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The worst-case scenario fear surfaced in Sam Bradford’s mind at midseason [url=http://www.eaglescheapshops.com/cheap-authentic-josh-sweat-jersey]Authentic Josh Sweat Jersey[/url] , in the aftermath of the 30-year-old quarterback’s latest surgery on his left knee.

This procedure was an arthroscopic cleanup, not another reconstruction, but that didn’t quiet the question about whether he’d be able to resume his career.

”That was a battle I fought for a few weeks,” Bradford said. ”But it seemed like each day where it got better, each week where it felt like I was making true progress and could do a little bit more, those thoughts started to leave my mind. I started to become more confident in how I felt on my knee and what I was able to do.”

Bradford returned to practice with the Minnesota Vikings this week, the earliest he was eligible to do so after being placed on injured reserve on Nov. 8.

The Vikings can put him back on the active roster for the playoffs at any time, with a decision required by Jan. 23 if they advance to the Super Bowl.

Bradford would likely only be the second or third option at that point behind Case Keenum and possibly Teddy Bridgewater, but in this unpredictable sport the potential of him being summoned into duty can’t be dismissed.

”I’ve been working extremely hard to be able to get back out there, and so just to be out there and be able to go through these two practices, it’s been great,” Bradford said on Wednesday, his first mass interview in three months. ”I think we’re still just taking it one day at a time.”

Bradford, who tore his ACL in 2013 and 2014 when he was with the St. Louis Rams, performed brilliantly in the season-opening win over the New Orleans Saints, during which he aggravated the knee.

Keenum started the next three games [url=http://www.carolinapanthersteamonline.com]Panthers Authentic Jerseys[/url] , until Bradford had made sufficient enough progress to be cleared to start at Chicago on Oct. 9. He hobbled around in the first half against the Bears that night, though. He took four sacks and produced only three points before giving way to Keenum again late in the second quarter, this time for good.

Vikings head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman described the injury as natural wear and tear, but Bradford tried a variety of treatments to try to strengthen the joint without success before ultimately opting for the surgery.

Finally, he said, the knee is feeling as good as it has since training camp.

”I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know how it’s going to hold up. But I didn’t know how it was going to hold up after the previous two operations,” Bradford said.

”I don’t think anyone knows how their body is going to hold up. All you can do is try to get it as strong as possible.”

Bradford kept up a behind-the-scenes presence with the Vikings throughout his rehabilitation, assisting Keenum with the game-planning and attempting to remain engaged with the team during its run to a 13-3 regular season record and a first-round bye for the playoffs.

”I know it’s been a hard year for him battling that knee, so it’s good to see him out there feeling good,” tight end Kyle Rudolph said.

The what-could-have-been feelings were inevitable for Bradford, given the team’s success without him, but calling it career before all options were exhausted was not entertained even with career earnings well over $100 million.

”You realize how special it is to be on the field with your teammates, being able to compete out there in the National Football League,” Bradford said.

”That’s one of the greatest honors there is. I think once you have a taste of that feeling, it’s really hard to let it go. I think for everyone, it’s what drives you to come back.”

Rudolph [url=http://www.sanfrancisco49ersteamonline.com/mike-mcglinchey-jersey]Mike McGlinchey Jersey Limited[/url] , for his part, pushed through a sprained right ankle over the past three games.

”I can’t tell you what Plan B would’ve been had we had to play a game this week. I just would’ve been out there and been a terrible football player like I have been for the last three weeks,” Rudolph said. ”Getting to this week off is big for me.”





Part of USA Football’s mission is to make the game safer and more popular for youngsters.

With two steps it will unveil Friday, the governing body for the sport believes it is doing just that.

USA Football is embracing the U.S. Olympic Committee’s American Development Model, which focuses on skill development by offering multiple entry points and types of a sport designed to bring more enjoyment of the game while also enhancing fitness.

The organization, which serves more than 10,000 school-based and youth programs through its nationally endorsed coaching education and playing standards programs, also is incorporating what it calls the ”Tip of the Spear Contact System” that emphasizes smarter use of the hands and arms when blocking and defeating blocks. The system can deliver safer play, reduce helmet contact and advance skill development.

The American Development Model has worked well in dozens of sports that fall under the USOC’s umbrella. USA Football CEO Scott Hallenbeck sees ADM has a natural progression for the gridiron.

”We took a step back and as a member of the USOC looked at what other governing bodies were doing,” Hallenbeck says. ”For instance, with ice hockey, with specifics for different ages – checking rules, modifying games – it was part of a progression. We have flag football and 11-a-side tackle, so there was not much of a progression. We’ve inserted the middle step, which we call rookie tackle.

”Rookie tackle is a modified game and we tested it in nine locations around the country. The idea is to cut the field in half … play six- or seven- or eight-man games. Use a two-point stance, no special teams [url=http://www.ravenscheapshops.com/cheap-authentic-kenny-young-jersey]Cheap Kenny Young Jersey[/url] , kids play multiple positions, coaches can be on the field. This will help contribute to the positive overall experience and be an introduction to tackle football.”

The best analogy might be with baseball, which has T-ball, then coach pitch, then player pitch.

The ADM program has five key areas, all of which can be applied to youth football:

-Universal access to create opportunity for all athletes. This means no cuts under age 12.

-Developmentally appropriate activities that emphasize motor and foundational skills.

”Shrinking the field and having modified tackle programs allows young athletes to grow into the game without having to play a version of the game they are not ready to navigate,” says Chris Snyder, the USOC’s director of coaching development. ”This philosophy fits very well with football, and allows athletes to opt in at later ages without being put at a major disadvantage.”

-Multi-sport participation. Snyder considers football a big cross-over sport, ”so this emphasis will help athletes become well-rounded and stay away from over-training or specialization issues.”

-A fun, engaging and progressively challenging atmosphere.

-Quality coaching at all age levels.

”USA Football already has a solid training program with an emphasis on safety first,” Snyder says.

That’s where the Tip of the Spear system comes in, too. Available to youth and high school football programs this year, it is specific to use of the hands. In 11-on-11 football, for example, tackling is a small fraction of the contact. The byproduct of using the hands properly and not the head is that it’s safer.

”This is not only about safety [url=http://www.seattlemarinersteamshop.com/authentic-james-paxton-jersey]James Paxton Seattle Mariners Jersey[/url] , it’s about performance,” says Scott Peters, the chief instructor of the system for USA Football and a former NFL player. ”But it is safety through superior technique.

”You can learn this right now,” adds Peters, noting that players in the NFL and colleges have embraced the technique; he has consulted with more than 50 college and pro coaches on it. ”It’s very easy and simple to teach, it’s transferrable through all the ranks of football. It’s about how to teach them a better methodology.”

Basically, Tip of the Spear teaches youngsters how to generate more force by using their hips to drive their hands. From their initial stance, they are taught an uncoiling of the hips to generate all the force in any contact from their hips, taking their head out of the equation.

”It’s about how to build a culture around domination with the hands and shoulders,” Peters says.

That’s a critical component. Dr. Brian Hainline, the NCAA’s chief medical officer and a former member of the USOC Sports Medicine Committee, says these two initiatives by USA Football address significant challenges the sport faces.

”What the ADM means is you should be doing sports in an age-specific and developmentally sound manner, not just physical but emotional and mental development,” he says. ”When the most important aspect is followed – when kids are introduced to sport and to safety and that they should be having fun, the likelihood they will remain engaged in sport and healthy activity far exceeds from when they’re involved in early specialization and simply are focused on winning. It improves the ability to develop athleticism.

”USA Football is wise to be doing this.”



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