Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Top Health Benefits From Playing American Football

Football is considered as one of the most popular sports in the country. Its popularity can be attributed to many reasons, one of which is the number of health benefits it offers both children and adults. Several of these are listed below.

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Alleviation of negative stress: Medical studies have shown that an increase of physical activity dramatically improves neural connections, which lessens the effects of negative stress. A healthy amount of endorphins – the hormone known to make a person feel good – is also released in the brain. In particular, American football players show an increase in activity in brain areas related to goal-orientation and focus. These areas have been correlated with reducing the amount of negative stress a person feels.

Intense cardio workout: Football is an excellent overall workout, but has been shown to provide intense cardio benefits. This is due to the range of movements involved in the game, which often includes kicks, turns, twists, and throws. Football also requires a significant amount of running, jumping, and the quick changes of direction.

Increased bone density and mass: Research found that football players typically have improved mass and bone density. This may be because they are usually required to have a high protein and carbohydrate diet that helps them participate in the tough sport. This means that there is a significant reduction of bone or joint-related diseases as the players age.

These are only a few of the myriad of health benefits American football provides. The best way to understand these benefits is to engage in the sport.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Truth Behind Concussions and American Football

American football has gained notoriety for contributing to high incidences of traumatic brain injury among players. This sport estimates the highest number of concussions per season, beating rugby, basketball, or baseball. Recent medical studies have also reported that former football players have significantly higher risk of contracting a degenerative disease because of repetitive brain injuries. The authors of these studies estimate that roughly 80 percent of professional players had signs of chronic trauma encephalopathy (CTE).

The cause is fairly obvious. Compared to other sports, American football is built on rough physical exertions. Tackles, which force a player down and cause him to hit his head, are a fairly common occurrence. When these happen often, the trauma can cause abnormalities in the brain.

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These reports have changed the way the game is being played. The NFL has implemented several regulations that prevent serious injury. One such rule is the tackling ban: players can no longer tackle with a blow from the crown of the head. Additionally, teams are now encouraged to develop tackling styles that are similar to those of rugby; that is, tackling from the legs and hitting with their shoulders. These changes have reportedly led to a decrease in reported concussions by around 35 percent since 2012.

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But medical and sports professionals say there is still a long way to go. American football can only be modified so much without changing the essence of its game-play. Consequently, the current focus is improving protective equipment. There is also some hope for newer and better forms of imaging which would allow athletic trainers to spot damaging tackles and immediately call for medical timeout.  

Having lived, breathed, and played professional football for most of his life, Will McHale understands both the beauty and danger of engaging in this sport. For more information, like this Facebook page.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Strange Game: Some Unusual Things About American Football

Although not without an international footprint in North America, Europe, and Asia, the game known to the rest of the world as American football is an acclaimed national institution. As would be expected from a game so tied to the culture of a nation, it will bear several unusual hallmarks that set it a world apart from other sports.

Rugby lite

Football as many know it today was descended from a group of sports known as “football,” whose main rule was that it was played on foot. That which became modern American football evolved from rugby. This is evident in the territorial and physical nature of the game. Unlike both forms of modern rugby, however, American football is considerably less violent, much to the astonishment of British spectators.

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Sports time

Officially, a football game only has about one hour of play. In practice, the time between plays can significantly stretch a game for up to three hours. The game's clock is governed by a number of arcane rules in stopping and starting during the game, which can be used by a particularly savvy coach to a team's tactical advantage.

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Three teams

Although only two teams are ever seen competing, there are actually three teams present in the game itself. The “third team” refers to the officiating crew, which is in charge of enforcing the game's rules in the field.

Old pigskin

While most footballs are made from rubber, they are commonly called pigskins. The ball gained its unusual name from the fact that before vulcanized rubber became available, it would frequently be made from a pig's bladder, usually also wrapped in (pig) leather. Although it was possible for a football to be made from leather stuffed with hay, they did not perform as well in-game as the pig bladders. By the late 19th century, rubber footballs have become available at last, but the name of the leather-bound bladder stuck.  

Having been an inside linebacker for the Yale Bulldogs, Will McHale later served as the assistant coach for the American football team La Courneuve Flash in France. Visit this blog for more updates on football.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Getting into American Football

Many would agree that American football is one of the greatest sports in world. As evidence of its widespread popularity, the National Football League, in its championship game, the Super Bowl, ranks among the most-watched sporting events in the globe with millions of fans from different countries tuning in.

But the thing that makes American football truly special is the game itself. It is a sport that balances mental and physical toughness, cooperation, and leadership. Players who excel in the field can expect a badge of prestige and honor from their families, friends, and communities.

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American football is a game for all shapes and sizes. From physical technique and endurance to communication and analytical skills, the game uses specific skills depending on the player’s position in the team—one can be a speedy pass catcher, while others can be offensive blockers for stronger defense. That said, it is vital to know your strengths and weaknesses in order to determine your role in the game.

In terms of cost, American football is an affordable sport to get involved in. If you are student, local clubs in colleges and universities can help you hone your skill. In the U.S., it is estimated that nearly 1 million high school athletes and 70,000 college athletes play the sport annually.

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Whether for recreation or a professional career, American football is for everyone. It is a game that spreads positivity and bond among players.

This Will McHale blog shares more articles on American Football.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Five Critical Skills a Quarterback Needs to Succeed

Being a successful quarterback needs more than just throwing skills and footwork. Aside from mastering game management, a quarterback needs to be the best offensive leader to help the team claim victory. Here are some quarterback skills that will ensure success:

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  1. Arm and core strength 

A quarterback needs to hone his shoulder strength, scapula stability, leg strength, and rotational core strength to improve velocity when throwing the ball at high speed. Do activities that enhance the strength of the arms, abs, obliques, hips, and glutes.
     2.  Competitiveness
A good quarterback must be intensely competitive. A quarterback is considered the leader of the offense and the one who is commanding the team on the field. Every time there is a huddle, he has to show his good spirits and courageousness to other players to inspire them.

    3. Mobility
The ability to avoid a pass rush or tackle is important thus overall mobility and agility can make a remarkable difference in the game. Training by jumping rope, quick footwork, and drills will improve foot speed.

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    4. Vision
It is very critical to keep the head steady and the eyes focused during the game particularly when throwing the ball to target receiver running routes downfield.

    5. Intelligence
Aside from innate acumen of the sport, a quarterback has to master all the running plays in the playbook. This involves studying more and lots of practice.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

American Football in France: No, They Don't Call it Rugby

In France, le foot is played by elite athletes such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Zinedine Zidane, or Olivier Giroud, just to drop a couple of names. The name Mike Leach might not ring too many bells in the streets of this country that loves its footballs kicked, dribbled by foot, and unmistakably round. 

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There is a running misconception that Europeans harbor an aversion against American football. Moreover, rugby, a sport whose mechanics run close to those of American football, is revered and supported on the continent so as to eclipse the allure of the latter. But it must be clarified that American football has planted some Old World roots, and in France no less. French teams such as Le Flash de La Courneuve have gained a loyal, sizable following over the years. They play in municipal stadia and inspire a certain culture of Americanism among the crowds, such as cheers in English. 

The sport is showing much promise, especially as it makes the international rounds. Unbeknown to many, even some avid followers of NFL, the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) exists, counting 64 member nations on six continents. Each member has a national federation dedicated to the sport, and France is just one shining example of a country that upholds the sport and the core values promoted by the federation. In fact, the country had been playing American football since 1919, thanks to the legacy of American soldiers who had stayed in the country after World War I. The ensuing century and decades will not know a letup in the sport: to date, France regularly participates in international competitions.

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Will McHale is a former linebacker and assistant coach for La Courneuve France, a professional American football team in France. For more reads on American football, visit this blog.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Team Building and Beyond: Leadership Lessons from Renowned Football Coaches

Football coaches, especially those in the NFL, carry the heavy duty of not only leading their players to victory but also making sure that all members stay motivated as they progress.

Those who do not enjoy football can still learn lessons from the football field - leadership lessons, to be exact. Here are some of them:

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Leadership is about teaching, not shouting

Vince Lombardi was the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers in the 1960s. Considered one of the greatest coaches in NFL history, Lombardi likened coaching to teaching, where the leader isn’t there to bark orders, but to set a goal and tell each member why each step is important. With this kind of coaching, his players grew to respect him as he made sure all of them understood what they were playing for.

Honesty is important

“The only way to change people is to tell them in the clearest possible terms what they’re doing wrong. And if they don’t want to listen, they don’t belong on the team,” writes Bill Parcells in a Harvard Business Review article in 2000. Bill Parcells was known for turning around losing teams and for coaching the New York Giants to two Super Bowl wins. His key strategy: be (brutally) honest.

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Hard work is a tool to achieve goals

Tom Landry made the Dallas Cowboys one of the best teams in the 1970s. He was known for making his players recognize the importance of working hard today in order to reap the rewards of tomorrow. He once said, “Leadership is getting someone to do what they don’t want to do [so they can] achieve what they want to achieve.”

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