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Finish First Insider, Issue #68
August 03, 2009
Welcome Back

Please enjoy another issue packed with evidence-based information about sports performance training and news about current events at Finish First Sports Performance. If you find value in this e-newsletter, please forward this message to your teammates, coaches, or other parents of hard working athletes.

Preparing for the Season: Pre-Season Readiness Training

By Coach J. Hoy, CSCS, USAW, Jump Stretch, Inc. Certified,
Elite Performance Scientist

Proper Preparation

The end of summer is drawing near and with that comes pre-season training camps for fall and early winter sports. Unfortunately, many athletes wait until these 2 week mini-camps to begin to prepare the body and mind for the upcoming competitive season. Improper or lack of preparation typically leads to poor performance, weakness as the season develops, and worse of all, injuries.

Consequences of Lack of Preparation

Let's take a look at the Steelers Training Camp 2009. I hope that the defending Super Bowl champions arrived to camp in shape and ready to go (prepared), but we know from years past that this isn't always the case (Casey Hampton last year). Ultimately, there are consequences for not being 100% prepared for the specific demands of football and the pre-season training camp. Unfortunately, improperly or poorly prepared athletes may get injured as a result, and may not be able to practice, or play, and may need to miss part of the competitive season—all because of a lack of proper preparation.

I’m not saying that players only get injured because of improper preparation, but I am saying that most often, improper preparation (physical, mental) is one of the main causes, especially with non-contact injuries (ie. ACL tears due to landing, change of direction moves, fatigue, etc.).

So, what exactly does it take to be properly prepared for a pre-season training camp or pre-season practices?

As with all other readiness training, it will depend on the demands of the sport, and even the position that each athlete plays. Take ice hockey, for example. A hockey player needs to be strong, fast, and explosive, with a very high level of anaerobic endurance (specifically, power endurance). He/She needs to be flexible, mobile, balanced, and mentally capable of handling the grueling practices and skating sessions, not to mention the physical collision nature of the sport—not everyone rebounds mentally from getting knocked down a few times!

Technical Preparation

Proper preparation also includes specific technical training specific to the sport and position. A basketball player needs to be practicing drills with a basketball and working on improving his/her shot technique. It is also helpful to study the game in order to better understand the strategies and schemes of each sport.

Preparing the mind and the body is necessary in order to compete at your best. A solid strength and conditioning program will prepare the athlete physically and help develop essential confidence and mental toughness. Off-season camps, clinics, and skill sessions are crucial to the tactical development of the athlete. The combination of the various preparations will assist the athlete in performing at a level that he/she was previously incapable of doing. Better physical preparation will also allow the athlete to get more out of each learning/skill practice during the pre-season training and help the athlete stay focused and energized (instead of worrying about being too sore or tired to perform).

It is the job of the strength and conditioning coach to help prepare athletes to perform their best when it matters the most.

Better physical and mental preparation reduces the risk of overuse injuries (tendonitis, shin-splints, etc.), non-contact injuries (ACL, MCL, etc.), and reduces imbalances and weaknesses from prior injuries or inefficient motor patterns. Better physical preparation helps an athlete run faster through better technique, and a stronger, more powerful body. It also helps an athlete skate faster and improves burst quickness on the ice. It helps an athlete be more mobile and more flexible. And, what I think is one of the most important benefits of proper physical preparation is the specific training of the muscle tissues and energy systems involved specifically in the movements of each sport. In most sports, it is not only important to be powerful/explosive at the beginning, but also to be able to maintain that power throughout the entire event. An athlete must be training (conditioning) specific to the intensity (heart rate and energy system specific) and other demands of the sport. For example, look at a typical hockey shift. How long does each player spend on the ice? How many bursts does the player make during that shift? How many shifts are there during a period? During a game? How many bursts during a game? –These are all important things to consider when designing a proper conditioning program to prepare the player.

Pre-Season Readiness training is best when it has an accumulative effect from training that began after the last competitive season ended.

Training should have been designed to progressively prepare the athlete for his/her next competitive season, and should have been designed to meet the needs not only of the athlete (strengths, weaknesses, etc.), but also the sport. A systematic, progressive approach to training and performance preparation is essential for optimal results. Proper preparation is key. Are you ready for your next competitive season? Are you ready to get the most out of your skill practices?

If you’re not ready, now is the time to get started—don’t wait any longer. For more information or training ideas for urgent preparation, please call or email me (especially if you haven’t been preparing this summer!).

Understanding Omega-3 Fatty Acids

By: Heather R Mangieri, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN Finish First Sports Performance Nutrition Advisor

Yesterday while shopping at my favorite discount retailer and warehouse club, I witnesses two women discussing which fish to purchase. One woman was holding a large piece of fresh salmon and the other women was holding a large piece of fresh flounder. They were discussing fat content. It was clear that they had educated themselves on this topic to some degree. One of the ladies stated, “I think I will go with the flounder because it is lower in fat than the salmon. I know that the pinker in color the fish, the higher the fat content.” I was impressed at their conversation and continued to listen in. My assumption was that they were trying to reduce fat in their diet. Without a doubt, choosing the flounder would result in less fat (Flounder is a white fish for those not familiar). The both chose the flounder. This entire scenario took under thirty seconds and the women were on their way. I could not help but wonder if they understood “healthy fats” and the positive health benefits that are associated with the higher fat content in the salmon. Because I did not know their goals, I am not sure if the flounder was the right choice. After all, not all fats are bad. In fact, some are essential!

Among the essential fatty acids are the healthy omega-3s. There are three major types of omega 3 fatty acids that are ingested in foods and used by the body: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Once eaten, the body converts ALA to EPA and DHA, the two types of omega-3 fatty acids more readily used by the body. Research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and help prevent risk factors associated with chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. They have been shown to significantly reduce the risk for sudden death caused by cardiac arrhythmias and have shown beneficial in patients with known coronary heart disease. Additionally, these essential fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be particularly important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function.

Recent research shows that the most promising health effects of essential fatty acids occur when there is a healthy balance of the omega-3s and omega-6s (the other essential fatty acids.) Unfortunately, the American diet is far from having a healthy ratio. In fact, the increased consumption of vegetable oils that are high in omega-6s (corn, safflower, cottonseed) and meats from animals fed grains high in omega-6 fatty acids has drastically shifted the dietary ration from an estimated 1:1 in the early human diet to 10:1 in the typical American diet (1).

So how do you get more omega-3s in your diet? Both EPA and DHA are found in abundance in fresh water fish, however fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, king mackerel and herring have some of the highest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Comparatively speaking, the ladies above will need to eat a 7 ounce piece of flounder to get the same amount of EPA and DHA that is in a 2 ounce piece of Atlantic salmon (2). This may be the most informative for those individuals that are not big fish eaters; going with the fattier fish means eating less for the same benefit. According to the American Heart Association, those looking to protect their hearts should eat a variety of fatty fish (such as those listed above) at least twice a week (3). Those with heart disease may need more. Assuming an appropriate portion size is consumed (3 to 4 ounces per serving), that is well below the FDA's safe limit of 12 ounces per week (something many people are cautious about with recent mercury and toxicity concerns.)

But even if you do not like fish or you choose not to eat it, you can still get what you need through your diet. A potent plant source of omega-3s is flaxseed. Though it does not itself contain EPA or DHA, it does contain ALA which (as you read above) the body can use to make the others. Walnuts are another great source. Just 1 serving (1 ounce) contains ~2.5 grams of omega-3s. Canola oil, fish oil, flaxseed oil, kidney beans, cauliflower and broccoli are other good food sources.

Bottom line, while in large amounts some fats are bad for your health, there are some that we simply can’t live without.


1. Kris-Etherton PM, Taylor DS, Yu-Poth S, Huth P, Moriarty K, Fishell V, et al. Polyunsaturated fatty acids in the food chain in the United States. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;71:179S-88S.

2. Kris-Etherton PM, Harris WS, Appel LJ; American Heart Association. Nutrition Committee. Fish Consumption, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease. Circulation 2002;106:2747-57



Due to the volume of athletes currently using the Finish First Sports Performance world training headquarters, all athletes are required to schedule all sessions prior to arrival. In the future, if an athlete shows up without first scheduling for a session, there is no guarantee that s/he will be able to use the facility at that time. If the facility is at capacity, the athlete will need to come back for his/her session at a later time. At Finish First Sports Performance, we are taking all measures necessary to prevent overcrowding and help ensure the safety of the athletes and the quality of the programs. We appreciate your understanding and look forward to continuing to serve you.

How to Schedule Workouts Using the Online System

Due to the volume of athletes currently using the training facility, and the expected returning college athletes over the summer, you will need to begin scheduling your workout sessions in advance. It is recommended that you do so online. The Finish First Sports Performance coaches will have access to the sessions calendar to see when you are scheduled. When you arrive to the facility, it is also important to use your fingerprint to check in to the system. Below, you will find the correct way to schedule online. It is also now possible to make payments online, and check your training history. Please call if you have any questions.

1. Go to

2. Scroll down the left and under “Additional Services” you will see MEMBER LOGIN—click on that

3. A new window should pop up and on that window click on ATHLETE

4. Unless you have logged into the system before, your login ID is: last name-first name, and your password is: last name. So for John Smith, his login ID would be smith-john, and his password would be smith. You will be prompted to change your password so that only you may know it—write it down and don’t forget it—if you do forget it, please let Jeremy know so he can reset it.

5. Once logged in, on main screen you will see a box/button on the right titled “REGISTER FOR CLASSES”—click on this.

6. You can register or change your scheduled time up to 24 hours before the session. Any changes that need to be made within 24 hours of the session need to be made by calling Jeremy at 412-787-5070.

The online system works best with Internet Explorer (most recent version).

Motivational Quotes

"I know the price of success: dedication, hard work and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen."
-- Frank Lloyd Wright

"A mediocre idea that generates enthusiasm will go further then a great idea that inspires no one."
-- Mary Kay Ash

"The future belongs to the competent.It belongs to those who are very,very good at what they do.It does not belong to the well meaning. "
-- Brian Tracy

"We must learn to apply all that we know so that we can attract all that we want. "
-- Jim Rohn

Thank You for Your Support

Thanks again for subscribing to this free e-newsletter. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. I look forward to your feedback as I continue to research to bring you the most current scientific training information available.

Should you have any specific article requests or questions, email me at Please visit for detailed sports performance training information and programs offered exclusively by Finish First Sports Performance.

Yours In Training,

Coach Jeremy S. Hoy, CSCS, USAW, Jump Stretch, Inc. Certified,
Elite Performance Scientist

Finish First Sports Performance

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