Sandra Black, an ATC from Texas Tech University, examined a possible relationship between neck strength and concussions in Division I Football players. The results did not demonstrate a statistically significant correlation between the two variables. However, the body of evidence that she provides still makes an obvious case for the implementation of direct neck strength training.

Her thesis deserves to be read entirely, as she covers several variables that could possibly lead to minimizing the risk of concussions (i.e. protective gear, technique). Click here for the link to the PDF file containing her thesis, Neck Strength and Concussion in NCAA Division I Football.

Watch this video on YouTube.

Coach Carr took time to go over several points for reducing the risk of concussions and reducing the intensity of sub-concussive forces during play. Specifically, at 17:40 he speaks about one fundamentally proactive way to accomplish this. This is detailed perception of a greatly seasoned football Coach.

Train Hard

Adam Stoyanoff MS, CSCS

Athletes are Choosing Their Health

Posted: 11th October 2011 by in Uncategorized
Watch this video on YouTube.


Steven Threet isn’t the first athlete to choose to stop playing the sport he loves. Steve Young and Troy Aikman come to mind when I think about football players who chose to stop playing football after suffering multiple concussions. The video gives a brief glimpse on the process it took for Steven to stop playing football after a successful college career that may have gone on.

When I see cases like this, I hope that the athlete involved is doing everything possible to hopefully reduce the sub-concussive forces during practice and games. Logic would lead you to believe that a larger and stronger neck would possibly help these situations.

Train Hard

Adam Stoyanoff MS, CSCS


Statistics are typically a hard thing to argue with, often being objective. When dealing with the statistics pertaining to concussions, some would say that the numbers have led concussions to an “epidemic level”. According to The Centers for Disease Control, this is the case and with an estimated 1.6 to 3.8 million sports related concussions each year, it is a safe conclusion. These numbers do not seem to be slowing down and the only other leading variable causing traumatic brain injury is motor vehicle crashes.

Here are some more significant statistics that should be pushing us hard and fast to coming up with proactive ways to hopefully reduce the risk of sports related concussions.

-At least one player sustains a mild concussion in nearly every American football game.

-According to research by The New York Times, at least 50 youth football players (high school or younger) from 20 different states have died or sustained serious head injuries on the field since 1997.

-Anecdotal evidence from athletic trainers suggests that only about 5% of high school players suffer a concussion each season, but formal studies surveying players suggest the number is much higher, with close to 50% saying they have experienced concussion symptoms and fully one-third reporting two or more concussions in a single season.

-One study estimates that the likelihood of an athlete in a contact sport experiencing a concussion is as high as 20% per season.

-According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, there were 5 catastrophic spinal cord injuries in high school football in 2010. 67.8% of all catastrophic injuries in football since 1977 are from tackling.

-According to a study reported in the July 2007 issue of The American Journal of Sports Medicine:

-Football players suffer the most brain injuries of any sport;

-An unacceptably high percentage (39%) of high school and collegiate football players suffering catastrophic head injuries (death, nonfatal but causing permanent neurologic functional disability, and serious injury but leaving no permanent functional disability) during the period 1989 to 2002 were still playing with neurologic symptoms at the time of the catastrophic event.

Football may be the first sport we think about when it comes to violent collisions. However, women’s soccer is demonstrating that concussions are plaguing other fields also. The concussion rate for women in soccer per athletic exposure is an alarming .35 and demonstrated to be rising 14% annually. One of the hypothesized theories for why women are possibly more susceptible to concussions is a smaller and weaker neck musculature.

If you are you looking for more significant information on the type of stats we’re looking at, click here. Lindsay Barton, among others, has put together a case for why we need to directly resistance train the muscles of the head and neck.

Train Hard

Adam Stoyanoff MS, CSCS



As Strength and Conditioning professionals, why are we still choosing not to directly train the muscles of the neck?

I have come to a conclusion within part of my training philosophy; I will always do my best to give the athletes what they need, nothing less and nothing more…and sometimes what they want in order to keep them intrigued. (that’s even hard for me to accept sometimes)

Now, over the past many decades we as coaches have managed to turn several different training philosophies that can mesh well together and make them mutually exclusive from one another.

That’s not the most logical way of treating different training philosophies; treating one way of training like it’s somehow superior to all others or what not. However, it “is what it is” and probably always will be, but why are we not training the neck?

It does not matter what training philosophy you coach with, direct neck training should be a priority in any strength and conditioning protocol. With concussion awareness growing each month, it may be the most important part of your training program…and you’re either doing your best with it or leaving it out.

Here’s a perfect example of a competitive athlete not getting what he possibly needs:

I was talking to a young hockey player today. He plays in one of the competitive junior leagues where they actually make it into the weight-room with the team twice a week during the season. He is visiting our facility to work on his skating economy and I wanted to know if there was anything we could do for him in the resistance training portion of his training.

I asked him how many times a week they lifted and what exercises they completed, thinking that maybe we could fit a few things in that he could be missing.

Hockey Player: Oh, we do everything, we make sure we get our hang cleans in…then some pulling and pressing movements. We squat and do some lunges too.

Me: What do you do for your neck?

Hockey Player: Nothing

This is a perfect example of the lack of intelligence we’re practicing when designing and implementing resistance training protocols. Hockey is one of the fastest and most aggressive sports that our young athletes play.

Give the kids what they need, nothing more, nothing less, once in a while what they want…..they need to resistance train the muscles of their neck directly.

Train Hard

Adam Stoyanoff MS, CSCS

The New York Times reported what Texas is doing to reduce concussions and other traumatic head injuries.

Thanh Tant reported in the September subscription,

“Starting in 2012, school football programs statewide — which involve an estimated 160,000 high school players — will be required every two years to re-condition helmets that are 10 years or older. Helmets older than 16 years must be retired. Johnny Gonzales, Wimberley’s athletic trainer, said the school already sent its helmets to manufacturers for annual safety updates and replaces helmets regularly.

The author of the helmet bill, Representative Eddie Lucio III, Democrat of Brownsville, said he believes that the state has not done enough to protect students.”

If Texas is taking these proactive steps, what is your state doing? Your high school? Football Coach? Possibly your Strength and Conditioning coach?

Click here to read the rest of the article on what law Texas is implementing to reduce the risk of concussions.

Concussion Awareness on ESPN E:60

Posted: 30th September 2011 by in Uncategorized
Watch this video on YouTube.

The consequences of concussions can clearly effect someones life. However, it’s not always understood how severe or long term the outcome can be. A segment of E:60 on ESPN covers Preston Plevretes’ life after tragedy.

Take some time to watch this video. It may change your perception on how significant the topic of reducing the risks of concussions really is. Not only limiting the risks or severity of injury, but understanding that these situations must be taken seriously with great attention needs to be a priority.

Concussion Article on

Posted: 30th September 2011 by in Uncategorized

As we’re continuing to provide information and proactive leads for the prevention of concussions; here’s a very informative article on how football helmet design is evolving to help reduce the risk of brain injury

Here are a couple paragraphs from the article by Patrick Dorsey:

“You need two things to have a concussion,” said Dr. Daniel E. Kraft, a specialist in concussion management at the Indianapolis-based Methodist Sports Medicine. “You have to have an injury, a force to the head. The second part of the equation is that you have to have a symptom of some kind … headaches, blurred vision, amnesia … . [It] doesn’t matter if it’s only one of [the symptoms]; you have a concussion.”

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association says between 43,000 and 67,000 concussions occur among high school football players each year, with research suggesting the number might be greater since symptoms often go unreported. A recent NATA study also showed high school players are much more at risk for concussions than collegians are, due to the level of physical development and improper technique.

Click here for the rest of the article on concussion prevention and proper helmets.

The concussion problem in sports has reached epidemic proportions. The NFL is spending millions on awareness and just instituted new practice rules to reduce the number of blows the players are exposed to during practices. Several high school athletic associations are also implementing new rules to deal with the issue. So far, everything has focused on how to deal with the athlete after the concussion, but the mission of is to help educate athletes, parents and coaches about sports concussions and what can be done to prevent or avoid them. We’ll never be able to eliminate concussions from sports, but there are certainly things we can do to help reduce the forces our brain encounters.

Two former college strength & conditioning coaches are behind this effort. You can learn more about Jim Kielbaso and Adam Stoyanoff in the About Us section.

Through years of research, training experience and interaction with some of the top coaches, researchers and physicians, Jim & Adam have learned how properly training the head, neck and shoulder musculature can help prevent serious injuries.

There are really four basic components of neck injury and concussion prevention:

1. Protective equipment – In most sports, this means properly fit, quality helmets and mouth pieces. Unfortunately, no equipment or training currently known to us will eliminate concussions. “The best helmet on the market can still lead to injuries of the head including concussions,” said Scott Peck, a certified athletic trainer in Washington state. “To decrease concussions, athletes need to practice good technique in tackling and blocking by keeping their heads away from contact.”

2. Technique – Some sports include more contact than others. Good coaches always teach athletes not to initiate contact with the head, but we still see a lot of young athletes using poor form when tackling or hitting.

3. Awareness – It seems crazy, but there are still a lot of coaches, parents and coaches who simply do not understand how dangerous a concussion can be or that there is inherent risk involved in participating in most sports. This site was set up to help heighten awareness at the same time we discuss prevention options and proper treatment.

4. Training – This component is just now picking up momentum, but some coaches have known about this concept for years. This is also the least publicized aspect of concussion prevention for several reasons.  Click here to learn more about Neck Training.

First, most people don’t know how to safely and effectively train the head and neck musculature. Second, it would be next to impossible to produce scientific evidence to show that training will help prevent concussions because you would have to use real human beings and expose them to potentially life-threatening blows. This would never pass any collegiate ethics committee, so the research probably cannot be done.

Still, the automotive industry has known for years that a stronger and stiffer neck significantly reduces the G-forces encountered by crash test dummies in crash research. It seems obvious that a stronger neck would be extremely helpful during a blow to the head, but most doctors aren’t yet ready to admit that. That could be because:

a. Doctors won’t make any money from the prevention side of this issue.

b. Doctors probably have no idea how to train.

c. Doctors typically refer to the scientific literature, but we already established that this evidence will probably never be published in any scientific journal.

We have to understand that no amount of training or equipment will eliminate all injuries, but that is not the point. Ten years ago, ACL prevention programs were virtually non-existent. Today, female athletes all over the country understand that proper training will limit their risk of sustaining an injury. Yet, ACL injury rates haven’t slowed down. It doesn’t mean that the training has not helped. And, going through a training program does not mean you will never hurt yourself. Training is meant to reduce risk or severity of an injury.

The same goes for properly training the neck & head to reduce the risk of concussions and serious neck injuries. The training does not eliminate the injuries, but it can help to lessen the risk or severity of neck and head injuries.

The leading researcher on neck training, Ph.D. candidate Ralph Cornwell, put it best when he said “If we know that it might help, and it’s not going to hurt, why wouldn’t you want to do this kind of training? People do ACL prevention programs all the time. This is like an ACL prevention program for your brain and neck. You can replace your ACL, but as far as I know, you only have one brain. It just makes sense to protect it.”

Research done by the NFL is now revealing that the repetitive sub-concussive blows – the hits that don’t knock you out, but just ring your bell a little – are the main culprit behind the long-term brain damage seen in many former athletes. Many of these athletes are now suing major sports organizations because they are mentally and physically disabled due to these blows. It seems that every brain has a certain number of hits it can take before long-term damage sets in. The more G-forces the brain encounter, the worse it gets.

Training can reduce the G-forces encountered on these sub-concussive blows, raising the bar on the number of hits it will take before the long-term damage sets in. This is some of the best news ever presented on this topic, because it gives us hope that we may be able to combat this problem.

Major sports organizations like USA Hockey and the NFL are recognizing that something must be done, so rules are changing quickly. Even Dr. Robert Cantu, who is considered one of the leading experts on the subject, has said that he thinks young athletes should wait until they are stronger and more mature before they engaging in intense contact/hitting sports. This means that the leading authority on concussions understands that being stronger will have a positive affect and is part of the concussion prevention equation.

With the knowledge that training can help prevent injuries and, when done properly, can cause no harm, why would we NOT strengthen the muscles surrounding the head and neck? We will continue to bring you information on safe training and concussion prevention.