The right way

Friday, September 21, 2007
Jackson basketball players worked out after school with the Shock training program at Jackson High School. (Fred Lynch)

"Harder, better, faster, stronger." They aren't just lyrics in a Daft Punk song recently sampled by Kanye West. It's what every high school athlete hears in competition.

Personal training and coordinated training programs for high school sports teams now supplement general practices. Coaches and health experts want to make sure, though, that those programs are the only supplements athletes are using.

The vast array of over-the-counter supplements and formulas that tout performance enhancement can be misleading and possibly dangerous if used continuously.

"A lot of times they go out and buy some supplements and use them in place of good training," said Jackson High School basketball coach Darrin Scott.

It's the off season right now, but his team is hard at work, getting in shape through a training program. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays they work with Ray Goodson and his Shock Performance Enhancement program.

Goodson has the guys doing drills and moves that will help with explosive power and increase speed.

"The athletes are a lot bigger and a lot faster than when I was there," said Goodson, a Jackson High graduate.

Goodson was All-State in football, wrestling and track. He was a two-time All-American football player at Southeast Missouri State University, and now plays AFL arena football. What he doesn't do, is cheat his meal plan.

"I don't like the shortcut way to get there," he said.

He talks about nutrition to the players as part of the Shock program.

"I hammer them about eating right," he said. "The body's like a car: If you put the right stuff in it, it'll run right."

Most of the athletes have gone through this or other programs to gain the competitive edge. Jackson senior Spencer Goodman went to a program out of St. Louis, the same one Tyler Hansbrough used while in high school in Poplar Bluff, Mo., before going on to the University of North Carolina.

Goodman said he wants to play Division I basketball and he and his father thought this would give him an advantage.

"If you just don't do anything, I don't think you'll make it," Goodman said. "Everybody's doing a program."

Goodman's program plans out every meal, giving him options for a few, but sticking to strict ingredients. He eats seven times a day and has protein shakes and bars for snacks. Goodman said he doesn't take supplements but occasionally adds whey protein to his diet.

Caleb Guilliams, a senior, plays both basketball and baseball for Jackson. He started taking whey protein after talking to his cousin, a professional weightlifter.

He used to drink two shakes a day, but doesn't anymore.

"I don't feel like I need to anymore," he said.

Protein is encouraged in athletics and sports nutrition. Whey protein is a high quality protein derived from cow's milk without cholesterol or fat.

"It's actually an essential nutrient to the body," said Mike Perko, associate professor and chair of the department of health science at the University of Alabama. From 2004 to 2006 he was the NCAA expert speaker on the topic of performance supplement use.

Perko said outside influences often push an athlete to use extra measures. He said it's up to the adults in the student's life to prevent them from using possibly dangerous or simply ineffective supplements.

"Every coach, every parent, every supervisor should be encouraging what we know," he said. "And that's proper nutrition, proper recovery and practicing your specific sport."

Perko said none of the supplements require FDA approval of the claims to increase performance, therefore many are untested and largely unregulated.

"You as the consumer then become the de facto researcher," he said.

Goodson said the demand on athletes today is high, but that it shouldn't be met with supplements and by shortcuts. Several gyms in the area sports performance enhancement training programs.

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