Tag Archives: basketball

Building a Better Athlete

Building a Better AthleteAs an athlete and a basketball coach I’m always on the lookout for interesting things that fit into a regular workout, enhancing the experience and the outcomes, without detracting. So, no gimmicks, awkward gadgets, or things that require me to adapt to them. They have to fit into my workout and the workouts I direct for others, or they are a waste of time, and money.

Recently I read about a new product in my University of Oregon alumni magazine that highlighted a new liquid protein developed by three Oregon Ducks (Justin Davies, Jonathan Palmer and Matthew Warren) that was new to the market from their company Progressive Protein. That piqued my interest and so I reached out to them to see if I could give it a try. They sent me a three unit starter pack to try out and I decided to do a test. Week one of the test would have me mix their portable Progressive Protein liquid collagen protein product in eight ounces of water and take it with me to consume after a two-hour basketball workout on a Monday/Wednesday/Friday. Week two of the test would have me consume chocolate milk after another set of three two-hour basketball workouts instead of the Progressive Protein. So, what were my findings after this comparison test?

First of all, the Progressive Protein product is shelf-stable and collagen-based, gluten free, and there is no soy or whey protein to be found for those with soy or dairy allergies. This means that I could mix it at home and have it ready to go right after my workout. Chocolate milk has to be refrigerated and so I found myself having to go searching for it after my workout, taking time out of my day.

Building a Better AthleteSecond, I’m always racing to get some calories in my body after my workout, because I finish completely depleted after two hours of running and jumping, but at the same time I need calories that are easy to digest. Progressive Protein went down without a fuss, where chocolate milk was a bit harder to digest (though still easier than most solid food I might jump to).

Third, the taste of Progressive Protein is far better than any recovery drink or protein powder based concoction I’ve ever tried.

So, overall I think it makes a nice complement to the Vitalyte I consume during my workout to keep my hydration and electrolyte levels high. The only downside, or upside for less serious athletes, is that Progressive Protein only has 70 calories per serving, meaning I still have to search for additional calories, but it builds a good bridge to get me there, preparing my body for harder to digest and longer lasting calories (aka solid food).

Progressive Protein Nutrition Facts

I think this is a good product for people with allergies or who are looking for a tastier, easy to consume shot of protein now and then. You can take the “P Packs” with you or pre-mix them in water. Progressive Protein is not likely transform my body like my Phyisclo tights have, but I think it is a good product and one that people should consider as a post-workout supplement.

So, what do you think, innovation or not?


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Testing My Personal Limits with Innovation

Physiclo Basketball Resistance Tights

A few months ago I came across an article in Engadget about Physiclo, a startup company launched to provide resistance clothing for athletes. I’m assuming their name Phyisclo is a mashup of the words physical + clothing. Cute.

As a basketball player for which height and youth are not advantages (I’m about 5’8” and a bit past my 21st birthday – just how far past you’ll have to guess), endurance, guile, and a reliable mid-range game are about the only advantages on the court I can hope for.

Given that, in the past I’ve tried ankle weights and weight vests as ways to try and increase my speed, quickness and vertical leaping abilities. From experience I can tell you that ankle weights will injure you and weight vests can be uncomfortable. Jump shoes always seemed dangerous as well, and so after a while I went back to just playing basketball without any gadgets and began readjusting to the idea that I might never be able to increase my athleticism, only my fitness.

But after seeing an article about Physiclo and their resistance clothing for athletes, and thinking through the value proposition both as an athlete and as an innovation professional, I started to think it was worth investigating. I was intrigued because the Physiclo offering is not some wonky gadget that required me to change my behavior, but instead allows me to wear something I was already wearing – compression tights.

So I reached out to the company and began corresponding with the company, and a few weeks later a pair of Physiclo compression tights for me and a pair of Physiclo compression shorts for my grade school AAU basketball playing daughter arrived in the mail (there is your full disclosure). We had every intention of setting a baseline for baseline to baseline speed and vertical leaping ability and to measure every 30 days over a 90 day period, but our local YMCA closed and moved to a new facility after the 30 day measurement and the court size changed and we lost our vertical leap measurement board on the wall. I can tell you that at the 30 day mark we were both getting modestly faster after 30 days, but neither of us recorded any improvement in vertical leaping ability. This was even with a week gap in our workout regimes during that first 30 days because of a family vacation.

Physiclo basketball Dribble

Qualitatively, the first week I wore the Physiclo resistance tights to play 60-90 minutes of basketball (per gym visit) they kicked my ass (to use a technical term) and the same was true after a week of vacation (which ended up meaning nearly a two week gap for me). I got winded easier, my leg muscles fatigued faster, and were more sore afterward than without wearing the Physiclo tights. It took me about a week initially and after vacation to get used to the extra demands they put on my body again. After that, post Physiclo workout fatigue and soreness was the same as without Physiclo, and I felt like my body adjusted and my in game performance only decreased slightly. One other benefit I noticed from Physiclo was that after wearing them for a week or two I was able to power up the hills of downtown Seattle that used to feel like more of a struggle.

My daughter also says she feels the extra effort required when she wears them in practice/training and I’ve seen her get faster in games (when she doesn’t wear her free Physiclo resistance shorts – men’s extra small). She moves better than she used to, and the other girls get tired before she does.

And for me, the impact of wearing my Physiclo resistance tights (sent to me for free) is that I have yet to play without them because every time I think about doing it so I can blow by people, that thought is overpowered by the thought that I won’t get as much out of that workout. So, on goes Physiclo.

I reached out to the Physiclo founders because their invention looked like a potential innovation suitable for profiling to the innovation community here.

As a reminder, my definition of innovation is as follows:

“Innovation transforms the useful seeds of invention into widely-adopted solutions valued above every existing alternative.”

Is Physiclo an innovation?

Absolutely!

For anyone looking to get faster or to get more out of any workout or training that involves running, I can’t think of a more practical and effective training aid. Prices are in the $100-130 range and are available on the Physiclo web site.

Four thumbs up!

Image credit: Physiclo.com

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A Lifetime of Innovations

A Lifetime of InnovationThis week I was in Michigan for a family wedding and I had a great conversation with a family member about the history of Lifetime Products and how probably more than twenty years ago he saw the founder of Lifetime Products at a trade show demonstrating their first product, a basketball hoop that could be raised and lowered in seconds with the help of a pole or broom handle.

The founder was standing there and repeatedly saying “The basketball hoop goes up, the basketball hoop goes down.”

My family member was recounting how when he saw the guy at the tradeshow repeating this mantra over and over that he laughed at him, and how more than twenty years later how silly he feels because the guy has created a multimillion dollar company from these simple beginnings and his belief in the company’s first product.

Basketball hoops were the company’s only product for the first nine years until they started manufacturing a picnic table designed to fold flat.

According to my family member the company’s fortunes changed one day when a buyer at Walmart asked a simple question:

“Do you think you make a folding table?”

It obviously would have been easy at this point for the company to respond, “No, we make basketball hoops.” but given that business owners should always be watching to see what customers are struggling with and listening to hear what they might give you permission to sell them, it was smart for Lifetime Products in this situation to say “Of course.”

It also makes sense when you remember that two of the main questions you are always looking to answer for any new product are:

1. Can we make it profitably at scale at a price point where the value delivered is greater than the price?
2. Is there a market for it?

If the answer to question #2 has already been determined to be yes (like in this situation), then it simply becomes a matter of figuring out how to make question #1 true.

Lifetime Products found a way and so it is no longer about just “The basketball hoop goes up, the basketball hoop goes down.”

Basketball hoops may still be an important part of their product line, but their blow molded folding tables have nearly completely replaced much of their heavier wooden competition and they’ve moved on to make folding chairs, sheds, playgrounds, tent trailers, composters, and kayaks.

Now with 2,200 employees and revenue likely north of $250 million, the company is definitely no laughing matter.


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