It was only thirty minutes, but to these young athletes it was a moment that will last a lifetime.
In the first ever “Unified Match,” a Special Olympics soccer match was held between Special Olympics (Pa.) and a collective that represented Special Olympics (D.C.) following the Sept. 27 match between the Union and bitter rival D.C. United.
Both Special Olympics teams also doubly represented their respective club teams, so when the two sides took to the field at RFK Stadium, it was the first game in what could soon become a rivalry itself.
In this one, it was the Union that celebrated a 2-1 comeback victory over United in a match that is the first of what has the makings of becoming an annual classic. In fact, plans are already in place to have PPL Park as the host turf for the second installment next season.
“This was beyond anything that I can imagine for these kids,” said Nastassja Falterbauer, a special education teacher at Martin Luther King High School, who acted as head coach. “They are so excited, I am beyond proud of them and so excited that their hard work paid off and they are going home as winners. For the Union and D.C. United to give these kids a chance to experience this I know is something they’ll talk about for years.”
Falterbauer’s sentiments were echoed by Special Olympics (Pa.) athlete Herbie Rider, who scored the game winner to ensure the Union would seize the inaugural victory.
“It feels good, really great, Rider said. “I am happy that we did this…I will remember this moment every day. This was the best.”
— Mandy N. Murphy (@mandynmurphy) September 27, 2014
Just another one of the many ways the Philadelphia Union Foundation strives to enrich its surrounding community and grow its footprint in the Greater Philadelphia region.
“The relationship that has been developed these past six months between MLS Works, Special Olympics (D.C.), Special Olympics (Pa.), D.C. United and Philadelphia Union has truly been a lesson in camaraderie and single mindedness of purpose,” Rick Jacobs, executive director of the Philadelphia Union Foundation, said.
— SpecialOlympicsPhila (@SOPAPhilly) October 2, 2014
For more information about Special Olympics Pennsylvania, visit: http://www.specialolympicspa.org/
And for information on how you can help support the Philadelphia Union Foundation, visit: philadelphiaunion.com/foundation
When it comes to training, people like to debate about what is the best way to increase an athlete’s power and explosiveness. Some people believe Olympic lifting is the best tool to increase an athlete’s power output. Others believe CrossFit or kettlebell training are the most effective way at increasing an athlete’s power. We can argue this point all day long and the reality is I don’t believe that there is one single way to increase your power. However, I do believe that there is a very effective tool for athletes to use when it comes to increasing power output and that tool is a medicine ball.
Most coaches know that in order to increase power a lot of factors must go into the equation. Here are just a few of the things that we need to do in order to increase power output:
- Increase your force into the ground.
- Increase total body strength.
- Increase the speed of movement.
- Ensure proper alignment while we train.
- Focus on ways to properly decelerate our body.
- Maintain proper breathing patterns.
- The ability to stabilize under load.
As much as I like Olympic lifting and kettlebell training, I believe the best tool for teaching power output at the beginning of a training program is to use a medicine ball. A few reasons why I prefer to use a medicine ball at the beginning of an athlete’s training program are:
- For most people throwing an object comes natural.
- It’s fun. People like to throw things and this gives them the license to throw an object as hard as possible once they have good form.
- It’s safe. Instead of lifting a weight over your head with the fear of dropping it on your head a medicine ball is a great tool to teach the mechanics of several more advanced lifts.
- You can take the medicine ball anywhere and train on your own.
- With this one tool I can work on speed, power, deceleration, change of direction, endurance, proprioception and mobility.
These are just a few examples of why I like to use medicine balls in a training program. The reality is a number of elite athlete’s use these in their everyday training program. As I stated above, I use this at the beginning of a training program with new athletes, however, elite athletes use these daily for incredible results.
When it comes to training with medicine balls there are so many exercises to choose from. You are only limited by your imagination. Below are five exercise video clips that I have put together for you to review. As always ensure that you use proper form and start slow. If you have any pain (shoulder, back, etc.) back off of these exercises and consult with a medical professional.
Regardless of your sport medicine ball training is a fantastic way to increase your power. Athletes from every sport can benefit from the rotational power as well as well the increase in aerobic output that they will see from this type of training. If you have kids this is a great way to slowly introduce them to the world of training. I guarantee that if you start slow and use a very light medicine ball kids will enjoy this type of training. Adults, if you are looking to drop a few pounds or increase your running speed implement medicine ball training into your routine.
Have a question for Union strength coach Kevin Miller? Leave it in the comments below.