Archive for March, 2009

Low Back Pain Prevention

Posted in Uncategorized on March 17, 2009 by mboyle1959

I’m going to post a few entries about low back pain in the next few weeks. I think the real key to preventing or rehabbing a low back pain sufferer has very little to do with the low back. I think the problem is most often in the hips. I always say “poor hip mobility undermines spine stability”. We know we want mobile hips and a stable spine. The video below was filmed intentionally to show how the spine can move to compensate for the hips not moving.

We could call this “poor glute function”, “poor glute activation” or use McGill’s term, gluteal amnesia. Whatever you choose to call it it’s a problem. If the glutes are not able to extend the hip the spine will move into extension. Excessive lumbar motion will cause back pain. It’s a vicious cycle that must be terminated in the hips, not at the back. Teach lumbar stability and glute function and, you are on your way to relieving lots of low back pain. For more info you can look at my Concepts in Core Training DVD or any of Stuart McGill’s products. All are available at 

This Week on

Posted in Uncategorized on March 16, 2009 by mboyle1959

Combine Week continues on First up is an article I’ve been working on titled Does It All Come Down to the First Ten Yards? This piece breaks down actual forty yard dash performance and explains how and why we train our Combine and Pro Day athletes the way we do.

Next up is The Introduction of Closed System Drills to Improve Initial Accelerative Sprint At Springfield College by Dan Liburd. This is another excellent piece being produced by members of my wonderful Boyle’s alumni group at Springfield College. I can’t tell you how proud I am of the work these kids do.

Last is a reprint of a piece that ties in nicely to the previous two. How to Use Sled Training to Dramatically Improve Speed and Acceleration is another reprint from the original site that many of you may not have read.

Video of the Week comes from Dan Liburd in conjunction with his article mentioned above. The video demos some of the progressions currently being used in the strength and conditioning program at Springfield College.

As always don’t forget to check out the StrengthCoach Podcast  at 

Hope you enjoy the week.


Nutrition for Kids

Posted in Nutrition, Random Thoughts, Youth Training on March 13, 2009 by mboyle1959

A few weeks ago I received an email from one of my former players. The purpose of her email was to ask if I was aware of any good nutrition books for kids. My first thought was to say that there was no such thing. My second thought was to recommend some “adult books”. No, not those adult books.

My friend was not looking for books on nutrition for a child to read but rather for books about nutrition for children. What I had to explain to her was that kids are really no different than adults when it comes to nutrition. The basics of nutrition don’t change much based on age. The big exception is that it is tough to get kids to eat quality protein. Kids eat for taste, even more so than adults, and will have limited palates.  Protein deficiency is even worse among young females. My wife and I actually use protein shakes with our kids, particularly in the morning to try to get protein into our kids.

Kids are bombarded with cereal ads and because they are so susceptible to advertising they think that cereal is a good breakfast. I read a quote that said the line “cereal can be part of a good breakfast” is one of the best advertising lines ever. The writer said the next line should say “if you eat a bunch of other very nutritious food with the cereal”. My favorite breakfast for the kids is a protein shake and fruit. It beats all the other breakfast crap.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there are any good “kids” nutrition books. The Zone and The South Beach Diet are both very good basic nutrition books. I love UltraPrevention and UltraMetabolism also. However, if you want to practice good nutrition with kids follow the same rules as with adults.

Should Kids Practice or Play- Look at the Evidence

Posted in Random Thoughts, Training, Uncategorized, Youth Training on March 12, 2009 by mboyle1959

I know one thing for sure, parents love watching games.  I’m a parent and I love to watch my daughter play. As a result one of the great challenges in youth sports is getting parents to understand the value of practice. This is not going to be a “practice-practice-practice” post. Instead, this is part of what I am calling The Evidence Based Approach. Check out this hockey example. The following stats were taken from I believe the 2002 World Cup and compares the ice time and possession time of three of the top players in the game. 

Name               Ice Time    Possession Time

Joe Sakic              15:25            1:19

Mike Modan0     19:47              :58

Tony Amonte      12:51              :46

The key stat is the possession time in bold. The best players in the world, in a sixty minute game, had possession of the puck for an average of under one minute. Now take this and equate it to a youth hockey game of 36 minutes instead of sixty. Possession time now drops down to thirty six seconds a game for the games best players. Over 50 games that comes out to only thirty minutes of puck possession.  Think your child can improve with thirty minutes of stickhandling per season. This can be easily obtained in three well designed practices. Next time your local youth hockey board asks you to vote on number of games, vote intelligently, not like a fan. If you want your child to improve, they need to have the puck on their stick.

If you are not a hockey parent, this still applies to you. These stats are going to be relatively similar in baseball, soccer and basketball. In any youth game there can only be one puck or one ball. In practice, you can have as many as you want.

The Truth About Speed

Posted in Uncategorized on March 10, 2009 by mboyle1959
I wrote the article below for a website in 2006 and recently re-published it at as part of our Combine Week.

Speed is the stuff of urban legend. Deion Sanders supposedly showed up at the NFL Combine, ran a 4.2 and went home. We routinely hear of high school kids who purportedly run 4.3’s and 4.4’s. The stories of “reported” speed have gotten out of control. This would not be a problem in and of itself. Most of us could look at it and say “so what” people lie or people embellish. The real problem is that the lies seem to be setting the standard. One of the reasons that I no longer train athletes for the NFL Combine is the unrealistic expectations of athletes and agents based on these “urban legends” or the occasional freakish performance like Vernon Davis this year.

Davis measured out at 6’3″ and 263 lbs., ran a 4.38 forty and vertical jumped 40 inches. Those are insane stats. We won’t see that again for a long time in my mind. Every year it seems like there is some freakish performance by an athlete that raises the bar of expectation. I would have less of a problem if these expectations were not trickling down to high school kids. My intention is to set the record straight with facts. In order to prove this I pored over the NFL Combine results for the six years that I had on file. The following statistics are taken directly from the Combine results. It should be noted that although the Combine times are considered “electronic”, they are closer to handheld than electronic. There are three potential timing options:

1- Electronic start- electronic finish. This should be the standard but, unfortunately is not. The start is done with a touch pad and the finish with a photocell. This is the most accurate and as a result yields the slowest times. An electronic start/ electronic finish time has been shown to be .22 seconds slower than a hand held 40 yard dash. ( Brown, 2004)

2- Hand Start- electronic finish. This is a system used uniquely at the NFL Combine. A hand start-electronic finish will be approximately .1 seconds slower than a hand held 40 yard dash. In the combine the use of hand start will be particularly evident in the faster ten yard dash times. Athletes will run 10 yard times much closer to a hand held but, times at each following split will be closer to the electronic time.

3- Hand Start- hand finish- this is the fastest and least accurate. Handheld times tend to be faster but are clearly more prone to human error. Many of the legendary times I believe were hand-held timing combined with human error or human expectation.

At the NFL Combine in 1996, 97, 98, 2001 and 2003 and 2006 no one ran a 4.2. No one. Not one person. In 2001 Ladainian Tomlinson ran one 4.36, five in the 4.4’s and vertical jumped 40.5. 2003 was a fast year, yet still produced no 4.2’s. Ten athletes ran 4.3’s in 2003. The heaviest was a 223 pound running back. The Combine track is always said to be slow but the truth is it is simply accurate. All of these supposed fast times seem to be run at times when no independent verification is available. Seems a bit curious doesn’t it.

Here’s another angle on the whole “speed” thing. Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis ran split times of 4.67 for 40 meters ( Bryan, Rose-Hulman) The split times are below.

1.84 10 yd 
2.86 20 (1.02 split)
3.8 30 (.94 split)
4.67 40 (.87 split)

40 meters is 43.74 yards. This would make the distance approximately ten percent further. This means we could reduce the time by approximately .36 seconds to account for the additional 3.7 yards. This would mean that in constant acceleration mode the best sprinters in the history of the world, using blocks, ran 4.31 for 40 yards. Does it seem plausible that high school football players can run faster times without blocks.

The table below shows some of the athletes who ran below 4.4 at the NFL Combine. Obviously the athletes are getting faster but, we still don’t see the dreaded 4.2’s we hear so much about. In 2005 I believe one athlete actually ran a 4.2 although I did not have those stats available. One athlete in a decade.




In 2006 of nineteen running backs listed in the internet report (unofficial) Maurice Drew of UCLA was the only 4.3 and he ran a 4.39. In other words one running back ran under 4.4 and, he did it by one one-hundreth. Four wide receivers out of thirty-one ran under 4.4. In fact five ran over 4.6. This means more wide receivers ran over 4.6 than under 4.4. 2006 was an exceptional year for defensive backs with nine sub 4.4’s. The key, again in 2006 was that there were no 4.2’s in the results I saw.

As coaches, we need to stop perpetuating the myths. We need to tell our athletes what the average at the NFL Combine was and not what the best “freak” times were. We need to further explain to them that it is unrealistic to expect to even meet the NFL averages. As with everything in our society, we have raised the bar unrealistically high. Let’s be honest with ourselves and with our athletes.


Modeling World Class Sprinters in 100 Meter Dash 
Kurt Bryan, Department of Mathematics,
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute IN 47803 USA.
Brian J. Winkel, Department of Mathematics, 
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute IN 47803 USA.

Assessment of Linear Sprinting Performance: A Theoretical Paradigm
Todd Brown, Jason Vescovi, Jaci VanHeest
Journal of Science and SportsMedicine (2004) 3, 203-210

NFL Combine Results- compiled from various sources.

This Week on

Posted in Uncategorized on March 9, 2009 by mboyle1959

This week is Combine Week on

 Our first article is actually a reprint of an article called The Truth About Speed, NFL Combines and the Forty Yard Dash. I actually wrote this in 2006 for the old site which was the predecessor to The subject seems to come up in threads all the time. One of our members, Dave Puloka, posted a thread about actual times at this years NFL Combine. In addition, there was a thread about Vertical Jumps discussing vertical jump numbers in the NBA. NBA vertical jumps are like the NFL 40’s, mostly fiction. The real stats are not as glamorous.

Next up is an article that I actually posted to this blog last week and didn’t realize was not on Training to Bench 225 takes a look at a unique test and how to train for it.

Our third article ( I think with reprints/ reposts you will actually get 4-5 this week) we have an article from Jimmy L’Amour on Training for the 40. This is an excellent series of tips on the 40 yd dash.

Last up for this week is an article called on Training the Anterior Core from Jim Reeves. Jim is one of the really smart guys on the site and he put this together in response to a thread on core training last week. Even though the article is not Combine related it is timely so I wanted to run it right away.

Video of the Week is a Stability Ball Rollout. With all the discussion about core training and anterior core training, as well as Jim’s upcoming article I thought this would make sense. I think this exercise is the key to learning all of the anterior core progressions. The clip is taken from my Joint by Joint Approach to Warm-up and Training DVD. If you are really interested in what we are doing at the moment with our MBSC athletes and at BU you can order my Joint by Joint Approach to Warm-up and Training   from Perform Better .


As always don’t forget to check out the StrengthCoach Podcast  at 


Hope you enjoy the week.





Should We Give Our Kids What We Didn’t Get Growing Up?

Posted in Uncategorized on March 6, 2009 by mboyle1959

I think it is every parents dream ( at least for those of us who grew up in middle class or lower situations) to give our kids the things we didn’t have growing up. I think this is actually a huge mistake. I want to give my kids the values my father and mother gave me. The “helicopter parents” of today hover over their kids, do their homework, write their essays and talk to their teachers because they want the best for their kids. However, I’m not sure if this is what is best for kids. My father made me address every adult as Mr. or Mrs., expected me to say please and thank you, and let me use his snowblower to make money in the winter and his rake to make money in the fall and spring. Ever try to find a kid to shovel snow or rake a leaf? Might as well head out back and hunt unicorns.

I think the best thing you can do for your kid is give them a dose of real life. Make them work  a summer job when they are 16. When they are 13 or 14 make sure they rake leaves and shovel snow. Take away their cell phone or get one with three numbers ( you, 911 plus one more) and no texting. If they get a car, get a _ _ it box instead of a BMW. Their is so much we learned from our parents that made us successful that we are not passing on to our kids. What we are giving them is a sense of entitlement they don’t deserve.