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The Most Overlooked Area For Women

Posted by Phil Nielsen at Aug 27, 2011 4:52PM PDT ( 0 Comments )

Mark Verstegen was just hired by Jurgen Klinsmann to head the fitness program for the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team. Here is his thoughts on a serious issue facing female athletes (it’s good information for males, too)

Hip stability might be the number one issue facing women when it comes to injuries and ailments. Injuries of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of the knee have reached epidemic proportions among young women, and not just athletes. Nobody can pinpoint a reason, with theories ranging from the increased physical nature of women’s sports to biomechanical issues to a possible tie-in to menstrual cycles.

ACL injuries lead to other knee problems, along with shin splints, stress fractures and other injuries. ACL injuries often are related to a lack of stability and mobility in the hips; the knee moves to compensate for the hip.

The hip cuff is the control unit for your lower body. It governs the thigh, which interacts with your knee and affects your foot position. The centrality of the hip cuff is why tremendous attention must be paid to strengthening the muscles in and around the area, as they are critical in controlling everything below your hips, and everything above as well.

The hip cuff consists of more than 40 muscles in and around your lower pelvis that are responsible for much of your lower body movement. Even if you think you already have the ultimate hip-and-glute workout routine, I assure you that you haven’t come close to addressing this key area.

Hips are the most overlooked area when it comes to decreasing the potential for injury. Most back and hip problems occur because of improper mobility and stability and faulty utilization of the hips. Most people are locked down or unstable in their hips. If one of your hip capsules is locked down, it’s as if one of your thighbones is welded to your pelvis—imagine wearing a permanent cast on your hip. To get anything to move, you would have to use excessive motion in your knees and back to make up for your hip’s immobility. The lower and middle back share some common responsibilities with your hips, but they were meant to be secondary, not primary, initiators of movement. By maximizing efficiency in and around the hip cuff through improved mobility, stability, and strength, you will discover the engine that will propel you throughout daily life, to say nothing of creating “buns of steel.”

We want to focus on becoming glute dominant instead of quad dominant. This is a key concept. Most women move from their knee joints as opposed to their hip joints; they’re “quad dominant.” Their knees move first, stimulating the quadriceps muscles to fire at the onset of movement. This is a dangerous thing because the hub of your wheel is your pelvic area—not the quads. You want to absorb force through the more powerful center of your body toward your glutes, which will enable the limbs to work together to produce force. To try to absorb this much force in the quads alone is to invite ACL and other leg injuries.

Imagine if you slip on a patch of ice. If your knees and quads move first, you’re probably going to fall, likely resulting in a knee injury. But if you can absorb that force through the center of your body and your glutes, you’re less likely to tumble and if you do, it’s less likely to produce a knee injury.

The reason women tend to be quad dominant is that they have a larger “Q angle,” the angle at which the femur (upper leg bone) meets the tibia (lower leg bone). Women’s hips are slightly wider relative to their knees and often a woman’s knees fall more toward the midline of the body, creating a greater angle from the knee to the hip.

This is the price women have to pay for being able to produce the miracle of childbirth. There’s nothing we can do to change this, obviously. But what you can do is be aware of it so that when you look in the mirror or watch your workout routine, your knees are not coming together and definitely not rubbing together.

The Core Performance program will help you develop more femoral control by focusing not on your knees but in your hip cuff, which is the control center for both your knees and lower legs. We’ll spend lots of time on movements that challenge the hip rotators. These exercises might feel like butt busters but are actually knee and back protectors, giving your body the ability to control the angles and better disperse force into your muscular system.

Excerpted from Core Performance Women by Mark Verstegen and Pete Williams. For more info or to order Core Performance Women, visit any of the following Web sites:,,, or
About The Author

Mark Verstegen – An internationally-recognized leader and innovator in the world of athletic performance training, Mark Verstegen is the founder of Athletes’ Performance and Core Performance.


Brooke Ksiazek, a midfielder from Team Chicago Academy-Botafogo, has accepted a generous scholarship to continue her soccer career at Illinois State University. Brooke, who plays her prep soccer for Joe Moreau’s Neuqua Valley team, will be part of ISU Head Coach Drew Roff’s 2013 freshman class.

Illinois State University is a perennial powerhouse in the Missouri Valley Conference winning the conference title in 2009 and participating the NCAA Tournament the same year.

Jenna Romano Commits to Wake Forest!

Posted by Phil Nielsen at Aug 24, 2011 9:18PM PDT ( 0 Comments )

Team Chicago Academy-Botafogo captain Jenna Romano has accepted a very lucrative scholarship to attend ACC powerhouse Wake Forest as part of their 2013 freshman class.

Wake Forest is the defending ACC champions – the most competitive conference in the country – and they defeated Florida State, North Carolina, and Maryland to capture the 2010 crown. In 2011 they are off to a 2-0-0 start lead by sophomore U20 National Team star Katie Stengel.

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Zoey Goralski Headed to U17 National Team Camp!

Posted by Phil Nielsen at Aug 17, 2011 10:39AM PDT ( 0 Comments )

Zoey Goralski from Team Chicago Academy-Botafogo is headed to U17 National Team Camp next week. Over the past year Zoey has emerged as the starting right back on the U17s as they prepare for next year’s U17 FIFA World Cup in Azerbaijan.

Below is the press release from US Soccer:

The U.S. Under-17 Women National Team will hold a training camp from Aug. 21-29 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The camp will feature two full international matches against Japan, matching the U-17 teams from the two countries that met in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final about a month ago in Frankfurt, Germany. The games, which are open to the public, will take place on Thursday, Aug. 25 at 6 p.m. PT and Sunday. Aug. 28, at 4 p.m. PT.

This will be the first camp since Albertin Montoya was officially named head coach of the U.S. U-17s and he has called in 26 players for the event, all of whom were born in 1995. The U.S. team is preparing for qualifying for the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup that will be held in Azerbaijan from Sept. 22-Oct. 13 of next year.

Dates and a site for the CONCACAF tournament have yet to be confirmed. These will be the third and fourth internationals of the year for the U-17s, which defeated the German U-17s 3-1 and tied the German U-18s 2-2 in Florida during the first camp of the year.

Midfielder Summer Green and forward Toni Payne are the leading scorers for the U-17s so far this year, each having scored four times in all games in 2011.

Roster By Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Jane Campbell (Concorde Fire South; Kennesaw, Ga.), Cassie Miller (Sereno FC; Cave Creek, Ariz.), Morgan Stearns (McLean Power; San Antonio, Texas)
DEFENDERS (9): Morgan Andrews (FC Stars of Mass.; Milford, N.H.), Maddie Bauer (Slammers FC; Newport Beach, Calif.); Zoey Goralski (Chicago Botafogo; Naperville, Ill.), Olivia Hazelrigg (Sparta; Riverton, Utah), Lauren Kaskie (Heat FC; Las Vegas, Nev.), Havana McElvaine (Colorado Rush; Denver, Colo.), Sydney Myers (Black Diamond SC; Park City, Utah), Lizzy Raben (Colorado Rush; Greenwood, Colo.), Morgan Reid (Chelsea Ladies; Cary, N.C.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Joanna Boyles (Chelsea Ladies; Raleigh, N.C), Miranda Freeman (Lady Renegades SC; Royal Palm Beach, Fla.), Summer Green (Michigan Hawks; Milford, Mich.), Gabbi Miranda (Colorado Rush; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Arielle Ship (Real So Cal; Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Morgan Stanton (Colorado Rush; Lakewood, Colo.), Andi Sullivan (Bethesda SC; Lorton, Va.)
FORWARDS (7): Emily Bruder (Utah Avalanche; Sandy, Utah), Cameron Castleberry (Chelsea Ladies; Raleigh, N.C.), Danica Evans (Colorado Rush; Lakewood, Colo.), Darian Jenkins (Sparta; Riverton, Utah), Kayla Mills (Slammers FC; West Covina, Calif.), Amber Munerlyn (So Cal Blues; Corona, Calif.), Toni Payne (Concorde Fire; Birmingham, Ala.).

By Mike Woitalla

Ajax Amsterdam, having produced players from Johan Cruyff to Wesley Sneijder, is considered by legions of American youth coaches as a model for youth development.

Much of what happens at Ajax would be impossible for a U.S. program to replicate. Ajax has the pick of the best young players from a soccer-rich nation. That it consistently promotes players to the senior level is to be expected. Lots of coaches — and their clubs — would look quite good if they only had to coach their country’s top youngsters.

Ajax covers all costs, so the academy isn’t limited to those who can afford it.

Still, checking out how top clubs around the world approach player development can provide some ideas on how we coach American children.

Last season, Ajax won its first Dutch league title in seven years, prompting Andy Murray of the British magazine FourFourTwo to visit the Ajax academy, which is called De Toekomst (The Future).

One of his impressions: “There’s no screaming coaches, pushy parents or berating of officials.”

“It’s not a crime to lose nor is it about being champions in your age group, but being in the first team, and winning trophies there. To be a star you must overcome disappointment,” Ajax general manager David Endt told FourFourTwo.

Jan Olde Riekerink, Ajax’s Head of Youth Development, said, “We always look for [soccer players] first, but to stay up with the modern game we must develop athletes to compete at the top international level. But enjoyment must come first. That’s the basis for all our coaching: if they don’t have fun, we don’t do it. We don’t make them run in mud just because it’ll make them stronger.”

Also quoted is 19-year-old Dane Christian Eriksen, a star on the current Eredivisie championship team: “[Soccer] is about more than running. Everyone here wants the ball.”

It needs be noted that Eriksen arrived at De Toekomst at age 16 when he was already a star on the Danish U-17 national team and was also being courted by several of Europe’s top clubs, and that Ajax reportedly paid Odense BK more than $1 million for him.

Last year, Michael Sokolove wrote an in-depth article for New York Times Magazine on De Toekomst. He quoted youth coach Ronald de Jong:

“I am never looking for a result — for example, which boy is scoring the most goals or even who is running the fastest. That may be because of their size and stage of development. I want to notice how a boy runs. Is he on his forefeet, running lightly? Does he have creativity with the ball? Does he seem that he is really loving the game? I think these things are good at predicting how he’ll be when he is older.”

Sokolove reported that through age 12, players train three times a week and play one game on the weekend. “By age 15, the boys are practicing five times a week. In all age groups, training largely consists of small-sided games and drills in which players line up in various configurations, move quickly and kick the ball very hard to each other at close range. In many practice settings in the U.S., this kind of activity would be a warm-up, just to get loose, with the coach paying scant attention and maybe talking on a cell phone or chatting with parents. At the Ajax academy, these exercises — designed to maximize touches, or contact with the ball — are the main event.”

About 200 boys, from ages 7 to 19, train at De Toekomst. Some players at each age group are cut each year. They are said, writes Sokolove, to have been “sent away” — and new prospects take their place.

(Mike Woitalla, the executive editor of Soccer America, coaches youth soccer for East Bay United in Oakland, Calif. His youth soccer articles are archived at