The Fitness Principle

Mackie in the News

Optimum Performance: Special teams gunners have it rough in the NFL

"In a dangerous sport (like the NFL), he may have the most dangerous role," last Sunday's New York Times described the job of Jets "gunner or flier " Ellis Lankster.

The gunner is asked to evade one opponent, sometimes two, while sprinting downfield ahead of everyone else (on kickoffs and punts) for the privilege of hurling his body into a returner."

Former NFL gunner and current CBS analyst Steve Tasker said the mission of the gunner was like "fighting your way up a down escalator that's very crowded -- and only having five seconds to do it." Tasker played 13 seasons in the NFL, mostly with Buffalo.

Optimum Performance: NFL Players Already Feeling Physical Impact Early in Season

There is no doubt NFL play is a physical, hard-fought battle each week, causing many teams to lose on average 1.0 to 2.7 players per game to injury. These injuries can be as simple as a bruise to as severe as multiple ligaments and muscles being torn by the impact of human bodies crashing into each other on every play, about 65 each on offense and defense during an NFL game.

I previously reported on the research of Timothy Gay, a physics professor at the University of Nebraska and author of the book, "The Physics of Football," that a typical 5-foot-9 defensive back, who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds can generate up to 1,600 pounds of tackling force upon impact with the ball carrier.

Optimum Performance: The Harsh Reality of NFL Injuries

Going into the NFL regular season, the number of player injuries in the preseason has been staggering. Each week the NFL posts on Wednesdays and Thursdays the injury report for its respective teams, so everyone can see what player is going to be listed as questionable, probable or doubtful for the next game. 

Based on previous statistics from, “historically those (players) listed as probable play 89.4 percent of the time, those listed as questionable play 54 percent of the time and those listed as doubtful play 7.7 percent of the time.”

Optimum Performance: The Triple Whammy of Knee Injuries

While on the road in New York working with our team to prepare No. 1-ranked female tennis player Serena Williams for the U.S. Open, which starts Monday, I read with interest and concern for the severe knee injury sustained by Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller last Saturday night in a preseason game against the Houston Texans. Football, as we all accept, is a train wreck, where human beings crash into each other then make contact with the ground. Some get up on their own, while others may need assistance. Some even get carted off the field.

Keller, who was tackled by Texans safety D.J. Swearinger, sustained combined tears in his anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee and dislocated the kneecap.

Optimum Performance: Sweating the Small Stuff – To a Point

While on the road with No. 1-rated tennis star Serena Williams at the Western & Southern in Cincinnati, I was struck with the climate change from my hometown New Orleans. In Cincinnati the past week, the temperature has ranged from the highs in the low 80s, while the lows have been in the mid 50s -- quite a change from the hot, humid and wet conditions in the Crescent City during the summer months.

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Mackie Spotlight

EJGH’s very own Mackie Shilstone, Executive Director of the Fitness Principle, is in New York working with Serena Williams as she goes for another U.S. Open title. As Williams’s Fitness Coach, Mackie will be part of the team preparing her for matches throughout the tournament. To give everyone a behind-the-scenes look at how Williams prepares for every opponent, Mackie is writing a daily postcard for detailing all the day’s happenings. Check back daily for updates. 8/22/13
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