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Do you know the 3 things required for success?--->, FF Insider#85
February 16, 2010
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.

Successful Athletes Use a Roadmap

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

If you’re a sports enthusiast, then you are most likely tuned in to the exciting events taking place in Vancouver right now. Yes, I’m talking about the Winter Olympics--Hundreds of athletes that have been training intensely for the last 4 years to showcase their talent in a few short events—4 years of training for once chance to raise the flag of their country and parade around as champion. Wow, now that’s a great example of sacrifice, commitment, dedication, hard-work, vision, focus, pride, honor, respect, and talent. Yes, I know that not all Olympic athletes have been on an Olympic team for all 4 years, but in my studies of the Olympic sports history, I don’t recall any athletes that had not been intensely training leading up to their acceptance onto one of the teams. Remember, the true Olympians are the athletes that compete in their events for the pride of the country, their pride, and the pride of their family. Most of them do not get paid remotely close to what even our lowest paid professional athletes in America get paid, yet they still make the sacrifices and put it all on the line…just for chance to win the Gold. Again, this is another great example of passion, desire, and determination towards a goal.

In 2000, I was fortunate enough to be offered a position to work directly with the head strength and conditioning coach at the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center, Mr. Kevin Ebel, in the capacity of an intern strength coach. Since there were only two of us coaching in the facility, the experience was very hands-on, and I had the opportunity to work with many Olympians that are still competing now, and ones that you will most likely see on your TV over the next few weeks, such as speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno, and luger Mark Grimmette. I’m not telling you this for credibility purposes, but to express that I’ve experienced the Olympic values, the Olympic environment, and the Olympic atmosphere, and I want you to know that there is nothing like it in the world—especially the winter Olympics, and more specifically, the winter Olympians. I have always been impressed that these are athletes that are most definitely not doing what they do for the financial reward—because there really isn’t any! I highly recommend that if you haven’t been checking out any of the 2010 Winter Olympics, that you begin today and hopefully you will have a new appreciation each event.

Ok, now back to the main point of the article. So, how do you think these athletes, or any successful athletes, or any successful people got to where they are today? The answer is simple. They each possessed a strong desire to succeed or to achieve a specific goal. As Napoleon Hill states “the starting point of all achievement is desire.” An athlete without the desire to succeed will never achieve success. World re-known sports psychologist Dr. Denis Waitley believes that for an athlete to become successful, they must possess the desire to do so within his/her own self. Motivation is a product of desire, and no matter how much a coach tries to motivate an athlete, without desire nothing great will be accomplished, and more importantly, nothing great will ever be sustained. Dr. Waitley in his over 30 years in the sports psychology industry and experience with professional and Olympic athletes has determined that it is not a coach’s job to motivate, but rather to find the desire within each athlete and allow each to find his/her own motivation. The role of the coach is to provide the knowledge and plan to help each athlete achieve success.

The second key to becoming successful as an athlete is either obtaining the knowledge or finding someone who has the knowledge to help you on your journey. Take, for example, an athlete who wants to play in the NHL. Obviously he will need to learn a lot about hockey, including skating, stickhandling, and systems. Additionally, he will need to be strong, powerful, and conditioned for the game. As a young hockey player, it wouldn’t be possible to obtain all the knowledge by himself, so he must seek out coaches that can provide these for him. But, remember, without desire, the hard work and sacrifices will never happen.

And, lastly, the third key to becoming successful as an athlete is to plan, or lay out a road map for the journey. This is similar to what happened in the last paragraph. We took a generic look at what was needed to play in the NHL, and began to list some of these items. In order to achieve the NHL goal, a more specific list would need to be made, with a timeline, goals along the way, and coaches and contacts to make it all happen. If, at any point, it seems like progress is stopped, then the plan, the knowledge, or the desire would need to be re-analyzed, and any of those three items may need to be tweaked to get back on the right track towards the goal.

So, there you have it. The three keys to athletic success (or success in any endeavor) are:

1. Desire

2. Knowledge

3. Plan (RoadMap)

Dr. John Berardi, sports dietitian, uses these three keys in helping athletes optimize their diet for performance enhancement. Dr. Berardi believes that many athletes are capable of getting the knowledge and road map needed to eat correctly to maximize their training and achieve athletic success.

In the world of strength and conditioning (performance enhancement training), we use these three keys to produce great results. We help athlete’s find the desire within (if they have the desire), we stay educated by reading the latest peer-reviewed scientific research in the sports performance industry, and we design programs and work with sports coaches to lay out a road map for athletic success. For more information or comments about this article, or Dr. Berardi’s programs, please complete the form on the Contact Us Page of our website.

Volleyball Performance Training

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

Volleyball is a game of quick, fast-paced action, typically played on an indoor hardwood court that has 6 players moving athletically within a pretty tight space on each side of the net. A volleyball player has to be able to be quick and agile to get to the ball in merely seconds to prevent it from hitting the ground. Then they need to have the ability to be explosive enough to jump to either set, block, fake, or spike the ball to score on the opponent.

During a match point every single athlete is moving for the same purpose to be able to score on the opposing team. You can do this in two ways either by being faster and stronger or by being faster, stronger and smarter than the opposing team. The game of volleyball is a short distance sprint sport. You have to be quick enough to get to a ball that is flying over the net onto your side of the court at high speeds, and then quickly set yourself to jump as high as you can and hit the ball while it is in mid-air. Volleyball players must be able to act and react. They must possess explosive power, great hand-eye coordination, reactive speed and strength, plus have quick feet and power endurance to repeatedly produce explosive movements during the game (match).

So, it is no wonder that it is essential for volleyball players to participate in specific performance training. Following an individualized performance program is paramount to an athlete’s success. Not only has it been shown to reduce the risk of getting injured, but it has also been shown to help players be quick/agile to get to the ball, strong/explosive with their jumps, and to hit the ball with high amounts of force.

So, if you are not currently using an individualized performance training program, then you need to ask yourself “why not?” Why wouldn’t you want to increase your vertical jump to be able to jump above the net to block the opposing team’s balls? Why wouldn’t you want to have the strength, power, and endurance to repeatedly jump with maximum output without fatiguing?

These are all great reasons why it is important for volleyball players of all skill and age to participate in regular performance training. If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding volleyball specific performance training visit or please call Emily or Jeremy at 412-787-5070.

Does Supplementing the Diet with Branched Chain Amino Acid (BCAA) Supplements Improve Exercise Performance?

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

The branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), leucine, isoleucine and valine, are among the nine essential amino acids. Unlike the other essential amino acids that are catabolized mainly in the liver, BCAA’s are oxidized in skeletal muscle. They account for more than 35% of the essential amino acids in muscle proteins. It is well accepted that exercise greatly increases energy expenditure and promotes the oxidation of BCAA’s. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that supplementing with BCAA will increase availability. The question is, does that lead to an improved exercise performance?

A review of a few websites allowed me to evaluate and review the claims made by supplement manufacturers on the marketing of BCAA’s. According to my three sources, BCAA’s can: *decrease mental fatigue, *maintain muscle tissue, *prevent muscle breakdown and promote protein synthesis, *be used as a fuel for energy, *support lean muscle mass growth and *improve exercise performance (1-3). I am not anti-supplement; I am however, pro-fact! In order to keep this article to a reasonable size, I am going to choose one of the claims. I will discuss the physiological rationale behind the claim then I will discuss the research that either supports or disproves the claim.

The claim Decrease mental fatigue therefore improving exercise performance.

The Rationale The central fatigue theory or hypothesis, proposed in 1987 by Blomstrand, et al, suggests that oral ingestion of BCAA would reduce central fatigue and would enable athletes to maintain a higher pace during prolonged competitive exercise (4). This rationale predicts that during exercise, free fatty acids are mobilized from adipose tissue and transported via the blood to muscle to be used as fuel. Because the rate of mobilization is greater than the rate of uptake by muscles, the blood FFA concentration increases. Both FFA and the amino acid tryptophan bind to albumin and compete for the same binding sites. Tryptophan is prevented from binding to albumin by the increased FFA concentration and so fTRP concentrations plus the fTRP:BCAA ratio in the blood rises(4-5). This is confirmed by experimental studies (4-5).

The central fatigue hypothesis predicts that the increase in fTRP:BCAA ratio results in an increase fTRP transport across the blood brain barrier because BCAA and fTRP compete for carrier-medicated entry into the CNS by the large neutral amino acid (LNAA) transporter (4). Once taken up, the conversion of serotonin occurs and leads to a local increase in this neurotransmitter (4). Because serotonin plays a role in the onset of sleep and is a determinant of mood and aggression, it MIGHT also lead to central fatigue. This hypothesis also predicts the ingestion of BCAA’s will raise the BCAA concentration and hence reduce fTRP transport into the brain. This reduction in fTRP and increase in BCAA will reduce the formation of serotonin and alleviate fatigue, in turn improving performance (4).

With that said, the rationale is very clear for why this may improve exercise performance. Now let’s look at what the research shows.

The research Most questions that I receive regarding the branched chains are from body builders, track and field athletes and other strength trained athletes. However, most of the research in this area is studied in endurance activities. Therefore, the only conclusion’s that can be drawn from the (limited) research that is available (looking at exercise performance) is in regards to endurance activities. Because the majority of athletes want to know “how much” and “when” to take supplements, I focused my review on these two factors. This review included six studies on BCAA that are relatively comparable in methodology and design. Blomstrand, et al, gave 90 mg/kg body wt (average intake 6.7 g of BCAA) to subjects 15 minutes before exercise and every 15 minutes during exercise via a 150-200 ml BCAA solution. No difference in physical performance between the BCAA group and the placebo were identified (7). Another study by Hall, et al, separated his subjects into two groups, a low group (7.8 g of BCAA) and a high group (23.4 g BCAA) (8). He too had subjects ingest the BCAA solution before and during exercise. Neither a positive or negative effect on performance during prolonged cycle ergometer exercise was observed (8). Watson, et al gave 12 grams of BCAA solution (total) during rest and 5.4-18 g BCAA during exercise via a BCAA solution (9). Exercise capacity was not influenced by BCAA ingestion (9). Two more studies evaluated both giving BCAA supplementation alone and with carbohydrate solution to evaluate the differences. Both failed to show an exercise performance benefit to supplementing with BCAA (10-11). The ingestion of BCAA seems to cause increased concentration plasma BCAA during exercise and at the moment of exhaustion (4-11). Exercise capacity and/or performance do not appear to be influenced by the supplementation of BCAA (6-11). Although the benefit of BCAA supplements on exercise has been stated in reviews as being inconclusive, the majority of the randomized controlled trials, which are well designed fail to show any performance benefit to the supplement. Of interest, many of the control trials have the subjects taking the BCAA solutions during the activity, which may or may not be realistic for many athletes.

An important component to consider when reviewing the research is the difficulty comparing one study to another. There are other studies available on the use of BCAA; however, many studies include BCAA supplementation with other possible performance enhancement aids (carbohydrate beverages, creatine, glutamine, arginine, etc). Another variable is the comparison between trained athletes and untrained athletes, since it is well understood that well-trained athletes often utilize fuels more effectively than untrained athletes. For the sake of this review, only studies examining BCAA supplementation alone in relation to performance enhancement were used.

In conclusion, it appears clear from research that supplementation with BCAA prior to and during exercise bouts will improve plasma BCAA concentration during and after exercise. This does not however appear to have a performance benefit for athletes. There seems to be a true disconnect between the claims made by the manufacturers of BCAA and supporting research.

Currently, research is being conducted to identify the role of BCAA supplementation in relation to immune function. Lastly, supplemental BCAA, often consumed 5 to 20 g/day in divided doses seems to be safe.





4. Blomstrand, E., F. Celsing, and E.A. Newsholme. Changes in plasma concentrations of aromatic and branch-chain amino acids during sustained exercise in man and their possible role in fatigue. Acta Physiol. Scand. 133:115-121, 1988.

5. Blomstrand, E., P. Hassmen, and E.A. Newsholme. Effect of branched-chain amino acid supplementation on mental performance. Acta Physiol. Scand. 136:473-481, 1991.

6. Blomstrand, E., P. Hassmen, B. Ekblom, and E.A. Newsholme. Administration of branched-chain amino acids during sustained exercise—Effects on performance and on plasma concentration of some amino acids. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 63:83-88, 1991.

7. Blomstrand E. Hassmen P. Ek S. Ekblom B. Newsholme EA. Influence of ingesting a solution of branched-chain amino acids on perceived exertion during exercise. [Clinical Trial. Journal Article. Randomized Controlled Trial. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't] Acta Physiologica Scandinavica. 159(1):41-9, 1997 Jan.

8. G.van Hall. Ingestion of branched-chain amino acids and tryptophan during sustained exercise in man: failure to affect performance. Journal of Physiology. 486.3:789-794, 1995.

9. Watson, Phillip, Shirreff’s Susan. The effect of acute branched-chain amino acid supplementation on prolonged exercise capacity in a warm environment. Eur J Applied Physiology. 93: 306-314, 2004 July.

10. Madsen, Klavs, et al, Effects of glucose, glucose plus branched-chain amino acids or placebo on bike performance over 100 km. J Appl Physiol 1996; 81: 2644-50.

11. Davis JM, et al, Effects of Branched-Chain Amino Acids and Carbohydrates on Fatigue during Intermittent, High-Intensity Running. Int J Sports Med 1995; 20: 309-314.

Total Performance Training for Youth and High School Ice Hockey Clinic Spring 2010

The coaching staff at Finish First Sports Performance would like to announce the Total Performance Training for Youth and High School Ice Hockey Clinic, Spring 2010. The event is slated to be held on April 24th, at the Finish First Sports Performance world training headquarters (Pittsburgh, PA, USA). The details about the event are below, and are not set in stone, yet. These details will be finalized in the next 2-3 weeks, including price, time of day, and speakers/clinicians. Space is extremely limited, so if you are interested in attending, please let us know.

Some of the topics to be covered:

• Learn how to correctly prepare during the off-season

• Information specific to hockey players ages 8-18 (age appropriate training)

• Specific evaluations/assessments for detecting imbalances and weaknesses, including self-evaluations and assessments

• Dietary strategies for gaining weight, losing weight,or maintaining weight

• Training for power, speed, strength

• Plyometrics for ice hockey

• Conditioning for ice hockey (bikes vs running vs skating vs slideboard)

• Flexibility for ice hockey (static vs dynamic, when, why, band, partner, etc)

• Exercises for a harder, more accurate shot

• Goalie specific exercises on the slideboard

• Dynamic Vision Training Exercises (track the puck better)

• Samples of how to properly train to get ready for the next season (sample programs)

• Learn about proper nutrition, sleep, performance training, skating, stick-handling, mental focus, leadership, athletic development, etc.

Plus Hands-on demonstrations and experience

This is a must see clinic, and remember--space is extremely limited...we most likely will only have room for 20 people to attend.

If you are a parent or coach looking for the 'How-to's' of off-ice hockey training, then this is the clinic for you!

Youngstown Phantoms USHL Team

Finish First Sports Performance is pleased to announce that we are now the official training provider for the Youngstown Phantoms USHL team. We are looking forward to helping more high quality hockey players develop and work towards achieving their goals. To show your support, please check out the Youngstown Phantoms website, check their schedule, and attend a game!

Youngstown Phantoms

RMU Men's NCAA Division 1 Hockey Team

As many of you have noticed, the RMU Men's NCAA Division 1 Hockey team upset the number #1 ranked University of Miami (Ohio) hockey team a few weeks ago. The RMU men have been able to carry that momentum forward and are improving their play as the playoff/post season draws near. Please show your support for our only local NCAA Division 1 Men's hockey team by attending their upcoming home games--and get a chance to see firsthand what all the buzz is about!

You can see their schedule by visiting the RMU Men's Ice Hockey Team Site.

Finish First Sports Performance is the official training provider for the RMU Men's NCAA Division 1 Hockey Team.

Coming Soon!!!--Sold out!

Beginning in mid-February (exact dates yet to be determined), Finish First Sports Performance will be offering exclusive customized adult group fitness training for up to 6 participants. The class participants will be exercising 2 days each week as a group, although each client will have his/her own customized program. The exercise sessions will be an hour in length and programming will address the needs and goals of each client. Additionally, nutritional information will be provided to educate each client on making the necessary dietary changes to create healthier lifestyle habits. This is a highly specialized class and each participant will receive the attention needed to reach their goals. This program is the same program we use to produce unmatched results in our pageant/fitness contestants.

There has been a lot of interest in this program, and many requests have already been made.


This class will sell-out quickly. If you have questions, contact us to get them answered.

Motivational Quotes

"There are three ingredients in the good life: learning, earning and yearning."
-- Christopher Morley

"It is easy to get to the top after you get through the crowd at the bottom."
-- Zig Ziglar

"Everybody's a self-made man; but only the successful ones are ever willing to admit it."
-- Anonymous

"Success comes before work only in the dictionary."
-- Anonymous

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

For Finish First Insider backissues #1 - 29, click here

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