New Machines Aim to Reduce Injuries, Respond to Growing Concerns about Concussion

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Sophomore Hannah Combs, front, and senior Ashley Warden work out on new machines designed to increase neck strength Ashley Warden, front, a softball player, works out along with Faith Swieringa, left, and Hannah Combs

Kenowa Hills Public Schools, MI — Kenowa Hills sophomore Faith Swieringa carries a fingernail-size scar above her right eye. Lacrosse? Nope, cheerleading. She got it from being accidentally whacked during Homecoming week, requiring eight stitches. She’s sustained two concussions in competitive cheer, where blows from elbows, falls to the ground and knocks against other heads are not uncommon.

“With stunting (routines), we get hit in the head a lot,” Faith said during a recent workout in the Kenowa Hills High School weight room. “It’s a mess.”

She is hoping to reduce her chances of future concussions, thanks to neck-strengthening machines recently installed in her school. The school district and two community groups purchased four machines aimed at reducing the likelihood and severity of concussions among student athletes — and all other students who use them…Keep Reading >>>

New Machines Aim to Reduce Injuries, Respond to Growing Concerns about Concussion



Why We Do What We Do

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This one showed up in my inbox recently from a long-time reader:

John –
I’m a retired football coach, wrestling coach, and athletic director. During my time (1967 – 2010) I urged all my athletes to work on increasing the size and strength of their necks.I had our industrial arts teacher alter football helmets so we could attach weights to them and do various exercises in the early 70′s, we had neck harnesses, neck machines (nautilus 4-way neck was one of the best, in my opinion.)

We also did neck isometrics and partner assisted neck exercises and various bridging exercises. All of this served us well. During season we did neck work at the end of practice, so we wouldn’t tire our athlete’s necks out and open them up to possible injury.

In the off season we liked our athletes to prioritize neck work and did it at the beginning of our workouts. I’m telling you this, because during this time it was very difficult to find any guides, information or research on developing the neck to help prevent possible injuries.

Even today many coaches, and programs just include neck work as an after thought. Michigan State and the Houston Oilers are two programs, that I’m aware of, that go about it the right way. May I suggest, that perhaps you might want to come up with a comprehensive guide or course on neck development, that could include such things as various exercises, sets, reps ,days per week, and in and out of season programs etc.

I think it would be a wonderful contribution to the strength and conditioning field ,as well as elementary, junior and senior high school programs.

Alex Aturnamian
Waretown, New Jersey



Thanks Alex, truly outstanding stuff. You showed more initiative as an individual than hundreds of other folks in similar positions.

Even if you weren’t exactly sure *what* to do, there was at least a tension to do something to build neck strength — and, as it tured out, you did quite a bit — and you should be congratulated for it.

When it all comes down to it, an emphasis on neck training is a part of making the game of football safer and being a responsible coach, no different in many respects than making sure chin straps are buckled and shoe laces are tied.

All of your athletes benefited greatly from the actions you took.

There ARE programs out there doing a very good job in this capacity, but not nearly enough.

Many coaches want to get started but aren’t sure where to begin, which is a big reason why we have been holding our strength clinic each year.

Techniques for building strength in the head, neck and jaw are covered in detail and at length… coaches from all over the country come to present and share their programs… the equipment they use… the sets and reps they implement… how they coach their athletes to go through a workout  … how to train the neck with and without equipment… and everything else we can think of. Saying “I didn’t know what to do” will no longer be an excuse.

As I have discussed before, “physical development” is one of the most effective methods for addressing potential concussion issues. Increasing the structural durability of impact zones will go a long way in dissipating the forces that a player encounters in the game of football, which, in turn, will decrease the potential likelihood and severity of concussions.

It is estimated that if neck training took place to the degree that it should, that the number of reported concussions could be reduced by half.

We’re talking a reduction of six figures here — that’s a LOT of athletes — so whatever time, effort, and cost involved in neck training is more than worth the benefits. …and as it turns out, the cost is actual pretty minimal, but is still has to be done, and done in a manner that brings results, not just to say you did it, or what might commonly be called “lip service.”

Our major goal o pass on every possible bit of information to coaches, players, athletic directors and parents who are searching for information in this capacity so that when someone asks “have you done everything you possibly can to make the game safer for my son?” — the answer can be yes.

Train hard,
John Wood

P.S. Here’s that link for our summer clinic one more time, if you can make it, fantastic!, but if you otherwise know someone who should be informed of this info, please pass the word on: FOOTBALL STRENGTH 2014



Guess Who

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We had MANY guesses, with the most popular being “Kim Wood” (c’mon people, that would be waaay too easy.) Pops did play back in the day, but not before face masks.)

This is actually Burt Reynolds — yes, The Bandit himself — back when he was a star halfback for Florida State University. Golf claps to our good friend Jerome Learman who sent in the correct answer.

P.S.
Get your clinic tickets right here



University of Michigan Football Strength Clinic

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Over 180 coaches attended the 2013 Michigan Football Strength and Conditioning clinic, and this spring the staff will be hosting their second annual clinic on Saturday, April 12th in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The cost per person is $50 for online registration, $60 for walk-ups. Speakers will include experts in the industry and vendors from across the nation.

Date: April 12th, 2014

Location: Schembechler Hall, Ann Arbor, Michigan

For more clinic information, lineup of speakers and to purchase your tickets, please click here: http://www.strength.umich.edu/



The Speed Bull Rush with James Harrison

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The “Bull Rush” is a simple move that every high school player in the country knows… the interesting angle that Mr. Harrison provides in this short clip (and that I don’t believe I have ever seen coached) is the plant and “turn” on the third or fifth step.  Hand placement could be a little better, but otherwise, this tip has interesting possibilities…