New Year

I will resume posting blogs starting January 1. I am back from Mexico and am going to take a break. In the interim if any of you that have been reading the blog have any ideas of topics that you would like to have me comment on please drop me an email at gambettasports@hotmail.com. Have a great holidays!!


More Drugs in Sports

A friend of mine who is an ATC at a high school in New Jersey sent me the above and asked me to comment on. He had just attended a drug seminar where drugs in high school sports were the topic.

”According to the panel members, the parents seem to be encouraging the abuse. One of the MD's who treats these problems says parents come in complaining their kid is growing tits or his nuts are shrinking. But they don't want the kids to stop, they want to know what drugs to take to prevent the side effects!

The resounding opinion on what to do about this was testing. Private funding for the testing is already being looked into. The education only advocates were definitely in the minority. “

According to him it is an especially prevalent problem in the more affluent districts. That certainly makes sense, sense these are the same parents who would anything to gain an edge for their sons or daughters in the admission process to colleges.

First of all performance enhancing drugs are a huge problem at every level of sport today. Anyone who thinks otherwise is incredibly naïve. To me there is a clear division between those who do and those who don’t. This extends to coaches and therapists. I made the choice years ago not allow my athletes to use drugs. I know coaches and administrators who take the attitude that if they do not know about it, it does not exist. Let face facts some of the athletic icons of our society are under great suspicion. I watched a record being broken last year where I know the athlete was “legally” doped. It makes me sick. One thing I know testing is not the answer. There are guys all over the US hanging around gyms that know more than the people who are doing the testing. Save the money. Sure education is the answer, but what kind of education? The scare stories about shrunken testicles does not work, the youngster or the seasoned pro knows it won’t happen to them. The answer is pretty idealistic. Lets make it an ethical issue. It is flat out cheating. Those athletes who are doping and those coaches who condone it are living a lie. Sure they are getting scholarships and some are making millions, so what? At the end of the day you have to live with yourself. I vowed after some recent experiences to be even more outspoken about the problem with performance enhancing drugs in sports. I am not sure how much good it will do, but I will keep trying. We need to make the druggies uncomfortable!!!



The answer to the problem of early specialization is to give youth sports back to the youth. Take out adult interference; get rid of the highly organized club structure (By the way most youth clubs in many sports are money making operations that in reality serve a few and feed many egos). Center sports around the schools again like they used to be. It should be part of the schools pedagogical responsibility, remember that abstract concept of a sound mind in a sound body, after school sports and physical education are a key aspect of the educational process. Centering after school sports around the schools ensures that the youngsters are supervised; there is less interference in family life. Everything is done by five PM at the latest. Make the sport seasons short and do not allow them to overlap. This will ensure that the kids will try more than one sport. Play other schools, keep score but do keep league standing. After al the English Premier League developmental do even keep score so that the focus is on development. Be sure to have a school wide play day at least once a semester where the kids are introduced to other sports like team handball. This will not hurt the athletically, they will still excel. I know from personal experience. The district where I began teaching thirty-eight years ago did this. Out of this came the greatest water polo player in the world and a pitcher who pitched in the major leagues for 20 plus years. They both played multiple sports and excelled. Another aspect of this is to encourage the kids to organize themselves. Let the older kids officiate the younger kids games. Let everyone have a spot on the teams. There is much to be said for affiliation and forming friendships. You have a better chance of doing this if you go class with teammates instead of seeing them Tuesday and Thursday night at Hot Nuts Club Hoop practice. At the high school level encourage the athletes to play multiple sports until their junior year. After that they have plenty of time to specialize. I know these thoughts are very idealistic, but I have seen them work. Let the kids play!!!



In today’s world of quick fixes and instant results I am seeing more and more that that there clearly are three problems that we face:

Early Specialization – The feeling is that if the athlete is not in their sport before high school they will have no chance of success later on. That is probably true in the so-called early development sport like diving and gymnastics, but it is certainly not true of other sports. The broader the base of multifaceted athletic development the greater the potential for higher achievement later on in the athletes career. Certainly statistics and experience prove this.

One Sided (Biased) Training – Training just for speed or just for strength will ultimately limit the ability to develop those qualities to the highest levels. All motor qualities are highly interdependent; therefore all qualities must be trained at all times. They must be trained proportionally depending on the developmental level and the time of year.

Poor foundation in movement skills – This relates to the first point because kids are pushed to specialize early. They never are able to acquire the movement skills that are developed through free play. The lack of physical education in the schools has contributed to this. Specific sport skills are based on sound movement skills. Without a foundation of good movement skills the ability to develop specific sport skill will be limited. I have found that working with elite athletes today that I must start each workout with 10 to 15 minutes of PE class because they are so deficient in foundational motor skills. This is also the reason for the higher incidence of injuries we are seeing in sport today. They can’t seem to get out of their own way!

In future blogs I will talk about solutions


Style or Substance

Just because you have a publicity machine behind you promoting your every move does not mean there is substance to the training. I am amazed at the naivete of the athletes and coaches who continue to follow the hype. One particular person and facility has become the place to be for high profile athletes to train. There is only one problem the athletes who go there do not get better, more often than not they get hurt! The poster boy for this facility has only played more than 62 games twice in the last five years. What are people thinking about. I live in a world where the proof is in the pudding. If I do not produce then I do not get paid. Fancy facilities and equipment do not make a program with substance. A program with substance takes time; it is not about quick fix off-season programs. It is about long-term commitment to training in a progressive and sequential manner. What looks good during a 15 second TV spot on ESPN is not necessarily good training.