If you are like us, you believe that sports like football are a large part of American exceptionalism. Education is very important, but we never lead the world in our academic education alone. There is something else that fuels our greatness. Our level of sports participation, particularly American Football is a much greater source of our world dominance than most realize. I'll explain.
The rise of football also coincides with the U.S. rise as a world power. Coincidence? I think not. Yes there are many geopolitical factors as well, but hear me out.
Reflect on the countless hours of practice, the building of discipline, learning how to push to physical and mental toughness levels kids never thought possible. Let's not forget learning to work together for a common purpose, being part of something bigger than one's self. Or figuring out you can pull out a win, after everything seems lost. Feeling joy in teammates successes, or quite simply, just being tougher and stronger than ever before thought humanly possible. Yes, it is easy to see how this transfers to the battlefield and how it could contribute to the best ground forces in the world. After all, that was the original purpose for the invention of football. Picture the millions of kids that have played football in the U.S. and the lessons they learned from it. Most will never go to battle. However, those same skills create a competitive spirit and edge for this country in a way nothing else can compare wether it be for the classroom, in college, in the workforce, or in the boardroom. The ability to push oneself is developed as a youth in sports like football. The environment teaches that we may not always see the rewards on the other side, but it becomes ingrained in us to keep pushing. Kids learn lessons from coaches that they could never learn anywhere else. These carry over to all aspects of life, and can bring success in any organization. Skills such as learning how to not take things personally when being reprimanded, how to put away personal pride and selfishness for pride of the team, taking instruction in the thick of things, processing massive amounts of data in short periods of time during chaos and pressure are all unique lessons only duplicated in this environment of sport. Football also lends to more obvious things like school pride or bringing an entire college campus together in a way that allows even the non-athletes be apart of something, students feel more engaged and part of the culture. Football is a source of pride for entire cities and states. The Superbowl is the most watched event in the world. No one in the world trains and thinks like an American football player. It's hard to picture America without football. But America is losing football everyday.
We are all aware of the rising concern with the dangers of concussions in not only football, but all sports. Parents have always had consternation when it comes to football and injuries. The latest information that has been publicized in the last few years has many parents on edge, and many more than ever keeping their kids from playing football. Football gets the worst of the scrutiny due to the fact it is the most successful, is so highly visible and being the most covered sport in the U.S. However, soccer actually has the highest instances of concussions of any sport. It is very clear, we have a huge concussion problem.
The thought of losing football, and what it could mean for America, had Xceleration scrambling for ideas about ways to improve, ways to prevent.
Everyone's knee jerk reaction is to always add a piece of equipment, improve helmets, change the rules, etc. The problem is that every time we add a new piece of equipment, we play harder, faster, feel more secure, thus causing more problems. The invention of the helmet itself caused football to evolve into the flying around with your head sport its is today.
We must have a comprehensive plan to decrease the likelihood and severity of concussions.
First let's go into the anatomy of a concussion. The determination of the severity of a concussion and often if an athlete gets one at all, is typically not the blunt force, but the movement, or whiplash of the head causing the brain to strike the back or front of the skull.
Some of the most severe concussions come from a blow to the side of the head, or even worse, the clipping of a face mask acting as a long lever, creating more rotational force. These hits cause the rotation of the brain on the brainstem and reek havoc to the receiving athletes brain.
What is HEADSTRONG
Headstrong is a call to action for the sports performance world. For years Xceleration has used it's braintrust of ex-football players, kinesiologist, biomechanics and neuroscientist to work making athletes faster and stronger. We have come to the realization that if we make them so much faster, we are also creating the likelihood of more severe concussions with this great increase of speed. It is our responsibility to prevent them as well.
Headstrong is a comprehensive training program designed to prevent concussions
Headstrong concussion prevention cannot prevent every concussion, nothing can. However, as you will see with the science, it WILL greatly decrease the instance and likelihood and WILL decrease the severity.
Studies have shown that the single largest determining factor of your likelihood of getting a concussion and the severity, across all sports, and both genders to be NECK circumference and strength.
Yes, the neck. But your grandpa's 4 way neck machine is not the answer.
The key is developing horizontal, and rotary strength. Several of the recent studies that have had a lot of NFL money thrown at them due to recent lawsuits, have concluded that the dissipation of force, and the ability to decelerate and control the whiplash effect are the most promising ways decrease concussions.
In physics, dissipation embodies the concept of a dynamical system where mechanical modes lose energy over time, typically due to the action of friction or turbulence. The lost energy is converted into heat, raising the temperature of the system. These are called dissipative systems. The Headstrong program turns the neck into a dissipative system. When a hit to the head occurs, the neck muscles are the mechanical mode that resist the blow, fighting the force by slowing down the head movement and dissipating force down into the torso, thus protecting the brain from the concussive forces.
Picture a speed bag and the amount of movement it has when hit. Now picture the hitting bags attached to large bases on the floor. Same energy is there, but it is dissipated from the bag through the base, therefore it doesn't move the way the speed bag does. How would you prefer your athlete's head be connected to the body?
Most sports use the same strength training techniques as olympic lifters or power lifters. The missing link here is obviously they don't have to worry about contact. Due to this lifting, most neck work will be taken over by many stronger muscle groups (traps and upper back muscles). This is great for dissipating force, but there is still a weak link in the rotational muscles in the neck. This is due to the lack of horizontal resistance in training. Unless your genetics allow you to easily develop great neck size and strength, there will be a deficiency in this area unless it is systematically targeted correctly. As we know, energy will always find the weak link. We must illuminate and eliminate ALL weak links.
Pittsburg Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley attributes his concussion free career largely to neck training that provided additional physical support beyond a helmet and mouth guard.
Let us perform our NeckBine, yes, a combine for your neck. We will perform an assessment of your neck with measures that include mobility, stability, multiplanar force generation, imbalances in strength, flexibility and circumference.
Developing a healthy, stronger more balanced neck will also prevent neck injuries and protect your spine. The lifelong postural affects of Headstrong will pay dividends lifelong.
Athlete training with the Iron Neck allowing rotational neck development