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The Coach’s Daughter

Helmets help….but only help…Get Strong

KayleeKaylee Gittleson ran hurdles for Ann Arbor Pioneer High School. The team won three out of four Division I State Championships during her four years. Kaylee was told by her dad to write about training from her perspective on the Rogers Blog.


My Dad was a Strength Coach for 30 years. We literally live in a gym with furniture. Kaylee explains, sometimes you cover up problems instead of address them.

My father is extremely interested in concussions and neck training to protect athletes. He piles articles beside the computer, which I perpetually have to stack and clean, so I can find the computer to use the internet, when at home.

I happened to glance at one of the articles as I was picking up that peaked my interest. The story was about a basketball player that had sustained a series of concussions and wanted to continue the sport he loved, so instead of quitting, adorned a helmet. The solution seemed strange to me so I decided to ask my father if this was the best resolution to the issue.

“Sometimes people cover up problems instead of addressing them…my father replied”

My father began digging in another pile and showed me the following picture of a girl playing hoops who also had suffered multiple head injuries. Placing helmets on athletes seemed to be a common practice.

I have followed my fathers work so I was not ignorant to the concussion crisis.  My response to my father was this…”So what you mean by that comment about covering up problems Dad, is that, concussions can be sustained with or without helmets. Helmets reduce forces applied directly to the head by lengthening the time of impact or deflecting some of the force.”

“Yet brain trauma can occur without ever even getting hit in the head through whiplash. This is because the brain floats like Jello inside the head and slams into the skull if shook hard enough regardless where the force comes from. And brain trauma can occur even while wearing a helmet.”

“Placing the helmet on the head seems to cover up the problem of a head injury but does not address all the facets of the issue. As a daughter of a strength coach, and growing up with a neck machine a few feet from our couch, it is easy to extrapolate from your comments and immediately recognize that strength training the neck and traps to dissipate force and damper the oscillation of the brain is absolutely imperative if you want to lower the concussive forces.”

As a college student I was feeling pretty smug about the above explanation and my patter of parlance I had just presented to my father.

  He replied,” Did you workout today?”

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