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Ninja Warriors: Trevor and Reese

Ninja Warriors: Trevor and Reese

As kids we have dreamlike career aspirations - old west cowboys or world saving superheroes. We might not have grown up to fill those positions, but there is one job many kids to be that we can all pursue even in our adult years. Ninjas. Yes, there are people that train to be ninjas that compete in Michigan, across the country, and around the globe, and yes, you can be one of them.

Jim Stewart: 5 Things Every Competitive Shoot Needs To Do

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As the head coach of Michigan State’s rifle team, Jim Stewart spends a ton of time at Lansing’s Demmer Center working with the athletes from the Michigan State Shooting Sports Club to prepare them for competition.

Because shooting is a club sport at MSU, Stewart prepares his shooters for events like the NRA Intercollegiate Rifle Club Championships – an event at which the Spartans won the national championship in 2012 – as opposed to the NCAA-sanctioned championships. In keeping with the club theme, he also works with several student-athletes that are less interested in the competitive aspects of shooting, and more focused on development and social interaction.
 
Regardless as to the level of an athlete’s dedication to the sport, if shooters truly wish to get better, there are some basic things they need to do if they want do well in competitions.

 1. Don’t blame your equipment

In an sport that relies so heavily on equipment, there can be a temptation to purchase the latest and greatest rifle in the hopes that it will automatically improve the quality of a shooter’s performance. However, Jim says this method of “buying points” doesn’t always work out the way the athlete intends.
 
“Usually kids won’t put the time and effort into practicing and getting better simply because they bought some high-dollar equipment,” Jim explained. “So I’ve seen kids with expensive equipment that can’t shoot for anything, and I see kids with mediocre equipment that are really pushing the limits of the equipment because they’re so good.”
 

2. Get a coach

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If you want to get better at anything, it’s logical to find someone better than you and learn from them. In the case of shooting sports, Jim says that finding someone to coach you may be the first step toward ultimately landing a scholarship to join the team of a top college or university. 
 
“If you start working with a coach, and you show any skill at all, your name will get passed around to a lot of coaches,” Jim said. “These coaches will pass you on to a state association coach. They have coaches that will coach the kids up and take them to different shoots and competitions around the country, and from there the kids will get noticed by coaches from some of the big schools. Coaches are good about moving shooters’ careers along.”
 

3. Figure out how dedicated you are

 Like most activities, the more time someone spends practicing with a rifle, the better they get at shooting. As Jim pointed out, someone deciding between competing at a school with a club program or a varsity program can come down to how much time they are willing to dedicate to mastering their craft and improving on several levels.
 
“At Michigan State, rifle is a club sport, so we have one organized practice each week, and the kids are encouraged to come in and practice on other days as much as possible,” Jim said. “If this were a club sport, it would become more of a job; we would shoot three times a week minimum and do other strength and conditioning drills on other days. Students have educational and social lives that are competing for their attention, and they need to decide how much time they are willing to part with to get better at a sport.”
 

4. Get in shape 

 To a casual observer, marksmanship relies exclusively on the sharpness of the shooter’s eye, coupled with basic hand-eye coordination. However, over the course of a shooting competition that can last well beyond an hour, Jim says the physical stamina of a competitor can come into play, and that can result in them being off target with shots that they would otherwise make.
 
“You need to be able to stabilize your body to maintain the same position with a calm demeanor and a low heart rate for a long period of time,” Jim said. “All of these things can be worked on with strength training and conditioning.  And you don’t really see any big, out-of-shape shooters at the highest levels. So, it’s an athletic sport in a different sense; the most athletic are those that can stay the most still.”
 

5. Compete regularly 

 
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how well someone shoots on the practice range if they can’t repeat the performance during a competition. When the pressure mounts, Jim says a lot of competitors get a bad case of nerves, and this wreaks havoc on their shooting. Unfortunately, the pressure that comes with a tournament will never go away, so shooters simply need to get used to it.
 
“Typically, the athletes that win are those that control their nerves and emotions better than anyone else,” Jim explained. “The way you overcome the pressure of the situation is simply by doing it. Eventually, you get to the point where you don’t even see or hear the crowds because you’re so comfortable in your environment. You’ll just realize you’ve done it lots of times and you can relax.”
 
Interested in Shooting?
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Check out the Meijer State Games - Summer Games Shooting Information

The Meijer State Games of Michigan is a multi-sport, Olympic-style event(s) that welcome athletes regardless of age or ability level. The Games embody the values of participation, sportsmanship and healthy living.
 

Interested in our Summer Games? 
www.StateGamesofMichigan.com/summergames


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Glen Bennet: 5 Things Every Archer Needs To Do

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In just a short time as head coach of the Michigan State archery team, Glen Bennett has experienced a great deal of success. Under Glen’s tutelage, the team has brought several championship trophies back to the Demmer Center in Lansing, including USIAC National Championship victories for both teams and individuals.

 Glen preaches positive mental management as the driving force behind the success of the kids he coaches, and it’s tough to argue with the results. And, if the success of his team is touch to argue with, then so are the principles behind that success. Here are five of the principles Glen has used to turn recreational shooters into national champions.

 1. It’s never too late to start

Rookie archers are often intimidated when they first walk onto a range and see people that have been involved with archery for a long time hitting near the bull’s eye with every shaft. However, you should not allow your lack of experience to make you think you can never be competitive. If you’re willing to put in the work and listen to the advice of your coaches, you can become an incredible archer in a relatively short period of time.

“I had a girl that came here in 2013 with basically no experience at all, and she’s now a three-time national champion and an All-American,” Glen said. “She came in and shot as much as she could be here. She was a person that has the internal drive to want to make themselves better, and she’s been one of my best archers I’ve ever had as far as having all the right tools.”

2. Build your strength

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Archers don’t have the same sorts of strength demands placed on them as football players and hockey players that need to move opponents out of the way. At the same time, archers do need to maintain their posture, which requires an entirely different sort of muscle control and stamina. And, that sort of advantage can’t be reliably developed simply by tugging on a bowstring.

“Archers need strong core muscles and strong back muscles,” Glen explained. “We use a small training tool called Flexor that the kids use to build their core muscles. Building their muscles makes them stronger and it allows them to hold the bow steadier.“

3. Eat right to shoot straight

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If you think archery is a sport where what you put in your bodies will have no influence over how well you perform, think again. While archers don’t need to worry as much about the amount of weight they’re carrying as a swimmer or a runner might, there are other ways in which a sugary snack or poor choice of refreshment may affect them.

“Nutrition is huge in archer,” Glen said. “I like kids to stay away from sugary drinks and caffeine because it makes them jittery and affects their aim. Being hungry and thirsty affect you both physically and mentally, so you need to make sure you’re hydrated.“

4. Practice with a plan

Archery isn’t like basketball or football, where practices are broken up into a series of stretches, warm-ups, drills and scrimmages. At the same time, practice sessions are not just ceaseless repetitions of firing arrows into targets for two hours. Like it is with any other sport, going into archery practice with a plan is essential for truly developing the skills that are going to make you better.

“On average, the travel team members shoot an hour to an hour and a half every day, and I like them to keep track of what they’re doing by using a shooting journal,” Glen said. “I don’t want them shooting targets all the time; I want them working on their shooting form and the shooting process. The person who shoots within a strict process will generally shoot consistent scores.”

5. Shoot to win

 

Even if you hope to attend a school without a NCAA-recognized archery program, there’s still an excellent chance that if you’re good enough, you’ll be offered a scholarship to compete for a school with a club team. However, no one is going to know if you’re worthy of a scholarship if you don’t get out there and show people what you’re capable of in a competitive setting.

“I can find out a lot of information on a kid from USA Archery or National Field Archery Association,” Glen said. “I can review the information and the scores, and I can see how good a kids is. Or, if I see a kid at the Demmer Center that’s doing really well at a young age, I can recommend different things to them about how to advance with their shooting, and a lot of times, those kids have already shot in juniors. So, kids wanting to get recruited should definitely start participating in competitions as early as possible.” 

Interested in Archery?

Check out the Meijer State Games - Winter Games Indoor Archery Information

Check out the Meijer State Games - Summer Games Archery Information

 

The Meijer State Games of Michigan is a multi-sport, Olympic-style event(s) that welcome athletes regardless of age or ability level. The Games embody the values of participation, sportsmanship and healthy living.

 

Interested in our Summer Games? 
www.StateGamesofMichigan.com/summergames


Interested in our Winter Games? 
www.StateGamesofMichigan.com/wintergames

 

Jeff Jackson: 5 Things That Will Help You Get Recruited For College Hockey

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By the time Jeff Jackson left Michigan to become a professional hockey coach, he had already established himself as one of the most successful coaches of his generation at the college level. In ten seasons of coaching at Lake Superior State University, Jeff coached the Lakers to four NCAA Frozen Four appearances and three NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championships, with Jeff leading the charge toward the last two championships as the head coach.
 
Since returning to the ranks of collegiate coaches, this time at Notre Dame, Jeff has continued his winning ways by guiding the Fighting Irish to multiple CCHA Championships and NCAA Frozen Four appearances.
 
Given all of Jeff’s coaching success, it comes as no surprise that he regularly hears from young hockey players that are intent on making it onto the ice for a top college hockey program. With that in mind, Jeff shared five things with us that hockey players should do if they ever want to tie on their skates and take the ice for a Frozen Four contender.

 1. Make Your Intentions Known

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It’s a popular misconception that college athletic programs have unlimited time and resources to spend recruiting young talent. They don’t. Programs like Notre Dame tend to concentrate on recruiting a certain talent profile within a targeted region of the country. But if you live far away from the school of your choice, that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to remain off of its recruiting radar. According to Jeff, if you want to get recruited, sometimes all you have to do is ask.
 
“It never hurts for kids, if they have an interest in a school, to reach out and send a letter or an email to express an interest,” Jeff said. “In most cases, we go out and watch kids. Some of it is word of mouth, but sometimes we hear about a kid that’s a good player who has an interest in Notre Dame. That’s how we got Riley Sheahan who is now playing for the Detroit Red Wings; we heard that he had an interest in Notre Dame, so we went out and saw him play.”
 

2. Learn To Be A Playmaker At High Speed

 Developing skills during practice is all well and good, but unless you can execute during an actual hockey game, those skills are meaningless. Not only should aspiring hockey players play in as many truly competitive games as possible, but Jeff actually suggests limiting the space you have to play in while you practice. That way, you’ll force yourself to assess situations and react quickly, and this ability will make you a more reliable playmaker for your team.
 
“The game is really about mastering time and space, both offensively and defensively,” Jeff said. “At every level you move up, there’s less time and less space to make plays. You can work on your skills, but until you can do those things with pressure in competitive situations, then you can only incrementally improve. These things are developed over time. This is why kids need to try to do things at a high pace when they’re practicing and training.”
 

3. Make Yourself Strong

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 Not only does the time and space on the ice shrink on every new level as a result of your opponent’s increased speed and skill, but it also decreases because your competition is physically larger as well. In order to compete with opponents for that decreased ice space, hockey players that truly wish to be competitive will have to get bigger and stronger in their own right. And in order to do this, lifting weights is absolutely necessary.
 
“Physical strength and explosive power are huge,” Jeff said. “When kids get to that age when they can start training their strength, they should. Some strength is natural and develops over time, but usually it can be developed with weights. Kids should focus on Olympic-type lifts like squats, cleans and deadlifts, and also things that focus on the hockey-type areas between the chest and the knees. A true 18-year-old freshman may end up competing with 24-year-old seniors, and if you’re 150 pounds trying to complete with a guy that weighs 230 pounds, that’s a challenge.”

 4. Learn To Stay In Shape Off The Ice

Let’s be honest; not everyone is blessed enough to grow up with a hockey rink in their backyard like Wayne Gretzky was. For most people, ice time comes with a financial cost, and even then, time on the ice is limited by a rink’s availability. Compounding the problem is the fact that hockey players need to have tremendous conditioning in order to get up and down the ice quickly while maintaining that speed throughout a shift. As Jeff will tell you, the best hockey players find a way to stay in shape even when ice access is limited.
 
“There are aerobic and anaerobic types of conditioning, and hockey players need to have both,” Jeff said. “A lot of conditioning can be done off the ice as long as you are willing to pay the price. There’s running, or there’s the treadmill. Hockey may be an anaerobic sport where things are done in short shifts, but you have to have an aerobic base first. It’s important to be in the top shape of your life to prepare for hockey season, but there’s maintenance done during the season and a lot of that is done off the ice. You can help yourself a lot by going at a high tempo in practice, but if you only go at three-quarters of your speed in practice, you’re not helping yourself very much.”
 

5. Get Used To Monitoring What You Eat

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 If you’re still living at home with your parents, or even if you’re living on your own, you might be able to get away with eating whatever is put in front of you regardless as to how it may influence your body. At a top-tier NCAA program, this is not the case. So, if you’re not making disciplined dietary decisions right now, you should get used to it. Otherwise, it’s going to come as a rude awakening when the school nutritionist starts doling out the meal plans.
 
“When we have a specific player that may need to cut bodyfat, maintain their weight or even gain weight, that player is put on a specific type of diet, and that may be paired with supplements,” Jeff said. “We have things like the training table, which all the athletes attend, and we have pre-game meals and post-game meals that we all have together. So, we can track and monitor what a player eats and what they’re putting into their bodies as far as protein drinks and supplements go. It’s a big part of what we do, and we have people to monitor that for us that are professionals.”
 
Interested in Hockey?
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The Meijer State Games of Michigan is a multi-sport, Olympic-style event(s) that welcome athletes regardless of age or ability level. The Games embody the values of participation, sportsmanship and healthy living.

 

Interested in our Summer Games? 
www.StateGamesofMichigan.com/summergames


Interested in our Winter Games? 
www.StateGamesofMichigan.com/wintergames