How you can study and work without wrecking your back! (Cheap and Eco-Friendly)

I am currently preparing an article on every single fix and self-treatment that I know to help people with lower back pain. Although the article is aimed squarely at hockey players, whose sport requirements, predispose them to lower back pain, it will be of use to anyone who experiences back pain.

I have wanted to try a standing desk for a while, but with Focal Desks in the price range of $2000-3000, it seemed a little unreasonable.

Here is an eco friendly, portable, cheap standing desk…made of cardboard. Hopefully you find the cardboard to be chic…but if you don’t, hopefully you’ll find it something to try out before investing in a more permanent desk.

Here’s the link to the desk:

Chairigami Standing Cardboard Desk

And if you want to know why you should consider standing while working, here are a few reasons:

  • Sitting is evil – especially for your lower back and hips
  • Sitting is evil – and turns off certain muscles that are key to your athletic success
  • Sitting is evil – pushes the heads of your femur forward in your hips, predisposing you to hip impingement and lack of hip flexion
  • And if you’re not buying what I’m saying, here’s a few more reasons provided by Mark at Mark’s Daily Apple here

I have yet to buy one myself, but let me know what you think!

Cheers,

Jason

Superfood Taco Salad – Ready in 20 minutes or less

Yesterday, I have no clue why, but I just went wild in the kitchen. At lunch time, I got really creative with a salad dressing, and then at dinner, I got creative again. Result: The Superfood Taco Salad. I had enough for dinner, and seconds at lunch the next day. So you could say it feeds two hockey players, or about 3-4 normal people…all in 20 minutes. Here’s what you need:

IMG_6969

All you need is one of these and…

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The Great Wave of Analytics – What is the crest?

I’ve read two books recently (“The Rise of Superman” and “Smart Cuts”), that talked about surfing. So that’s probably what has me using a wave metaphor to discuss the what is happening right now in hockey, in relation to analytics.

Not long ago, analytics were once the crest of the wave. Just last year, analytics were discussed on TSN, CBC, and Sportsnet in a flippant fashion. In the first few NHL talk shows that I’ve watched, I’ve already heard discussion of analytics in a more detailed and critical manner.

Remember that analytics were designed in baseball, and now in hockey, to take advantage of market inefficiencies. This means that they were designed to look at players statistically to see who made contributions to their team’s success in a way that is undervalued by team managers. If someone uses analytics to find these market inefficiencies, and the market inefficiencies exist, then a manager get away getting more value out of a player than they are putting in. The caveat, here, is if the market inefficiency exists.

If everyone is talking about analytics, and everyone is using them, then the market becomes efficient again…there is no sources of untapped value for a manager to tap.

So then, as this wave gathers energy, if using analytics becomes just another manner to keep up, what is a manager supposed to do to get ahead?

Here are two areas to look:

  • Evaluative metrics that inform a development coach how to best improve a player. If a coach can use advanced stats/evaluative metrics/analytics to design a program for their improvement, the coach can identify areas of weakness. We assume that by identifying and working on areas of weakness, we can increase the rate of a player’s improvement. This is like what Darryl Belfry is doing with his players.
  • Physiological measurements. I am making the hypothesis, that there are physiological markers that can predict a player’s performance. Back in the Vancouver Canucks’ Stanley Cup Playoff Run, I had the opportunity to hear from and talk to Dr. Len Zaichowsky. He was their director of sports science. He had the team tracking many physiological values: heart rate variability, sleep quality and quantity, multi-object tracking, T-wave (I’m not sure what that was). I think that they were tracking these values and using them to inform how the players practiced and played. They also had their most successful season as a team…ever. The next year, Dr. Zaichowsky was let go, and they lost in the first round of playoffs. They haven’t made it that far into the post seasons since…
    • What values could you look at and why?
      • In-game heart rate and heart-rate variability. It might be possible to determine what heart rate and heart-rate variability values a player demonstrates when they play at their best. It therefore might be possible to design interventions to more consistently get a player to obtain these values in-game, thereby improving their performance
      • Resting heart rate variability and adrenal stress. Players can sometimes play well when stressed for 1 or 2 games, but their performance may drop off if they remain stressed for games 3 and 4. Perhaps it’s possible to put find and put players in a sweet-spot where their stress levels are in balance to provide optimal performance.
      • Brainwaves and transient hypofrontality. As you know from my previous article on finding flow, turning certain brain structures off is important for getting players into flow. A player who is predisposed to being in flow with a certain neurological state, more often, will be a more effective player. Perhaps by monitoring and informing an athlete, coaches and managers can design processes to more consistently get their players into flow.

I’m suggesting that crest of the wave is a place where there are market inefficiencies. The market is becoming efficient in the sphere of analytics, but might still be inefficient when it comes to measuring physiological values and evaluative metrics that can be used to design a development program.

What do you think? Are there other areas where there might be market inefficiencies in the game of hockey?

-Jason

Hacking Tryouts – Experimenting with advanced statistics

Tryout camps are a time of tumultuous emotion, upset parents, scorned players, stressed out coaches, and political agendas. When I took part in the minor hockey and junior tryout camps, I was sort of blind to all the calamity around me. When I began attending tryout camps from the perspective of strength and conditioning/skills coach, I took on a whole new perspective. I sort of took on the perspective of the anxious parent who wants his kid (in my case, athletes I train), to do well. I also took the perspective of the coach trying to sort out who was deserving of a spot and who wasn’t. This journey was further animated by the (wide) range of perspectives of every different parent.

Most parents of players who were cut, thought that their kid was not given a fair shake. I sometimes agreed, and other times disagreed. Since parents were so biased in watching their kids play, I wondered, though, exactly how much of my bias was distorting my perception of players’ performance. The next logical question was: how much of the coach’s bias distorted his views? In order to answer this, I wanted to evaluate some sort of objective data that might track a player’s performance in the tryout camp and possibly predict their future performance on the team. So that’s what I did…

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Hacking Sports Psychology – What “You think too much!” really means…

“You think too much” is common feedback that I received throughout my career. And it confused me.
 
It was correct feedback…because people who were not as smart as me could play hockey much better than me. It drove me nuts.
 
But did their brains really just shut off? And is that what I should do? Just shut my brain off?
 
It turns out that a more accurate way of describing what was going on is, “you’re thinking with the wrong system.”
 
Two Ways of thinking…
 

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Hardware vs Software: Part I – Quality vs Quantity

It seems that strength and conditioning coaches just want their athletes to perform lifts and exercises at a certain threshold of skill, and then they just don’t care anymore. At that point, they want the numbers of the training to reflect the results. By this, I mean that they’ll want the aerobic capacity, strength, power, and heart rate of an athlete to be the best values that they can be, with minimal concern over how that happens.
 
This is a fine tact to take. However, it operates on the assumption that we move perfectly, or close to it. The sad truth is that most of us do not move perfectly. We do not have the software to properly run our hardware.
 
Why don’t we move perfectly? Well because our environment and culture causes us to be sitting for long periods of time. It causes us to be hunched over while texting, or with our shoulders forward while typing.
 

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