What Is the Difference Between Latin American & European Soccer?

More than a century of competitive world soccer has shaped the perceived differences between Latin American and European soccer styles. Some of these generally accepted differences have almost become stereotypes, surviving despite the continually changing nature of the modern game. However, basic soccer philosophies differ between cultural regions, and both Europe and Latin America possess their own fundamental styles.
Latin American teams traditionally play an open style of soccer. The style of play is free-flowing, and the focus is on attack. In comparison, the general view of European play is one of greater discipline and less freedom of expression. European tactics tend to focus on denying the opposition space in which to move, resulting in a tighter and more cautious approach. These are general overviews, and ones that the modern game is perhaps eroding. The 21st century has seen Latin American teams such as Brazil and Argentina tighten up their defensive play, often at the expense of truly open soccer. In contrast, the German national team, once known for its rigid efficiency, displayed an open and attacking style of soccer during the 2010 World Cup.
Latin American soccer players are renowned for their technical abilities. They are confident with the ball at their feet and happy to take on opposing defenders one on one. Latin American soccer players move the ball spontaneously and with many individual-based plays. European soccer does not emphasize individuality to such an extent. Coaches focus upon team play and encourage direct passing between players rather than technical trickery. Obvious exceptions to this general rule include Spain, for example, which won the 2010 World Cup with a showy display of technical football.
Lying somewhere beyond technical ability is natural flair, something that Latin American players possess in abundance. The Brazilians are the kings of style, and their passion for doing the unexpected seems to have spread throughout the entire Latin American region. Pele, Diego Maradona, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi are just a few names on a long list of Latin American showmen. Europe has also produced its fair share of flair players such as Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo, but most fans and pundits still look upon Latin America as the home of flamboyant soccer.
Some of the greatest goalkeepers of all time have come from Latin America. Ubaldo Fillol and Amadeo Carrizo from Argentina, Gilmar from Brazil and Jose Luis Chilavert from Paraguay are all notable examples. However, Latin American goalkeepers have a reputation for eccentricity and unreliability, thanks largely to some woeful performances by Latin American goalies in World Cup competitions. As for eccentricity, no goalkeeper can rival former Colombian international goalie Rene ¡°El Loco¡± Higuita. Higuita was known for dribbling the ball up the pitch, scoring goals from free kicks and, most famously, the Scorpion Kick save. Despite being a hugely popular and entertaining player, his antics didn¡¯t help restore the global reputation of Latin American goalkeepers.

Muscle Soreness After Basketball

When the final whistle sounds at a basketball game, your responsibilities to defend an opponent and execute your team’s offense are replaced by your responsibilities to care for your own body. Following healthy post-game recovery techniques will do more than ward off feelings of muscle fatigue and stiffness. Proper recovery will also refresh your body for your next practice, game or tournament and keep you performing at your best.
As you dribble, sprint, slide and leap across the basketball court, the muscles in your body contract repeatedly, causing microscopic tears in muscle fibers and tissue. While your body does its best to keep muscles fueled with blood and oxygen using its inner energy reserve of glycogen, it also produces a waste product known as lactic acid. The cumulative effect of inflammation from tiny muscle tears and the buildup of lactic acid results in delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, a sensation of muscle pain that can linger for 24 to 48 hours after your game ends.
When the clock runs out on an intense game, your first instinct may be to slump into a seat in the locker room. However, suddenly stopping muscle movement after a bout of intense exercise such as a basketball game can worsen DOMS. After cooling down for five to 10 minutes, spend about 10 minutes stretching to promote blood flow to contracted muscles and prevent fatigued muscles from stiffening. Stretch lower-body muscles such as your hamstrings, quadriceps and calves as well as upper-body muscles in the shoulders and arms, gently holding each stretch for up to 30 seconds. Consistently stretching after a game will improve your muscles’ range of motion and reduce your risk of injury the next time you step on the court.
Within an hour after the end of your game, eat a post-game meal or snack to replenish your lost stores of carbohydrate energy and add a small portion of protein to speed up muscle recovery. The number of grams of carbohydrates you eat in a post-game meal should equal half of your body’s weight in pounds, while your protein intake should comprise about a quarter of your meal. You should also drink plenty of water — which comprises about 75 percent of your skeletal tissue — to replace fluids lost through sweat during a game. To accurately gauge how much water to drink, weigh yourself before and after a game or practice, then drink approximately 24 oz. of water for every pound lost during game play.
The adrenaline rush of a basketball game may leave you feeling wired after a game ends, but once you have cooled down, stretched and eaten a post-game meal, you should next focus on giving your body the sleep it needs. Aim for eight to nine hours of sleep per night, which will allow your body to repair its tired muscles, produce muscle-growing hormones, replenish glycogen stores and strengthen your immune system.

How to Meet Friends in a New Town

Walking through the streets of a new town, it’s easy to look through the windows of restaurants and coffee houses and feel alienated and lonely at the sight of people laughing, talking and joking together like they’ve known each other forever. The truth is, many of them have. You probably knew a lot of people in your hometown too. To meet new friends when you’re living somewhere new, you can’t just sit back and wait for it to happen, because it probably won’t happen on its own. You’ll have to get out there and make new connections.
The people you work with or go to school with are the people you see the most, so they may be your best bet for making friends quickly in a new town. A lot of people go out with their co-workers in a group Friday night, but that can result in everyone just talking about work. You might have more luck looking for something you have in common with just one or two co-workers. For instance, if you see a bumper sticker for one of your favorite bands on a co-worker’s car, mention it to him and the two of you could start talking about music together. Before you know it you could be going out to see a show.
Bulletin boards at cafes and other locations are often covered with posters and fliers announcing everything from Yoga classes to yard sales. If you make a habit of checking them out, you’ll find out about neighborhood block parties, political rallies, charity fundraisers and rock concerts. Whatever your personal interests are, somebody else nearby shares those interests. Once you start going out and doing the things you’ve always loved doing, you’re much more likely to meet new people.
Exercise tends to keep your mood up and it can be social too. If you enjoy riding a bike, you may be able to find a bicycling club by checking with a local bike shop. Stores that sell athletic shoes may have information about running clubs in the area. If you prefer to swim or walk on a treadmill, you can get a membership at a gym. Rather than exercising at home where you’ll have to overcome the urge to just stay in bed, make a regular habit of exercising in a group. There’s a good chance you’ll meet new people, but even if it takes a while to do so the exercise should help you feel better while you get settled in your new town.
One of the most reliable ways to make new friends is simply to talk to new people whenever you get the chance. Bill Rawlins, a professor of communications studies at Ohio University, studies friendship by conducting interviews with people who have been friends with each other for a long time. In an article on Ohio University’s research website, Rawlins notes that most friendships begin with casual conversations between two people. Treating new friends as people important to you may also help strengthen the connection between you. A 2011 study at the University of Pennsylvania found that most people rate the importance of a friend based on how important they believe they are to that friend.

Anaerobic Training & the Wingate Test

Exercise is typically divided into either aerobic or anaerobic categories. During aerobic respiration, the body uses oxygen as the main fuel source. This form of exercise lasts longer than two minutes and is associated with weight loss and endurance training. Anaerobic training, however, is characterized by short bursts of power and is used to increase muscles mass and strength. One of the most popular and definitive tests to determine anaerobic power is the Wingate test.
Anaerobic training refers to any form of exercise which is at a near maximal intensity during which the body can no longer process oxygen for fuel fast enough to meet the demands of the muscles. These exercises are brief, lasting no longer than two minutes, and utilize a fuel stored in the muscles called Adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, along with lactic acid. Eventually ATP stores will be exhausted and the muscles will fatigue due to the buildup of lactic acid. This point of exhaustion is the anaerobic threshold and can be improved with training. Anaerobic training can improve speed, power and overall muscle mass.
The Wingate Test was developed during the 1970s at the Wingate Institute in Israel. The test requires the subject to operate either a bicycle or arm ergometer at full exertion for 30 seconds against a mechanical brake. The test begins with no resistance, and the brake applied within three seconds. The amount of resistance used is relative to the body weight of the athlete and can vary from either .045 kilograms to .075 kilograms per kilogram of body weight. A specialized counter on the ergometer records the number of rotations in five second intervals.
The findings of the Wingate Test measure the peak anaerobic power, anaerobic capacity and anaerobic fatigue of the subject. Peak anaerobic power is the highest measure of force generated during any of the five second intervals and is expressed in terms of watts. Anaerobic capacity is the sum of all of the five second intervals and represents the total amount of work accomplished during the test. Anaerobic fatigue is the percentage of decline in power. These figures can give an athlete insight into their strengths and weaknesses, allowing them to adjust their training program.
In addition to adapting the amount of resistance for more athletic individuals, several variations of the Wingate test have been created to suit different needs. An arm ergometer can be used to measure upper-body strength and endurance. Because the Wingate test procedure and equipment is focused towards cyclists, the running-based Anaerobic Sprint Test has been developed to provide similar results for runners.

What It’s Like to Come Out As a Transgender Bodybuilder

Former Marine. World champion powerlifter. Father to three sons. And transgender. Janae Marie Kroczaleski, formerly known as Matt ¡°Kroc¡± Kroczaleski, gives a raw and honest look into her life today.
On July 27, 2015, the life of record-setting powerlifter and former Marine Matt ¡°Kroc¡± Kroczaleski turned upside down. A strength-sports gossip vlogger had publicly outed Matt as a transgender woman.
Rather than hiding from controversy, Kroczaleski confirmed the news on social media and granted interviews to media outlets like TMZ and Inside Edition.
His secret a secret no longer, Matt legally changed his name to Janae Marie Kroczaleski. The weeks and months following her untimely outing were difficult, but today she is thriving ¡ª a supportive parent of three teenage sons, a pharmacist working in southern Michigan and a strong figure in the female weightlifting community.
Janae gives LIVESTRONG.COM a raw and honest look at her life today ¡ª and the long path that led her here.
Stephanie Molnar for LIVESTRONG.COM: Janae, you were outed recently ¡ª last year in fact. But when did you know you were transgender?
Janae: At 5 or 6 years old. Of course, I didn¡¯t know what transgender meant, but I knew I had these feelings of wanting or needing to be female.
Early on, I also knew I was very passionate about strength training. To want to be big and strong and also female ¡ª those two feelings were very challenging when I was an adolescent in the early ¡¯80s. There was no Internet and very little literature about transgender people. Even when I started college, the literature that was available was written by people who were outside of the community.
I grew up feeling alone, like something was wrong with me ¡ª like a square peg in a world of round holes.
You were publicly outed by a video blogger in the powerlifting world. At this point, without certain legal protections in place, outing a trans person can have a very detrimental impact on how they make a living. How has it changed your life professionally?
I was out for three years [at the pharmacy], but I wasn¡¯t out publicly or to the fan base. I was out to one of my main sponsors but not the biggest one, Muscle Tech, and that was something I had discussed with my former athlete¡¯s rep. I didn¡¯t feel like I was hiding anything, but at the same time I figured it was probably best to play it safe unless it was brought up.
Muscle Tech actually found out that I was transgender in April, several months before the YouTube video was posted. The athlete’s rep contacted me and said they were given some pictures of me and I knew right away where he was going with it. I said that, yes, it¡¯s true: I¡¯m transgender. He said they¡¯d have to have a meeting, and would call me Wednesday to let me know what they decided.
They made a decision to drop me. It was a surprise, especially since I¡¯d been with them almost eight years, and they had always said how happy they were with me. I had been told at times that I was the best athlete they¡¯d ever worked with. For them to just drop me like that when nothing had changed…. I wasn¡¯t planning on coming out, and wasn¡¯t out to the fan base.
But I realized it was a business decision, and even though I think it was discriminatory and a poor one, I don’t have any hard feelings toward them. They did honor the time left on my contract, but they immediately pulled all my ads from the website and magazines and canceled all my appearances.
It hurt to be dropped just for being transgender, and financially it was difficult to lose the income, but to be honest it was also somewhat of a relief: one less thing to force me to keep this a secret.
How did you cope?
I always loved sports, and I was naturally competitive. I also found girls attractive. So I just started doing the things society says are normal for boys. I was a jock. I did pretty well in football. I wrestled and played baseball.
I was serious about weightlifting by the time I was 12. I had a lot of insecurities, so lifting was a way to lose myself. People have a hard time believing it now, but I was actually small and skinny with a baby face; I was bullied in junior high.
To be honest, [being transgender] has never been out of my consciousness for even five minutes my whole life. And I grew up Catholic, so there was a lot of guilt and shame that came along with it. It¡¯s hard to be angry at the core of your being about who you think you are.
When was the first time you told someone you felt different?
I never said a word about it to anyone until I was 23.
In the Marines, a few of my buddies sensed there was something different about me. Even though I found women attractive, dating relationships were always very difficult. I was always an alpha male and a leader ¡ª someone who had to be top dog. But when it came to relationships I was very uncomfortable in the male role. It took a long time until I could put two and two together, and it was confusing and frustrating.
I grew up feeling alone, like something was wrong with me ¡ª like a square peg in a world of round holes.
Today, you describe yourself as gender-fluid or nonbinary. How do you describe that?
It means I don¡¯t fit neatly into our male-female system. A lot of trans girls say they feel like a woman trapped in a male body. I can¡¯t say I¡¯ve ever felt that way. I liked being big and strong. There are things about being a guy that I enjoy. As I said, if you put me in a room full of powerlifters or Marines, I am the alpha. But how can the alpha male also be the girly girl in our society?
I enjoy dressing how I want, and the days I¡¯m feeling really girly, I dress that way. Most days now I might look a little more androgynous. Even when I¡¯m in ¡°guy mode,¡± though, you¡¯ll rarely see me without my nails painted.
Has your fitness routine changed?
Well, after I was outed and it was finally time to transition, I tried giving up lifting and started training for a triathlon. I dropped from 270 to 200 pounds, and then I kind of had this realization that I didn¡¯t want to be that small. I missed being big and strong, and I was burned out on the dieting.
I really enjoy strength training and it’s a big part of who I am as well. I¡¯ve probably gained back about 35 pounds of muscle and some of my strength has returned. I¡¯m taking it one day at a time, and I can¡¯t tell you where I¡¯ll end up.
What was it like when you were first accepted as a woman?
When I was down around 200 pounds, people just assumed I was a female weightlifter. Even just a few weeks back, I took my son shopping. One girl said, ¡°I love your arms! I want to look like you.¡± I was wearing training clothes and a hoodie that worked with my physique. I remember thinking, ¡°I¡¯m not sure you really want to look like me!¡±
How do people treat you differently when you present female versus when you present male?
When I¡¯m accepted as female, no one really thinks anything of it. It¡¯s very comfortable. But it does make it easier in some cases to still be able to switch back and forth ¡ª because it¡¯s very real that men and women are treated differently.
When you¡¯re big and muscular, men respect it and women like it. Let¡¯s face it: You get treated with favor in a lot of ways. You get a certain degree of leeway that makes life easier. Women are not always treated respectfully ¡ª especially trans girls.
Living my life gives me a great perspective on being female, being masculine and misogyny. One example: I have a ¡¯67 Camaro that I love. I¡¯ve always been into muscle cars. But if you¡¯re a woman who enjoys doing car stuff, you¡¯re always asked if it¡¯s your boyfriend¡¯s or dad¡¯s car. It’s just one of the many ways in which women are treated as inferior in our patriarchal society.
It¡¯s very real that men and women are treated differently.
At first, it was hard when I couldn¡¯t pass [be read or perceived by others as one¡¯s presented gender]. I didn¡¯t look good as a woman. I was elated to be able to go out in public dressed the way I wanted, but I learned very quickly how it felt to be treated as a third-class citizen. It was sobering.
I was even followed to my car one night leaving a club. Nothing happened. I was so muscular at the time that they guys that followed me didn¡¯t try anything. But it opened my eyes to the fact that I¡¯m more of a target now. Being muscular most of my life, being a target was the last thing I worried about! I had to learn what most girls learn very young ¡ª to be more conscious of my surroundings and not to go anywhere at night alone.
How has being outed affected your relationships?
Well, I had been out for about 10 years to most of my friends, some of the powerlifting world elite and my family. The first three months of that I thought for sure I¡¯d lose friends. I mean, when your friends are ex-Marines and powerlifters, you figure they are the worst people to come out to.
It turned out to be the opposite. I haven¡¯t lost any friends. Everyone has been really supportive. Although one of the guys I came out to by phone thought I was pulling a prank. He called half a dozen of our friends and figured we were all in on it. So most of my friends took it well.
Everyone expected me to be perfect. It made me feel like I was hiding some huge flaw.
With my family it was harder. My mom and dad took it hard, and to some extent they still do. I am very close to my two younger brothers. We¡¯re all close. But having the success I did competing athletically and doing presidential security ¡ª it¡¯s not exactly rags-to-riches, but since I grew up in a trailer on and off welfare, people kind of put you on a pedestal. It¡¯s like, ¡°Oh, he can do anything.¡±
Everyone expected me to be perfect. It made me feel like I was hiding some huge flaw. I didn¡¯t want to disappoint everyone. I didn¡¯t want to shatter the image they relied on.
Has it changed how you relate to your sons?
I am really close with all three of my boys, and they¡¯ve known that I was trans since they were 2, 4 and 6. They¡¯re 14, 16 and 18 this summer. So knowing this about their father is no big deal to them. Whether I transition full-time or not, it¡¯s not going to change our relationship.
We still do the things we¡¯ve always done when they stay with me. We lift weights, we play Frisbee. They call me Dad. Sometimes they call me Mom. It doesn¡¯t matter.
They call me Dad. Sometimes they call me Mom. It doesn¡¯t matter.
Actually, they¡¯ll say I¡¯m the best parent ever because I¡¯m a mom and a dad. I think they recognize I¡¯m a lot closer to them than a lot of their friends¡¯ fathers are. I¡¯m a lot more affectionate and open about feelings and emotions. I think it¡¯s allowed me to build a closer bond with them than most fathers can because of this premise of ¡°guys don¡¯t do that.¡± I really think that¡¯s had a positive effect.
A lot of waiting to transition has had to do with my sons. I didn¡¯t want them to face discrimination at school. So, currently, I don¡¯t go to any of their events as Janae. When I¡¯m at their stuff, I want them focusing on their game or meet, not having to worry about how I¡¯m being treated. ¡°Where¡¯s your dad?¡± ¡°Oh, he¡¯s the one up there in the pink dress!¡±
Everyone at their school knows, and nothing has changed. Though it might be different to show up as 240 pounds of muscle dressed very feminine in an environment where people might be more apt to treat you poorly.
So you still navigate the world in both genders?
Yes. Maybe in four years, when my youngest graduates, I will feel a lot stronger and completely ready to let go of the guy side. Maybe going back and forth will be something I always do. Neither would surprise me.
A little more than 10 years ago, when I first started exploring this part of me ¡ª it was like I realized I really didn¡¯t know myself. I spent so many years constructing the person everyone wanted me to be. I really didn¡¯t know if who I was [at the time] was real or some fake person I had created.
I came to realize that the lifting and competitiveness was part of me, but that there was so much I was repressing. In some ways, I was playing a role and overdid the macho thing in the Marines. My natural disposition was probably more like the total jock girl who has a very girly side.
Also, while I¡¯m nowhere near as big or strong as I was before, I¡¯m always going to be far more muscular than the average person. Even though at 43 my best days athletically are behind me, people still assume I¡¯m 30-ish. I¡¯ll take that and run with it!
How exactly were you finally outed?
There was a guy I don¡¯t even know ¡ª a YouTube gossip kind of thing for strength sports ¡ª and somehow he found out. With me being so open at work and on Instagram and Facebook, I guess it could have happened any day. But he made a short video of Matt¡¯s Instagram and Janae¡¯s Instagram and said, ¡°This the same person!¡±
I didn’t feel it was done in a real malicious manner but he certainly didn’t have my or my family’s best interests in mind when he outed me. The news went viral quickly and in a matter of hours my life turned upside down.
I think he posted at 11 a.m. and by 1 p.m. I had interview requests from TMZ and Inside Edition. My email and phone were flooded with requests for radio shows and podcasts.
I figured if it¡¯s going to be out there, then I¡¯m going to tell my story and not let other people tell it for me. I got on my social-media accounts and said the rumors are true: I¡¯m transgender, and I¡¯m going to be completely open and honest about this. (Ed. note: Below, Janae’s first Facebook post after being outed.)
There has obviously been a great deal of gossip, rumors and questions about me the past few days. To put them to rest:…
How did the strength community react?
I did get mixed reactions. The good thing about having had some success in powerlifting was that I was being used to being in the public discussion: People would talk on forums and tear me down. It helped me prepare for some of the really ignorant comments that came through. One guy¡¯s private message was simply, ¡°Go to hell.¡±
I had a large following as the toughest, most intense lifter, known for overcoming injuries and cutting more weight than anyone. I had torn numerous muscles in my body and been through testicular cancer ¡ª an ex-Marine Rambo-type that could overcome anything. A lot of people felt that I had destroyed their hero, the image of who they thought I was.
A lot of people felt that I had destroyed their hero, the image of who they thought I was.
One of my sponsors, Dave Tate [CEO of Elitefts.com], who I told years before had said, ¡°You know, a lot of guys who have your poster on their walls are homophobic. I wonder what they¡¯d think if they knew you were trans?¡± We used to laugh about the irony in that.
So there was definitely backlash. But there was also more support than I could have ever expected.
What was the biggest surprise as far as that support?
The real surprise that made me feel really good was the female lifting community. I didn¡¯t know how they would respond. I was afraid they were going to look at me like I was an intruder in their territory or protest against the possibility of me competing as woman.
When I went down to the Arnold Schwarzenegger Sports Festival in Columbus in March of this year [2016] it was a great experience and I met so many supportive women. I knew my friends in the lifting community would be supportive, but the support of the women who I didn’t know really surprised me.
It was the first year I wasn¡¯t a competing or sponsored athlete working in the booths and signing autographs. I went as Janae and was simply accepted as a female lifter. There were so many of us in town, and I was just another lifter girl.
The female lifting community has been so supportive. They have welcomed me with open arms. Some of them are my really close girlfriends now ¡ª girlfriends of guys I used to compete with. One, Gracie, is my total BFF. We totally go on Skype and do our makeup.
Female powerlifters and bodybuilders can relate to me in a lot of ways. They want to be strong and muscular too, and they sometimes face the same type of discrimination that they don¡¯t look ¡°enough¡± like a woman. They have their femininity questioned the same way I do, and share the same passion for strength training I do. Trying to balance strength training and femininity ¡ª we have so much in common.
They¡¯ve helped me learn that fearlessness and strength are not male or female traits. Lots of women are fearless. I see that and can better reconcile myself with who I am, breaking down stereotypes and barriers.
Fearlessness and strength are not male or female traits. Lots of women are fearless.
You¡¯ve mentioned that there have been dark times.
I did go through some really dark times. I contemplated suicide. My boys are reason enough that I would never go through with that. But there definitely were dark days.
Everything felt hopeless, especially after my first marriage ended, when I started really dealing with this for the first time. I was 270 pounds of muscle with a masculine face. I didn¡¯t look feminine at all. I didn¡¯t see a successful transition in my future. I thought, ¡°I am going to struggle, and I am going to be alone.¡± Eventually, though, I worked my way through it a day at a time.
There are still days here and there. I have days where I still worry about how this will all turn out for me. But it¡¯s usually just a day or even a few hours. And it¡¯s less about who I am and more about relationships: How am I going to find someone who is going to be attracted to and really connected with me, as complex as I am?
Well I, for one, think that you¡¯ll find that person. I¡¯ll keep sending positive energy your direction for relationship happiness!
Thank you. You know, I spent so many years fighting who I am. I think we all try to be ¡°normal¡± in the self we present to the world. But often that¡¯s not our true selves. And I think that applies to a lot of people everywhere, not just trans people. I think so many people hide a large part of who they are for fear of rejection or ridicule, and if we all felt truly free to be ourselves we would find that being different is actually what’s normal.
I think we all try to be ¡°normal¡± in the self we present to the world. But often that¡¯s not our true selves.
So right now I don¡¯t really fit into any of the boxes society tries to put us in regarding gender or sexuality. I think it¡¯s going to take a unique partner to find me attractive ¡ª whether that¡¯s a woman, a man or someone like me.
I’ve always been powerfully attracted to women and so far, I haven¡¯t felt a connection with a man like that; but if that were to happen I would be open to it. These days I am much less concerned about “what” someone is and am more interested in who they are.
If I think something is going to make me happy, I have no problem following the adventure. It¡¯s never boring, that for sure! It¡¯s a continuous adventure on a daily basis, and that¡¯s the part ¡ª as hard as the last year has been sometimes ¡ª that makes it interesting.
How has Janae’s story inspired you? What encourages you most about her journey? Do you feel like you’re living an authentic life? Tell us your story in the comments, and check out www.glaad.org/transgender to learn more about transgender topics.

Should a Boy Wear a Cup When Playing Sports?

Many sports, including football and hockey, require certain protective gear such as shoulder and elbow pads for boys and adults. However, not all require boys to wear cups to protect their sensitive private areas. Even if his coach doesn’t make the boys wear cups, you should make it a requirement for most sports your child plays to help him potentially avoid a serious injury.
Even though boys might not be required to wear protective cups in most sports, it doesn’t mean there’s no risk. Any fast-moving kick, ball or helmet that hits a boy in his privates can cause serious damage, including internal bleeding, testicular fracture or rupture. If left untreated too long, these issues can lead to the boy losing a testicle. Typically made of plastic, a cup is designed to hold the genitals close into the boy’s body and absorb much of the force of direct blows.
Some sports, such as swimming and cross-country running, don’t really need cup protection for boys. There’s little or no risk of blunt force trauma to his private area. In sports that involve direct physical contact, however, use cups every time, just as you would shin guards or helmets. These sports include the obvious ones such as football and hockey, but also less obvious ones such as soccer, basketball and baseball.
The proper fit is key to making sure your son is well protected. It’s best if you can get him to try his equipment on before purchasing it, but if it’s too embarrassing in the store, buy a couple of sizes and return what you don’t need. The cup should fit snugly inside a pouch, typically in a jock strap, and be held firmly against the boy’s genital area. It should fit without restricting his leg movement but be large enough to cover the entire genital area completely.
More adult athletes are moving away from wearing cups, which means your son might insist upon it as well. Although a cup offers the best protection, a couple of options exist for a small amount of protection without the cup. Jock straps, if they fit snugly, can hold his genitals tightly against the body and reduce the chances of him being hit with more than a glancing blow. The same is true of compression shorts, meant to be worn under uniforms. Both options have choices designed to hold cups and those strictly meant for use without cups.

Foot Injuries From Soccer

As in most sports that involve running or kicking, soccer sees its fair share of foot injuries. Although many of these injuries are the result of collisions or entanglements with other players, many are preventable. Before getting in the game, make sure that you warm up properly by performing the appropriate stretching exercises, wearing proper-fitting cleats and taping your ankles for additional support if you have a history of foot and ankle problems. Finish off a game or practice with a series of cool-down exercises.
The severe twisting and turning of the ankle while playing soccer can cause metatarsal fractures, or breaks in the long bones in the front of the foot. This type of injury is also sometimes caused when one player steps on another player¡¯s foot while running. Pain and swelling is immediate and the foot may appear deformed, but you may not see the onset of bruising for up to 24 hours. X-rays are necessary to diagnose this type of fracture and determine its severity. Treatment involves immobilizing the foot with a cast for boot for anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks, depending on how severe the fracture is. Some injuries can require surgery.
Adolescent boys who play basketball, soccer or participate in gymnastics are prone to Sever¡¯s disease, a condition that affects the back of the heel near the Achilles tendon. This condition usually occurs from over-training without sufficient rest. It results in moderate to severe pain in the heel, which usually worsens when running. Some soccer players continue training, although they may add a stretching routine specific to the heel into their regime and insert a heel pad into their cleats. More severe cases may require x-rays to rule out other conditions, or a hiatus from soccer and running with a gradual reintroduction to the sport.
Repeated striking of the toes against the top of your soccer cleats can cause subungual hematoma, a condition affecting the toenails. This condition occurs when blood accumulates underneath the toenail, and may require that a physician pierce the toenail to drain off the excess blood. The Massachusetts General Hospital for Children reports that it is not uncommon for soccer players to completely lose two or even three toenails each playing season due to this condition.
An October 2003 article in ¡°Podiatry Today¡± places ankle sprains as the most common injuries sustained by soccer athletes. The cause for these injuries are typically running on an uneven surface, making a sharp turn while running down the field, collision with another player or twisting the ankle when landing from a jump. Sprains often swell and bruise quickly; icing the joint can help to alleviate this. Depending on the severity of the injury, your doctor may require you to tape the ankle or wear a compression boot or soft cast for up to three weeks. The use of crutches for the first few days is often encourage as well.
Achilles tendinitis is not technically an injury from soccer; but the condition can be exacerbated by the game. It is characterized by a pain in your heel and the tendon when running; or even walking. It is caused by short calf muscles or increasing the intensity of your activity without preparing your muscles in advance. Tendinitis in your Achilles may even be caused by your athletic shoes — not enough support or ill-fitting. If you suspect an inflamed Achilles tendon, use ice, for 15 to 20 minutes at least 2 to three times a day. But, most importantly, stop playing soccer immediately. If there is a tear or rupture of the Achilles tendon, it may involve surgery. Your doctor can determine the condition of your tendon with an x-ray or MRI scan.

What Materials Are Baseballs Made of?

Major League Baseball purchased more than 600,000 baseballs from the manufacturer Rawlings in 1998. These baseballs are all uniform in construction to ensure they are are uniform in performance. Therefore all baseballs used in professional play are made from the same materials. While these materials have changed in the past, they have been kept standard in recent years.
You might be surprised to learn that baseballs are sewn by hand. According to Rawlings employee Steve Johnson, the company tried for 10 years to invent a machine that would sew the outer casings together. Their attempts failed to replicated the precise tension produced in hand-sewn balls. Therefore seamstresses are presented with the core of a baseball surrounded by a leather cover with pre-punched holes that they must stitch with a custom-made needle.
All baseballs used by Major League Baseball consist of the same materials. An inner core is made of rubber-coated cork and then surrounded by three layers of wool yarn and a winding of cotton or polyester yarn. This core is then coated in latex adhesive or rubber cement and covered with cowhide. Stitching is then done with red cotton thread to yield 216 raised cotton stitches.
Today China produces around 80 percent of baseballs on the world market. However, all baseballs used by the Major League Baseball are produced by the company Rawlings. Their factory is located in Costa Rica.
Today baseballs are made with cowhide but until 1974 they were made with horsehide. The changeover occurred because horsehide was becoming difficult to acquire. Rubber coated cork became the center of baseballs in 1910, replacing solid rubber. Previous experiments with cork alone had failed because the wool windings would swell after manufacture.

How to Put Grip on Worn Out Basketball Shoes

You have a couple of options for improving the grip on your worn-out basketball shoes. The first is having the shoes resoled by a repair service that specializes in sports shoes. Typically, shoe services include patching and re-stitching the uppers as part of the service. Another option is restoring the soles in a way that reduces slipping and improves grip. In the event you don¡¯t use your basketball shoes every day, restoring the soles might be a cost-effective solution.
Mix a solution of fresh water and liquid dish soap in a one-gallon plastic bucket.
Clean the rubber soles and rubber sides of the soles using a stiff bristle brush and the soapy solution. Scrub the rubber surfaces thoroughly, making sure to remove dirt and any debris from the recesses of the grooves and textured treads on the soles.
Immerse the bristles of a wire brush in the soapy water. Scrub the soles and sides of the shoes thoroughly with the wire bristles to open the surface pores of the rubber.
Rinse the soles and sides of the soles with fresh water. Dry the soles and sides with paper towels.
Put on latex gloves. Apply a generous amount of sports shoe color restorer to a clean rag. Coat the soles and sides of the shoes thoroughly with the color restorer. If necessary, apply more color restorer to the rag as you go.
Place the shoes on a table or the floor with the soles facing up. Allow the color restorer to fully activate until the soles and sides of the shoes brighten noticeably.
Put the shoes on and test the grip on a hardwood or other smooth floor. It might be possible to put more grip on the soles by scrubbing a second time with the wet wire brush, followed by another application of color restorer.

The LSU Football Workout Program

The Southeastern Conference has become one of the dominant leagues in college football, with Louisiana State winning national championships in 1958, 2003 and 2007. For the 2007 run, head coach Les Miles was at the helm of the Tigers. Strength and conditioning coach Tom Moffitt got much of the credit for getting his players in tremendous shape for the championship run.
Louisiana State’s offseason training for football season begins two weeks after the end of the previous season. Much of the offseason work is devoted to strength training and cardiovascular conditioning. The intensity of preparation picks up before the start of the season. In an interview with Stack Magazine, LSU strength and conditioning coach Tom Moffitt said the team’s preparation matches the length of the season. “The most important aspect of training is your preparation,” Moffitt said. “It should equal the length of your competitive season, so if you plan on playing for 12 weeks in the fall, you need 12 weeks of preparation in the summer.”
Players at Louisiana State concentrate on building explosive strength before the start of football season. Moffitt wants his players to establish their maximums in their core-lifting exercises. Those exercises include the hang clean, back squat, bench press, barbell press, hang snatch, incline bench, clean pull, power clean and split jerk. The weight room at LSU is comparable those belonging to NFL teams. The weight room includes 28 multi-power stations, 36 automated machines and 10 dumbbell stations.
LSU¡¯s program requires football players to build strong core muscles and abs. Moffit wants his players to do five sets of ab exercises to build a stronger trunk. Moffitt emphasizes core development at LSU for helping players avoid late-season injuries. The exercises he recommends include sit-ups with resistance, hanging leg raises, Russian twists, lateral leg raises and front or side planks, three times per week.
In addition to its offseason weight work, LSU devotes four days every spring to speed and agility training. This is done as the team prepares to play its spring football game and is designed to make players quicker and faster in the fourth quarter of games. This is quite a bit different from most programs that don’t separate out the speed, quickness and agility aspects of football from other aspects of conditioning, according to Moffitt.


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