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Finish First Insider, Issue #79
November 09, 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.

Tools or Jobs: Where is Your Focus?

By Coach J. Hoy, CSCS, PES, NASE Cert., USAW, Jump Stretch, Inc. Certified

Ever get too caught up with what tool you need to get a job done? Even to the point where the tool has to be a specific brand name?

Well, does it really matter?

Really, the answer is no.

Too often we get hung up on what tools we have or what tools we need and we lose focus on getting the job done the way it should.

I often receive emails and phone calls from people wondering if we use a certain machine for our training, or a specific piece of equipment, or some other tool that they were told by someone along the way is the only tool that can get the job done.

The truth is that there are many tools needed for any job.

Some tools are better suited for preparing some athletes, while others are better suited for helping other specific athletes. These are things we determine after a specific evaluation and assessment, and find out what exactly the goals are for each athlete.

My job as a strength and conditioning coach is simply to best prepare my athletes for the highest level competition that they can possibly compete, and reduce their risk of getting injured.

While there are certain tools that I like to use, in order to do my job and complete my task at hand, I may be required to use more tools for some, and less for others. Either way, it is important for me to learn and know not only what all tools are out there, but how to use them and if and when they may be useful to any of my athletes.

Not sure what I’m talking about?

Think about it this way. Gray Cook, a physical therapist that has worked with athletes at all levels, says that it is like doing a construction project, such as a simple home remodel. Are you concerned with all the tools you need, and focused on keeping all your tools neat and shiny and polished…or are you concerned with doing what it takes to get the job done, and finishing with a beautiful home remodel?

Chances are that if you were focusing on the tools, that you will now change focus to the finished product.

That is why it is important for us, as strength coaches, to concentrate on the finished product, and learn about all the tools available to help each athlete get there.

At Finish First Sports Performance, we are committed to doing our job, and to learning and researching to tools to help you achieve optimum performance. If you’re not taking advantage of all we have to offer, please call, email, or stop in to see what else we can do for you.

Concussions in Ice Hockey

By Emily E. Novitsky, BS, CSCS, Finish First Sports Performance Athletic Performance Specialist

As a hockey fan I know one of the most exciting games are the ones that are played aggressively and have hard hitting plays. Although it is fun to watch, the reality is that those hard hitting plays are risking the safety of the players. Especially the players that are taking the hits they are in the most danger or risk for injury. The number one injury in ice hockey today is head/neck injuries. The majority of those head injuries today are concussions. In today’s article I will be discussing the prevalence of concussions in ice hockey and how it affects our athletes. Please note that if your athlete shows any signs or symptoms of a concussion to immediately seek professional assistance from a doctor.

In order to start discussing concussions we must first define what a concussion is. According to WebMD “A concussion is a brain injury that is caused by a sudden blow to the head or to the body. The blow shakes the brain inside the skull, which temporarily prevents the brain from working normally.” Since hockey is such a fast pace and aggressive contact sport it is very common for athletes to suffer from concussions. On that note the following are some signs/symptoms of a concussion. As mentioned before be sure to have a member of the medical staff clear the athlete before continuing to play if there is a chance that they might have a concussion. If the athlete has a history of concussions make sure that you pay particular attention to signs and symptoms. It has been shown that they are more susceptible to repeated concussions.

Signs/Symptoms of Concussions:

• Passing out (note that not everyone will pass out if they have suffered a concussion)

• Not being able to remember what happened after the injury

• Acting confused and slurring words

• Feeling lightheaded, seeing stars, hearing ringing noises in ears, dizziness

• Not being able to stand or walk

• Feeling nauseas or throwing up

• Blurred vision

Statistics show that 42% of hockey injuries are to the head or neck of the athlete. The incidence is so prevalent in ice hockey because of the intense play of the sport. They now refer to ice hockey as a collision sport rather than a contact sport. For female ice hockey players they are not permitted to body check but the concussion rate is still high. Then for the males they are allowed to start body checking at age 11. However in some organizations you are able to body check at the age of 9. One main reason for such a high risk of concussions is from the lack of knowledge of how to properly body check. The athletes are creating the increase of risk merely because they do not know how to properly give a check.

There are many ways to prevent concussion injuries in youth ice hockey players. The most obvious form of prevention is a proper fitting helmet. This helmet is critical piece of equipment that protects the head from any and all impacts. Another form of concussion prevention would be education of the game of ice hockey. It has been shown that with the increase of knowledge and skill of the game there is a decrease in the concussions prevalence. Another important technique would be proper form of body checking. If the athletes are able to safely perform a body check then the athlete will be less likely to injury the other player or themselves. Lastly to decrease the risk of concussions it is imperative for the athletes to learn how to properly take a hit or body check. With the knowledge of how to take the hit the athlete will keep the athlete in a safe position that they will be comfortable enough with this play.

Ice hockey ranks among one of the highest of all sports for concussions and it is our job at Finish First Sports Performance to educate the coaches, parents and athletes on this topic. If you or anyone you may know has any additional questions or concerns pertaining to concussions to visit or Call Emily or Jeremy at 412-787-5070.

Is Tea One of Your Performance Fluids?

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

Recently, I was invited to attend a breakfast sponsored by the Lipton Institute of Tea and heard their perspective and interpretation on the benefits of tea consumption. While many people have heard somewhere that drinking tea is beneficial, not everyone understands why. It is first important to understand that there are multiple reported “benefits” to drinking tea. A few of those benefits are (but not limited to): the improvement of alertness and focus, antioxidant benefits, its role in immunity and recently its role in protecting against cancer. To understand how research has emerged to the point of suggesting a performance benefit, let’s start from the beginning.

Here are the claims:
1.) “Drinking tea may help maintain focus”
2.) “Drinking tea may improve alertness throughout the day”

So you’ve heard of tea!

Research has shown that drinking one to two cups of tea has a positive effect on maintaining alertness throughout the day (1). Since tea naturally contain caffeine (and caffeine’s effects have already been reported to affect alertness, mood and cognitive performance), it was originally thought to be the caffeine effect that produced the results. So, studies compared tea with a beverage that contained the exact amount of caffeine to identify if the two beverages would produce similar results. What they found is that the tea, but not the control, improved alertness and had other benefits. So that got them thinking, if it’s not the caffeine, than what is it?

But, you may not have heard of L-theanine?

This led to the investigation into the amino acid l-theanine. Rarely found in nature, l-theanine is found in black tea and to a slightly lesser extent in green tea and oolong tea (the three tea types). Though first identified in 1999 as producing a relaxed yet alert response (2), it was two more recent studies conducted in the UK that showed 50 mg of L-theanine (the amount found naturally in three cups of tea) stimulates alpha brain wave activity (3-4). One study investigated the effect of L-theanine on brainwave activity at rest (3) while the other used a naturalistic setting (4). The latter study showed that 50 mg L-theanine increases alpha activity gradually over time with effects seen after 80 minutes of ingestion (4). Still more recent research has looked at its relationship to the ability to focus attention on task. Currently, it appears that L-theanine “may” increase the ability to concentrate and focus on tasks (5).

In 2008, Haskell, et al studied the effects of the brain wave changes using direct cognitive measurements (6). One of the measurements was an investigation into rapid visual information processing. The results showed an improvement when the subjects consumed the beverage containing the caffeine/L-theanine combination. Another measurement, digit vigilance reaction time showed no improvement with the consumption of the combined caffeine/L-theanine tea (6). Therefore, we can conclude that while some cognitive benefits have been found, others have not.

What this means for performance?

Though studies have identified a correlation between drinking tea and positive brain wave frequency bands, further research should be done to identify the benefits of drinking an appropriate portion (2-3 cups) of tea/day and actual improved physical performance. As an athlete, you can appreciate the benefit of having improvements in memory, attention and/or focus and how that might carry over to improving your game. Further, looking at the immune boosting affects of tea, there is certainly a benefit to optimizing the immune system so that you are in tip top shape on competition day.

Bottom line

Unless you have intolerance to caffeine, drinking tea appears to be safe. If you feel more focused, relaxed and in a better mood all together after the consumption of tea, it may be a realistic way to improve attention and focus in your day.


1 .Hindmarch l, et al. The effects of Black Tea and Other Beverages on Aspects of Cognition and Psychomotor Performance. Psychopharmacology 1998 139;230-238.

2. Juneja LR , et al. L-theanine, A unique amino acid of Green tea and Its Relaxation Effects in Humans. Trends Food Sci Tech 1999 10:199-204.

3. Nobre AC et al Modulation of Brain Activity by Theanine.(2). 2005 Internal Unilever Report.

4. Nobre AC. Effects of Theanine (50 mg) on Alpha Activity in a Naturalistic Setting. 2005 Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford University.

5. Gomez-Ramirez A et al. Effects of L-theanine on the Deployment of Intersensory Selective Attention; A High-density Electrical Mapping Study. Accepted publication, Neuropharmacology 2006.

6. Haskell, Crystal A, Kennedy David O, et al. The Effects of L-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood. Biological Psychology 77(2008)113-122.

Motivational Quotes

"Don't hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting, but never hit soft."
-- Theodore Roosevelt

"What the lion cannot manage to do the fox can."
-- German Proverb

"When I've heard all I need to make a decision, I don't take a vote. I make a decision."
-- Ronald Reagan

"If winning isn't important, why keep score?"
-- Star Trek: The Next Generation

Brand Name Logo Apparel, Just in Time for the Holidays!

Need some ideas for your Holiday shopping?

Looking for a nice hat, jacket, golf shirt, dry fit workout gear, hoodies, or other apparel?

In the next 2 weeks, the Finish First Sports Performance apparel store will be 100% live, and offering different style logos on brand name items.

Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Dickies, Carhartt, Patagonia, Champion, Hanes, New Era, Columbia Sportswear,Izod, Jerzees, Ping, Russell...

And many more brand name items!

Keep checking back to the main website (, and click on the "Apparel" tab across the top.

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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