Where Do All the Softball Players Go?

Not Enough Former Athletes Become Lifelong Fans

By TSC Contributor KCSoftball  
LOMBARD – What happens to the former rec players that should be today's softball fans? It all starts at about 3rd grade when a little girl asks mom if she can play softball for local rec teams. This little girl joins the rec league and gets tp play until she reaches 8th grade. She thinks now that rec ball is over, how am I going to get to continue to play softball, a game that I now love?
Oh, she thinks, next year I can play on one of my high school teams. So come spring this little girl goes out for the high school team, only to be told, "Sorry, we don't have enough spots for you on one of our teams, but you can come out and watch the teams play!" Sadly, we have lost this future fan.
Come the next season, those girls luckly enough to have made the freshman team are told they must try out for the JV team. Over half are told, "Sorry, we don't have a spot for you, but you can come out and watch our games!" More future fans lost!
Then up comes another season and those JV players are told to try out for the varsity, but sadly, most are told, "Sorry but we don't have a spot for you on the varsity, but you can come out and watch our games!"  Oops, more future fans lost!
Sooner than expected the varsity players' senior season comes to a close and the players think I love this game, maybe I can play in college. Those players check into colleges, only to find out, "Sorry, we don't have a spot for you on the team!" Sadly, even more future fans lost!
For those lucky enough to get tp play college ball, sadly, their senior season is upon them all too fast. The player thinks I am very good at this game I love, I even made honorable mention All-American. So the player goes to the pro's only to be told, "Sorry, we just don't have enough teams with enough spots for you to play!" Again, more lost fans.
Most baseball rec leagues have enough spots for a player who doesn't make his school teams to keep playing—sadly, I don't see many rec leagues for those girls! Most are already lost to softball!
The only way we fans can change this is to speak up! Let our voices be heard. Make enough noise so those in charge, corporate America and the media hear us! Ladies, you have to take charge of softball's future, make your voice heard! Tell America you are still a fan no matter what! Read more


Sports Massage Therapy

Muscle Massage Moves into the Athletic Mainstream

By TSC Contributor JOSH ALLEN  
LOMBARD – We all know that getting a massage can be relaxing, invigorating or (usually) both. And it just feels plain good. But what was once considered a luxury is now gaining popularity among the athletic community as a legitimate way to boost performance and prevent sports-related injuries.  
Massage can also be used to treat specific injuries such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains and strained (pulled) hamstring and groin muscles. In fact, before you rush off to have surgery on any injury, you should consider consulting with your massage therapist about possible alternatives.  
But make sure you find a good one. The best in the business possess a thorough knowledge of human anatomy and physiology and have years of experience working in the fields of sports therapy and rehabilitation.  
Of course, these benefits come at a price, usually $50 to $100 or more at a crack. But in the right hands, massage therapy can add years to the life of your sporting career—and make you feel better after you hang it up, too.  
So how does it work?  
Strenuous physical exertion makes muscles, tendons and ligaments hard and inelastic, squeezing the fluid out of the tissues like a wrung sponge; this deprives the tissues of vital nutrients and energy to repair itself.  
Massage helps reverse this process stretching the tissues—including in ways that do not occur naturally; for example, bundles of muscle fibers are stretched sideways as well as lengthwise. Blood and lymph fluid is also sucked back into the area by the pumping action of the massage, which increases the pressure in front of the stroke and creates a vacuum behind.  
Massage also stretches the sheath or fascia surrounding the muscle, relieving tension. Flexibility is also improved by loosening and/or breaking down any scar tissue that has formed from previous injuries or trauma.  
"Deep tissue" massage—which uses slower strokes and is targeted at the muscles located below the top layer of muscles—also causes the pores in tissue membranes to open, enabling fluids and nutrients to pass through.  
Finally, when a fatigued muscle is relaxed it slows down its consumption of energy and production of waste products, allowing it to recover more quickly.  
One thing massage doesn’t do is remove lactic acid, once labeled an unwanted waste product and blamed for the burning feeling in fatigued muscles. For years, massage therapists were taught that lactic acid should be flushed from the muscles of athletes after a vigorous workout. Recent research shows, however, that levels return to normal within 30-60 minutes post-exercise without any assistance, and that massage is no more effective than passive rest in speeding up this process.  
Apart from its failure to expel lactic acid—which it turns out may not be such a bad thing after all—there is no doubt that muscle massage helps the body recover faster from exercise and is an effective treatment for certain types of athletic injuries. That’s all the excuse I need to sign up and get one!
 Read more.


Miracle Drug for Athletic Injuries?

Platelet-rich Plasma Therapy May Be For Real

By TSC Contributor JOSH ALLEN

LOMBARD – During the past few years treatment of athletic injuries with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has spread across the sports medicine community, but it wasn’t until a well known sports celebrity—Tiger Woods—admitted using it that the general public stood up and took notice.
Prior to his well-known personal problems off the course, Tiger’s main concern was an injured Achilles tendon. Last year he admitted at a press conference that he had received the experimental PRP medical treatment for his frail tendon from Canadian physician Dr. Anthony Galea.
During the PRP procedure the blood is drawn and centrifuged to separate out the red blood cells (erythrocytes) from the plasma. The plasma, which contains platelets, is then injected back into the site of the patient’s injury. The theory is that this concentrated injection mimics the pooling of blood around an injury site, releasing factors that accelerate the healing process.
The jury is still out as to whether the treatment really works—so far studies have shown mixed results: one trial showed no benefit, whereas another showed a benefit for 66% of elbow tendonitis patients.
PRP is currently only restricted by sports organizations such as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which allows athletes to get PRP treatments to heal torn ligaments, tendons and joint injuries if the athlete submits a declaration of use. Injection into muscles is banned because it is believed it stimulates stem cells to make muscles bigger, which is perceived as an enhancement rather than a treatment.
Read more.


Carbo-Loading Can Make You a Winner

Eating Lots of Carbs Before the Big Game Can Give You a Competitive Edge

By TSC Analyst/Contributor DANIEL URBAN

Most athletes are at least somewhat familiar with the term "carbo-loading," but what is it? Carbo-loading is a pre-competition diet strategy that is supposed to allow you to perform your best. 

Carbohydrates are the easiest food for your body to break down into the sugar-fuel your body needs during athletic performance. So the theory behind carbo-loading is to eat a large quantity of carbohydrates before an athletic event to ensure your body has more than enough fast and easy fuel to power you through. Carbohydrates are found in their greatest quantities in grains like bread, pasta, grains, cereal, and fruits like raisins, watermelon, bananas, and carrots. 

For many years, carbo-loading was a preferred diet regimen for marathon runners and other endurance-centered sports. Most marathon runners to this day pile their plates high with spaghetti the night before the race. But should everyone do some sort of carbo-loading routine before competition?

YES! Learn from marathon runners! You burn thousands of calories during any athletic activity, and you need enough body fuel to keep performing at your best. 
Carbohydrates are excellent fuel, and once your body runs out it has to work much harder to pull the energy from protein and fat stores in your body. This is why sometimes after an hour or so workout your body starts feeling heavy and laggy—it's because your carbohydrate stores are depleted. It is much more difficult to convert complex foods into the sugar your body needs for fuel. 

Experts recommend that in the 24-hour period before competition you should consume 4.6 grams of carbs per pound of body weight. That means a 150-pound person should consume 690 grams of carbs in that 24-hour period. And with a slice of bread having only 15 grams and a baked potato at 43 grams you are going to need a lot to ensure you have proper energy stores. 
One really effective tool in the carbo-loading battle is raisins. At 131 grams per cup you can eat a bowl or two of raisins and be well on your way to meeting your pre-game carbohydrate loading goals. Another effective tool are high calorie drinks like Gatorade. Chugging a Gatorade is a really easy way to stock up or replenish your carbohydrate stores. 

Playing at tournaments all weekend is an unbelievably strenuous activity and you MUST make sure your body has enough fuel for sustained optimum performance. Players need to make an effort to stock up on carbs before tournaments. As you get deeper into the tournament the players that have enough body fuel left have an advantage over players that did not eat enough and are starting to get slower. 
Of course, if you do not have any athletic contests on the horizon, over loading on carbohydrates is one of the worst things you can do. A ready supply of carbohydrates without strenuous physical activity makes it too easy on your body to supply you with energy and any excess carbs are immediately converted into fat. So only carbo-load when you are gearing up for rigorous physical activity. 

Have a tournament coming up? What are you waiting for!? Start eating!


High Tech Gatorade Goes Public

Pro Athlete Hydration & Nutrition Package Now Available to All

By TSC Analyst/Contributor DANIEL URBAN

LOMBARD – As much as Gatorade says it focuses on the science of sports and performance nutrition, it focuses equally as much on advertising. Gatorade's newest product line is the "Gatorade G Series Pro," a five-part hydration and nutrition package that is supposed to allow your body to perform at its peak.

Supposedly this line was developed over many years at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute in Barrington, Illinois and has previously been available only to pro athletes. Now YOU get a chance to buy it!  Here is a run down of the line:

Part 1a: Pregame Nutrition Shake: 1-4 hours before game. The shake is loaded with protein, carbs, and other nutritional goodies designed to ensure you have a balanced diet on game day.

Part 1b: Pregame Nutrition bar: 1-4 hours per game. Another food product designed to fuel you up with all the right nutritional ingredients for performance.

Part 1c: Pregame Carb Energy Drink: 60 minutes before game. The drink contains a blend of different carbohydrates and vitamins.  The drink has 3-times the carbs of normal Gatorade, meaning it packs around 450 calories.

Part 2(a, b, or c): Gatorade: Drink during game. There are three varieties of drink that you can either buy or make on your own with Gatorade blended powders. There is regular Gatorade available in a bottle, a special powder with a huge load of sodium (200mg per 8 fluid oz) to help stimulate fluid absorption, or a Gatorlytes powder blend that is supposed to prevent muscle cramps with a large dose of sodium, potassium and calcium.

Part 3: Protein Recovery Shake: Drink 30-60 minutes following game. When you perform during the game your muscles break down. A protein shake helps ensure your muscles are built back up—and stronger—for your next game.

This product line is sold exclusively at GNC stores across the nation. But is it worth it?

The simple answer is no. Everything at GNC is expensive, and I'm guessing the G Series Pro is no exception. The cost is simply not worth it for the average athlete—even those seriously into nutrition and looking to achieve top performance.

Eating a well balanced meal before the game with plenty of carbs like noodles or rice or raisins, drinking water during the game, and eating a peanut butter sandwich after the game will give you the same effect as the G Series Pro line.  And for a fraction of the price!

Don't buy into the Gatorade hype machine. Just eat healthy. Read more.

More Articles...