Chalk Talk – Episode 11 Post-Game Recovery

Chalk Talk – Episode 11: Post-Game Recovery

A lot of our focus is spent on practices, workouts, and competition, but what about recovery? Recovery is one of the most important factors when it comes to optimal performance, and we need to have a plan to prepare for when recovery will occur. 

Coach Breslin and Coach Reno come on to today’s podcast to chat about recovery in a given day, week, and season to get the most out of our athletes’ hard work.

Podcast Highlights

  • Planning: Making time for recovery (0:40-5:20)
  • After the game and the 24 Hour Window (5:20-10:55)
  • Sleep and Foods Role in Recovery (10:55-14:20)
  • Culture of Recovery-Make it Important (14:20-19:10)
  • Adapt with Feedback from Athletes (19:10- 23:10)
  • What am I doing to be best prepared?  (23:10-27:00)
  • Ability to Adjust Year over Year (27:00-33:15)

Want to see an example of some In-Season recovery options? Go download the full In-Season Training Guide today!

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The New Age of PE: Purpose, Passion, & Pride

Molly Collins
Meet the Author: Molly Collins

Molly is a high school physical education teacher and coach at Pennfield High School in Michigan. She is also recognized as a PLT4M Coaches Club Ambassador.

Thank you, Molly, for your contribution to the world of physical education and athletics! 




The New Age of PE: Purpose, Passion, & Pride:

I believe everything in life is connected like a puzzle. In my life, I have three words to live by.

Purpose. Passion. Pride. I use them in my everyday life but also at school. I call it “P3 Fitness.”

It’s a way to embrace what’s important and start the chain reaction to an impactful life. A life that is your story, as flawed and imperfect as it may be. It’s a life being built through trial and error. 

How do I define P3 Fitness? Let me explain. 

What is Purpose? 

Purpose is your “why.” It’s different for everyone, yet everyone’s purpose is impactful. We all have a purpose in life, and for a young student-athlete, you most likely don’t have a clue of what your purpose is yet. Setting goals can often help develop that purpose. 

Through Physical Education, my goal is to challenge my students in ways they have never been challenged before. In other words, find the pieces to the puzzle. 

What is Passion? 

Passion is being strong and in control of your emotions. As young student-athletes, there are a lot of variables that come into play on a daily basis. 

Physical Education gives students the opportunity to push themselves past comfortable and to remain physically and mentally strong. In addition to controlling negative thoughts and staying positive, your passion follows and fuels your purpose. 

What is Pride? 

Pride means confidence and respect in one’s self and in others. It’s the key that leads to purpose. Having pride in yourself is to love and trust yourself.

High school can be a tough place. For most students, self-confidence lacks. Yet, day in and day out, when you are able to accomplish small goals while being surrounded by others doing the same, a school can become a powerful place. 

Pride fuels your passion to help you find your purpose. 

My Class and the PLT4M Connection:

How does my P3 Fitness philosophy blend so well with PLT4M’s mission? 

PLT4M has given me the chance to teach to the student, not just to the group. With large class sizes (up to 40 students), providing detailed individual instruction can be difficult. Yet, it’s what every student deserves. 

Through PLT4M, I am not teaching anything different in terms of lifts or exercises, but I am using technology to help reach more students at the level they individually need.

From a starting varsity lineman to the student who has never stepped foot into a fitness class, everyone can get their needs met by having access to in-person and online training. The app allows for the students to go at their own pace, yet face similar challenges daily.

Personalized weights for each exercise help challenge my students, and we have, in turn, seen personal growth through their individual log sets. The students all have goals, and fitness testing and leaderboards allow for those goals to have a purpose.

Finally, PLT4M allows for the students to see growth, not only in their physical appearance, but mental as well. This growth gives them confidence and self-respect to follow their purpose, all while having passion when doing so. PLT4M is for everyone!

Don’t Take My Word For It.

As part of our final exam, my students wrote their thoughts about the class. Some students’ thoughts were: 

 “This class helped me to just be myself and express myself. It also helped me develop better relationships with my friends. It taught me to always give my best no matter what anyone else does and to always push myself.” 
“This class helped me by giving me a winning attitude towards sports and school. Through hard work, commitment, and consistency, I can achieve whatever I set my mind to.” 

That is what Physical Education and PLT4M are doing in the lives of young students and athletes today. When focusing on developing purpose, passion, and pride, these students are going to be the ones that are truly prepared for the future and will be able to impact others. 

Teaching and coaching is my purpose and why I love my job.


EP 10 - Sport Specific Training

Chalk Talk – Episode 10 – Sport Specific Training: Myths vs. Reality

Chalk Talk – Episode 10: Sports Specific Training: Myths vs Reality

Sport Specific Training can get every coach talking, and maybe even a little red in the face. Instead of turning red, Coach Breslin and Coach Reno discuss logistics and get specific about Sports Specific Training. 

In today’s episode, we talk about basketball, cross country, and baseball, but this is certain to be a good listen for any sports coach or strength coach. 

Podcast Highlights

Basketball: Improving Vertical and Throwing off your Shot (0:40-13:30)

Cross Country: Distance Runners and the Fear of Bulking (14:00-23:20)

Link to Coach Breslin’s “3 Myths of Training Track Athletes”  

Baseball: Managing Arms and Still Pressing (24:00- 33:45)

Our Coaches Experience: Who are we coaching? (33:45-37:20)

Link to Coach Breslin’s “Training the Multi-Sport Athlete”

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Episode 9 - Nutrition

Chalk Talk – Episode 9: Nutrition w/ April Liles RD

Chalk Talk – Episode 9: Nutrition w/ April Liles RD 

As teachers and coaches, we know nutrition is something worth talking about with our students and athletes. But for most of us, we do not know where to start….April Liles joins the podcast to help PLT4M get started talking about nutrition!

April Liles, Registered Dietitian and Food Service Director at Waltham Public Schools breaks down for us how, what, and why nutrition is a key for every student that we work with. 

Note from the host: 

This was an awesome start the wide world of nutrition, and we know there is so much more to unpack! Sport drinks, pre-game meals, added sugars….when I was talking with April my mind was racing on what to talk about with her next time she stops by!!

For that though, I need everyone’s help! Please share with us questions or topics you want to hear covered with April in future episodes: Chalk Talk Episode Suggestions.

Thanks again to everyone for tuning in!! #InPursuitofBetter — Doug Curtin

Podcast Highlights

Part 1: Starting to Talk Nutrition

  • Who is April Liles? (0:45-3:51)
  • Food Service Options (3:51-7:35) 
  • Talk about Nutrition (7:35-9:10)

Part 2: Macronutrients: Talking Basics (9:53-11:30)

  • Carbs: Good, Bad, Grab and Go! (11:30-15:10)
  • Proteins: “Not all equal, but all very good” (15:10-16:15)
  • Fats: “Essential Building Block” (16:16-17:25) 
  • Micronutrients: Real Food Matters (17:50-18:50)

Part 3: Real-World Implications

  • Making Nutrition a Priority (19:20-23:37)
  • Eating Real Food (23:37-27:00)
  • Exposure and Education (27:00-35:40)**

**Towards the end of the episode, April talks about Fearless Foodies and the video campaign she worked on for her elementary students. Check out an example video here: Fearless Foodies making Overnight Oats!  

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GameDay Lifts

Chalk Talk – Episode 8: GameDay Lifts vs. Lifting on Game Day

Chalk Talk – Episode 8: GameDay Lifts vs. Lifting on Game Day 

It is game day and just a few hours before the big competition. Time to lift? While some coaches are jumping into “Game Day Lifts”, Coach Breslin and Coach Reno suggest we take a step back and think about what our goal is. 

This episode breaks down everything from when to lift, when not to lift, and why pre-game prep does not mean we need a barbell in our hands.

Check out our full article on Game Day Lifts written by Coach Reno. 

Podcast Highlights

Part 1: What Are Game Day Lifts?

  • Game Day Lifts vs Lifting on Game Day(0:30-7:00)
  • What is PAP? (7:00-12:14)
  • What is actually happening? Advantages and Disadvantages (12:14-17:16)

Part 2: Recommendations and Considerations: 

  • Game Day Prep: Getting Loose and Feeling Good (18:00-22:30)
  • PE Class on Game Day-What do with In Season Athletes  (22:30- 28:00)
  • Identifying Priorities in the Weight Room-Not All About Intensity (28:00- 30:25) 
  • Pre-Game Warm Up…the Real PAP (30:25-34:52)
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GameDay Lifts

GameDay Lifts

One of the hottest recent topics in the world of High School Strength and Conditioning, it has exploded in popularity amongst the rank and file coaching world.

To be clear, we are not talking about the efficacy of In-Season training and the consistency of strength training through a competitive schedule. Rather, we are referencing the quickly growing trend of high school coaches who seek to use a targeted weight training session as a direct and immediate precursor to improved athletic performance on the field of competition.

In a relatively short amount of time, the common convention has shifted from one extreme to another: 

“Lifts should occur as far before competition as possible” → “We lift on Game day to give our team an advantage”

With such a drastic swing in popular opinion over such a short time, we thought it’s worth a deep dive into ALL the facts surrounding “GameDay Lifts” and their possible use and benefit. (If you haven’t already, check out our podcast on the GameDay Lifts.)

“GameDay Lifts” vs. Lifting on Game Day

Before we do anything else, let’s first clarify the VERY important distinction between lifting for a perceived benefit during a following competition, and performing a standard developmental lift on the same day you play a game.

The “GameDay Lift” is meant to incite better performance in the moment, the science of which we will dive into in a moment.

However, sometimes, game day performance isn’t the actual priority. 

Sometimes, there are circumstances at the High School level, and even the elite level, that warrants a lift performed on the day of a game.

For example, a Freshman soccer player engaged in his or her first bout of consistent strength training may benefit far more from additional days of training and less of a focus on competitive results. It would be hard for any multi-sport athlete to develop over their initial months and years of training if they were perpetually considered “in-season”.

Maybe, younger athletes are less “in-season” than they are in the developmental process – with their sport seasons taking a back seat. Getting 3 days of training in a week may trump any competition schedule or desire for performance on the field in the moment.

Additionally, some sports are less taxing. Your JV baseball team may not exert themselves as much during a competition due to the nature of the game and/or the number of athletes and substitutes. These athletes may achieve more benefits from spending more time in the weight room, adding in lifting sessions rather than removing them.

In each scenario, a coach is placing greater emphasis on strength & athletic development than performance during competition.

We are actually great proponents of providing more training for athletes who don’t play much, or play at a lower level, as they are still in a developmental stage and the extra training won’t take away from the game since they don’t participate much.

However, when it comes to the rising concept of “GameDay lifts”, it is very much a different scenario. Instead, coaches are having athletes lift prior to games for a perceived ergogenic aid. 

We’re talking in-the-moment performance, not development.

The Rise of GameDay Lifts

For decades, In-Season strength training has been a consistent staple of great programs. This training included carefully selected strength exercises to preserve a resiliency to injury and maintain maximal strength & power output during competition.

In fact, this approach to training has been widely regarded as an essential component in all athletic seasons. 

In-Season Strength Training: Maintaining strength levels during a competitive season in order to reduce susceptibility to injury. 

Over the past year or two, however, a new facet of In-Season training has risen…

TheGameDay Lift.

A “GameDay Lift” is a specifically programmed weight workout, performed in a specific window of time prior to competition, intended to elicit a biological response that results in improved performance on the field.

Most simply, Coaches across the country are using maximal intensity movement at low volume as a stimulus to “wake the team up” before a competition.

Proponents of this new training protocol are pioneering an attempt to harness the power of “PAP”, or “Post-Activation Potentiation”, and the biological response found in humans after physical activity.

Here, at the concept of PAP, though, is where the murkiness begins.

Specific exercises DO, in fact, cause excitement of the body and mind. BUT, the research and reality of its application are far more complicated than a simple yes or no use case.

All Hail Post-Activation Potentiation

So, what the heck is PAP, really?

Officially, PAP is the documented excitation of the central nervous system producing an increase in contractile function, following a heavy load lifting stimulus (3). It is a phenomenon by which the potential force exerted by a muscle is increased in subsequent attempts due to previous contraction (1). 

So, even more basically…lift something heavy, and your muscles and nervous system will be better primed to do so again afterwards.

Not to get too science-y here, but PAP is believed to be the sum of 3 specific biological reactions: 

  1. An increase in Phosphorylation of the regulatory light chains — which means an increase in the cross-bridge cycling rate or how quickly you can produce force (4,5)
  2. An increase in potentiated H-reflex excitability — which in turn means increased recruitment of high-order motor neurons, leading to faster and more forceful muscle contractions (4,5,9)
  3. A decrease in the pennation angle of the muscle fibers — which is an advantage as more force can be transferred through the tendon and eventually to the bone (3,4,5)

To cause such a reaction, athletes must perform compound strength or power movements (the back squat or power clean, for example), using loads of 80% or greater, relative to their 1 Rep Max, for just 1 to 2 reps and sets (1-5). 

This resulting excitation or “alertness” is temporary, but can cause significant improvements in explosive movement (particularly countermovement jumps), sprint speed, and throwing ability (1-9). 

Sounds Great! Though, I feel like there is a “but” coming…

Considerations for PAP Application in Athletics

While the results of PAP excitation seem to be nothing but beneficial to athletics and performance, there are a number of additional considerations that must be made when attempting to utilize it in a team setting, especially with high schoolers.

Small Window of Opportunity – Timing & Duration

Perhaps the most notable conclusion in the research that is worth your consideration is the timing and duration of the desired effect.

In fact, the window for potentiation (excitement) peaks at about 6 minutes post-lift, and has completely dissipated by the 14-minute mark (4,9). It has been suggested that such timing of peak potentiation is because it is the period in which light-chain myosin remains phosphorylated, creating a contraction “memory” and fatigue has subsided (7). 

This window of opportunity has been coined: the ‘‘fitness-fatigue model’ (4,5). To further complicate things, this window is also HIGHLY dependent upon the exercise (different exercises cause different fatigue rates) and training status of the athlete (e.g. trained or untrained), all of which call for different protocols to see an effect (4-8).

Because of this ‘window’, it is worth mentioning that in all of the research, PAP has only shown positive results in single event tests (all-out sprint, maximum jump or throw), not repeated events (1-4,7,9). 

So, when thinking about team sports, competing in games spanning multiple hours, with on-field warm-up periods beforehand, utilizing PAP through weight training becomes tricky.

Training Status & Amateur Athletes

Furthermore, High School coaches should take into consideration who they are training.

Almost without exception, high school athletes are amateurs – with relatively limited experience in the weight room. 

PAP is proven to be less effective, or not effective at all, in amateur athletes; regardless of the type of training method performed (4,7,9). 

In fact, PAP effect from lifting protocols may not be effective until the lifter has become elite (10+ years of training experience) and any form of lifting could cause immediate detriment in subsequent performance tests for less trained individuals (8). 


Putting aside the effect of nervous system excitation, we must look at the other subsequent effects of training. 

We must remember, any form of lifting causes muscle damage, an increase in cortisol, and a decrease in testosterone, no matter the amount thereof or intention of training (4,8,12).

From the research, we know that during any lifting session of maximal muscle contraction, there are a number of other, potentially detrimental, physiological reactions:

  • a rapid depletion of creatine
  • an accumulation of extracellular potassium
  • an increase in intramuscular calcium and hydrogen

All three contribute to a subsequent decrease in force production and strength (8). This problem is greatly intensified with less trained individuals, and the effect can last from several days to even weeks, post lift (7-11,13).

Additionally, beginner lifters will suffer from metabolic fatigue due to decreased storage and availability of energy substrates, and a brief decrease in performance from circulating hormones (8). 

Younger populations (22 and younger) generally do recover faster from muscle damage, however, this is often overstated. 

Once muscle damage has occurred, regardless of age or amount, there has to be a recovery process in order to repair the damage. It’s during this time, that peak power output, average power output, and maximal strength are compromised, combined with elevated soreness, fatigue and inflammatory markers (14). 

To complicate matters further, we also know that on game-days, cortisol levels are already significantly elevated (8,12). 

Any additional exhaustion, no matter how small, will be chiefly evident towards the end of the game (e.g. 4th quarter), when fatigue is the single largest factor in determining team success; particularly at the High School level with small teams and limited subs (12).

Long story short, athletes can only excite the CNS enough times before the system becomes exhausted, overloaded, and fatigued – often times resulting in injury or illness in the athlete (13).  

If sporting events are 2 hours long or more, and volume on the field is high, a coach must consider whether CNS activation is of benefit relative to any pre-fatigue to muscles, hormones, or energy substrates prior to the start of a game. 

Our Approach for High School Athletes

It is of our own personal opinion, here at PLT4M, that the “GameDay lift” may not be the most advantageous approach to maximizing on-field performance.

So what would we do?

DAY OF: Reducing Stressors

Candidly, if we had a team hours before the game, we would try to reduce unnecessary stressors, rather than adding them, such as having them wake up early or changing daily routine to get in a lift. 

Instead, we may opt to bring the team into a dark, quiet room, and have them lower their heart rates with breathing techniques to activate their parasympathetic (calming) nervous system, all while having them visualize their jobs on the field or court (footwork, plays, or winning).


This will drop stress-hormone levels and improve their ability to control their emotions (13). Moreover, visualization training and anticipating success has been strongly correlated to success on the field (15). Lastly, enhanced breathing warmup techniques can improve performance on the field by up to 15% (16).

Additionally, self-myofascial release performed on game day could be an advantageous use of time, as this has been demonstrated to significantly improve performance markers. 

With foam rolling, heart rate does not rise above the top end of resting – an example of effective exercise that DOES NOT increase fatigue, yet improves performance, and gives the athletes a sense of “feeling good” before a game (17).

Most significantly, there is no damage done to muscles that are about to be taxed.

PRE GAME: PAP in the Warm-Up

This does NOT mean that the concept of PAP is completely moot in our minds.

There are techniques to using the post-activation potentiation response to your advantage that does not impact fatigue on athletes; namely using CNS stimuli during the official pre-game warm-up.

A proper warm-up targets a few necessary conditions, increasing the following: 

  • heart rate
  • body temperature
  • respiration rate
  • blood flow
  • joint viscosity

All of which, in turn, means faster muscle contractions and relaxations, improvements in the rate of force development and reaction time, improvements in muscle strength and power, improvements in oxygen delivery, and enhancements in metabolic reactions to name a few (17,18,19).

Moreover, a systematic warmup will progress from general movements (raising overall heart rate, respiratory rate), to specific exercises the sport or athlete will face. 

During the specific phase, joint range of motion and similar isolating mimicking exercises are used to prime the body, muscles and tendons (18,19). (Examples could be A-Skips, glute bridges, hip or hamstring activation exercises, rotator ROM movements).

During the final phase, short sprints, explosive plyometrics, agility training, and change of direction drills are used to elicit PAP.

In fact, using elements of plyometrics (both bilateral and unilateral) have been found to improve subsequent sprint and vertical results, suggesting that by simply adding in forms of jumping or bounding into the final stage of a warm-up, coaches could theoretically take advantage of this phenomenon (19-22). 

That being said, while research has demonstrated significant improvements using this technique in warming up, how this will affect the course of a match lasting several hours has yet to be determined.

But what about the professional athlete I saw on Social Media, lifting on the day of a game?

Inevitably, this discussion always leads to a response about Michael Jordan’s game day training, or professional MLB athletes lifting on game day, and how this must be proof as to the power of “Gameday Lifts” for performance enhancement. 

In reality, the strength coach is simply navigating a 160-game schedule, complete with travel days and other professional obligations. Sometimes, maintaining consistent strength training to prevent injury may trump game schedules and individual performance in a given day. 

Just like with developmental athletes at the High School level, sometimes, the priority is NOT maximal performance in the moment. 

Outside of clinical research, rehabilitation scenarios, or during contrast training, there are little to no concrete examples of elite athletes using a PAP to gain a competitive advantage in competition or training.


Even for elite athletes, many unique factors come into play and designing a program to maximize the PAP effect. It is this individualized dose-response that is difficult to control for, to say the least. 

Somewhat similar training has been used by elite track and field coaches and athletes who follow a periodized tapering program and perform a maximal intensity lift on the same day or just prior to their track and field event. 

PAP has also been documented to improve single event swim sprints, and bat swings in baseball, but implementation during a sporting competition is far and few between (10, 11).

Most often, the cost-benefit ratio of lifting weights just prior to a game outweigh any temporary benefit. The added stress, the logistics, the temporariness of PAP, and the difference in results per athlete – it all means the concept is best left in controlled, clinical environments.

This is the conclusion that S&C coaches and exercise scientists agree on: PAP is powerful, but implementing a protocol outside of training, for use around competition, is practically impossible and potentially detrimental. 

Wrapping it All Up

We know we threw a lot at you, here, but we really wanted to do the topic justice. “GameDay Lifts” are a complicated, multi-faceted concept that deserve a truly deep dive.

In our humble opinion, what this whole discussion boils down to, is simply a complete consideration of ALL the circumstances at play in any situation.

  • Who is the athlete in question? 
  • Is development a priority, or performance in a given event?
  • What are the timing, duration, and logistics involved in the competition day?

There is no one answer for all.

As a football coach, for example… 

Perhaps, during school on Fridays in the fall, you are training your underclassmen as “developmental athletes” with full lifts, and your Varsity Athletes/Starters as “competitive athletes” with lower-key stress-reduction. 

Then, during the on-field pre-game, you utilize such a warm up as described above, designed to induce PAP responses and “light up” the entire team for competition.

Or, let’s say your a PE teacher who meets with athletes every day of the week…

First, you separate out your developmental athletes from experienced athletes. The former get consistent weight training education regardless of sport schedule. The latter get true “In-Season” lifts on days when competition does not take place.

For the experienced athletes truly focused on the day’s competition, you can regiment a formal game day protocol that relieves stress and prevents undue fatigue: 

    • 5 minute easy steady state cardio
    • 15 minute total body dynamic warmup progression
    • 15 minute foam roll
    • 5-10 minutes of static stretching

Each section should be explicitly planned and prescribed, down to each movement and its duration. This should take at least 45 minutes but can be stretched as long as needed, as it shouldn’t be rushed in the first place.

In the end, personalization, with consideration for all the factors involved, is the key.

Inevitably, everyone will have their own take and opinion based on the research at hand. BUT, as with anything in terms of training, the key is to simply use your discretion. 

Do you have arguments/questions/comments to add to the discussion? We would love to hear them!

References: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6). (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17) (18) (19) (20) (21) (22)