Mental Preparation for Competition

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While race day or game day itself is often exciting, unpredictable and public, the training that prepares us for the big day can be anything but. The grueling, tedious and monotonous nature of preparation, typically done away from public view, can make sticking with a training program difficult. In this article, we consider the mental challenges of adherence and tips to get through training as well as the big race or game.

What hinders lots of athletes, whether recreational or highly competitive as they prepare for competition is the repetitiveness of training. Running the same routes and performing the same drills every day, after a while, can strip us of our motivation to continue. While repetition is key to mastery of a skill, new trails, new routes, or new routines can be the ticket when the excitement of training begins to dwindle. An older man approaching the 50th wedding anniversary with his wife recently shared to me his secret to marital success: “Keep her guessing. Keep her on her toes.

One day, return home from work with a rose, or a nice shirt, or a piece of jewelry or a loving embrace. Never fall into a long-term routine. The possibility of surprise fortifies the relationship and keeps it lasting.” The human body and mind both respond favorably to variation; life requires some change to keep someone alert, fresh and interested. Surprising your muscles and your mind with change prevents you from simply going through the motions and brings more mindfulness to the movements of the training. Examples include:

– running stairs instead of hills
– playing pick-up basketball instead of your regular agility training
– working on less familiar or less practiced parts of your game
– testing out kettlebells rather than the usual dumbbells at the gym

Mixing it up can be in response to a lull in motivation (“I’m getting bored, it’s time for a change”) or as a way to eliminate the possibility of the lull setting in. Find what works for you.

We tend to forget that there is a way to enhance training for competition without having to physically move our bodies. When a scene is imagined vividly and accurately, our brains essentially get tricked into believing we’re doing it for real, since physical and mental rehearsal alike activate very similar parts of the brain. Not only is it helpful to create pictures of success in our mind (i.e., watching ourselves kicking the game-winning field goal, or crossing the finish line in record time), but it’s just as important to picture overcoming the obstacles that may get in the way of success. Examples include:

– imagining how you will adjust your race strategy to torrential rain on the big day
– seeing yourself letting go of a poor golf hole and sticking with your normal routines on the next hole, rather than rushing and making impulsive decisions as you may usually do
– picturing playing intense and focused defense after missing a clutch free throw on offense

Remember, you never want to arrive anywhere on the course or field where you haven’t already been for at least a few moments in your mind.

Return to Play After Spinal Fusion

Dr. Frank Phillips, co-director of the MOR Minimally Invasive Spine Institute, conductedgolf-spine a study on return to play after spinal fusion that was recently published in SportsHealth.  Dr. Phillips found that more than 50 percent of golfers return to play within one year of lumbar fusion surgery and some were even sooner. In general, most golfers returned to preoperative levels of performance (handicap) and frequency of play.

Read Full Study

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Transition to Autumn Golf; Chicago Sports Summit; Tips for Marathon Runners

Episode 16.29 with Hosts Steve Kashul and Dr. Brian Cole. Broadcasting on ESPN Chicago 1000 WMVP-AM Radio, Saturdays from 8:30 to 9:00 AM/c.

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Segment One: James Standhardt, Certified Personal Coach from GolfTEC talks withstandhardt Dr. Cole and Steve about transition to the autumn golf season, improving your game through consistency and the GolfTEC Advantage. James has taught for more than 12 years and has given over 17,000 lessons with GolfTEC. Five time “Outstanding Achievement in Instruction” winner.

Integrating Technique, Equipment and Conditioning Through Technology

For golfers who are serious about golf instruction and improving their games, or getting started correctly, GolfTEC provides an unmatched experience and consistent results.

Giving millions of golf lessons to thousands of golfers of every ability confirms our belief in a comprehensive approach to game improvement. We know that an on-going Game Plan will build your golf skills faster and provide more lasting results than an occasional golf lesson.

At GolfTEC you’ll have your own Certified Personal Coach who knows your golf game and is passionate about seeing it improve. We have developed the Five Factors needed for maximum improvement. When incorporated into your Game Plan, they lead to a swing you can depend on again and again.


Segment Two: Dr. Cole talks with Steve about the great success of the Chicago Sports Summit held on October 5th in which Dr. Cole as one of the emcees, shared the sports-summitspotlight with some of the biggest names in Chicago sports and heard from insiders about the business of Chicago sports. Content from the event will be posted soon at chicagosportssummit.com.


Segment Three: Dorothy Cohee from Athletico talks with Dr. Cole about the Chicago Marathon, runner injuries, training tips and recovery; the advantages of foam rolling.

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Evaluating Pro Athletes Fitness to Play; Limiting Pitch Counts for HS Pitchers; The Importance of Multiplanar Training

Episode 16.19 with Hosts Steve Kashul and Dr. Brian Cole. Broadcasting on ESPN Chicago 1000 WMVP-AM Radio, Saturdays from 8:30 to 9:00 AM/c.

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Segment One: Dr. Cole and Dr. Bush-Joseph compare their experience as head team physician for the Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox respectively, evaluating player fitness to play and potential risk of injury, during the recruiting process. Dr. Bush-Joseph is a graduate of the University of Michigan Medical School in 1983, and is currently a Professor at Rush University Medical Center and the Associate Director of the Rush Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Fellowship Program.

Charles Bush-Joseph, M.D.Dr. Bush-Joseph is a respected educator of medical students, residents, fellows, and practicing orthopedic surgeons lecturing at numerous national educational meetings. He serves on the editorial board of several national orthopedic journals (including the prestigious American Journal of Sports Medicine) and holds committee responsibilities with several national orthopedic societies including the American Academy of Orthopaedics Surgeons and the American Orthopaedic Society Sports Medicine.


Segment Two: Steve and Dr. Cole talk about the recent change in regulations to limit pitch counts for high school baseball pitchers; the importance of cross training, rest and core strength training in preseason workouts to help minimize the risk of shoulder and elbow overuse injuries and young players; how these injuries and surgeries at the high school level can prevent players from progressing to higher levels of play.

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Segment Three:  Chris Garcia  from ATIPT talks about the Importance of Multiplanar Training.

The activities of running, swimming, and to a lesser extent, cycling all require someThe Importance of Multiplanar Training amount of movement and control in all three dimensions. Despite this, many cross training programs don’t include exercises that involve all three dimensions. For instance, many running programs focus on the sagittal plane (squats, lunges, leg press, and calf raises) and neglect the transverse (side to side) and frontal (rotational) planes.

Most natural human movement is executed in all three dimensions. These three dimensions, or planes of movement, are sagittal, frontal, and transverse. The sagittal plane is forward and backwards movement such as the leg movement with walking. The frontal plane is sideways movement such as jumping jacks. The transverse plane is rotational movement such as rotating your hip or shoulder during a throwing motion.

With running the primary movement occurs in the sagittal plane but one needs to be able to stabilize in the frontal and transverse plane in order to be efficient, powerful, and sustainable. Many of the injuries seen with running are related to too much movement in the frontal or transverse plane. Over pronation, inward collapse of the knee, or an opposite side hip drop are all problems of control in either the frontal or transverse plane.

Biking has its own challenges with lower extremity movement in the sagittal plane but stability needing to come from the upper body by controlling twisting and side bending forces. Many injuries are related to poor fit or alignment of the bike components but many others are related to the mismatch in lower extremity force production and stability of the torso.

Swimming (freestyle) requires sagittal plane lower extremity movement, transverse plane spinal movement/stability, and tri-planar movement of the upper extremities. Many repetitive strain injuries are related to poor stability or control of movement in the lower back and scapula area or a lack of mobility of the upper back or shoulder.

Improving strength and power output through resistance training can improve performance in all of these sports but neglecting the frontal and transverse plane is a common mistake that can actually increase ones risk of injury. Below are several options for developing strength and control in the frontal and transverse planes.

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