VANGUARD ROUNDTABLE #5: THE FITNESS GAP

In this episode of the Vanguard Roundtable, we explore the growing divide between people who are physically and mentally fit enough for military service or elite sports and those who aren’t.

CONNECT WITH THE PARTICIPANTS

  • Joe Cruz – H2F Program Director, Ready First Combat Team, US Army. Email: Jose.a.Cruz.civ@army.mil
  • Missy Mitchell-McBeth – Head S&C Coach, Byron Nelson H.S., NHSSCA Southwest Regional Director. Twitter: @missEmitche11
  • Joe Staub – Executive Director, The Zenta Group. LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/joestaub
  • Emma Ostermann – Human Performance Consultant, Fusion Sport. Twitter: @elostermann20

 

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FULL TRANSCRIPT

Emma Ostermann 0:05
Hello and welcome to the Vanguard roundtable where we discuss topics we believe, need more attention to drive the human performance industry forward. Today’s topic we are going to dive into the fitness gap, where we’re going to discuss the growing divide between people who are physically and mentally fit enough for military service, or elite sport. A few housekeeping items before we dive in for today, we do want to know this is going to be our last live round table because we’ve launched the Vanguard Round Table podcast. So now available to listen to anytime, anywhere. Follow us on Spotify, Apple or Google podcasts to get the latest episode. We do want to take a quick second to note that the views expressed today are those of the individual panelists and do not necessarily reflect the position of fusion sport for the panelists organizations.

We do have the opportunity to submit your questions to the QA window, we will also be able to upvote each other’s questions. We’ll pause during the conversation to take questions from the audience. And we’ll also leave some time at the end, if there’s any questions that come through to get those answered as well. And now I would like to introduce our wonderful panelists for today’s conversation. With us today. We do have Joe cruise, he is the HTF program director ready for his combat team with the US Army. Next up we have Missy Mitchell Macbeth. She’s the head s&c coach at Byron Nelson High School, and is also the NHS SCA Southwest Regional Director. And lastly, we have Joe Stubb, the exit executive director with this entire group. And my name is Emma Osterman. I am the human performance consultant here at Fusion sport, and I will be moderating today’s conversation.

So let’s go ahead and dive on end. So Joe Cruz, I’m going to toss this first question to you to get a better idea of the problem we’re discussing, could you describe how the fitness gap shows up in respective environment and why it matters? Joe?

Joe Cruz 2:04
Awesome, thank you. And first, I’d like to say I’m really happy to be here, and in the company of such great minds. So thanks for the opportunity to come and share some, you know, talk some shop and share some some information and experience. Um, so as you know, I’m with the army. I’ve been with the Army for 27 years, and I’ve been in the strength and conditioning field for quite some time now as well, almost 20 years, as well. So, you know, seeing this perspective, from both sides of the house of being a practitioner in the strength and conditioning realm, and then being a leader in the Army is, is it gives you a lot of insight into, like, what the organization is doing, and then, you know, from a, from a military standpoint, to prepare soldiers and to prepare our personnel. But then like, you know, as a strength and conditioning coach, and as a practitioner, like how do I, how do I help the organization, you know, make those guys even better after they’re, they’re done with their, you know, 111 station unit training, and their basic training and all that other stuff. And so, I think one of the major, one of the major ways we can see this fitness gap show up, and this has been in the last like, decade is the quality, the discipline and the drive of the individual that we’re getting.

Basic Training has changed, you know, in the way that they’ve, they’ve executed that training and developing soldiers. And so we’ve gone through so many different organizational challenges of dealing with the demographic group that we pull we pull from, and the, the differences, right, like how it changes and it evolves.

And that has that plays a role in how we train them, how we communicate with them. And and I think that’s been one of the major difficulties, right, is we’ve made these adjustments to try to kind of meet in the middle, but then at the same time, it has slightly reduced the quality of the training that soldiers are getting coming out of basic training, to the point where, you know, it’s basic training is just a catalyst to the preparation of the soldier. But in reality, the responsibility lies on the unit when the soldier arrives to finish the product. And so that becomes very difficult because what you have is we’re pulling from a demographic that isn’t as active as the Gen Xers, right? The Gen wires like the baby boomers, right that generation 1960 7080 92. Now we have, we have, you know, gals and guys that are coming in that aren’t as active they have pre existing mental health conditions. There Not as social because they become more siloed in their communication, their interpersonal skills lack, and they have just different lifestyle habits than the previous demographic pool we pulled from. You also have different motives of what drives them, what factors are influencing their motivation to join to serve, you know, whereas before it was more patriotic, and more of a duty and a sense of service, you know, more and more and more, we see things like education, and just the opportunity to get out of a place and move to a better place, right. And so the drive is different, the discipline is different, and the quality of the soldier is different. And so that puts a very difficult a difficult task ahead of leaders that are within the formation, because the leaders that we have in the formation aren’t that much older. So it really strings the communication in and I would even say there’s a, there’s a difficulty in the communication because the leaders are lead, they’re all the same. There isn’t like that, you know, when I was when I was a private and I joined the Army in 1994, as a as a PV one, my team leader in my squad leader had 10 years on me.

That’s a significant difference. When you talk about teaching, coaching, and mentoring soldiers to be better soldiers are coming out of high school, into an organization where now you are expected to make your own decisions, you know, you You’re, you’re in the barracks, you’re getting a car, you’re doing this, you’re doing that you’re doing the other. It’s very different. And so the demographic today, I mean, they’re pretty much leading each other there. It’s like the same pool is leading this each other, essentially. And so it presents a difficulty in communication. And and what that what that ends up breeding is a conflict because the people we’re pulling from are now more apt to ask why why are we doing this? Or why are we doing that, whereas before it was less of a Why am everybody there is greater communication, there was more interaction, so there was a greater understanding. Whereas now there’s less communication and less interaction. So when you’re asked to do something, there’s a lack of understanding. And then you’re in an organization where like, I’m telling you what to do, go do it, it’s kind of a dictatorship, if you will, right. And the organization is having that trouble, because it hasn’t necessarily been able to fully adapt. Remember, the the society we pull from changes much quicker than the organization itself. That presents a problem, because very basic example. Leadership, we have, you cannot say that we can lead every soldier the same way. We have to lead differently. So we as leaders have to be able to adapt our leadership style to the demographic that we are receiving. And that’s difficult, because the organization is so ingrained, it has a subculture in and of itself, right. And it’s so set in the way that it has done things. Change happens very slowly. So now, getting leaders to have hybrid or adaptive leadership styles that foster the kind of communication and the kind of interactions that are positive. And that help teach coach and mentor the soldiers that are coming in with these lack of physical performance with poor lifestyle habits with you know, less than physically fit or optimally fit. It makes it for a very difficult challenge. And I think that’s what really contributes to that fitness gap.

Emma Ostermann 9:09
I think that’s a really good point. Joe and Missy are just I would love to hear your guys’s thoughts as well on touch on this topic, because it’s so interesting. Because definitely great point from Joe cruise on the US Army side point. But like Missy, especially from the high school standpoint, I would love to hear your thoughts on this as well.

Missy Mitchell-McBeth 9:28
So a lot of my kind of thoughts are going to be more geared towards sport participation, because that’s the realm that I’m in. But I think, you know, Joe brought up some interesting points about motivation and drive which I’m going to touch on. I think the elephant in the room on sedentary lifestyle is obviously the glowing rectangle that we all have on us at all times, which is technology use. And the reality is that not only does that impact our physical preparedness, it also is impacting the mental preparedness. So from a physical standpoint, I’ve got X number of hours in the day, if I’m devoting devoting seven eight

Hours of screentime. That’s seven to eight sedentary hours that kids might be outside playing, but instead they’re glued to a device. On the other issue, if you know anything about the work of ANA Lemke, she’s an addiction specialist at Stanford, she is talking about how that impacts your dopamine levels in your brain. And the issue with that is dopamine is acting on your prefrontal cortex. So basically, what we’re doing is we’re constantly flooding ourselves through the use of technology, with dopamine hits, artificial dopamine hits, and we’re creating a dependency like we are self like self creating a dependency on our screens. And on our sedentary lifestyle. I mean, the issue with that is, you then are like their cognitive functioning is impaired, they’re more anxious, they’re more susceptible to depression. So the pre existing mental health conditions that he’s talking about, a lot of that’s coming from our technology use it also, they can’t regulate their emotions, they have no impulse control, all the things that we’re seeing in this generation of kids, and coupled with some societal factors, which I’m not sure if I want to touch on but another piece like moving on from the technology things, I think that’s a pretty obvious one. One that’s maybe not so obvious is the the pay to play system, the Clubsport system. So what you have is you have a belief from a very young age that kids have to be game ready at all times, because they’re competing year round, there is never a time for them to take a break, there’s never a time for them to develop as an athlete. So while they may be very, very skilled, they might actually not be very physically fit. And that’s what we often see, because anyone in strength conditioning knows that it’s kind of hard to keep athletes in shape during season at some point because you can’t really push because of the competitive schedule. And I’m not here to argue that sports skill isn’t important because the reality is like, my volleyball team may not out squat years, but you’re not going to put 10 points up on the board on us, because we’re just better skilled players. What I’m advocating for is that we give them more movement patterns to draw from through a properly upright applied strength and conditioning program. Unfortunately, at the high school level, that’s still just kind of a grassroots thing, which is why I’m part of the National High School screen strength coaches association, is we’re trying to educate, educate, equip, and empower more coaches with quality content and information to help kind of stop that problem that we’re seeing. Another piece, I have some notes. The other piece with the club system is, you know, the entry barrier for someone of low socio economic status into sports is higher, because they cannot afford to pay to play. And so you see where that population has already shown to be more sedentary than more fluid populations, you’re seeing less sport participation out of that population. So right there, you’re going to cut out, you know, from your candidate pool of military enter, you’re going to cut out a large portion of society simply because they just can’t afford to participate in a sport or they don’t see any value in it, because they don’t believe that they can get a scholarship if they’re not part of the club system. Last one is just this is kind of outside of my scope. I don’t do anything with PE but just sheer numbers. So if you go and you look at it, elementary school and middle school, high school PE class, the student to teacher ratio is absurd. And while there are certainly outstanding PE teachers out there that navigate those numbers, in many times, like it’s just rolling out a ball or walking laps around the track and things that are not going to transfer to military service, or really even to a healthy lifestyle. And then from a sport perspective, you know, we have high schools in Texas, like Allen High School is 7000 students, we have schools that are 4000 to 6000. But there’s still five starting basketball spots on the varsity team. So out of 7005 can make the cut versus a school that has four to 500 kids, you know, you have almost the entire student body is participating in the you know, extreme six, a high school example you have, you know, 10 15% participating. So right there, you’re getting a more sedentary population,

Emma Ostermann 14:11
throw like a point and just stop, I would love to also hear your thoughts, you know, especially from the environment that you work in as well.

Joe Staub 14:17
So kind of connecting both of their points. My most recent coaching experience was in the college space. And I stopped coaching in 2017. So I started running into kind of people leading in with the way Missy was talking and kind of what Joe Cruise had mentioned. And some of the notes have been taken. It’s lifestyle habits. Missy I love it. You did it. I was gonna do it. It’s this, right. It’s the it’s the Cube it’s rectangle. But it’s also motivation and some of that ties in at that high school level that participation. I saw at the lower division one level, both in male and female sports. People only participated for the scholarship they participated because their dad was a coach or their mother needed them to do a sport because they could

to college. So they literally showed up with the minimum effective effort to be there, they weren’t trying to go pro they weren’t, they were just there because hey, my dad made me do it, I got a scholarship, I’m gonna get a degree, and I’m never gonna do this again. So if I’m late to practice, I just don’t care. And that was even with the athletes, nevermind the people who miss these points selected out for a variety of reasons. One of the other big things is injury rate. And I think that, especially at the youth level, I haven’t worked directly a ton in the youth space I’ve consulted a lot in it, is you also have a high injury risk, because to miss his point, they’re not training and developing, they’re competing year round. And when you compete year round, you get hurt more often. And then when you’re hurt more often you select out over time, because you physically can’t compete anymore. I can’t tell you how many a good friend of mine as a high school strength addition, Coach left the college space. He has kids at his high school, Tommy John’s surgery ACLs. And we’re talking seventh eighth ninth graders, not seniors, you know, 93 mile an hour fastball ready to go to a major college to play and they just get a freak accident get hurt. We’re talking kids who didn’t even they’re on the pre freshmen team. They’re not even on the freshmen team. And they’re already catastrophic orthopedic injury. So, you know, it’s a litany of factors in my opinion, to miss this point. I think I get where you were going, where there’s some things we don’t have to get into, but there’s some other ones in there. In the one I’ll say that kind of wraps up everything for me is, is the mental health. There’s not an emphasis to even be physically fit as an athlete and one of the weird things I’ve said this a lot I think I said it to you I’m on the phone was I’ve talked about this a lot is not every athlete is athletic. Because an athlete is operationally defined as someone who plays a sport or participates in a competitive endeavor. Right? athleticism is not being an athlete, athleticism is a different thing operationally defined. And that’s one of those key things I’ve had to explain, especially up up and coming coaches, you’ll have athletes who are athletic, and that’s crazy, but and people look at me like, What does that mean? I’m like, You got to think about it. Once you understand it, it’ll make a lot of sense.

Emma Ostermann 17:19
Absolutely, there’s a really good point. And one thing I do want to take into consideration is a question that we had come through is, this is a point that came across was the pay to play. And I, as I pose this question, I want our panelists to think about Elta long term athlete development, because I think that kind of ties into to this question as well as, do we need to invest more as a country and PE in rec sports programs? Or is there so much more money in new sports? How do you change that dynamic? Missy, I would love for you to kind of kick that question off of where do you see we need to put that investment?

Missy Mitchell-McBeth 17:54
That is a multi million dollar question that if I had an answer for I would truly like spend every waking moment advocating for it. I don’t think you’re going to change that sport culture, I think it is. I also believe like I’ll tell you, we won a state championship in volleyball two years ago, we were the number one ranked team in the nation. And to be perfectly honest with you, we would not have been that if our athletes did not play and compete at a high level year round. So I think that we have an expectation for what sport and sports skill looks like. I think where we need to be advocating is for better qualified strength and conditioning programs to be part of that. I think that the advocacy also needs to be for capping the maximum number of competitions that they’re involved in. The danger there is that you then are going to have more athletes who are already seeing a lot of athletes opt out of high school athletics in favor of club. The issue there is that the high school model is more similar to a collegiate model. And so they’re not going to be prepared in three practices a week for some of the rigors that Joe Stob spoke about, that athletes simply just can’t hack when they come in as freshmen. But I do believe that there needs to be some kind of like, you have pitch counts and youth baseball. I think you should almost have game counts in there somewhere. Again, I don’t think I have the answer to that. Because it’s something it’s huge. It’s a huge issue. I don’t think adding rec sports in to the competitive schedule of kids who are already doing, you know, high level pay to play is the answer because then it’s high school Rec and so we’re just exacerbating the problem rather than solving it. Um, I think in the lower socio economic areas, they’re actually seeing a decline in rec sports because of the uptick in pay to play. So I don’t know if that’s an area where we could attack and provide more quality opportunities for them. But I don’t think adding To people who are already playing a ton is necessarily the move

Emma Ostermann 20:09
as you say, Yeah, Joe Cruz Do you have anything to add to that?

Joe Cruz 20:13
Yeah. Emma, I mean, there’s so many great points have been brought up man since that previous questions and now and so I think to miss these point about early spat. So she talked about competing all year round, right. And you have these athletes that specialize and they specialize. So early, you got this early specialization of us Pacific’s sport. Right. And to your point about long term athletic development, I think what we really ended up doing is we, we, we cause we stunt the athletes development because we specialize so early. Right. And so, it to Joe’s point about athleticism versus being an athlete, right, we talk about when I when I talk to the NCOs, because we have a constant struggle about NCOs train soldiers, right? That’s what they do. And this culture shift that we’re having now with HF and and subject matter experts coming in coaches are supposed to be coaching the formation, right. And so what I ended up trying how I ended up trying to sell this and make the connection with the NCOs, so that they don’t see us as the enemy is that we are helping them with coaching with strength and conditioning expertise, to make better athletes, right to keep them available to play. Right, because if an athlete of a player isn’t available, he’s no good to you, right? If he’s always injured, he’s not going to be able, he’s not going to be any good to the team. So HTF focuses on making sure that soldiers are available to play that soldiers have are athletic, they have better coordination skills, they have better mobility, they have, you know, the right amount of strength, so that NCOs can then train them to be better trigger pullers that are lanyard Polaroids, if you’re an artillery men, better medics better mechanics, right, the job essentially. And so that that long term athletic development, I think what makes the biggest contribution to that suffering is the fact that our society puts such a focus on early specialization of our athletes, and they disrupt the athletic the process of athleticism, or athletic development.

Emma Ostermann 22:49
It’s a really good point. And a lot of really great points so far, just obviously, you unmute, would you have anything to add?

Joe Staub 22:56
So a little personal example here. So younger, I was a played soccer. And to miss these points, there was a period of my life where I was on the town soccer team, the town travel team, I was on the Select club team, I was on the ODP regional thing. So you know, and then those go year round. And I’m on the basketball team. And I’m doing this so I personally live that I’d be in one place playing a game in one sport, literally drive into a different town to play a different sport. The next day go into play sport, number one with a different team. And the burnout for me, I wrote it in my book was the reason I did track in college was because I was so burned out of soccer, because I was on five soccer teams year round at different points in time plus the other things I did. So that part of the reason I give that example is part of that is because there’s the required model. And to miss these point at the youth level, if we bring this all the way back. There are some of those requirements who have to participate in gym class. I remember going to my gym teacher and be like, I’m not doing gym today. He’s like, why? Because I played seven soccer games this weekend and a basketball game and I have three soccer practice this week for three different teams. Like, I’m not running the mile today, like I’m just not doing I remember getting sent to the office. And my father or my mother, you know, whoever it was got called, they’re like, you know, Joe’s not participating in the required things. And they were like he doesn’t have to, because I couldn’t, because there’s a disconnect between the different levels. So everyone’s trying to do, right. So in the high school level they’re trying to do right, in the youth level, have Jim customers he’s like, Hey, we got to do PE. Well, you know, hey, we got to put 70 people in the class because that’s the way it is. But hey, at least they’re moving. But no one’s connecting those dots across those clubs. AAU basketball is another great example. Sometimes those kids play 10 games in a weekend like that has no contacts relativity to the demands, that all the other things they’re engaged in, whether it’s school, whether it’s rack, whether it’s friends, or requiring them To be or not be physically active. So from an L Ted standpoint, overtraining early specialization, extreme because the disconnected nature of how they’re required to do certain things as you get older, and we’ve discussed it in the last question, a lot of it is all the draws to not be physical anymore. So it’s, it’s almost impossible, it seems kind of crazy to say that. But I think it has to be at an individual parental level that you manage your child’s development. And that’s a joke between me and some of my former colleagues, all strength coaches, you know, we send each other texts of our little kids, and, you know, the stop program, or oh, you know, that’s the Bradford plyo program. And it’s our kids jumping off the couch and being silly like their little kids. They’re all under 10. But it was kind of the idea of, we’re managing their contacts, and to Mrs. Point pitch counts and game counseling. We joke about we manage that with our three year old, because I know that when my daughter who’s six is in youth soccer, she’s most likely not going to have someone who knows how to do that. And I’m going to be the one who has to say, hey, like, you’re going to take this season off. I wish someone said that to me, I’m going to say to you that you’re probably going to be mad at me. But when you’re 30, it’s going to make a lot more sense. And that I think is the only solution is the informed parental decision. Because you have so many other people trying to make a name. The coach is the trainer is the I mean, I can’t tell you how many 10 year olds I know of personal trainers like sport performance coaches, what does a 10 year old need a sport performance coach for? There’s some positives there and there’s some negatives. But when it’s it’s for notoriety for the gram, because they’re the youth sport guru. That’s a negative. And there’s a lot of that. So again, I one of the biggest things, I don’t think that’s a good answer. But I think it’s parental oversight and having the knowledge to manage your child’s development.

Emma Ostermann 26:57
Absolutely Missy, I see you have you yourself in might as well. Do you have anything to add?

Missy Mitchell-McBeth 27:01
Yeah, so that just shows that just brings up like my entire life, basically, because I manage almost, and I say manage, like it’s really on some days, not even coaching because I work with almost exclusively specialized athletes. And so the number of athletes that I have coming to me on any given day during a training session saying, Hey, I have to soccer games tonight, hey, we had six softball games this weekend or whatever and just having to do my job is effectively damage control. I run basically an in season program year round. And unfortunately, to your point about parents, often what parents do, because they see the almighty scholarship, and they believe that year round sport participation is the only way to that, because that’s, sadly, the narrative being pushed by some of these coaches. And so their solution for that is to, you know, their kids back so that they go get a doctor’s note, to pull them out of weight room for two weeks, you know, I mean, so they get even further behind, and then they’re deconditioned coming back. And so you just have this really vicious cycle. And sadly, a lot of times it is at the hands of the parents, which is why I think these discussions are so important. I think it’s important for quality quant content out on social media, so that parents start to become to see the other side of the story. And I’m not trying to indict, you know, sport coaches or anything like that. Because I don’t think that there’s anyone that intends to harm a child in this model. I think that people truly believe that they’re doing the right thing. I just think that there needs to be more education out there for what that right thing is and how we can blend sports skill with long term athletic development and keep athletes healthy and resilient in all capacities.

Joe Cruz 28:49
Yeah. Am I have one comment to that, missy, as you were saying, as you were making that comment about educating and being able to do damage control. You know, one thing I think we could probably do, and we try to do it with with our leaders is we try to teach soldiers about progressive overload and periodization. Right. But I think maybe maybe one way to attack this problem set is to educate parents is to have no parent teacher night, essentially, where parents come in and they get from the coach from the strength and conditioning coach or from the subject matter expert, educated on that 30 minute platform of hey, you know, let’s talk about what the long term athletic development of a child should look like or could look like from a science perspective and then educate parents to be able to manage their kids because Joe knows how to do that. I know how to do that. You know how to do that, Mo know how to do that. Most coaches will know how to do that. But parents, they don’t know how to do that unless they have the background or they get someone who educates them on And then that that might start turning the boat in the direction that we want it to go so that parents are now more aware. And they’re able to really kind of have a dialogue between the Sport Coach with the Sport Coach and the child and be able to say like, Hey, what are we doing here, like, this doesn’t seem to align with the progressive model that we’re trying to bring to the table.

Emma Ostermann 30:28
Absolutely, just, I’ve got anything to add to that.

Joe Staub 30:30
So it’s actually a great point. And it’s, this is gonna sound a little cliche, because I was using it from business perspective. But one of the things I had I previously worked with a nutrition company, and the product was, was a simple, simple enough product to be used at all levels of people, you know, it wasn’t a crazy chemical blend of crazy things. So just to be clear, because we’re targeting high school athletes, and I actually spent some time in Mrs. neck of the woods in the Round Rock, Allen Frisco, high Highland Southlake Carroll schools. And one of the approaches we took was going to the parents, and I would sit in front of a group of parents and explain to them, not just my product explained, hey, this is why nutrition is so important. And you know, the cutting edge, you guys have the facilities, you have the coaches, you have the knowledge, you have the weight rooms, the missing, you have the athletic trainers, the missing link for you is one of our one of them. And again, I was pitching it in my space was the nutrition component. So let’s talk about why it’s important. Let’s talk about the product, why I have could be beneficial among others, not just me, because that was the holistic approach I had to take to capture an audience. And I actually did it. And it worked. I mean, I was I sat in front of, I don’t know, maybe 5060 parents a few different times at a few different schools where there was a PTA thing, whether it was like an athletic booster, or just the parents have been on the football program, and kind of said, Hey, listen, like if you’re not dialed into your kids nutrition, none of the other stuff matters, kind of at all. And all that other stuff matters. And again, that was my sales pitch. I had to play the game. But it worked. I mean, the sales were great. But it was also I had parents come up to me after say, no one’s ever explained it to me like that no one’s ever said. And one of my caveats to Joe Cruise’s point was, well, yeah, but I also did this for a decade, have a master’s degree and worked with some of the best people in nutrition, sport performance and Exercise Science in the country, and some of them in the world. So I’m giving you a perspective at the tip of the spear. Not necessarily. And again, I don’t mean offense by this, but not necessarily just the trainer, who’s down the road trying to get your kid for 50 bucks a session, because they need a body and they need 50 bucks an hour. So it’s like I’m giving you a different perspective, because of my knowledge base. And because you gave me the opportunity to talk to you about it. So again, I’ve lived that example and again, in a in a particular way, with a particular thing for a particular purpose. But it did work and people seemed engaged and interested.

Emma Ostermann 33:09
Absolutely. And there’s been so many great points brought up so far. And I think we can all agree that, you know, when it comes to like speaking about the fitness gap, if you have someone who’s active all year round, it can look like their fitness is very declined because they might be overtrained. And they just part of that visual, you see all the time and athletics, but I want to flip the head of the coin. What we see now is a lot more sedentary involvement. And that’s that’s huge. We did have a question that came through kind of related to this of, you know, I feel like the kids who are involved in the pay to play of sport programs aren’t necessarily the ones who are going into the military. And it seems like the ones who are going the military or tactical route, they’re pulling more from a set more sedentary pool, and may not have the education or career options. For those that are from those who are more privileged. Would you guys agree to that point, in terms of the pool that is selected for the tactical setting, especially when it comes from like more sedentary lifestyle? Jokers, I’m gonna kick it over to you on that one.

Joe Cruz 34:14
You know, am I, I honestly, I’m going to give you kind of a perspective here without diving into statistics, but what I would tell you is that I don’t necessarily think that it is a matter of underprivileged versus privileged and pay to play versus not pay to play. I mean, at the end of the day, if you look at if you look, if you do a search for Army recruitment 2021 You’ll see that there are some facts in there some figures that show you where they’re recruiting from and, you know, they’re recruiting from various, you know, ethnic groups. I mean, you’ve got Latinos, you’ve got, you know, Caucasian, you got female, you’ve got many You’ve got. So I don’t think that it’s necessarily a status issue. I would not say that. And I would tell you, you know, the people that we see coming through from basic training, whether they were athletes or not, they’re not, there isn’t a huge separation and their athletic ability, to be honest with you, we are seeing a very, very unique, and an a very kind of unilateral, if you will, trend in training age, very few percentage of the people that we’re coming across have training ages that are adequate to be able to say, we’re gonna go, we’re gonna teach Olympic lifting, and we’re gonna get right into the big four. So I don’t think that that that would be the case.

Emma Ostermann 35:51
Absolutely. Great point. Missy, do you have anything to add to that?

Missy Mitchell-McBeth 35:54
Yeah, I think it’s really important that we make the distinction that my point on pay to play is that those kids are less physically prepared, I feel like that question kind of implies that, you know, the notion that those are going to be more prepared for the military, when in fact, I’m saying that they are just as ill prepared, often as a sedentary population, one, due to the athletic quality of availability, they’re injured, too, due to the unilateral development of just sports skill, where they’re not actually athletic. They’re just athletes, as Joe, Saab has mentioned a couple times.

Emma Ostermann 36:33
That’s a really good point. And, and, you know, we see this especially, you know, messing with the population to work with, you know, the younger generation, and some of these, you know, whether it’s physical or mental readiness, do you think this is very dialed in mostly to the American culture? Or do you think this is just expands to a global, you know, global issue that we’re seeing, you know, outside of the USA,

Missy Mitchell-McBeth 36:56
I don’t really know about in the landscape of sports, I will tell you that in the prep work for this, one of the questions that was asked was whether or not low socio economic individuals are more heavily impacted, and 95% of the research that I found that confirmed that was from other areas of the world. So I would say that it’s tracking similarly, I also know that in Canada, they’ve done this a specific, this is kind of a gender specific thing. But they’ve done a report called The rally report. And it’s showing that girls are dropping out of sports at a rate of, I believe, seven out of 10, by the time they’re seniors or something versus boys are like, three out of 10 or something. So there’s just an absurd attrition rate on the female side of things in sports. And again, that’s not necessarily that’s going down another rabbit hole. But just you know, to your point of sport participation, athletic participation in other countries.

Emma Ostermann 37:52
Absolutely, just do you have anything to add?

Joe Staub 37:55
So from a mental readiness standpoint, one again, an interesting antidote from the world I used to live in, when I first started in the collegiate space, talking about you know, mental health talking about prescription drugs people use for mental health didn’t exist, you know, you always make the joke, oh, they’re kind of a space cadet or something. But it was just kind of the the personality people being goofy, whatever. By the time I got out, we would have structured meetings with the medical team, who was on antidepressants, who was on antipsychotics, who did we have to ask every day, did you take your meds today before you came to train, because, again, real world example. I had a particular person at a particular university I worked at, and they had mental health issues, and they needed to be medicated for them. And this person came in one morning, we had a kind of an out of the norm training session in the morning due to some scheduling and some things. And this person showed up at six in the morning, and dropped a 45 pound plate on their foot, because they weren’t paying attention. They weren’t engaged. And they were just, you know, whatever, while they were getting the plate and end up breaking the foot. And obviously, the coach is furious. And my boss is like, what happened? Everyone’s like, and this person said to the physician, oh, well, I didn’t take my meds today, because it was too early. And the physician just looked at it, you know, after you know, in the meeting, in the debrief of it all looked at us almost like we have to dial this in because if that’s how severe the unmedicated action is, like people need to know. And that’s how we started having these things. Whereas we were getting looped into and again, I’m going to have one specific path of the former logical assistance to mental health issues. But it was we had to know that stuff I had to know Hey, did you take your meds today or, Hey, are you having a bad day like do we need to go see Doc like, you know, Tweenies dial in where you’re at right now? Those are some of the pre conversations I would have to training. Again, there’s also as Missy Jo Cruz both had mentioned just lifestyle, you know, the dopamine. Missy, I love how you went there with the dopamine. I mean, that’s the the classic, you know, the diet, people get that dopamine hit just thinking they’re going to go on a diet, never mind following through with it. And again, these things and everything else we’re doing in that quick dopamine hit that, you know that like me culture, you know, another mental readiness. And this is the the last one is totally shifting the coin away from the pharmacological mental health side is it was towards the end of my career, and I can only imagine what it’s like now. Coach, can you film that for me? I want to put on the grant, hey, can you film me? Hey, can you do this? Hey, and I was like, Guys, no. And it goes back to the readiness conversation of if you’re in the gym on your phone, you’re not training, like, when I train, I’m not your friend, I don’t want to talk to you. Like I go to the gym, I put my headphones in and I train, I don’t, I don’t want to be around stuff. I don’t want to check my phone, I don’t want to talk to my wife, like, I want to train. Well, people now they want to do it for the gram, they want to do it for the cloud, they want to, they want to Oh, I want to put 500 pounds on the bar and show everyone how strong I am no matter what it looks like. So there’s a whole mental readiness where they don’t appreciate the fundamental time it takes to develop the skills, they just want to show off the skills. And again, that’s the constant game culture. That’s the society. That’s a lot of things in that statement. But I think those are kind of the two sides of mental readiness that I looked at, in my perspective on the way out, and now I see it in the non athletic space with 20 something year old professionals. I see it now too. I see them on their phones and meetings, I see lack of lack of mental engagement, lack of mental focus, lack of lack of mental resolve, lack of hardiness, resilience, you know, mental toughness, if you want to use that word, because they’ve never had the opportunity to self develop any of that or had jokers this morning, a coach, teacher, a coach, a teacher or a mentor, develop it in them.

Emma Ostermann 42:12
Absolutely. Joe Cruz. Do you have anything to add to that?

Joe Cruz 42:15
Yeah. Thanks, Emma. So to Joe Staub’s point about mental health, right? And I’ll tell you, if you go to the recruit like this, this is public information. So you go to army Recruiting Command, and you look up facts and figures, right? 75% of youth 75 71% of youth 71. Right, that’s a pretty astronomical number, right? Do not qualify for military service. Right. And it’s for various reasons, obesity, drugs, physical and mental health problems, misconduct, aptitude. Pick your poison, right. And so to Joe’s Joe stobs point, what we’re seeing is a huge, huge gap in mindset. And that mental health, right, that that warrior mindset of being able to come in and have a process and a, you know, a routine of development over time. Like there’s a routine, if you want it, you know, Aristotle said, we are what we repeatedly do, right? So if you want to be better at something, if you want to be a better athlete, a better soldier a better whatever, pick your poison. You have to establish processes and a mindset, a discipline to consistently execute a routine that’s going to help you get to point B or to achieve your goal. And we don’t have that. We don’t have that right now for I mean, I can’t tell you how many times I have guys in the weight room, just like Joseph was talking about his athletes, you know, being on the phone, like, they video this I can put it on the gram, we the same exact thing. But ours is the complete opposite. Instead of like putting it on the gram. It’s more like, Why do I have to do this? Like, I don’t understand why this is important. Like I don’t care. Like they just don’t have that toughness. And you know, when I was when I worked with Naval Special Warfare, one of the operators I’ll never forget this. One of the operators was invited to participate. He was invited. There’s a difference, right? This operator was 40 years old at the time. He was invited to try out for dev group development group is a elite it’s a tier one asset right to your one is like think of Seal Team Six. He was invited to go and be a part of this and so in in a conversation that we were having because I put his program together to get him ready to go there to perform. You know, whatever. about like, I said, Hey, you know, how do you feel about that, like the fact that you were invited. And, you know, we, we were both kind of exchanging ideas back and forth. And he goes, he says to me, you know, Joe, like guys like us, we live ready. We don’t wake up and randomly just come up with thoughts and randomly do things. Like, we have this mantra about what we do and how we do things. There’s purpose, there’s a deliberate intention in what we’re doing. And that’s, that’s one of the major issues that I think is really playing this fitness gap to bring it all together, right? Is the the mindset. And I think it’s because we’ve been at war, we were at war for 20 years, we don’t necessarily have a common threat. You know, at some point, the the realities of 911 have just become kind of a historical, you know, event. And it doesn’t impact as much as it as it did to those who were closer to that event and more senior, you know, in age, and, and felt the effects of that event and that day. And so the mindset of I’m going to have to, or I may be in a situation where I may have to engage with an adversary. I mean, the thought is even foreign to some kids, they don’t even I don’t think they’re even tracking the fact that Russia and Ukraine right now are at odds that it’s that that level of separation and disconnectedness is part of what’s contributing to the mindset and the, the mental aspect of it.

Emma Ostermann 46:41
Absolutely. So many great points coming from physical or physical and mental readiness and Missy. You unmuted yourself, I would love to hear your thoughts as we dive more into this.

Missy Mitchell-McBeth 46:49
Yeah, this was some of the stuff that I wasn’t sure at earlier, I mentioned some societal factors. But Joe, cute Joe cruise, just eat him up for me. So here we go. Um, I think that we are living in a society, particularly with public education, where there is a lack of accountability. If you put behavioral expectations and some data and systems in place, all that needs to happen is for a kid to not like it and go to a parent and a parent complain. And that will get overturned. So instead of allowing controlled failure, which is I don’t do my homework, I don’t turn it in, therefore, I fail my class, we come back in and it’s much easier for a teacher to just slap a 70 in the gradebook and move on than it is to actually apply a consequence. If you are a teacher that holds kids accountable and or a coach and you apply consequences, you end up having these massive parent meetings in which administration office overturns your decision, even though you’re boots on the ground, making the decision to the best of your ability and where I’m seeing more and more and more of that. More parent complaints. I know that in our you know, in our districts and neighboring districts, like I’ve heard many people talk about just how over the top parents are this year, and all the discipline problems that I think some of it is stemming from the larger piece of society where we have spent the last two years dividing ourselves between two extreme camps, and arguing back and forth that we’re right. And we’re not going to support this side of that. And of course, that’s going to bleed into kids. So as soon as they don’t like something that they see, they’re going to throw a fit. And then there’s you know, there’s not going to be any disciplinary action associated with it. So they don’t develop any coping skills. And so I think we’re falling down that path where it’s like, we are creating mental health issues for them because of a failure to hold them accountable because it makes us uncomfortable. And that’s not going to be a popular answer or statement. But it’s one that I believe is the right one.

Joe Staub 48:48
So Missy, I couldn’t have said it better myself. And I’ll give you a funny example. So this morning, offline before we start I mentioned I was this morning, spend time my kids, our school got cancelled. So I had my two oldest five year old and a two year old. The baby was with my sister in law. And I took the two of them to like a little kids playground kind of thing indoors. And so my two year old is engaging with another like two year old I don’t know, it’s probably too I didn’t know at the time, just little kid and little kid playing. And it was funny to watch. Because they’re both my son was born in 2019. Right? So right pre COVID, right, all of this. So they’re playing and the mother of the other kid comes right over you know, they started to kind of disagree and take toys and just be kids be two year olds. The other mother comes right over, grabs her son pulls him out of the way puts him in a different area a minute or two later kids back because he wants to play he wants to engage but he doesn’t know how. And the mother like I could see she was getting flustered and I could see she was looking around like Whose kid is that like Am I gonna get yelled at that my kids kind of steal on this kid’s toy like, whatever. And I, you know, I’m looking at my daughter too. And she’s over there. And I kind of look at the lady, I can’t try it. I’m like, they’re fine. Like, I don’t care. Let them sort it out. And you could see, like, the physical stress, just come off of this lady. And she came over me, she’s like, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you letting them play. And not everyone will do that. And we had like a five minute heart to heart. I’ve never I don’t even even catch her name. But she physically changed when I was like, yeah, let they’re two, like They’re two, they’re kind of disagree. They’re kind of fight with each other. They have to learn. They’re okay. Like, to your point control failure. We’re in a kids play place. And they’re playing with plastic foods, like, they’re not at risk, like they’re not at risk. But you and I can create risk for them by not allowing them by putting our stress on them by creating our biases on them without understanding we are. But as soon as I kind of gave her that non Chava cat, don’t worry about it, like whatever, the physical change, or in the five minute conversation we had, she let them play. And by the end, they were totally fine. They got over there five minutes of I want this, you have that bubble, bubble, blah. And then they made up some game and they were playing for like 20 minutes. And later in the day, she left and she came up to me again, like grabbed me by the arm and was like, I just want to say thank you because I’ve never seen my son play imaginatively, yet. And I almost I was shocked. Cuz what do you mean? She was like, that was the first time he ever played with another kid. And they made up a game. She was like, He’s never done that she was like, and she started to get teary, I almost got emotional with her because I was like, oh my god, like, she was like, He’s never done that, as well. He did today. And she’s, you know, thank you by and left. It was crazy. But I just had to share that because it kind of goes into everything. Like, you can’t put your own biases on your kids. And you brought up a great point to what I said with being an advocate as a parent, you brought up the negative when you can over advocate. So it is that dichotomy of finding that balance, especially in the world we live in today. Absolutely. I

Emma Ostermann 52:10
think that’s a great point, Joe, and it’s gonna navigate well into that we are under 10 minutes here to this final question I want to pose to the group and just thought I might have you kind of leave this one off is how do we continue to address this issue? To your point, today’s youth, they’re going to be dealing with things that you know, myself, each of you we didn’t have to deal with, you know, as we start coming into, you know, high school, college real life, and there’s these new changes, how do we begin to address this issue? Just off, I’m gonna kick it off to you to

Joe Staub 52:39
tee this one off? Well, first, I didn’t say it to begin with. It’s things like this, thank you for having me, I appreciate it. Again, thank you for having such great people to have a conversation with. But it’s things like this, it’s it’s taking the time to talk about it, it’s taking the time to put something into the universe and make it tangible. You know, we talked about it, it’s, you know, from my point, it was apparent that Well, each of the other panelists said, you know, hey, well, you have to be educated for us. It’s obvious because of who we are and our backgrounds. So giving resources, having education, and then constantly trying to, you know, better the next person. Me and Joe cruise have talked about this quite a bit, you know, no, one’s an island, and you can’t climb to the top of Mount Everest alone. You know, some people do, there’s the occasional outlier. But it takes a village, it takes people it takes a team, it takes we so you know, to me, I think it’s a we problem. And this is one of many other steps to solve that problem.

Emma Ostermann 53:37
Actually, absolutely, yeah. Missy, I would love to hear your thoughts as well.

Missy Mitchell-McBeth 53:40
Um, so I am a dog training. That is my hobby is I have four dogs, and I love to train them. And one of the trainers that I follow pretty closely, she has a podcast, and almost every podcast, she says dogs are doing the very best they can with education that they’ve received in the environment that we asked them to perform. And I think that as adults with a sphere of influence of kids of you know, maybe it’s teenagers, collegiate athletes, I think that that needs to be at the forefront of our mindset. I think that we need to drop the narrative of kids these days, which is kind of been our entire talk is like, what is it with kids these days, but it’s the environment that we’re asking them to perform in. And so I think that we have to shape our education, we have to shape our coaching to the best of our ability to what fits their current climate, not, you know, kids these days are the only ones that we have available to coach like, we can’t go back and get in grab people from 20 years ago. So I think it’s all of us. You know, having these conversations, like Joseph said, having these conversations continuing to put out content for other coaches for parents, so that we can do our very best job educating kids so they can perform as well as they can in the context that we’re asking them to.

Emma Ostermann 54:58
Absolutely great point. Jokerz I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, as well.

Joe Cruz 55:03
Yeah, so to echo that, that a point that Missy made, I think one of the things we do as coaches is being able to teach adaptability, right. And that mindset of like, you will have to do something that you don’t like to do, you’ve got to be okay with being uncomfortable. Because it can’t change. You can’t grow unless you are uncomfortable unless you stress yourself. Unless you put yourself in a situation that challenges your comfortability. You’re never going to rise above, you’re never going to achieve what you’re trying to achieve, you’ll always just be somewhat good. And the question becomes, as coaches, you know, I tell my guys, it’s like, what is your why? Tell me what is driving you. And it’s education, right? At the end of the day, it is taking the time to realize to have these conversations with your athletes, the soldiers, whomever it is that you’re with, it’s taking the time to have that conversation to say, tell me what drives you? What is it that wakes you up in the morning and gets you excited. And then and then navigating that journey with them. And being able to teach coach and mentor them about being adaptive, about being intentional about having a process, and about being having the discipline to be consistent. That’s key. And if we can boil if we can communicate that, and we can message that we can be consistent in messaging that we can achieve the kind of change we’re looking for in those in those individuals.

Emma Ostermann 56:57
I love that. And I do want to wrap it up with one more question, I’m going to pose it to the group, you know, and today with today’s culture, it’s easy to say there’s a lot of negatives, you know, out there that we need to improve. But have you guys seen any positives in today’s culture that we can continue to build upon? I know, you always say technology is a negative as an example. But are we able to turn that into a positive? You know, with the cell phone example we that we basically spoke about earlier in today’s conversation, any thoughts?

Missy Mitchell-McBeth 57:28
I mean, I use a web based app with my athletes every day. And I do understand that it increases screen time. But the reality is, is that we’re able to track data, and live enter data that I would never be able to accumulate all of that. And you know, just as a small example, like I’ve got little freshmen girls, soccer players that have never touched a dumbbell in their lives, and they’re doing a 32 and a half, you know, they’re doing 232 and a half on Dumbbell Bench Press this morning, because they’ve plugged that in, and I have an offset load programmed week after week, or we add a rep here and there to progress. And it’s like if left to their own devices, not phone devices, or you know, their own mental devices, they’re just going to continue to pick up that same 15 pound but with technology, I can easily deploy mass programming to everybody. And then they also I think that, you know, to the point of questioning everything, like I think a piece of that is good, I think a piece of it that they can go out and access information is good. The problem is, is that they don’t know how to filter that information. I think that’s where I come in to filter things or to help them filter things.

Emma Ostermann 58:42
Absolutely. Joe crew has anything to add to that.

Joe Cruz 58:43
Yeah. So one of the things that we’ve done is leverage technology by utilizing QR codes. So our soldiers are able to take their phone, scan a QR code, essentially, that takes them to a program called visit book. And they can make their appointments right then in there, right. And so it’s really awesome to see how that’s increased the utilization and the net that we cast to be able to reach those individuals because otherwise we wouldn’t be able to reach them. Because the reality is that our soldiers, a lot of them don’t know about h two F, they don’t know the services that h two F provides, right? That they can come and sit down and talk to a cognitive performance specialist. They can talk to a mental health professional that they can have consultations with the dietitian, right. And so by leveraging that technology, we’re able to put it into the hands of soldiers, get them to come into our center and actually start their journey towards improvement.

Emma Ostermann 59:55
Absolutely, absolutely. And I just want to know, you know, there’s been a lot of really great points today. and Missy Jo Cruz and just stop. Yes, thank you so much. And just have one more thing to add, before we, you know, come to a close,

Joe Staub 1:00:07
quick little one in a kind of falls long to miss these points. So they’re gonna use technology. It’s the quality time in which they use it. So we always looked at in the conversations I had with people is you’re never going to get people to break from their phone. How can you engage them to use it better intimacy is quite an app. She’s collecting data to Joe’s point, it’s a QR code. And there’s a lot of other ways you could do that. The biggest thing that I always said and still say, is come back and ask. And people looking at him like, because to miss his point I think he did a great job with this is there’s no way. And there’s no formal training in a sense to delineate and disseminate what you can find. Because you can find a lot of good and a lot of bad. And you can find a lot of one way conversation watching a YouTube video is great. The problem is it’s a static video, you can’t engage the video, you’re just stuck. You see what it says the way they say it. And that’s it. So I would always tell people is come back and ask and go watch it. Go find whatever you want to find. Come back and talk to me about it. Come back, send it to me, I’ll watch it too. Let’s talk about it. Because it gave me an opportunity to build a relationship. So I always leverage, I tried to improve the time they used in technology, and then build a relationship through always reminding them, come back and ask come back and talk to me. Come back and what questions you have. Watch that video. Listen to that guy. Oh, by the way you listen to listen to Joe cruise, he has one philosophy. Listen to Missy, she’s got another one, then come back. And let’s talk about it. Let’s see what you can get to. And that was the way I always tried to make a positive out of it. Because again, it can be a negative if not cultivated correctly.

Emma Ostermann 1:01:46
Absolutely. And once again, he has so many great points from today. And I think as we move forward from this conversation, it’s just going to keep bringing up so many more great points. You know, we’re at a great point right now just starting the conversation. And I hope that we can continue having these conversations as we move forward. So Missy Jo Cruz, just thank you so much for your guys’s time today. We are incredibly thankful for you guys to join us. And for everyone out there, please feel free to connect with us. There’s our socials or email addresses for you to be able to reach out ask more questions and be able to dive into this conversation further with any of us. And lastly, just a reminder, this was our last live round table as we’re gonna be transitioning to the podcasts. And then upcoming round tables coming up in March the injury prediction debate as well in April, the body image and performance. Feel free to be on the lookout for those and we’ll keep keep you guys posted as they come out. Once again Missy Jo Cruz just OB thank you so much for your guys’s time today. We greatly appreciate it. And to everybody else. We will see you guys next time. Thank you.

Joe Cruz 1:02:51
Thanks for having us.

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