ready to drink the Gatorade, “It’s gonna take everyone to buy in if we’re gonna be the team we say we wanna be.”

Learn to become experts at reading body language.

Coach Judge has removed the names of athletes from their practice jerseys, siting that “We should know who we are by the way they carry themselves.” And “It’s important to know the person across from you by the way they move.”

Take risks with your practices that no one else is willing to do.

NJ.com highlighted that Judge is considering taking Giants quarterback Daniel Jones’ red non-contact jersey off the field during practice, leaving Jones exposed to unprecedented opportunity for tackles and hits. The red jersey is widely employed by all teams in order to protect the quarterback from injury. When speaking on the topic in a video media conference, Judge said, “With quarterbacks, you want to be calculated with how you bang them around. At some point, we’ll pop his pads a little bit in a controlled environment…I’m not in a hurry to just beat the hell out of him, but at some point, we want to prepare his body for what it’ll take in the first game.”

Embrace creative problem-solving.

In an effort to prevent his players from getting pinned with holding penalties this season, Coach Judge is employing the help of tennis balls in his practices; taping them to the hands of Giants defensive backs during training camp. “We’re not going to accept penalties. So we’ll find any little trick we can to teach them,” he said.

Photo via Dan Duggan

We’re excited to see how the season shakes out with Coach Judge at the helm for the Giants this year. Do you agree with his methods? Tell us in the comments below, and make sure to join our free Sport Fuels Life community for more sports news and exclusive member benefits. 

What Kind Of Runner Are You

What Kind Of Runner Are You

Find out if you’re a Trail Blazer or a Cardio King! If you love running as much as we do, this quiz below is perfect for you.

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What’s the Safest Sport to Play During COVID-19?

What’s the Safest Sport to Play During COVID-19?

With athlete safety at the top of every school, club and sports organization’s list of priorities to navigate during this ongoing strange season of Coronavirus social distancing life, many parents and players are opening their hearts to new and creative ways to continue to compete. Individual sports such as running, climbing, pickleball, tennis, fencing, cycling and golf are expected to see an increase in interest and participation as athletes search for ways to stay active, but what is the safest sport to play during COVID-19?

Here’s a list of three sports we think are fun and safe options, if you’re looking to branch out:

  • Fencing
    Fencers already wear standard equipment including masks and gloves for the sport. While the mesh fencing mask does not have any protective effect against COVID-19, some competitors now double up on masks, wearing a cotton one underneath. Social distancing is also less of a challenge for fencing athletes who carry nearly 4-foot-long sabers, epees and foils aimed at poking any opponent who comes near them.
  • Golf
    Public health experts have deemed golf as one of the safer activities people can participate in during the pandemic. Golf has a low risk of transmission because it’s outdoors and is a non-contact sport that features competition amongst small groups of people. Dr. Nasir Husain, Medical Director for Infection Prevention at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Michigan, says the risk in golf begins when players start mingling, sharing golf carts and getting within 6 feet of each other. “Just play golf, say hi and bye, and go on your merry way. Don’t come close to each other,” he says.
  • Skateboarding
    Skateboarding is an inherently low-risk Coronavirus transmission sport, since only one person fits on a skateboard. Experts say that, as with every individual sport, the risk of spreading the virus grows when the social element of the sport is brought into play. Any sport can climb into the high risk category if social distancing and sanitation guidelines are not followed, says Dr. David Smith, a sports medicine specialist with The University of Kansas Health System. “It’s so easy to stand 6 feet apart, but we are social creatures. We want to be close to one another,” Smith noted. “We want to laugh together, we want to cheer for each other, so yeah, it’s hard. It’s hard to watch because potentially they’re transmitting the virus.”

Are you branching out to try new sports that are deemed as low-risk recreational activities to help you stay active and competitive during the pandemic? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Fan Mail: These Letters Took 20 Years to Reach Barry Sanders

Fan Mail: These Letters Took 20 Years to Reach Barry Sanders

If you’re like most students in America, at some point during your middle school or junior high experience you were probably tasked with writing a celebrity or professional athlete a letter. Most of these pieces of fan mail receive responses with autographed photos, and usually it’s a favorite project for students who are thrilled to hear back from their heroes. 

But in the early 2000s, many of the young fans who chose to write Detroit Lions most famous player, Barry Sanders, didn’t hear back…that is until now, nearly two decades years later. ESPN reports that approximately 150 fan letters were discovered in 2018 by Detroit Lions employee, Brandon Scott. 

Letters were delivered to Sanders who has been surprised and honored at the outpouring of love from young fans who sent their letters after leaving the Lions and entered into retirement. 

Courtesy Brian Fornasiero, Detroit Lions

While all the children who wrote to Sanders are now grown adults, Barry says he is working to respond to them all. (As if we didn’t already love Barry Sanders enough already!)


You can read more about this story and see several of these lost fan letters here.

Do you know an amazing athlete or coach who is doing amazing work that we should feature? Nominate them here and tell us why they’ve inspired you. And make sure to sign up for our FREE Sport Fuels Life community to experience all the benefits of being a part of the team!

Are College Sports Really Putting Athlete Safety First?

Are College Sports Really Putting Athlete Safety First?

George Plaster is a sports talk radio pioneer. He joins us on this episode of the Sport Fuels Life Podcast to discuss his career and weighs in on the latest sports news, from coronavirus, professional sports bubble competition, toxic team cultures and what’s actually motivating athletic directors and universities decision on whether or not to play this season.

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Do You Know Your Football Trivia?

Do You Know Your Football Trivia?

While college football teams across the U.S. decide what to do about their 2020 season, we’ve been getting our football fix by rewatching Friday Night Lights (Texas Forever!) and making trivia quizzes. Find out how much you really know about your favorite sport by taking this quiz now!

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3 Reasons You Need A Mindfulness Walk

3 Reasons You Need A Mindfulness Walk

LeBron James, Derek Jeter, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh are all successful athletes who have discussed the value of meditation to assist them in their performance during the game.

But why should you try a walking meditation? We’ve got three great reasons!

  1. It Clears Out Mental Fog.
    Taking a walk outside interrupts the monotony of the day, breaks cyclical thinking and helps you balance your perspective.
  2. It Strengthens Your Focus
    Meditation helps train your mind and let unhelpful thoughts pass by without the gravity to pull you into feelings of overwhelm and stress.
  3. It Helps You Stay Present
    When you walk, you can let the worries of the day fade away for a moment. Meditation teaches us to let go of the judgement we usually carry in our own minds and to practice self compassion and curiosity.

We’ve created a calming new playlist for you to use as you walk. Check it out below!

You could win free shoes for a year!

You could win free shoes for a year!

It’s our biggest giveaway ever. Help us plan our next move by sharing your opinions.

Take this survey to enter for a chance to win free sneakers for a year.

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Is the Sports “Bubble” A Good Model To Resume College Games In The Fall?

Is the Sports “Bubble” A Good Model To Resume College Games In The Fall?

In an effort to finish the 2020 season, the NBA has moved 22 of its 30 teams to a restricted access area at Disney World in Florida and has delivered on its promise to print “Black Lives Matter” on the game court in Orlando. The WNBA has returned, launching bubble games on July 25th, with a united mission to bring awareness of the police killing of Breonna Taylor). 

The return of basketball is good news for fans all over the country.  If you’re curious what safety precautions look like for players, coaches and staff, and how this model, with some modifications, might translate for future competitive play for high schools and colleges nationwide, we’ve got the breakdown.

The NBA has an extensive set of safety rules and precautions that individuals who participate in the bubble must follow in order to remain eligible to play. In addition to no fans at the games, athletes are living together for three months in isolation in a unique basketball commune that Lebron James described as a youth basketball tournament for grown men.

Anyone (from players and coaches to management staff and reporters) who has entered the NBA bubble has been tested for COVID-19 daily, since the week of June 23. During games, players have assigned seats on the bench, have been asked to refrain from licking their fingers during practice and games and are even wearing special biometric devices that measure their vital signs. The teams are all divided between three Disney hotels and are required to practice strict physical distancing and wear masks in common areas unless they are eating or participating in physical activity. Any player who tests positive for Coronavirus will be quarantined for a minimum of 7 days. While this system is extensive, it’s hardly foolproof and requires vigilance. Several players have already been benched in quarantine due to violations against the NBA’s rules.

This bubble experiment now has the attention of the NCAA officials and student-athletes who would undoubtedly like to return to their own courts when basketball season is slated to begin this November. The NBA’s model could offer college basketball a framework on how to safely resume competition, while The Daily Tar Heel reports that eliminating fans at the college level could change the entire atmosphere for players.

For now, many sports fans are just thrilled to be getting basketball game coverage on ESPN. Other organizations who have returned to play without a bubble format may already be regretting that decision. Miami Marlins MLB team has reported a total of 14 confirmed cases of positive COVID tests as of this week, possibly putting the entire MLB season in jeopardy and raising even more questions on how to safely return to competitive sports..

We want to know what you think! Should professional sports be returning to the game already, or should they have remained sidelined for 2020? What ideas do you have in your own sports world—leagues, high school, college, or recreationally—for safe competition? Tell us in the comments below!

Can vulnerability contribute to building a positive team culture?

Can vulnerability contribute to building a positive team culture?

Studies show that the pressure and culture of high performance athletics can lead to chronic fatigue, mental exhaustion, burnout, depression and anxiety. Student athletes all over the country often struggle silently for fear of looking weak to their teammates and coaches, believing a false definition of what mental toughness actually looks like.

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The Top 9 MLB Players of All Time

The Top 9 MLB Players of All Time

Major League Baseball just announced a 60-game 2020 season will begin the last weekend in July, and most players are returning to training camps this week.

Several athletes, however, have opted out of play this year, citing personal safety amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including Ryan Zimmerman, Joe Ross and Ian Desmond. MLB says that more than 100 pages of health and safety precautions have been accepted by the players association to keep players and personnel safe. Only one day after the 2020 season plans were revealed, executives from several MLB teams revealed positive coronavirus test results within their organizations. Under the terms between the league and its athletes, players who decide on an individual basis not to take the field this season would have to forfeit their salaries, unless they are considered high-risk for contracting the virus.

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Tennis Ace Tim Wilkison Shares Coaching and Competitive Insights

Tennis Ace Tim Wilkison Shares Coaching and Competitive Insights

Tim Wilkison, who toured professionally for over 25 years, lives in Charlotte, N.C.  Ranked World No. 23 in September 1986, Tim is perhaps best known for his diving volleys at Wimbledon that earned him the nickname “Dr. Dirt”.  He now coaches at all levels and works with many organizations to teach and promote the sport and benefits of tennis. Here are some highlights on playing, coaching, and living from his conversation with Sport Fuels Life.

Commitment matters.  After Tim started playing tennis exclusively at age 12, he marked off the days on his calendar when he practiced at least two hours (usually longer).  Since he didn’t have access to indoor courts, he spent rainy days hitting balls against the wall of an indoor gym.  He practiced four years in a row without missing a day.

Not surprisingly then, he was the country’s number one ranked junior tennis player at age 16.  At age 17, he turned pro.  (In those days, turning pro immediately after high school was unusual).  Like everyone else, he started at the lowest level but made it to the main draw within a year.  

Now that he coaches a wide range of players, he says the difference between a good and great player is clear:  “To be a great player, you have to have extreme physical ability and extreme mental abilities…really off the charts in both areas.”

He also noted that extreme physical ability doesn’t mean just running: “It means technique.  The person who taught Roger Federer a forehand probably taught many others, but Roger had the ability to leverage something special.”  Tim said it takes time to see if a player has the mental strength to come back from ups and downs that are part of competitive tennis (and life).  

Coaches and parents can cultivate a championship environment by doing two things—emphasizing a love of the sport and developing good, overall athletic skills.  Tim also said that it’s not enough to hit balls for four hours; movement, throwing, changing direction and more are required.  

He acknowledges that coaching elite players is a different ball game; in addition to expertise, it requires organization, professionalism, and a passion for the sport.  Tim says he doesn’t coach from the sidelines; he plays with his students because that’s his background, it’s a good way to teach, and he enjoys it. He also tries to share his lifelong holistic approach to athletics that includes a focus on mind, body, and spirit.

Tim noted that developing your strengths and knowing yourself helps players win matches: “Sometimes coaches will say that your backhand is not that great so we’re going to work on that.  I can’t think of a time when someone has taken a weakness and made it into a strength.  You don’t win matches with neutral shots.  You win matches with strengths.”

Tim used his talents, strengths, and connectivity ten years ago to build a relationship with the Chinese government to coach tennis.  Two of his students are almost at the highest competitive levels.

“Sometimes I go there.  Sometimes students come here and live with me,” he said.  “They get a more varied experience by playing in the U.S.  There’s tremendous structure in their program but variety helps too.  And at the end of the day, the players are all individuals and have to be treated as such.”

Tim’s life experience, overall optimism, and belief in humanity convince him that current, painful tensions from the pandemic and racial injustice can result in opportunity.  “I believe we have to find all the answers to every problem. This is a great chance to build a better society,” he said, “because we’re all connected.”

Understanding Your Why with Coach Mike Srock

Understanding Your Why with Coach Mike Srock

Accomplished speed and strength coach Mike Srock, from James F. Byrnes High School in Greenville, South Carolina, wants his players to have purpose in everything they do. Read on below to learn how his program has pivoted during COVID-19 and what he’s doing in preparation when in-person practices and competition to resume.

Coach Srock says that one characteristic of a great coach is being quick to adapt and adjust how they relate to their athletes. He notes that today’s coaches have received a master class in out-of-the-box thinking thanks to COVID-19. “As this global pandemic has gone on and everything has been shut down, it has really adversely affected the entire high school population so much–even beyond just sports. School has always been a support system for these kids. I mean we actually feed them, keep them engaged and teach them how to be responsible upstanding individuals. I think all that is paused now because we can’t have personal contact.”

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More than just Speed and Strength Training

More than just Speed and Strength Training

Mike Srock, winning speed and strength coach at James F. Byrnes High School in Greenville, South Carolina, chatted with us about challenges that today’s coaches face and how athletes have changed over the course of his decorated 45-year career.

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5 Sports Films That Highlight the Struggles of Legendary Black Athletes

5 Sports Films That Highlight the Struggles of Legendary Black Athletes

Team Connection is committed to connecting athletes, coaches, and fans to celebrate the unifying power and magic of sports.  We are also learning from each other.  One of our team members, Eric Lamar, recommended this list of movies to show what systemic racism looks like in the world of sports.  We’ll be showcasing other educational materials in future posts and welcome your suggestions.

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Achieving The Perfect Balance, With Coach Mike Srock

Achieving The Perfect Balance, With Coach Mike Srock

Mike Srock is a renowned speed and strength coach for James F. Byrnes High School in Greenville, South Carolina and has helped win 13 state championships in football, volleyball, softball and cross country. He has been awarded numerous Coach of the Year titles for his incredible work, and was inducted into the South Carolina High School Strength Coaches Hall of Fame in 2017. His drive and passion are  infectious, and his perspective and wisdom are inspiring.

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Tune In To The Sport Fuels Life Summer Classics Playlist

Tune In To The Sport Fuels Life Summer Classics Playlist

Whether you’re planning to spend the majority of your summer on the golf course or strength training and conditioning in your garage, this week Sport Fuels Life has a fun mix to add a little joy and get your summer sizzlin’ with these upbeat summertime classics. From Paul Simon to Eddie Money, we have the retro vibes you forgot you needed.  

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Top 5 Ways To Boost Mental Wellness

Top 5 Ways To Boost Mental Wellness

May is mental health awareness month, and thanks to the coronavirus, the spotlight on mental wellness is brighter than ever. The Sport Science Institute believes that mental health is “part of, not apart from, athlete health. Mental health exists on a continuum, with resilience and thriving on one end of the spectrum and mental health disorders that disrupt an athlete’s functioning and performance at the other.” There are many ways you can improve your overall mental wellness; and in this time of uncertainty, one of the most important things we can do is tune in to our inner thoughts and emotions and learn new ways to be our best advocate.

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How Tennis Fuels the Life of Elite Tour Coach Craig Boynton

How Tennis Fuels the Life of Elite Tour Coach Craig Boynton

We talked to accomplished ATP Tour coach Craig Boynton and ended up so inspired and informed that we will be featuring his insights in three successive blog posts.  The first deals with how sports have impacted his life, how he balances being an elite, globe-trotting coach with being a father and husband, and how good communication can be a real advantage.

As context, Boynton has worked with players such as World Number 1 Jim Courier, Mardy Fish, John Isner, and Steve Johnson.  He is currently coaching Poland’s Hubert (Hubi) Hurkacz who is ranked 29th in the world.  Coaching those kinds of players and the toll of worldwide travel and competition would take a toll on most families.  Here’s what Craig had to say about how sport fuels his life.

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U.S. Olympic Medalist Sandi Morris Gets Creative with her Quarantine Training

U.S. Olympic Medalist Sandi Morris Gets Creative with her Quarantine Training

Sandi Morris has a spirit of ingenuity and determination that pushes her through life’s challenges, so when the world went on pause for COVID19-related quarantines, Sandi knew it was time to double down. She’s always found a way to compete. This characteristic is what has catapulted her professional pole vaulting career to elite levels. She has competed in the sports world’s most renowned global competitions, including solidifying her place in history at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games by earning a silver medal. We caught up with Sandi recently to see how she’s making the most of quarantine, what she’s doing to stay in a consistent training routine, as well as where she finds the inspiration to push herself to the next level. 

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Have a Family Dance Party to Promote a Healthy Lifestyle During Quarantine

Have a Family Dance Party to Promote a Healthy Lifestyle During Quarantine

Even if you’re not a parent or an athlete with siblings, chances are high that you’ve reached your limit of finding things to do at home during quarantine to keep yourself or your children entertained. This week we’ve got just the thing you need to promote an active family lifestyle (and give your Netflix account a break–we know, you just saw there’s a brand new follow up episode of Tiger King. We promise that Joe Exotic can wait!)

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Stay Motivated with this Sport Fuels Life Playlist

Stay Motivated with this Sport Fuels Life Playlist

Our awesome Sport Fuels Life team has created our very first Spotify playlist!

We’re calling the inaugural playlist “We Don’t Quit” because it features a few of our favorite pop and hip-hop songs for your stay at home quarantine workout. These beats are sure to help get you energized and infuse you with the confidence to believe that you can do hard things. 

Check out the playlist here, and be sure to follow us on Spotify for even more playlists (we’re launching one a week for the month of April!)

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Nick Gwiazdowski Brings His Heart To The Mat

Nick Gwiazdowski Brings His Heart To The Mat

We recently caught up with Nick Gwiazdowski, a North Carolina State graduate and wrestler who won back-to-back national championships in 2014-15. More recently he earned the gold medal at 125 kilograms (275 pounds) on March 15th at the Pan Am Olympic Qualifier in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. With the abrupt changes in the sports world unfolding at the same time as Nick’s gold medal performance, eventually leading to the delay of the 2020 Olympics, we wanted to get his take on the effect COVID19 is having on competitive sports, wrestling, and his training.

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How is the COVID19 Quarantine Impacting Baseball Players and Coaches?

How is the COVID19 Quarantine Impacting Baseball Players and Coaches?

Billy Godwin is currently the Head Baseball Coach at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and has over 30 years of coaching experience. Before Godwin was a coach, he was an athlete. He earned an athletic scholarship as a pitcher for Barton College, in Wilson, North Carolina. He also worked for five years as an area scout for the New York Yankees and spent several years as Head Coach for two other North Carolina institutions– East Carolina University and Louisburg College. 

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Overcoming Obstacles with World Champion Chelsea Werner

Overcoming Obstacles with World Champion Chelsea Werner

If there is anyone who knows what it’s like to dream big and achieve, it’s the amazing Chelsea Werner. She’s a four-time U.S. Special Olympics Gymnastics National Champion, a two-time defending World Champion, a fashion model and an advocate for inclusion. We’ve been following Chelsea’s journey since we spotted her on the TODAY show a few years ago, and we’re thrilled to share her story of overcoming obstacles and thriving with Down Syndrome. Read on below and prepare to be inspired!

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Celebrating This Year’s Exceptional NCAA Basketball Athletes

Celebrating This Year’s Exceptional NCAA Basketball Athletes

On March 13th, the 2020 NCAA basketball tournament was canceled by the NCAA because of concerns regarding the spreading coronavirus (COVID-19). That decision resulted in #MarchSadness across the United States. It’s the first time the annual NCAA Tournament will not be held since it was first launched 81 years ago, in 1939.

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How To Keep Sport Alive During Social Distancing

How To Keep Sport Alive During Social Distancing

With all the uncertainty that our nation is facing while dealing with COVID-19 (Coronavirus), and the cancelling of all our sports events and community gatherings to help flatten the curve of the disease, it can feel overwhelming for our young athletes and coaches. If you’re feeling helpless, we’ve got a dose of inspiration for you!

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The Value of Strong Coach-Athlete Relationships

The Value of Strong Coach-Athlete Relationships

As a coach, you are a critical element in the strength of the glue that holds your team together. It’s important to cultivate proper technique and skill as well as a positive competitive environment in your players and team; but studies have shown the true key to success lies beyond focusing only on their physical progress and abilities. Coaching is about equipping each individual athlete for success in life and building strong relationships where your players feel safe, seen, heard and supported. Psychology Today says that “many athletes, even at the elite level, desire coaches that have a strong sense of regard for them as individuals and have an understanding of them and what is going on in their lives.” But what are the practical steps you can take as a coach to enrich the team experience? 

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Get to know Bri Scott

Get to know Bri Scott

Bri Scott is Team Connection’s stellar volleyball account manager, she played Big Ten volleyball at The Ohio State University, has coached and even co-founded ProVolley Training, which exists to provide a fun and competitive learning environment for high school teams, as well as a skill tune-up for individuals looking to improve their game. She’s sharing her #sportfuelslife journey with us in today’s blog post! Read on to get to know more about this stellar member of our team!

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What Fuels New Orleans Saints Defensive Lineman Shy Tuttle

What Fuels New Orleans Saints Defensive Lineman Shy Tuttle

Shy Tuttle had a pretty remarkable NFL rookie year during the 2019 season. He hails from Midway, North Carolina where he discovered his love of sports as a member of his high school’s basketball, football and track and field teams. He went on to play four seasons of college football with the Tennessee Volunteers before signing with the New Orleans Saints in April 2019. He made his NFL debut on September 9 and soon became a household name in NOLA, thanks to his first career interception that went viral. Just before our interview, Shy recently shared his inspiring journey (and ice cream for the whole school!) with the students of Midway Elementary School in North Carolina.

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How to Build Confidence for the Game

How to Build Confidence for the Game

My father has often said that “no one can give you confidence, but yourself.” True confidence is a virtue and only those who put in the work will be able to know the type of certainty and grit that comes from having full confidence in your own abilities. Mastering your skills is critical to the game as well as in life. You’re becoming an expert at what you do because you’ve practiced it a million times, the 10,000 hours rule applies here. If you look at the great athletes, they are regarded as great because they work tirelessly on their game, from technique to speed and execution. Michael Jordan was able to nail down a free throw with his eyes closed because he had practiced relentlessly. He mastered the form, the muscle strength, the distance and all the other attributes required to perform a foul shot. Because he has watched the ball go through the net countless times, he was never afraid of stepping on the free throw line and knocking one down with his eyes closed.   

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Building A Winning Team Culture

Building A Winning Team Culture

Megan Zimlich is an accomplished track star and, among her many other fantastic qualities, is an important player on our team here at Sport Fuels Life and Team Connection. When it comes to building a successful team culture, she believes that honest assessment, getting specific with setting goals, and making accountability a priority are all vital elements. Read on below to learn more about Megan!

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How To Create Winning Cultures For Your Team and Life

How To Create Winning Cultures For Your Team and Life

Team Connection’s Key Account Sales Manager, Ikenna Smart, knows exactly how sports can change a life. His incredible story of self discovery and community through his basketball career led him to start his own foundation, donating shoes to those in need in his home country of Nigeria. We asked Ikenna to share with us his thoughts on what it takes to build a winning team culture, and his thoughtful responses are sure to ignite your own Sport Fuels Life passions. 

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How Herb Bolick is Serving Up A New Kind of Sports Community

How Herb Bolick is Serving Up A New Kind of Sports Community

Team Connection’s President and Founder, Herb Bolick knows firsthand how being a team player helps everyone to shine bright. He’s spent over 25 years working professionally as a tennis player and coach, and he was inducted into the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame in 1993. Read on below to get to know the man at the helm of Sport Fuels Life, and learn more about why he’s passionate about helping you build authentic and active sports communities.

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