How to Learn to Read the Plays During a Football Game

Football plays are not designed to be easily read — if you can read them in the stands or in front of the TV, so can the defense. Teams that provide obvious clues to their plays end up struggling for yardage, and the offensive coordinator¡¯s job ends up on the line. Shrewd quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning, who can read the defensive alignment well, change the play with an audible before the snap to further disguise their intentions. Still, experienced analysts of the gridiron do share clues to help you read the plays during a game.
Watch the five offensive linemen — the center and the pairs of tackles and guards — at the moment the center snaps the ball. If they all stand straight up at the snap, the quarterback is going to pass, advises Mark Oristano in ¡°A Sportscaster¡¯s Guide to Watching Football.¡± If the offensive linemen shove forward across the line of scrimmage, a run will follow. The reason behind the different stances is simple; If an offensive lineman moves across the line of scrimmage during a pass play, a penalty for ineligible man downfield follows.
Follow visually the guards who flank the center if the linemen blast forward across the line of scrimmage, signaling a running play. Nine times out of 10 they will lead your eyes to the point of attack, namely where the ball is going, Oristano states. You¡¯ll find where the running back is headed before he gets there — around the same time the defense does.
Look for a spread formation, with three or more receivers lined up wide or to one side in what is called the ¡°trips right¡± or ¡°trips left¡± formation, as a clue that passing play is imminent. A closely bunched formation, with extra blockers creating a fortress around the ball, indicates a quarterback sneak or attempted run for short yardage, most likely by the fullback.
Regard with skepticism movements of linebackers up to line of scrimmage. They are likely faking a blitz and may drop back to their coverage areas. Watch instead the safety who moves up from a deep spot to about 6 yards off the line of scrimmage. Just before the snap, he may start a full-tilt blitz designed to cross the line of scrimmage just after the center delivers the ball to the quarterback.
Study the running back¡¯s eyes just before the snap if a camera provides this shot. Before the ball arrives, he scans the defense from left to right and back again, looking at its alignment. If he inadvertently stares at the point of attack, the middle linebacker may read this and call out to his teammates the gap the back plans to hit.
Watch for the quarterback to react to a blitz by linebackers or safeties by trying to throw a quick pass, designed to avoid the sack, to a receiver who slips into the area vacated by the blitzer.

The Glycemic Index for Sweet Potatoes

Rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene, the sweet potato offers complex carbohydrates along with antioxidant nutrients. If you’re watching the glycemic index of your foods you may be surprised by the sweet potato’s rating. Starchy sweet potato ranks low on the glycemic index scale, which measures a food’s effect on your blood sugar on a scale of one to 100.
The glycemic index helps measure a food’s impact on your blood sugar levels. Foods with a high glycemic index have a rapid effect on your blood sugar. Consuming these foods causes a blood sugar spike, which in turn leads to blood sugar crash. Low glycemic index foods increase your blood sugar levels gradually, so your blood sugar remains more stable after your meal.
The way you prepare sweet potatoes makes a difference in their GI. The GI of a 150-g sweet potato, boiled with its skin for 30 minutes, is 46. That number rises to 94 if the same sweet potato is baked for 45 minutes. These dramatic differences come from the way the starches in sweet potatoes gelatinize during cooking. Foods that turn viscous, or jelly-like, in your digestive tract have a lower GI because the gelatinous substance slows the release of the nutrients in the food. Baking your sweet potatoes instead of boiling them changes the quality of their starches and transforms this root vegetable from a moderate-GI food to a high GI-food.
The glycemic load is a way to take a food’s carbohydrate content into account when figuring its impact on blood sugar. The GL considers both the quality and quantity of the carbohydrates in a food. A boiled sweet potato has a GL of 11, compared to a GL of 42 for a baked sweet potato. Because the GL doesn’t take a food’s nutritional content into account when measuring its metabolic effects, it’s important to consider the health benefits of the sweet potato’s vitamins and phytonutrients when making your food choices.
A 150-g sweet potato baked in its skin offers 31 g of carbohydrates with only 135 calories and no fat, making it a low-calorie, virtually fat-free source of energy. A single sweet potato has 3.8 g of fiber, which regulates bowel function and may help lower your low-density lipoprotein levels, commonly known as bad cholesterol. Sweet potatoes’ fiber content contributes to its place on the glycemic index scale — it slows digestion, which lowers glycemic index, explains Utah State University.
Choose sweet potatoes with an orange hue; the deeper the color, the more beta-carotene the sweet potato contains. The sweet potato’s skin, with its high concentration of vitamins and phytonutrients, deserves to be included in your meals. Omit marshmallows, sugar, and other sweeteners; they’ll add to the GI and caloric content of your recipes. Season mashed, unpeeled sweet potatoes with cinnamon and nutmeg for a naturally sweet vegetable dish.

Why Do Football Players Put Tape Around Their Fingers?

From youth levels all the way up to the pros, football players tape their fingers individually or in pairs. Football requires players to hold on tight to the ball and also requires toughness to escape injury. By taping their fingers, it is commonly thought that football players can gain an edge in both areas. Luckily, there are no rules that disallow the practice of taping fingers.
Football is a tough game and fingers are inevitably going to get bent in the wrong direction. By taping fingers at the spots where they bend, some players can gain an edge in preventing fingers from being bent backward. Players who need to throw the ball or catch the ball should not tape their fingers on the fulcrums. But for offensive linemen and most defensive players, taping fingers on the joints can prevent dislocations and breaks.
For the unlucky players who suffer finger breaks, dislocations or sprains, there is a practice called “buddy taping” that can allow the finger to heal without the player having to miss any field time. According to the Sports Injury Bulletin, buddy taping involves taping the injured finger to one directly next to it. The player will essentially have four fingers to use but will not experience the pain of bending the injured digit. This practice is a quick fix that players can implement on the sideline, right after an injury occurs.
Some players believe that taping fingers can help with gripping the ball. According to a study listed in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, it was determined that this is not true. The abstract of the study states, “The results of these clinical measurements of grip strength showed that, contrary to the perceptions of professional and major college football players, taping of the fingers or wrists or both the fingers and wrists does not improve grip strength”. Quarterbacks, running backs and receivers would be the most likely players on the field to tape their fingers in the hope of stronger grip.
Some players also believe that taping fingers can absorb some of the blow from catching a hard-thrown ball, according to an entry on MadeMan. Taping can also provide a buffer for linemen who do a lot of pushing in the trenches. Taping can take the place of gloves for some players.
The PhysioAdvisor website recommends that players use adhesive, non-stretch sports tape if they are trying to restrict undesired motion. The best size, according to the website, is 12.5 mm or 25 mm, but 38 mm can also be used, though players might want to cut it and make it somewhat smaller. The site also recommends that before taping athletes should always use a hypoallergenic tape as an underlay.

What Causes Lower Back Pain During Exercise?

If your back hurts during exercise, rest assured that you are not alone. According to a 2013 article in Consumer Reports, about 80 percent of adults experience back pain at some point in their lives — even seasoned athletes are not immune. Most injuries are caused by over-training, improper body mechanics, inadequate conditioning or a combination of these, while some occur due to pre-existing problems with your back or spine. Fortunately, most back pain heals quickly, but some injuries persist or get worse. Contact your doctor if your back hurts for more than three days or you have numbness, tingling or weakness anywhere in your body or loss of bowel or bladder control.
The most common cause of muscle pain during exercise is a strained muscle. This injury typically occurs when you overestimate your strength or fail to use proper body mechanics when you perform an exercise, such as a pull down or a dead lift, that puts stress on your back. Muscle strains also occur during twisting, bending or reaching movements and are particularly common in golfers due to the compression forces placed on the back during a typical golf swing.Even jazzercise can cause a strained muscle if you move the wrong way. Although usually minor, these types of injuries cause inflammation, which leads to muscle spasms and severe pain. Icing the painful area and taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen may help the injury to heal more quickly, but the most important treatment is rest.
The spinal column is made up of 24 bones, or vertebrae, which stabilize the back and protect the spinal cord. Between these bones are gelatinous pads called intervertebral discs that help to facilitate movement of the spine and cushion the bones. Under certain conditions, one or more of these discs may bulge, tear or slip out of place, causing nerve compression and severe pain. This often happens during contact sports such as football or when a basketball player jumps and then lands hard on his feet while twisting to block an opponent or make a shot. It also can happen when you turn sideways while lifting a weight that is too heavy or if you fail to engage your core muscles during abdominal exercises such as crunches or leg lifts. Disc injuries typically resolve spontaneously with home remedies and rest followed by a program of strengthening exercises to stabilize your spine.
Sciatica is a medical term that refers to pain caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve — a large nerve that originates in the lower back and continues down both legs and ends at the top of each foot. Often caused by a bulging disc pressing on the nerve, sciatica is characterized by pain in the lower back, buttocks, thigh, knee or, less often, the foot. Running and jogging, especially without proper footwear, often cause sciatica due to the high-impact, repetitive stress these sports place on the lower back. Learning good running form and warming up and stretching before you run are some of the best ways to keep sciatica at bay. Also, remember to replace your shoes when they begin to show signs of wear.
One of the most common causes of back pain in younger athletes, spondylolisthesis is a condition in which one of the vertebrae slips behind or in front of the one below it, causing pain. This injury is common in people who participate in sports that require twisting or hyperextension of the spine, such as gymnastics or golf. Symptoms include back pain that gets worse when you arch your back, tightness in your hamstrings, weakness in your legs and — in severe cases — a limp. Typically, home remedies such as ice packs and rest alleviate the pain, after which you can begin a program of exercises to increase mobility in your spine. Many golfers also benefit from changing their golf swing.

Urinary Side Effects of Fish Oil Capsules

Fish oil capsules are a top source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3-fatty acids are considered building blocks of the brain and nervous system and they are relatively difficult to come by, since the body does not produce them naturally. They are found abundantly in certain fish oils and that’s why they are popular. However, they can cause side effects—including in the urinary tract—and you should consult your doctor if these symptoms impact you.
From time to time, those who take fish oil capsules report an “embarrassing” smell to their urine. The strong smell of the fish oil can become obvious after urination. Much of this is due to the amount of fish oil you are taking. If you are taking more than 3 g of fish oil per day, this condition is quite likely. However, there are no dangers that can come from this result.
The National Institutes of Health reports that high doses of fish oil can also result in bleeding in the urine. This is usually associated with taking more than 3 g of fish oil per day and lowering the dose should eliminate this issue. However, it is important to consult with your physician immediately in the event of finding blood in your urine.
Those who take more than 3 g of fish oil per day may feel discomfort in their lower stomach and feel the need to urinate, according to the National Institutes of Health. However, when they attempt to do so, there is little or no response. Again, this is an issue that is often relieved by taking a smaller dose. Consult a physician if this problem persists.

Football Jersey Number Significance

The NFL requires that players at certain positions be restricted to a range of numbers. This tradition trickled down to the college and high school levels, though no specific rules limit numbers to certain positions. Some high-profile exceptions have existed to the standard numbering system, but fans can generally get an idea what position a player plays just by looking at his jersey number.
The NFL rule calls for punters, kickers and quarterbacks to use numbers 1 through 19. The most famous number 19 is perhaps Baltimore Colts legend and Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas. Wide receivers can also use numbers 10 through 19, under certain circumstances. In college, it is considered an honor to wear No. 1, and often the flashiest or highest-profile players wear that number, whether a quarterback, running back or wide receiver.
Wide receivers and tight ends are assigned numbers 80 through 89, though if those numbers are all assigned, a receiver or tight end can use numbers 10 through 19. While most of the all-time best receivers wore numbers in the 80s, such as Jerry Rice, Kellen Winslow, John Mackey and Lynn Swann, several others went the low-number route, including Fred Biletnikoff, No. 25, and Lance Alworth, No. 19.
Offensive and defensive linemen usually share most of the same numbering system. Centers, though, are supposed to be numbered in the 50s, which is the same as linebackers. Offensive guards and tackles are supposed to have jersey numbers in the 60s and 70s. Defensive linemen are also supposed to have jerseys that fall between 60 and 79, though they can have numbers from 90 through 99 if the 60s and 70s are all taken.
Running backs and defensive backs have the widest range, with options ranging from 20 to 49. Linebackers are supposed to stick with numbers in the 50s, though 90 through 99 are available if the 50s are all taken. Defensive backs tend to go with jersey numbers in the 20s and 40s, while running backs tend to have numbers in the 30s and 40s.
The jersey system has notable exceptions. Raiders¡¯ center Jim Otto wore No. 00, a reference to his last name. Viking defensive lineman and Hall of Famer Carl Eller wore No. 81. And countless college football stars have gone against tradition in their jersey assignments. Michigan wide receiver Anthony Carter wore No. 1, while Florida State defensive back Deion Sanders wore No. 2.
Many rookies in the NFL want to wear the numbers they wore in college, but that isn¡¯t always possible. USC running back Reggie Bush wanted to continue wearing No. 5 when was drafted by New Orleans in 2006. The NFL however, stood firm in its rules and wouldn¡¯t let the running back have the number. He opted for No. 25 when he came into the league. Other players come into the pros also wanted to wear their college numbers or a different number for a specific reason, only to find that the number has already been assigned or has been retired by the team. So, don’t look for a rookie to wear No. 16 for the San Francisco 49ers. That’s the number of Hall of Fame 49ers quarterback Joe Montana.

The Calories in Brandy, Beer & Wine

Brandy, beer and wine are all different types of alcohol that come in a variety of different flavors and styles, brewed and distilled by an immensely diverse collection of companies; however, generally, each type contains a similar amount of calories.
An 86 proof brandy, 43 percent alcohol by volume, contains 70 calories per 1-oz. serving. None of these calories are from fat, and a serving contains 0.1 g of sugar.
Though there are many varieties of wines with varying calorie counts, in general, one glass of red wine, or about 5 oz., contains 127 calories and 5.5 g of carbohydrates; the same serving of white wine has about 114 calories and 4 g of carbs.
Beer, like wine, comes in many different makes and flavors, but generally speaking an average 5 percent alcohol beer contains about 102 calories and 8.5 g of carbohydrates.

Fun Rugby Games

Similar to American football, rugby features two competing teams attempting to score points by touching a large, oval ball to the ground inside the opposing goal or by kicking the ball through goal posts. Players run with the ball until tackled, although they may pitch or kick the ball to teammates who are behind them. While the sport can be physically brutal, rugby coaches can use several fun games to help teach the sport¡¯s necessary skills.
In this variation of the Bangladesh game called Kabaddi, two teams of seven players take to a small field no larger than 35 feet wide and 30 feet long. A line divides the field in half. On the whistle, a player from the offensive team carries the ball into the other half of the field and attempts to touch a defender. Once he touches someone, the ball-carrier attempts to race back to his half of the field and touch down the ball before the defenders can tackle him. Each successful return or tackle earns the team a point.
Designate a large square, measuring at least 30 feet by 30 feet, on the field. Place three defenders in the square and four attackers along each side of the square, with the attacking groups named A, B, C and D. Each attacking group has one ball. When the coach calls out a letter, the respective attacking group races into the box and attempts to evade the defenders and score across the opposite side of the square. Attackers may pass the ball, but they can¡¯t kick towards the goal. The three defenders must work together to try and stop them from scoring, with play ending on a tackle or turnover. Once play stops, the coach calls out another attacking group, and the defenders must brace for another immediate assault.
Designed to teach young rugby players evasive skills, tiger tails requires each player to wear a tail, which can be a plastic flag or simple piece of cloth tucked into the back of his shorts. On the coach¡¯s whistle, the players must run around inside a designated area and attempt to collect as many tiger tails as they can. Whenever a player swipes another tail, he must tuck it into the back of his shorts so it¡¯s once again free to grab. The player with the most tails when the coach calls time wins.
Another fun game for young players, rugby tennis stresses the fundamentals of passing, catching and kicking. Players divide into two teams and occupy opposite sides of the field. The game begins with one team passing the ball amongst itself three times, with the third player then firing a pass over an imaginary tennis net to the other team. The ball must be passed waist high to give the other team a fair chance to catch it. If the ball touches the ground, the passing team wins a point. The ball may also be kicked across for added difficulty.

The Average Distance Run in a Soccer Game

It is a little more than 380 miles from Boston, Massachusetts, to Dover, Delaware, which is roughly the same distance midfielder Steven Gerrard covered while playing for his English Premiere League club team Liverpool FC and the English national team during the 2005-06 season. About one-tenth of that running was done at or near sprinting speeds. This achievement might seem exceptional, but the dynamic Gerrard is only slightly above the norm in the EPL in terms of distance covered.
According to The Sunday Times website, midfielders in England’s Premiership worked the hardest in the 2005-06 season, running on average 7 miles, 246 yards per game. Right midfielders win the distinction of performing the most “high-intensity” runs — running at a three-quarter sprint speed or faster — averaging nearly 150 bursts per game that cover 339 yards. Discounting goalkeepers, centerbacks ran the least amount per game, yet still impressively averaged six miles, 332 yards. Gennaro Gattuso of Italy’s AC Milan racked up more than 6-1/2 miles in the 2007 semifinal of the Champion’s League, suggesting that the particular league a player is a part of has no bearing on the average distance covered during a professional soccer match.
Soccer players don’t run at the same pace for a game’s entire 90 minutes. Running speeds vary from jogging to moderate running and sprinting. Quite often, a player will even walk during a game. Research data shows, however, that the degree of moderate running and sprinting activities has dramatically increased in the past several years in professional soccer. The number of so called “high-intensity” bursts performed by teams per game nearly doubled in a three-year span, to the Washington Post story. What’s more, players increased the amount of ground they covered during sprints by 40 percent, a sign the game is becoming more intense and that players are raising the bar for physical condition standards.
The tracking technology used to measure a soccer player’s running distance during a game is a complex system of 16 cameras that record every portion of a soccer field. Computers analyze the feed from the cameras and calculate trajectories of player movements. In addition to figuring out how far a player runs, the system can determine elements such as shot speeds and distances between a goal and ball position during free kicks. Digital tracking technology has vastly improved upon the old-fashioned way of determining running distances, which consisted of reviewing game footage to manually compare each player’s movements to the field’s dimensions.
Statistics about a player’s running distance and intensity provides valuable insight for managers and coaches, enabling them to make informed decisions about who to replace, drop from the team or use in a different position. Tracking technology has made it difficult for players performing below average to hide their shortcomings. At the same time, it has given some players the opportunity to showcase their true potential, such as goalkeeper Petr Cech of the Premiership’s Chelsea FC. After defeating Spanish club FC Barcelona in a 2006 Champions League game, Cech came sprinting out of his goal and made the fastest run of the game of any player on the field to celebrate the win.

Good Foods for Football Players to Eat Before the Game

Pregame football meals should be eaten at least three hours prior to the start of a game and should consist largely of foods rich in carbohydrates. Protein and fat should be kept to a minimum because these nutrients take longer to convert into energy, which is of the utmost importance for a football player to perform optimally on the gridiron.
Carbohydrates are converted to energy quickly and come in two forms: simple and complex. Complex carbohydrates are found in foods such as whole-grain pasta, potatoes and whole-grain breads and cereals, while simple carbohydrates come in foods such as fruits, sugar and honey. The body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose and then stores it as glycogen in muscle tissue. As you begin exerting yourself during the game, your body converts the glycogen back into glucose and uses it as energy. You can further enhance the amount of energy available to you during a football game with a diet in which carbohydrates account for about 70 percent of your caloric intake for two to three days before game day.
While protein plays a vital role in providing your muscles with energy, it is broken down too slowly to be effective in a pregame meal. Fats fall into the same category and, like protein, should be consumed in small quantities as part of a pregame meal. Incorporate protein into your pregame meal in the form of lean meats, such as turkey and chicken, or nuts, such as cashews or almonds. The meal¡¯s limited amount of fat should come from mainly from the ¡°good¡± fats, such as polyunsaturated and monounsatured. You should keep the ¡°bad¡± fats, which include saturated and trans fat, to a minimum.
A 6-inch turkey breast and Swiss sub sandwich on whole-wheat bread with lettuce, tomatoes and bell peppers is a good carbohydrate-rich pregame meal that is easy to make and will satisfy. Throw in some raw baby carrots and a small apple, and you¡¯ll be properly nourished for game time. If you¡¯re more in the mood for pasta, eat a healthy portion of spaghetti in marinara sauce with ground turkey meatballs with a side of steamed broccoli and rice. Your beverage choice should include either water or low- or nonfat milk.
Because football is a game that can last up to three hours, you might need to replenish your energy levels by eating or drinking something at halftime or during the game. Simple carbohydrates, such as sports drinks or fruit, are ideal for these situations because of how quickly the body converts them into energy. Pregame meals are not a time to sample new foods. Stick with foods your body is familiar with and avoid foods that may not agree with your digestive system. Also avoid foods that cause gas, such as cooked beans and cabbage.