Life wasn’t always easy for Raymon Gaddis and Andre Blake.
Professional soccer has always been a dream but getting here was half the battle.
Gaddis and Blake were born worlds apart, one hails from a small town in Jamaica while the other calls the American Midwest home. From the outside these may seem like opposite ends of the residential spectrum but dreams manifest themselves no matter the circumstances. But for these two being a professional soccer player was the only occupation they believed in.
As both players find themselves productive members of an American professional soccer team it would be understandable for them to think their jobs were done but this could not be further from the truth.
This sense of responsibility led both players to the Boys and Girls Club of Delaware on an overcast Wednesday evening to share their stories with a group of young Wilmington, Delaware children whose circumstances bear a striking resemblance to the player’s upbringing.
“Everyday that I play for the Philadelphia Union I don’t take it for granted and I feel a sense of responsibility to the community because I made it out of my circumstances,” Gaddis said during a recent interview
Most of the children in the crowd were members of Mike’s TEAM a mentoring program where volunteers from the surrounding area come once a week for an hour session where the volunteer helps a child with homework, academic practices, and life-skills. Many of the children come from low-income families and Mike’s TEAM provides them with a positive environment where they can focus on achieving their goals.
The organization has a three-fold mission statement that promotes the self-worth of youth, enables youths to make positive life choices, and finally strives to improve their lives, and communities.
A place like this oozes positivity, but reinforcement from those that have lived that life is what can make all the difference for these aspiring young minds.
Enter Raymon Gaddis and Andre Blake.
When Gaddis and Blake arrived at the event many of the children had a vague idea of who the Philadelphia Union were and what the club stands for. Like most young people the minute they heard professional athlete their ears perked up and they became fully invested in what the players had to say.
Andre Blake and the kids of the Wilmington Boys & Girls Club share a laugh during a meet and greet Wednesday
“To see successful, professional athletes and hear stories about the adversity they encountered as young people was very powerful for the Club’s youth. It was moving to see the kids understand that these players faced challenges similar to their own,” said Mike’s TEAM Executive Director Megan Kneisl-Faulkner.
Looking around the at the young, impressionable faces, many sat wide-eyed listening to the two players speak, for the kids it was a moment they won’t soon forget, but the same goes for both players.
“I feel like I can relate so much to these kids, and I hope that my message can stick with them whenever they are going through tough times or facing adversity. They can think back to today and what I have gone through to get here,” said Blake.
The key word from the entire day was adversity, and not simply how to deal with it, but how to overcome it. Both Ray and Andre used the word extensively in their discussions with the kids, because they understand the importance of succeeding through the hard times.
For them success isn’t necessarily all about becoming a professional athlete, it’s also about becoming a good person. Both players made sure to remind the kids that while it may have been their dream to be professional athletes, it’s not only about what you want to be, but the journey you take to get there.
The players stressed that this journey is going to be full of adversity, and sacrifices are going to have to be made. Ray described keeping his “eye on the prize” while some of his closest friends were making the wrong choices he had to remain stalwart in his mission.
Both players admitted it can be hard because often what others are doing around you is more “fun” then extra time in the weight room or a weekend study session, but these are what make you successful.
Success isn’t measured by the car you drive or the house you live in, true success is defined by the person you are, both players know that events like this are where they can truly articulate this message, and why they are so inclined to come to places like the Boys and Girls Club.
Ray and Andre were once the kids they spoke to, they grew up facing challenges on a daily basis that required them to make tough choices, but the right choices.
“My senior year of high school a group of guys that I hung with decided to rob a store, I told them it wasn’t right, and I literally walked the other way,” Gaddis recalled. “A couple of them got caught and I was grateful I chose to turn the other way. That’s a prime example of choices, and I always had ambitions of doing more.”
This type of experience has a profound impact on a human being, you look back in life and value the right choices you made because they are what make you into the person you are today. It’s also experiences like this that make Ray and Andre want to give back to the community.
They have seen people close to them make the wrong choices and let adversity define their lives.
It’s the mission of both players to communicate to all young people they come in contact with how to take that adversity and use it as motivation to do well in life.
A significant California trip where points are vital and a recent Jamaican national team call-up remain the focus of both players but these professional responsibilities don’t take away from the profounder parts of the job description.
“These guys are great! I think the Union is my new favorite team,” said Jaseem, a young Mike’s TEAM participant.
The children of the Boys and Girls Club of Delaware and Mike’s TEAM are the real teammates on this day.
- Written by Philadelphia Union digital media intern Doug Ammon
Last Saturday, the Philadelphia Union honored the family of tri-state soccer legend in Stan Koziol.
Koziol, affectionately known as “Stas” or “Stosh,” passed after a battle with leukemia.
He was 48.
He is survived by his wife Margret and his two children Nicole and Matthew.
Before the match against D.C. United, the Philadelphia Union Foundation presented a check to the Koziol family in the amount of $3,500. However, as a result of our fans and constituents, the Foundation raised an additional $1,500 and reissued a $5,000 check to the family.
A native of Clifton, N.J., Koziol attended Loyola (Md.) University where he was a two-time All American and still holds the program record for assists. Following college, he turned professional where he enjoyed an eight-year career playing in the old American Professional Soccer League (APSL) for the Maryland Bays (1988) and the Boston Bolts (1989-90). He played internationally for the Puerto Rican national team during qualifying for the 1994 FIFA World Cup and had a fantastic indoor career, playing for the Baltimore Blast (1989-90), Hershey Impact (1991-92) and Canton Invaders (1992-93).
Through the many stops of his illustrious career, Koziol made many friends along the way. Philadelphia Union CEO and managing partner Nick Sakiewicz considered Koziol one of his dearest – family even.
“Stas was like family and a dear friend whose tenacity on the soccer pitch followed him off the pitch and throughout his life,” Sakiewicz said. “It has been an honor to compete against him, play with him and, most importantly, to have known him for most of our lives starting with growing up on the streets of northern New Jersey playing soccer. Stas touched so many lives. We will all miss him immensely.”
On behalf of the Philadelphia Union Foundation and the entire Philadelphia Union family, we’d like to thank all those that contributed to support the family of our fallen friend.
A helping hand is sometimes all that is needed.
On Thursday April 10, humanitarians from all over the Philadelphia sports landscape and beyond convened for the first ever Eagles Care Summit.
Representatives from the Philadelphia Union, Eagles, Sixers, Flyers, and over 45 non-profit organizations from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware came together at the Eagles training facility -- the NovaCare Complex, to share best practices used to strengthen community relationships.
Widely considered as a leading provider for the Chester community, the Philadelphia Union had representatives speaking throughout the Care Summit, including Executive Director of the Philadelphia Union Foundation Rick Jacobs and the Union's Director of Communications Aimee Cicero.
“There were opportunities for us and the other professional sports teams to talk about our current work in the community through the Foundation,” said Jacobs. “We were able to listen in on a bunch of 501 (c) (3) and view a presentation on how to build your 501 (c) (3) portfolio. I was really impressed.”
“We subscribe to a belief that there is no offseason to good citizenship,” said Philadelphia Eagles President Don Smolenski. Although there has been noticeable progress made within the surrounding communities, there also is more work to be done.
- To watch a video recap of the Eagles Care Summit, click here.
Philadelphia Eagles Community Relations Director Julie Hirshey added:
“The inspiration for the day was absolutely collaboration. It is no secret that working together by sharing knowledge and experiences, especially in the Delaware Valley region, will produce more of an everlasting impact on the community.
The majority of the Summit breakout sessions featured informative topics including fundraising, social media, board development, special events, marketing, ticket sales, player appearances and donation requests.
“The fact that the Eagles were able to collect two really significant groups that we connect to was a huge success,” said Jacobs.
“One group is the professional sports teams in the city. The ability to exchange ideas, listen to how they do their work each day was really impactful. To be able to meet other non-profits and 501 (c) (3) that want to be able to partner with the professional sports teams and figure out a way to get their message out was a huge success.”
The Eagles Care Summit provided vital information to help improve the already thriving Philadelphia Union Foundation. Since its inception in 2012, the Philadelphia Union Foundation has served as the heart and soul to the youth of Chester and the Greater Philadelphia Region. In 2013 alone, the Foundation has touched the lives of over 2,000 children in Chester. Using soccer as a conduit for change, the Foundation reinforces character values of integrity, effort, accountability and pride.
“Kudos to the Eagles for pulling this off. We were really pleased to participate to give information and be able to get information,” said Jacobs.
With the collaboration of the most successful programs in the Philadelphia region, expect big things coming from the Philadelphia Union Foundation in the upcoming years.
For more information on the Philadelphia Union Foundation and its mission, visit: www.philadelphiaunion.com/foundation
On Thursday April 3, the Philadelphia Union partnered with the Chester Business Association, Chester City's Workforce Development Office, and the Chester Education Foundation to lead mock interviews with students of Chester High School and the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) Academy.
The workshop was designed to help sharpen the interview skills of the graduating senior class and to provide firsthand advice on resume-building and the job application process.
Over 200 students were invited to the Chester High School library to participate in mock interviews and discussions focused on enhancing their competence and comfort while searching for a job. Students sat down with representatives from the Union and other local businesses and were interviewed one-on-one to simulate the actual interview process. The interviews lasted ten minutes, and were immediately followed by a feedback session.
The interviewer worked with the student to highlight areas of strength during the interview as well as aspects where the student could improve or expand on their answers in subsequent interviews. This review period also allowed the students to ask questions of the interviewer related to the interview process and their own career paths.
The day also consisted of a work readiness presentation, where students attended a speech that included advice on how to enhance their marketability. They were able to ask questions about the best way to present themselves during an interview, and to inquire about how to start the job process itself. This was followed by a resume help session, where professionals in the community helped each student create, update, and customize their resumes.
“This is such a valuable opportunity for students and interviewers alike. The students from Chester High School and surrounding schools entered slightly nervous, but very eager to participate,” said Leah Moore, Philadelphia Union's Manager of Business Development and Foundation with the Philadelphia Union. “The interviewers had a few minutes to really simulate the interview process. The segment directly following the mock interview provided students with the opportunity to immediately review their experience and also allowed the interviewers to discuss their reactions. The interview process is challenging, but with a little practice and mentorship, it becomes a lot less daunting. Overall, this program established a platform for growth in the important and challenging professional development arena. ”
The workshop was a resounding success. This was an excellent opportunity for students to prepare themselves for the future, while the volunteers for the Philadelphia Union were able to give back to the Chester community by sharing their experiences and advice.
If you were to walk into any gym you would see people of all shapes and sizes exercising. You may see the guy in the corner finishing up a set of “ABS” and then lifting up his shirt to see if he now has developed a six pack. You may see the business man texting on his phone as he spins aimlessly on a bike. The point that I want to stress is that everyone has their own way of training which is fine but I would like to share with you five habits of successful exercise.
1. Exercise must be mindful
In her book "Deep Nutrition," Dr. Catherine Shanahan, M.D. talks about the benefits of mindful exercise for fat loss. Let me ask you a question, do you have a plan every time you go into the gym or do you just “wing it” and go through the same routine day in and day out? Do you zone out on the bike while watching Judge Judy? Your mind needs to play a key role in your training. Here is one way you can do this. This week either train outside or try something totally new to stimulate a new response for your body.
2. Monitor your progress
If you are a runner do you track your distance? If your goal is fat loss are you tracking your RECOVERY between intervals? My point is you need to monitor your results. For less than $100 you can purchase a very good heart rate monitor. Instead of just saying “I feel better” let's track some numbers to show the real benefits of your hard work. If we start to measure something we can then improve on our results.
3. Have the END in mind
What is your goal? What are you trying to obtain? Is it fat loss your after or is your goal to do ten pull ups? Having the end in mind BEFORE your start is a powerful motivator for people.
4. Everything Matters
Congratulations on having just finished a 45 minute spin class at 6 am. Good for you. However if you go home and eat all processed food, drink energy drinks and caffeine all day and stay up past midnight playing Candy Crush you will see no benefits from the spin class. We all know that sleep, hydration, nutrition and happiness all play a key role in our health but how many of us are giving our bodies what it actually needs. Contrary to what most people think over the course of the day the “little things” really matter in the end.
5. Time Management
We are all pressed for time these days. Some people are fortunate and they may have 60-75 minutes per day to train. Others like me have a smaller window where we need to manage our day to ensure that we get in a training session. When I go to the gym I see so many people wasting time. They may do a set and then for the next three minutes complain about how the sauna is broken again for the third time this month or you have the group of ladies who argue about one person taking "their spin bike."
Give me a break. Next time you train have a plan and get after it. I'm not saying you can't say hello to people but your time is precious. Get in, get out and get on with your day!
Remember you can start to build good healthy habits and monitor your progress you will start to see some nice gains in how you look, feel and perform.
Have a question for Union fitness coach Kevin Miller? Leave a comment below.
With your help, we raised in excess of $120,000 in net proceeds from our 2nd Annual Cocktails and Cleats celebration on March 12th. These contributions will be instrumental in advancing our mission of providing opportunities for children through the power of relationships and transformation.
A change in the areas of: education, community, health and recreation.
Thanks to your support, we will be able to continue to provide these programs and opportunities to the youth of Chester and the Greater Philadelphia Region. Character development, enhanced academic performance and nutritional education remain the focal points of the Foundation’s programming initiatives. Your contributions will serve to ensure that these areas continue to be both impactful and inclusive of the children we serve.
The evening also provided an opportunity to highlight the good work of two friends and soccer partners in our community. We were honored to recognize and celebrate the outstanding achievements of legendary coach and US National Team Player, Pennsylvania’s favorite son, Walter Bahr and Philadelphia’s own Bob Kozlowski; teacher, coach, administrator and loyal volunteer. These two men underscore the idea that, together, we can Be The Change!
Your contribution will allow the Foundation to continue to promote the character values of integrity, effort, accountability and pride. Thanks again for your willingness to change a generation, one relationship at a time.
All of us are pressed for time. Between work, family, social obligations and finding time for ourselves it’s hard to find the time to fit in a good workout. I get asked this question a lot. “How long do I need to train in order to see some benefits”. That is a tough question to answer without knowing the person and having a good understating of their goals as well as their current level of fitness. With that being said, I want to share with you three of my “go to workouts” when I am pressed for time.
Workout No. 1: Hill Repeats
When I think of hill repeats I think of Walter Payton wearing a “Roos” headband crushing hills while other guys are lagging behind sucking wind. Athletes have been running hills for years but it’s that image in my head that motivates me to get out and run up and down a hill. Hill running is a great way to get ready for speed training and harder workouts that will happen down the road. It’s a great way to “strength train” your legs without the weights. Here is one workout you can try. Ideally you would run on a soft surface but if you are unable to find a gradual soft hill you can run these on the street.
Week 1: 5 repeats x 15 seconds (Rest 60 seconds)
Week 2: 6 repeats x 15 seconds (Rest 50 seconds)
Week 3: 7 repeats x 15 seconds (Rest 45 seconds)
Week 4: 8 repeats x 15 seconds (Rest 35 seconds)
Week 5: Omit. No hill running this week.
Note: Start with a gradual hill with a slight incline. If you are a beginner do not go and find the steepest hill in the neighborhood. Find a gradual climb and start with five (5) runs and progress to eight (8) over a four (4) week period. As you get stronger increase the work time until you reach 45-60 seconds.
Workout No. 2: Kettlebell circuit
Just for the record I am "not a kettlebell guy." I am not certified by any organization however, I really enjoy using kettlebells with the athletes and clients that I work with. It’s simply one of the many “tools” that I have in my toolbox to help people obtain the results that they are looking for. I think with the proper coaching they can add tremendous value to your training program. Please note that I would recommend that you work with a qualified coach who can assess/screen you and can teach you the basics of how to use kettlebells. Like all strength training exercises start light and perfect your form before progressing to heavier weight.
Set the timer for 10 minutes and perform the following circuit. Rest as much as you need to in order to maintain good form.
1. Kettlebell swings: five (5) reps
In order to do a proper swing you must learn how to hinge at your hips. The mistake most people make is that they squat instead of hinge. Let your legs do the work and guide the “bell” with your arms.
2. Kettlebell goblet squat: five (5) reps
Hold the kettlebell close to your body and squat as deep as you comfortable can. Push the knees out, keep your chin tucked and stand tall at the finish of the movement. Don’t allow the weight to drift to far from your body.
3. Push ups: ten (10) reps
Maintain a flat back, elbows in and push away at the finish. If you are unable to do a full push up than drop to your knees and perform a modified version.
Rest for 15-30 seconds depending on your fitness level. Repeat for 10 minutes. At the end of ten minutes record the amount of the completed rounds and the weight lifted.
Workout No. 3: Head to the park
If you don’t belong to a gym however you want to challenge yourself head to your local park and give this circuit a try.
- Monkey bar pull ups: 5 reps
- Body Weight squats: 10 reps
- Resistance band 2 hand presses: 5 reps
- Single leg squats to a park bench: 5 reps/side
- Bear crawl for distance (30 yds)
- Rest and repeat for time (10-20 minutes)
If you do this workout people will look at you funny and some people will ask you what you are doing. My response is normally “I am training”. The next question is normally “How are you exercising without any equipment” to which I respond “ I have all the equipment I need at a park. It’s one of the best places to train”.
It goes without saying. Before you do any workouts you need to warm up properly. For some people that may be 5-10 minutes. For others like me I need 10-15 minutes to get moving. The key point to remember is when you are pressed for time there are several ways that you can train. You just need to make health a priority and stop making excuses!
Train hard and train smart!
Union strength and conditioning coach Kevin Miller is also a featured panelist in the Sports Doc blog (link: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/sportsdoc) on Philly.com. For best practices along with additional health and fitness tips, check out: Philly.com/Health
In preparation for a Major League Soccer season, a lot of time and consideration goes into what the players need to play at such a high level each and every week. As fans you see the finished product but as coaches we have to assemble a plan that gives our players the best chance for success. During the preseason we have several things we want to work, some of the key areas that we focus on are the following:
- Building a strong aerobic base and alactic energy system
- Improving movement quality off the ball
- Building a strong base of strength
- Implementing a solid nutrition program
- Focusing on acceleration and deceleration (both with and without the ball)
- Implementing a recovery plan
- Stress and fatigue management
- Assessment and movement screening for each player
It’s naïve to think that every player is going to arrive in camp in great shape. One of the great things about preseason training is that you get to spend quality time (5-6 weeks) on the road with the players and find out what they excel at and what areas they may need to improve upon. Every athlete I have ever come in contact can improve in at least 1-2 areas. As the fitness coach it’s my responsibility to work with the coaching and medical staff to try to identify what areas may be lacking and develop a plan to ensure that every player is progressing towards the end goal which is the chance to play at a high level each and every week.
Below are five (5) key fitness/training related areas that we focus on during the preseason:
1. Individual screening, assessments and testing for each player
One of the first things we do is look at each player individually and screen them. It is my job along with the medical staff to screen each player so we can assemble an individual plan for the guys. To accomplish this we came up with the following plan:
Functional Movement Screen
This is a seven point screen that was created by Gray Cook and Lee Burton. This has been around since 1998 and is currently being utilized by thousands of coaches across the world. The goal is to look at fundamental movement patterns to identify what areas players may be deficient in and to identify any major asymmetries that may exist. It’s simply a screen to try and identify any limitations in movement that may cause an injury down the road.
- Breathing patterns
- Pelvic alignment
- Omega wave testing: This provides detailed information on players cardiac, metabolic and central nervous system readiness.
- 10 meter and 30 meter sprint times
- Vertical Jump testing
- Transition speed: Change of direction drill (30 yd. test to assess transition/change of direction speed)
- Beep Test
Upper Body Test
- Lower body assessment: single leg squat test
2. Developing the aerobic and alactic system
During the course of the game certain players can run as much as 6-7 miles. In order to be able to sustain this kind of effort a strong aerobic base needs to be in place to play at this level. In order to progress the players each week we attempted to develop their aerobic system by incorporating as much movement with the ball as possible. We did not go out and run at a steady state for 60-75 minutes but rather the technical staff did an excellent job of incorporating as much work with the ball as possible. Players really like this because they are working on their skill with the ball while at the same time we are building their aerobic base. We have to remember we are training soccer players not cross country runners.
An efficient aerobic system is critical for the success of our players. To accomplish this we monitored the players by watching their heart rate as well as their recovery between movements and drills. An addition to making sure that the players have a strong aerobic base it’s critical that we make speed (alactic system) a priority in the training. A strong aerobic system will help the alactic (speed) system work efficiently. In order to do this, players need to be alert and fatigue needs to be low to improve speed. All of our speed work is done in the beginning of the training session after our movement prep and before fatigue may set in. Intensity is high (runs of 10-30 yards) and recovery is long (1-2 minutes) when we try and improve a players speed. As the season progresses we will increase the distance of the run (30-60 yards) and manipulate the recovery times to get the adaptations that we are looking for.
When it comes to speed players will run faster without the ball than with the ball so implement speed training early in the session without the ball to ensure that players are running at top speeds.
3. Build a solid base of strength
As a strength coach I am always looking to make our players stronger. I believe it’s one area that is often overlooked with soccer players. During preseason there is so much to accomplish in a short time that strength training can sometimes be pushed to the side. I am very fortunate to have a coaching staff that understands the role that strength training plays in the development of our players. With that being said we try to focus on BASIC movement patterns that would allow our players to build a solid foundation for the season that we can build upon. Below are some of the basic movement patterns that we try to focus on during preseason.
Single leg strength
- Body weight squats to a bench
- Hip hinge pattern (deadlifts, reaches)
- Rear foot squats
- Hip extension patterns
- Goblet squats
- Front squats
- Pulling patterns
- DB rows
- Band rows
- Several variations of push ups
- DB bench press variations
- Overhead pressing
Anterior core training: Roll outs
- Turkish Get Ups (Starting with the lowest progression and advancing)
- Supine (lying on your back) to prone (stomach) to quadruped (all fours)
Note: We do not perform any crunches with the players.
4. Nutrition and Hydration
At the end of the day nutrition and the quality of food that our athletes consume plays a critical role in how they will recover and perform on the field. I truly believe that if you have two athletes with the same skill and aerobic system the one with the better nutrition will outperform the other athlete on the field.
I try and keep it very simple for the players when it comes to nutrition. Everyone is different and my goal is to provide simple yet effective recommendations based off of what I have been able to learn from experts in the field of nutrition. Experts worth reading, in my opinion, include Robb Wolf, John Berardi, Brian St. Pierre and Catherine Shanahan to name a few.
- Eat real unprocessed food as much as possible
- Learn to cook simple nutritious meals
- Consume quality meats, fats and carbohydrates on a daily basis
- Buy local food whenever possible
- Make hydration a priority by limiting the amount of sport drinks and energy drinks
- On a daily basis consume 5-6 servings of vegetables and fruits.
Always have good healthy snack options with you for when you get hungry. This can be as easy as having a bag of homemade trail mix with you in case you get hungry.
At the end of the day training is easy. I don’t mean it is easy to train for 2-3 hours each day but rather when we train we cause a disruption on our body that signals a response. It’s that response that helps us grow and adapt. If we want to reap the benefits of a particular training session we MUST develop a good recovery plan for our players. As I have stated above everyone is different and some players respond to one recovery method while another player may not respond to that particular stimulus. To keep things simple we try and provide a few options to the players. Here is a short list of some of the strategies that we implement with the players:
- Post workout nutrition
- Chiropractor treatments
- Breathing techniques
- Quality sleep every night
- Contrasts in water
- Foam rolling/stretching
The MLS season is very long and demanding. Injuries can‘t be prevented but we can reduce a player’s chance of getting hurt. As the fitness coach my number one goal is to do everything possible to keep the players healthy and provide to them the necessary tools that can keep them on the field. I truly believe what the players do off of the field is just as important as what they do on the field. If you are a coach at the high school or club level don’t try and implement all of the strategies above right away. Educate yourself on a few of the tips listed above and read as much as possible from experts in their field. The more we can educate our players the better off they will be when it comes time to play the game.
Good luck with your training!
Union strength and conditioning coach Kevin Miller is also a featured panelist in the Sports Doc blog http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/sportsdoc on Philly.com. For best practices along with additional health and fitness tips, check out: Philly.com/Health
We would like to announce the launch of the official Philadelphia Union Store Twitter account @PhilaUnionShop! Follow us for all of the latest product information, sales, and store happenings.
We want to bring a new level of access for our fans. Connecting with our fans and providing them with information and special offers is important to us, and we hope that through the driving force in social media that is Twitter we can make that happen.
Have the inside track to the newest offerings from the Philadelphia Union. Find out what some of your favorite players are wearing and buying for their friends and family.
Also, we will offer exclusive contests and discounts available only through Twitter.
To kick things off, want to know all about the new home kit that will be unveiled at the Union's "Meet the Team" event on March 4? Before you head to Dave and Busters on Columbus Blvd. for the festivities kicking off at 6 p.m., join the crew here @PhilaUnionShop at noon for a one-hour take over of the Union's Twitter account (@PhilaUnion) to talk all things pertaining to the jersey (and more) and check out a bit more of a sneak peek before the full unveiling later that night. Kick off MLS' annual Jersey Week with us. Have a question about the kit? Submit it during the takeover with the hashtag #JerseyWeek.
Again, we hope @PhilaUnionShop becomes your home for all the latest on not just Union gear, but the lifestyle of our players, staff and supporters like you.
From the crew behind @PhilaUnionShop
This week I want mix it up a little and instead of focusing on one topic I want to write a post about ten (10) quick fitness tips. I hope that one of these tips will help you reach your fitness and health goals in 2014.
1. When it comes to warming up most athletes would rather skip the warm up and get right into their training. I understand that things like foam rolling and dynamic movements are not the most exciting drills, however, I believe a proper warm up sets the tone for training. I truly believe spending 15-20 minutes at the start of every session on soft tissue and range of motion drills/movement patterns is important to your long term health.
2. Running wind sprints/gassers at the end of training is NOT speed training. Doing these types of runs has its place when it comes to training. However, if your goal is speed training you need to do your speed work at the beginning of your training session when your central nervous system is alert and fresh. Also, the time spent doing speed training should be short with a long recovery between each run.
3. High school female athletes would all benefit from incorporating strength training into their routine. Simple total body movements like kettlebell deadlifts, band assisted pull-ups and one-arm rows would go a long ways towards improving their strength and performance. In my experience, female athletes who can demonstrate adequate levels of strength both perform better on the field/court and have a lesser chance of injury.
4. If you have chronically tight hamstrings find someone who can teach you how to reposition your pelvis and breath more efficiently instead of just lying on your back and cranking in your hamstrings. You will be amazed how simple solutions can affect how your hamstrings feel. I would recommend that you seek out the expertise of someone who has taken a course by the Postural Restoration Institute.
5. Instead of following the latest diet fad in an effort to lose fat listen to your body and find out what works for you. Eat real food, make small changes that can eventually become habits and finally look at your health as a long term plan not a quick fix.
6. Going for a walk outside is a great way to reduce your stress and improve your health.
7. If you want abs I would recommend that you look for them in the kitchen not at the seated crunch machine. Clean up your nutrition and implement strength training into your routine and you may find your abs by summer.
8. The majority of runners would benefit greatly by implementing both power and strength training into their program. I believe by cutting back on mileage and implementing a good strength training program runners can reduce their chance of injuries.
9. Learn to decelerate properly if you want to excel on a field or court. Athletes that can decelerate and then accelerate can change the game.
10. Stand in front of a mirror and the muscles that you can’t see (i.e. glutes, hamstrings, upper back) are the ones that you most likely need to spend more time training. The muscles in the front are your “show muscles” and the muscles in the back are your “go” muscles. Make sure that you have a good balance between the two if you want to have a balanced program.
Hopefully you can benefit from a few of these tips. Good luck with your training!
Union strength and conditioning coach Kevin Miller is also a featured panelist in the Sports Doc blog: philly.com/philly/blogs/sportsdoc on Philly.com. For best practices along with additional health and fitness tips, check out: Philly.com/Health