The laces of a football are an iconic image in the modern-day sport. Laces have always been important to the game, but their role has changed over the years as advancements have been made in both the construction of the ball and style of play. Today, this small strip of white on the side of the football is one of the sport’s distinguishing characteristics.
Originally, a football’s laces were a necessary component of the ball’s construction — the laces helped tie the leather tightly around the internal bladder. The laces were a thick stitching designed to endure the abuse of being squeezed, kicked and thrown during football games.
Laces are no longer a necessary part of the football’s construction as they once were — footballs can be stitched together without the use of bulky laces. But the laces haven’t remained just for novelty purposes: They now serve an important role in certain aspects of a game.
The laces play a pivotal role in the passing game — without them, long, accurate passes would be very difficult to achieve. Most quarterbacks place some of the fingers of the throwing hand on the football’s laces. This gives them more grip on the ball when throwing, and it also enables them to place a tight spiral on the ball — the laces are the last part of the football touched on a throw, and the action the fingers place on the laces causes the football to rotate tightly through the air. Because passing is such a fundamental part of modern football, laces are a necessity.
If you’ve ever heard the term, “laces out,” it refers to the way a football should be kicked. A kicker’s foot striking the laces of the ball can result in an erratic kick that goes off to the side, out of the kicker’s control. Consequently, punters and place-kick holders immediately catch the ball and rotate the laces so that they face in the direction opposite of where the kicker’s foot will contact the ball. This eliminates the risk of the laces causing an errant kick.
Every item a football player wears, including his belt, plays a significant role in his safety and ability to play well. Although a belt might not present itself as being particularly important, it keeps a player’s pants in place when running and can keep protective hip and butt pads in place during a game. The fit between a belt and football pants is a tight one, but it is not impossible to manage.
Place your football pants on a flat surface with the waist section within easy reach.
Slide an index finger and thumb into the slot to the left side loop in the pants. This refers to the side that is on your left when wearing the pants. Push one end of the belt toward your thumb and finger sitting inside the first loop. Pinch the belt with your finger and thumb. Pull the belt through the loop.
Pull the belt through the front loop slit until the free end sits six to eight inches away from the front edge of the loop. Continue working the belt through each loop until you reach the mounting point of the left hip pad. Align the slots of the pad with the corresponding loop in the pants. Slide the belt through both sets of slots. Move to the next pant loop and push the belt through.
Align the slots of the butt pad with the corresponding pant slots. Push the belt through. Make sure the pads remain in place as you continue putting the belt in the pants until you reach the right side pad. Repeat the alignment and threading procedure as described for the left side pad.
Finish putting the belt in the pants until you reach the opening located at the groin.
Fencing is first and foremost a combat sport, meaning that it takes two players in order to compete. But just because you don’t have a partner doesn’t mean you can’t practice your form and footwork on your own. By creating drills and exercises for yourself, you can continue to hone skills like sword control, footwork and lunging. Keep your practice drills interesting so that your solo practices won’t seem too dull as you sharpen your game.
Practice lunges in front of a mirror. The lunging motion is one of the most important foundation moves in fencing. Stand in front of a mirror and slowly move into lunge position. Notice any problems with your form. Hold your foil and parry toward the mirror and check your form again, noting anywhere that you could improve. The purpose of a lunging drill is to learn to quickly recover from a thrust position to an on guard position — it should feel light and recovery should be quick, notes the American Fencing Academy.
Hang a tennis ball at chest level from the ceiling. Practice sword control by attempting to thrust toward the ball and hitting it with the tip of your sword. Since it’s a small target, this may be challenging. If you don’t find it challenging enough, replace the tennis ball with a smaller object, like a rubber or gold ball, and repeat. Stop the ball from swinging each time you make contact before trying again. Continue to practice your sword control by standing a sword’s length away from a doorknob or small object and drawing a circle around the shape.
Work on your footwork by creating drill combos that string together a number of defensive positions and offensive returns at once. Fencing.net suggests doing each sequence for two minutes, with a rest of one minute between each sequence. Start with an advance/advance-lunge/on guard sequence, focusing on form and the light, balanced lunges that you’ve perfected in the mirror. Then, try a jump forward-lunge/redouble/on guard. Always return to your on guard position no matter what the sequence.
Improve your parries by reducing your ability to retreat. Place a block behind your back foot as a reminder that you can’t step backward. Then, practice a completely offensive sequence where you are unable to retreat. With the option of moving back removed from the equation, you are forced to think of sequences that you may not have considered before, which is ideal for improved offensive movements when sparring with a partner or competitor.
Your ankles are probably the last thing you think of when you are working out — but they shouldn’t be. The ankle is a major weight-bearing joint and also the most commonly injured; the rate of ankle re-injury is also high. Strengthening the ankles using exercises to target the muscles, tendons and ligaments surrounding the ankle joints will lower your risk of injury. The use of isometric exercises, or non-weight-bearing exercises in which you push against a fixed object, are the best way to strengthen ankles for injury prevention or recovery.
Dorsiflexion is the action of pulling the foot toward the body. To perform this exercise, place a resistance band around a fixed point, such as the leg of a couch, and tie it in a loop. Sit with your legs extended, far enough away from the couch so that the band fits tightly around the top of your flexed foot. Pull your toes back toward your body, stretching the resistance band. Hold this stretch for five to 10 seconds before returning to a neutral position. Repeat this stretch for a total of 10 to 20 repetitions on each ankle.
Plantar flexion involves moving the foot away from the body. To perform this stretch, hold each end of a resistance band in your hands. Sit with your back straight and your legs extended in front of you. Place the band around the ball of your foot and hold it so that the band is taut. Press your toes away from your body by pointing them, causing the band to stretch tightly. Hold this position for five to 10 seconds before returning to the starting position. Repeat this stretch to complete 10 to 20 on each ankle.
Inversion is the act of turning the foot inward, toward the mid-line of your body. To do this stretch, place a looped resistance band around a fixed object, for example the leg of a couch, and sit so that your legs are extended in front of you and you are near enough to the couch to place the band firmly around the top of your foot. Turn your foot inward, rotating the ankle joint toward your other leg and tightening the resistance band. Hold this for five to 10 seconds before releasing the stretch. Complete a total of 10 to 20 repetitions per ankle.
Eversion occurs when the foot is turned outward, or away from the body. To perform the isometric eversion exercise, place a looped resistance band around a fixed object. It might be best to use a table leg, or something you can extend your legs under. Sit with legs extended and the band looped tightly around your foot coming from the inside of your leg, perhaps straddling the table leg. Pull your foot away from the table leg, increasing the stretch on the band. Hold this stretch for five to 10 seconds then release. Repeat this for 10 to 20 repetitions per ankle.
Former NBA point guard Darrell Armstrong was known to drink six cups of coffee before every game. Another NBA point guard, Rod Strickland, was known for eating hot dogs before games–and sometimes at halftime as well. These odd diets worked for them, but what should you be eating and drinking before you hit the hardwood?
It’s understandable if you don’t want to gorge yourself before a game because it makes you feel slow and lethargic, but don’t skip eating before playing altogether. Feed your body before asking it to perform. It’ll help boost your stamina.
As with any fast-paced athletic endeavor, take in plenty of fluids in order to avoid dehydration, which can lead to cramping and fatigue. Water has no negative properties. Gatorade, the most popular sports drink, has sugar in it but it also helps replace electrolytes, which keep your muscles and nerves working properly. And as ill-advised as it might sound, Armstrong’s coffee habit might not have been such a bad idea. Some athletes swear the caffeine in coffee makes the rigors of their sports seem a bit more effortless.
Eat foods high in complex carbohydrates, which keep your blood sugar at an even level and promote a feeling of fullness so you don’t get hungry during the game. Some foods rich in complex carbs are leafy greens, all forms of whole grain–oatmeal, for instance–and berries. Rice is another good option and is more filling than fruits and vegetables.
Starchy foods such as potatoes are recommended. The starch digests easily and keeps blood sugar levels high, which is important in vigorous competition. Foods with protein, such as nuts and chicken breast, stimulate insulin and help energize your brain.
Avoid eating foods high in fat. Fatty foods take longer than lean foods for your body to digest and convert them into energy. By the time you’re getting any fuel from your pre-game meal, the game might be over. Also avoid high-fiber foods such as bran, which can lead to cramping and the need for unexpected bathroom breaks. Also avoid salty foods, which will cause you to retain water and feel bloated.
Golf is mostly a solitary game of you and a ball against the elements, but there are some games you can play within the sport to make it more interesting. Some games can be competitive, others can be about socializing, and both can be a great way to improve your skills while having some fun.
This is a game for four players split into two teams. Each hole played is worth 2 points. One point is for the “good” and one point is for the “bad.” After a hole is played, the best score by a player on the first team is compared with the best score of a player on the second team. The team with the best score gets the “good” point. Then the same is done for the other player on each team. Whichever player had the better of the two lowest team points scores a “bad” point for his team. In the case of a tie, the point is carried over to the next hole.
Wolf is a fun game for four players. At the start of each hole, one player is deemed the “wolf,” — this should rotate for each hole. After each player tees off, the “wolf” may choose any of the other players to be his partner for the hole, or choose to be solo, based on the tee shots. If the “wolf” chooses a partner, the other two players become a team. If the “wolf” decides to be solo, the other three players are a team. At the end of the hole, if the “wolf” wins solo he gets two points. If the “wolf” wins with the help of a partner, each player gets a point. If the other team, of two or three players, wins the hole, all players from that team get a point. On par-three holes, the “wolf” must choose his partner before the tee shot. On par-five holes, the “wolf” may wait until everyone’s second shot to choose his partner. The player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
Alternate shot golf, sometimes called foursomes, is played by four players split into two teams. Each team’s players alternate hitting the same ball. If player one tees off, player two from that team has to play the second shot from where it lands. Then player one will play the third shot and so on until the ball is holed. This actually makes a game of golf go more quickly, theoretically. And this game can be played as stroke play or match play.
This game is for a four-man team tournament-style competition. All four players on the team play their ball throughout the game. But scoring is based on a three-hole rotation. On the first hole, the team score is equal to the score of the player with the lowest score. On the second hole, the team score is the combination of both of the lowest scores on the team. On the third hole, the team score is the combination of the three lowest scores on the team. Then the rotation starts over again on the fourth hole.
It eventually happens to almost all contact lens wearers: You fall asleep while still wearing your contacts. With approximately 10 percent of Americans wearing contact lenses regularly, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, concerns about sleeping with contact lenses are common. The potential for problems depends on the type of lenses you wear, how you care for them and your overall eye health.
When you fall asleep wearing your contacts, your eyelid is closed over the contact that covers the cornea. Oxygen normally diffuses into corneal cells directly from the air. But with a closed eye, the cornea has less exposure to oxygen. In addition, nourishment and protection from germs come from the natural tears of the eye. A closed eye with a contact in place impedes fresh tear flow to the corneal cells. Lack of oxygen and tears may lead to short-term problems ranging from feeling like something is in the eye, blurred vision, red eye, burning, itching or a scratched cornea. More serious problems that may develop over time include abnormal blood vessel growth into the cornea, giant papillary conjunctivitis, or bumps on the underside of the lids causing mucus discharge and irritation. Corneal infection, which can lead to scarring and poor vision, is another possible outcome.
In the quest for better oxygen permeability, the greatest breakthrough in contact lens material came with the introduction of soft silicone hydrogel lenses. Silicone has a high permeability for oxygen and allows for 6 to 7 times more oxygen passage than standard hydrogel lenses. For this reason, silicone hydrogel lenses are approved for extended, overnight wear. More oxygen flow to the cornea means less stress to the corneal cells and less likelihood of corneal problems.
Changing to a fresh contact lens pair often — as indicated on the package insert — and keeping your current pair clean with a multipurpose solution are important to decreasing a lens¡¯ biofilm — the layer of bacteria and debris that adhere to the contact surface and must be removed to decrease the risk of corneal infection. Changing lens cases regularly also helps to reduce biofilm buildup. However, people who sleep in their contacts — even extended-wear lenses — have an increased risk of corneal infection due to biofilm.
People with eye conditions that affect the normal tear film, such as dry eye syndrome or blepharitis, are predisposed to problems related to contact wear. These include the constant sensation of the contact lens on the eye, difficulty inserting and removing the contact, red eye and possibly pain. Such symptoms lead to reduced contact lens tolerability over time. Wearing contacts while sleeping increases the likelihood of problems occurring in people with dry eye or blepharitis. Therefore, any underlying eye conditions should be treated before contact use. This involves regular visits with an eye care professional to evaluate eye health and fitness for contact wear. It may also involve the regular use of lubricating artificial tears.