Tag Archives: equipment

Something About Stink

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The post below is my very first guest post! I was contacted by Mike, the owner of Odor Gladiator, a cool and revolutionary tool that “Brings the Battle to your Bag!” Mike sent me my very own Odor Gladiator as a thank you for the post, and I am very grateful to have this stink-eliminating OG for when the season begins and I start living out of my car again.

Queen Elizabeth once declared, “I take a bath once a month whether I need it or not!” I think everyone in our modern age goes “ewwwww” after reading that sentence, but in the Elizabethan era she was considered the epitome of cleanliness because most people bathed less than ten times a year, if they bathed at all. Then in 1605, Francis Bacon wrote that “cleanness of body was ever deemed to proceed from a due reverence to God.” That quote became the oft-repeated, “cleanliness is next to godliness” line that we have all heard since childhood. Ever since then, being clean was very much the thing to do.

So why, oh why do athletes love their stinky gear? They know it is harboring bacteria. They know how unpleasant it feels to put on cold, sweaty equipment. They know it is unhygienic, and can cause staph infections. So why do they do it? Simple – there is something about stink.

I challenge you to find one high schooler who will go to school in stinky clothes, but they will go to practice and open up an equipment bag that is so rancid smelling that passing birds fall dead from the sky. Then they put on that foul smelling gear and play! They know it stinks to high heaven yet they still put it on. Why? Because there is something about stink.

Bring the Battle to your Bag!

Bring the Battle to your Bag!

As a former lacrosse player I know all too well the allure of stinky gear. It is a badge of honor, a right of passage, and an on-field weapon. I used to brag that my gear smelled so bad that opposing players would not try to dodge against me, for fear of the stench. One day I went to get my gear bag out of the garage and it was gone. My mother had had enough. She took my shoulder pads, arm pads, gloves, and the bag and stuffed them into the washing machine. I was devastated. Plus, all of my gear felt weird on my body after being pummeled in the dryer, which just added insult to injury.

The next day I dragged my bag to practice, extremely unhappy that all of my gear felt alien on my body. I dressed for practice, started moving, and then something strange happened. I forgot that I was wearing clean, non-smelly, and ill-fitting gear. Eventually the equipment conformed to my body again, and I was playing as well as I usually played. The lightbulb clicked on in my head, I could play with clean gear and still be comfortable!

However, it took some trial-and-error before I figured out the golden rule of equipment washing: air-drying. There is something about putting gear in a dryer that makes it feel funny, especially the gloves. I have found that I can put my shoulder and arm pads in the dryer without ill-effect, but my gloves need to be air dried in order to preserve their “feel.” Last is the helmet, which usually got either a healthy helping of Febreze or wiped down inside and out with Lysol disinfectant wipes.

Over time, practicing and playing with clean equipment became the normal thing to do. I just had to overcome my initial resistance to the idea before realizing that wearing nasty gear made about as much sense as walking the school hallways in clothes from the bottom of my hamper.

To the parents – If your child is hesitant about cleaning their equipment, reiterate to them that playing sports is a privilege, not a right. In order to play they must also be able to keep their own gear clean and smell-free.

To the players – Is it a pain to wash your equipment? Yes. I’m not going to try and spin that chore as being pleasant. Want to know what is more unpleasant? A six-week staph infection that will not go away and requires you to shave your leg to keep the medicated bandage in close contact with your skin. That happened to me my junior year of high school and that really stunk.

Cheers,
Gordon

P.S. – Customize your own Odor Gladiator at www.odorgladiator.com. Once you get your very own OG, check out Mike’s video on how to prepare it for battle!

Wash Your Gear

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I am introducing you to the worst friend I’ve ever had: Staphylococcus aureus. More commonly known as a staph (pronounced “staff”) infection. This skin infection right below my right knee came from wrestling on unwashed mats and wearing occasionally washed gear. The infection persisted for six weeks. During those six weeks I had to shave the my leg around the infection, and apply prescribed medication twice a day. I also had to wrap the infected area in gauze and tape, and change the dressing every evening. Those six weeks were some of the least pleasant weeks of my life because I could not continue my martial arts without potentially infecting anyone I wrestled with.All because I rolled on unwashed mats and did not wash my gear regularly.

MRSA

MRSA

According to the California Department of Public Health staph are “bacteria carried on the skin […] of healthy people.” However, MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is staph that is resistant to most antibiotics. This type of staph infection is can lead to “longer or repeated illness, more doctor visits, and a need for more expensive and toxic antibiotics.” While MRSA was generally linked to hospitals, a different strain of MRSA has found its way into communities and is known as “community-associated” MRSA or CAMRSA. “If you are an athlete with staph infection, this is the strain you probably have” (italics mine).

MRSA looks like:

  • “Sores that look and feel like spider bites”
  • “Red painful bumps under the skin, called boils or abscesses”
  • “A cut that is swollen, hot, and filled with pus”
  • “Blisters filled with fluid […] called impetigo”
  • “A red, warm, firm skin area that is painful and getting larger, usually on the legs (called cellulitis)”

Athletes are likely to get infections near wounds and wherever their equipment touches their bodies. This is why it is a good idea to wear an undershirt underneath your chest protector. As my good friend Andy would say, “you don’t want an infection on your nipple.”

I will put this bluntly, if your equipment smells rancid it is harboring bacteria. Some players take that smell as a peculiar badge-of-honor, or good luck charm. When in fact they are repeatedly suiting up with bacteria-filled gear that are looking for a small cut to infect. Save yourself the grief and unpleasantness of a staph infection by washing your equipment in water that is as hot as the gear will allow. All of your gear except your gloves can be placed in the dryer without ill effects. Your gloves should be allowed to air dry, and if you want them to dry faster stuff them with newspaper or paper towels.

ABC News did an article in 2005 about MRSA and athletes. The article left off with good ways to combat the bacteria:

  • “Don’t share towels or wipe your face with a towel you use on equipment”
  • “Don’t ignore skin infections that won’t heal”
  • “Shower after a workout”
  • “Use liquid soap, not bars”
  • “Wash your hands — well. To kill germs you must wash under nails and rub thoroughly for 20-30 seconds”

Now that I’m done scaring everybody, the rule here is pretty simple. Keep your gear and your body clean and you’ve got nothing to worry about. Most of the scary pictures you see of MRSA or regular staph infections are from individuals who did not follow the basic treatment guidelines, and allowed the infection to grow.

So don’t let your gear stew in the warm, bacteria-friendly confines of your lacrosse bag. Wash it!

Cheers,
Gordon

As always new post ideas may be emailed to rules@ayllax.com.

 

Make Your Coach Like You

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I received the best piece of advice on how to be coached after two years of playing lacrosse:

“It does not matter if you like the coach. It does matter if the coach likes you.”

This is an interesting lesson to learn at 11 years old. What do you mean I have to make the coach like me? I’m young and generally cheerful how can I possibly not be liked? Well there are a few reasons that I will list for you and I am guilty of committing all of them:

  1. No hustle in practice – At the very least jog to where you need to be. Nothing bugs a coach more than waiting to start a drill because everyone is walking to the huddle.
  2. Complaining and/or whining – Every player will someday say these words: “I’m tired. This is hard. When is practice over? When do we get to do something fun?” As a youth coach hearing these words is the exact equivalent of one hundred tiny monkeys crawling over my head armed with miniature icepicks, which they repeatedly jam into my head. If you are going to gripe do it out of earshot of the coach.
  3. Being Late – Parents this applies to you as well as the youth players. Lateness disrupts a practice plan, especially if multiple players are late. Get into the habit of showing up five minutes early for practice because your high school coach will not take pity on you or your teammates. I have run far more wind sprints than I care to remember for late teammates.
  4. Asking when you get to go into the game – The entire reason players practice is to play, but if there are twenty-two kids on a team twelve will sit on the bench at any given time. Nothing makes me want to keep a kid on the pine more than hearing “Coach, I haven’t gotten in yet.” Players, trust that your coaches at the youth level will make every effort to keep playing time as equal as possible, but occasionally he will forget. Remind him politely at halftime. If you still don’t get in for the rest of the game find me, or an AYL Staff member, and we will make sure you get in.
  5. I forgot my _____ – In ten years of attending practice I forgot my helmet once and my stick once. I understand forgetting equipment occasionally. Do not make forgetting your gear a habit. If it happens once a season, then fine. If it happens every other practice I will eventually bring duck tape to practice and I will bind the gear to your body for a week.
  6. “Dude, bro, guy, buddy” – A coach is a Coach, with a capital “C.” Or if his name is John Doe – Coach Doe. And if you forget Coach Doe’s name, saying sir never hurts. Keep the pet names for your friends.
Avoid the Angry Monkey!

Avoid the Angry Monkey!

Always remember that if you are on a coach’s good side good things will happen to you. You can stay on the good side by not complaining, hustling everywhere, and showing him respect even if you think he does not deserve it. Learn this lesson now and you will be well prepared once you tryout for your High School lax team.

Featured Image Credit – www.123rf.com

Cheers,
Gordon