Recipe for health

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. A paper describing a project to tackle musculoskeletal injury in a largebakery made Joe Patton, nursing adviser with Rank Hovis McDougall, a highlycommended runner-up in this year’s Roche Diagnostics Occupational Health Award.  By Joe Patton This paper describes the result of a three-year occupational health project,designed to reduce musculoskeletal injury in a large bread making bakery. Thebakery is capable of producing 10,000 loaves every hour, meeting the 10million-a-day demand from British supermarkets and comer shops. To achieve thislevel of production, a healthy workforce is essential. The current thinking behind the role of occupational health in workplacehealth promotion is cited by HSE1 and the RCN2,3. One way of promoting healthis to ask a simple yet fundamental question, “What is it about work thatmakes employees sick?” The next step is to do something about the answer. Ill health at the bakery was previously managed by reacting to datacollected on absenteeism in terms of days off, which did little to actuallypromote health. But with this method, sickness recurred and one-time healthyemployees began to develop avoidable illness. In order to address the causes of ill health it was felt that datacollection needed to be more detailed – describing and quantifying the reasonsgiven for illness. Bakery employees returning from sickness would often ofsubmit a self certificate that lacked a recognised medical diagnosis and wouldread “felt sick” or “had a bad back”. Against this backgrounda form was designed to record non-diagnostic reasons for sickness, separatingpublic health issues from essential occupational health information. Within the food industry people are not allowed at work if products are atrisk of bacteriological contamination. Setting this group aside, illnessescaused or aggravated by work formed the basis of an occupational healthpromotion initiative which is described here. Musculoskeletal illness In 1997 a workforce of 623 reported an average of 76 episodes of sicknessevery month. An analysis of the reasons given revealed that musculoskeletalproblems accounted for 33 per cent of all absences. This matched the expectedrate for episodes of absence due to musculoskeletal causes for workers involvedwith manual handling operations in the food and drink industry4. Within the setting of a large bread production unit, the weight of loads isnot the most significant factor in the cause of musculoskeletal injuries.Sustained or repeated spinal flexion or hazardous postures present a risk ofinjury to the musculoskeletal system. Then there are activities that riskmusculoskeletal injury. These include twisting the trunk, bending the back,reaching above shoulder height or awkward positions of the legs and feet whichaffects the body’s stability. The risk of musculoskeletal injury extends beyond posture, too. Theenvironment will decide how well a person can work and personal fitness canalso reduce the risk of injury. Musculoskeletal problems may be related to homeor leisure activities5. To make this distinction, a suitable assessment tool was required; one thatappreciated the fact that work and leisure activities can produce similarsymptoms. Such a tool was the Nordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaire. Thisquestionnaire distanced itself from using diagnostic labels and asked aboutpain, discomfort or numbness arising in nine body areas: the neck, shoulders,upper back, lower back, elbows, wrist and hands, thighs, knees and ankles6. Inorder to define any relationship to occupational factors, the severity ofsymptoms are analysed alongside activities at work and during leisure time7. The questionnaire was piloted on six bakery employees and minor changes weremade to improve the layout of questions. By the end of 1997, 132 employeesrepresenting despatch (n=52), engineering (n -3 1), hygiene (n=33) and officestaff (n=16) had been circulated with the questionnaire; 81 were returned, aresponse rate of 61 per cent. Of those who responded, the average age was 37, most were male and 34 of the81 smoked. Some 20 employees attributed their condition solely to workactivities that involved distribution, maintenance and cleaning tasks. Theremaining respondents (n – 6 1) inferred their condition was caused by acombination of lifestyle and work activities. Specific interventions Those who attributed their condition solely to work were singled out as astudy group. All were male whose average age was 46 years and the majority (70 percent) smoked cigarettes. During 1997 the study group had accumulated a total of26 episodes of ill health, resulting in 286 days absence from work. Each member of the study group received a functional assessment of fitnessand a health interview. Although they knew what part of their body had beenaffected by muscular pain, most did not attribute their condition to aparticular event, suggesting they were victims of cumulative strain. Gentlequestioning established whether any lack of job satisfaction was influencingtheir motivation to attend work. It was clear, however, that absence onlyoccurred when pain prevented them from earning a living. Emphasis was placed on the fact that smoking might increase the risk ofmusculoskeletal injury and delay the healing of an injury. The side-effects ofreduced blood flow with a depleted oxygen content were described. Those whowished to stop smoking, were helped to do so. Following the health interviews, workplace observations were made whichrevealed widespread bad practice in manual handling operations. No obviouspreparation was made in the work environment and, as a result, people were notmaking tasks safer and easier for themselves. Aids to make tasks easier wereeither not used, or were used incorrectly. To improve the situation it was clear that changes in behaviour wererequired. Each employee would need to take greater responsibility for their owncare. The Prochaska and Di Clemente model of care The conceptual framework being applied to the 20 people in this study8 wasoriginally devised to treat addictive behaviours. It is based on a belief thatpeople can be educated to change any behaviour that risks illness. Thisinvolves six stages of change: Pre contemplation: this sets the scene for people who would otherwisenot consider making changes. In the context of this study an analysis ofsickness absence placed a high priority to reducing musculoskeletal illness.The population group, identified from the Nordic assessment tool, attributedtheir musculoskeletal condition solely to work activity. Health interviews andobservations of work practice then identified the need to take greaterresponsibility for self care. Contemplation: once the need to take greater responsibility for selfcare has registered, people then require further information to help theirthinking; In January 1998 this process began with an injury analysis. Theanalysis was designed to explain the health risks associated with manualhandling followed by a description of the damage that people were doing tothemselves as a result of poor handling techniques. Preparation: when the perceived benefits of change outweigh thedesire to continue with present behaviour, people are motivated to seek andaccept extra knowledge or skills to support such a move. In February 1998 thiswas delivered by manual handling retraining. The risk of personal injury wasreduced by demonstrating and practising the correct technique for activitiesthat involved lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling. Making Change: the early days of change require positive decisions todo things differently. Support through practical help provides the necessaryencouragement to make those changes work. From February 1998 job specificguidance was given to make the working environment safer with instruction onthe correct use of equipment that would make tasks easier. In March 1998,manual handling risk assessments were updated with improved controls that aimedto further reduce the likelihood of musculoskeletal injury. Maintaining Change: when new habits become established, the person isseen as moving out of the change process and into a long term safer lifestyle.Maintaining this required vigilance and support, so in May 1998 healthsurveillance interviews checked what progress had been made and during thefollowing two months a programme of flexibility exercises was organised. Peoplewere reminded how to prepare their body for activity and how to relaxafterwards. Relapsing: when a person is unable to maintain change, old habitsreturn. This is because the change is no longer perceived to be worthwhile, afeature that Prochaska and Di Clementi consider to be expected. Throughout thisstudy individuals received constant vigilance and support to prevent a relapse.Observations of work practice ensured that correct techniques were becomingcommon place. “Lifting and Carrying” wall posters were displayed,self care leaflets issued and constant reminders given about the action to takein the event of musculoskeletal injury. Ultimately it became less difficult forpeople to maintain the changes that had occurred. Measures of effectiveness: without measures of effectiveness there isno way of knowing whether occupational healthcare is leading to improvements.In this project three measures of effectiveness were taken. First, members ofthe study group were invited to express an opinion. Second, their absence wasused to calculate a financial cost of musculoskeletal illnesses to thebusiness. Third, sickness data for all bakery workers measured the effect ofthe initiative among the total workforce. A total of 16 study group members (80 per cent) responded to a request fortheir opinion about the project. Professionally, the most important outcome wasa unanimous statement of having less musculoskeletal pain and a greater senseof well-being. They commented on the ease of using the correct technique formanual handling and the need to improve their working environment. In 1997 the 20 members of the study group had reported a combined total of26 musculoskeletal illness that had been solely attributed to work. Thisresulted in 209 days absence, costing the business around £15,000. By March1999 episodes of musculoskeletal illness had reduced to 13, resulting in 107days absence at a cost of about £9,000. This constitutes a relative riskreduction of 50 per cent and a financial saving of £6,000. Finally, the number of musculoskeletal absences among all bakery workers hadaccounted for 33 per cent of illness. By March 1998 this decreased to under 30per cent but other reasons for sickness increased. Fortunately, this situationwas not reflected in subsequent months. By March 1999 musculoskeletal illnessreduced to 22 per cent. Conclusion Sickness data enabled occupational healthcare to be prioritised towards thereduction of musculoskeletal illness. The Nordic questionnaire proved avaluable tool to identify bakery workers who had not reported a recognisedmedical diagnosis, but suffered with problems that were solely attributed towork. Observations of work practice identified that faults in technique werethe cause of many injuries and the change from being an “injuryvictim” to a “healthy worker” occurred through education thatled to safer behaviour. While the project has succeeded in reducing the recurrence ofmusculoskeletal problems, further work is required to reduce the incidence ofmusculoskeletal injury. Data seems to suggest that within bakery settings, theoccupational group with most “work specific” musculoskeletal problemsare male smokers aged over 40. Further research will be required to check thereliability of this suggestion, which can then form the basis of a moreproactive approach to promoting musculoskeletal health at work. References1 Developing an occupational health strategy for Great Britain, (1998),Health & Safety Executive 2 The OH nurse – towards professional practice, (1991), Royal College ofNursing 3 The Occupational Health Nurse: opportunities for developing professionalpractice, (1993), Royal College of Nursing 4 A recipe for safety: health and safety in the food and drink industries,(1999), Health & Safety Executive 5 Deakin et al, The use of the Nordic Questionnaire in an industrialsetting: a case study, (1994), Applied Ergonomics, Vol 25 pp182-185 6 Kuorinka, I, Standardised Nordic Questionnaire for analysis ofmusculoskeletal symptoms, (1987), Applied Ergonomics, Vol 18, pp233-237 7 Dickinson, C E et al, Questionnaire development: an examination of theNordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaire, (1992), Applied Ergonomics, Vol 23,pp197-201 8 Prochaska J and Di Clementi C, Model of care – in search of helping peoplechange: application to addictive behaviours, (1992), American Psychologist,September 1992, pp1102-1113 Comments are closed. Recipe for healthOn 1 Jan 2000 in Musculoskeletal disorders, Personnel Today Next Articlelast_img read more

Rattray signs on for MX World Champs

first_img9 September 2013 At the time, the teenage Rattray was relatively unknown in international motocross circles. He joined fellow South Africa Gareth Swanepoel on the international circuit, and the two of them made waves until Rattray finally picked up a ride with the KTM factory team. He went on to be crowned world champion in 2008. Now 28, he first relocated from South Africa to Germany in 2000 to compete internationally and qualified for his first GP races in 2001 at the age of just 15. Waters, who team up with Rattray in the MX1 line-up for Husqvarna, is currently racing for the Motorex KTM Racing Team in Australia. He has overcome injury in the current season to be in second position in the 2013 National Championship after nine of 10 rounds. Langston got his break in 1998 when he moved to the Netherlands, followed two years later by his victory in the 125cc World Championships. South Africa’s Tyla Rattray has been signed by the Husqvarna Factory Racing team for the 2014 FIM Motorcross World Championships. Rattray is a former world champion, having won the MX2 (250cc) title in 2008. ManagerFinnish Motocross legend Antti Pyrhonen, presently of F1 star Kimi Raikkonen’s Ice One Racing, will manage the Red Bull Ice One Husqvarna Factory Racing MX1 team and brings with him a wealth of first-hand experience in motocross and personal association with the Husqvarna brand. “The new Red Bull Ice One Husqvarna factory team is aiming for the top. We believe it can be reached by our dedication to the sport, and by the commitment of our riders and their determined will to win.” Husqvarna, which is based in Austria after a 2013 takeover by Pierer Industrie AG, recently made clear its intention to be a major player in next year’s Championship series by entering a full factory team for both MX1 and MX2 classes. AMA competitionRattray, who won the MX2 World Championship with the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team in 2008, has spent recent seasons competing in the AMA Supercross (SX) and Motocross (MX) competitions in the USA, and ended the 2011 season as runner-up in the AMA 250 MX class. SA’s first world championTwo decades ago Albertyn became South Africa’s first MX world champion when he won the 125cc (two-stroke) Championship in 1992. He later won two 250cc World Championships – in 1993 and 1994 – before relocating to the USA. In the MX1 (450cc) class it will be Rattray and Australian Todd Waters wearing the Husqvarna colours, while in the MX2 (250cc) class Romain Febvre of France and Alexandr Tonkov of Russia will represent the new team. “Ice One Racing is pleased to welcome Tyla Rattray and Todd Waters, both from outside Europe, to the World Championship series,’ said Raikkonen. SAinfo reporter Five years ago, Rattray became only the third South African to win a FIM Motocross World Championship, following in the footsteps of Grant Langston and Greg Albertyn, when he became the MX2 world champion after the Italian Grand Prix in September 2008. last_img read more

Round 11: Horn trying to preserve energy

first_imgHorn connects with a straight.Pacquiao grazes with the left hook.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool stars Cayetano to unmask people behind ‘smear campaign’ vs him, SEA Games MOST READ Round 10: Pacquiao puts Horn on the backfoot View comments LATEST STORIES Another vape smoker nabbed in Lucena Pagasa: Kammuri now a typhoon, may enter PAR by weekend Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ What ‘missteps’? Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Jeff Horn, top, of Australia and Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines fight during their WBO World welterweight title bout in Brisbane, Australia, Sunday, July 2, 2017. APJeff Horn trying to clinch to preserve that energy, and probably, his lead on the scorecards.And Manny Pacquiao connects with a body shot.ADVERTISEMENT Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next LOOK: Jane De Leon meets fellow ‘Darna’ Marian Rivera China furious as Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Gameslast_img read more

2 Korean naval warships arrive on goodwill visit

first_imgChennai, Sept 16 (PTI) Two Korean naval warships arrived here today as part of a goodwill visit. As part of celebrating the 70th anniversary of Korean Independence and founding of the Republic of Korea Navy, RoK Cruise Training Task Group had embarked on a 132 day voyage from August 26, a Defence release here said. The group was scheduled to visit 15 countries, including India. “As part of the goodwill visit, Republic of Korea Naval Ships ROKS Kang Gam Chan and ROKS Daecheong arrived at Chennai Port on Wednesday. The visit is expected to bolster navy-to-navy cooperation and is an indicator of the importance given by the Republic of Korea to India,” it said. The visit will include courtesy calls, receptions, ship tours, professional exchanges and sport fixtures between the Naval personnel of Korea and India, it said adding the ships will leave the port Friday, September 18. PTI SA APR RGlast_img read more

Celebrity Game Entertaining Curtain-Raiser

first_imgA host of celebrities, Touch Football Australia sponsors, Australian Touch Football representatives and TFA staff and Board members took to the field before the second day of the 2015 Youth Trans Tasman Series to battle it out on the Sharks home ground, Remondis Stadium. Former League star and NRL Ambassador, Ben Ross, former Bulldogs player and now Steeden Sales Manager, Luke Patten, as well as representatives from TFA sponsors, X-Blades, BLK and Steeden were a part of the day, as well as several Cronulla Sharks players who ‘coached’ the teams. Australian representatives Jessica McCall, Scott Buckley, Leah Percy, Simon Lang and Patricia Michaelopoulos also took part in the game. Cronulla Sharks Mermaids, Lauren and Elyse were on the sidelines and also took to the field during the game, with Mermaids touchdowns resulting in four points as an incentive.David Fifita, acting as one of the coaches, told the crowd at half-time that his team should focus on bringing the coaching staff more ice blocks in the second half, due to the warm conditions.  Nothing could separate the two teams at full-time, with game finishing at 11-all, with plenty of fun had by all. Former Sharks player and the NRL Footy Show’s Beau Ryan also made an appearance and was a popular addition to the event, with many photo opportunities taking place with spectators and even the Australian and New Zealand teams in the lead up to the day two games. Ryan said although he couldn’t take to the field he enjoyed the experience. “It was pretty intense, I wish I could have been out there playing but it’s great to be back here around the guys. I’m really excited to watch Australia play New Zealand, it’s pretty full on, it’s a good day for Touch,” Ryan said on Saturday. “I’ve got a lot of appreciation for Benji (Marshall) and the guys that used to play Touch, we used to go watch them play all the time in Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour. I do appreciate how hard it is and how fit they are. Because I can’t play League anymore, who knows maybe I can play Touch (in the future).”Sharks player, Fa’amanu Brown was one of the several Sharks players involved on the sidelines helping out the teams and said it was fun to be a part of the day. “It was quite exciting, there a lot of celebrities here like Ben Ross, Beau Ryan and Luke Patten, he was a legend that I used to watch when I was a bit younger.”Australian Women’s Open representative, Leah Percy, who was also at the Youth Trans Tasman helping out the Australian Women’s 20’s team, also enjoyed her time on the field. “It was really good fun, it was a nice friendly game and it was a bit competitive too so it was good.”Please visit the TFA Facebook page – for photos from the event and stay tuned to the TFA YouTube channel – for highlights from the game. Related LinksCelebrity Gamelast_img read more

Schumacher in critical condition doctors say

first_imgPARIS- German legendary formula one race driver Michael Schumacher is in a critical condition after he hit his head on a rock in a skiing accident in the French Alps.The seven-times Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher is in a critical condition after a skiing accident in the French Alps, his doctors said in a press conference.The former race driver, who was unconscious when he was brought in a helicopter to the Grenoble hospital in southeast France, has suffered serious head injury and will have to undergo surgery, the hospital said in a statement. Formula 1 racer Olivier Panis, the last French race driver to win the Formula One Grand Prix, said he tried to visit Schumacher at Grenoble hospital.Brazilian Formula 1 racer Felipe Massa, currently driving for Ferrari, shared a picture of Schumacher on the online photo-sharing site, Instagram, and expressed his sympathies.‘’Michael, I’m praying for you my dear brother,’’ he wrote. ‘’I hope you get well as soon as possible, may God protect you,’’ he wrote on his Instagram.French Formula One driver Romain Grosjean wrote, ‘’All we can think about right now is Schumi and his family; I hope he gets well soon,’’ on his twitter account.The two doctors treating Schumacher, whose birthday is on January 3, said a new press meeting is going to be held today on Schumacher’s condition.last_img read more

The Haters Are Losing The War On Kickers

Over time, athletes get stronger and faster, come from a broader talent pool, are better trained, and benefit from ever-growing institutional knowledge of their chosen art. This is most readily apparent with such individual skills as swimming, running and jumping — or kicking a football.One of the biggest stories of the 2016 NFL wild-card round is how the Minnesota Vikings almost toppled the two-time defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks, only to see their hopes dashed when kicker Blair Walsh shanked an easy 27-yard field-goal attempt that would have given the Vikings the lead with 22 seconds left in the game. The aftermath was dramatic, and once again, the NFL kicking game was thrust into the spotlight for pretty much the only reason it ever is: A kicker screwed up. Perhaps lost in the hubbub is that this was the only field goal missed all weekend.1Kickers made 24 of 26 attempts, including extra points (which are no longer gimmes). Such is the plight of the NFL kicker: They do their jobs remarkably well week in and week out, but get attention for it only when something goes horribly wrong.But not at FiveThirtyEight! We will acknowledge greatness in its many forms.Last year around this time, we published “Kickers Are Forever,” my ode to NFL kickers and the eerily steady progress they have made over the past 80-plus years. In that article, I showed how the kicking improvement has been reliable and has changed things like the fourth-down math. In the offseason, the NFL decided to make kickers’ jobs harder by moving the extra point back from the 2-yard line to the 15-yard line.Predictably, this led to some missed extra points. This combined with a down week or two early in the season, and the notion started to emerge that kickers were having a bad year, sucking in some prominent commentators. We debunked the idea of a “Kick-pocalypse” at the time, but given my interest in everything kickers, I’ve once again taken a dive into the numbers to see if the kicking train has actually been in reverse, or stopped, or even slowed.Spoiler: It has not. Indeed, not only was field-goal kicking in the 2015 regular season almost exactly as good as we said it would be, but kickers were the best they’ve ever been at kicking off and punting — with dramatic effects on the game.2These are not as athletically “pure” as field-goal attempts — meaning the results of a kickoff or punt will also depend on a number of factors not in the kicker’s control (such as special teams units). One thing that I mentioned in my previous article is that — with no natural offset like defense to offense — the improvement in kicking has played a central role in the offensive increase we’ve seen over the past decades. However, it seems like the natural offsets are actually kickoffs and punts, which have somewhat counterbalanced the improvement in kickoffs by giving offenses longer fields. I’ve also identified the best players at the different aspects of the kicking game, and I have some awards to hand out to the best of the best.Field-goal kickers have improved almost exactly as predictedYes, field-goal kickers missed 71 extra points this season, after missing only eight last season. This 94.2 percent is the lowest since 1979. No, this is in no way bad or unexpected. Historically, it is quite high for 33-yard attempts — though for kicking, “historical” is not always a good frame for comparison. So to be clear, it is perfectly in line with projections for 2015 kickers.Kickers also made 84.5 percent of their non-extra-point kick attempts — essentially tied for the second-best all time.3This season finishes a hair behind 2008, when kickers made 84.5 percent exactly; in 2015 they made 84.4985 percent — about 1/100th of a single made kick behind. This, despite the fact that they attempted longer kicks than ever. Here’s a plot of field-goal percentage vs. attempt distance over the past 14 seasons: By this metric, kickers had their second-best season of all time (trailing only their miraculous 2013 campaign) and were within a fraction of a percentage point of their projections — well within the margin of error.Using our field goal expected value model, we can see what kickers scored the most and fewest points relative to expectation. I’ve included the results for all players below. Our champion for 2015 was the New England Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski, who ran 12.2 points above expectation by making 33 of 36 field-goal tries (for 9.2 points above expectation) and all 52 extra points (for 3.0 points above expectation). Under the new rules this year, 30 NFL kickers missed extra points; Gostkowski still hasn’t missed one since 2006 — his rookie season.The worst kicker was Tampa Bay rookie Kyle Brindza, who missed six of 12 field-goal attempts and two of eight extra points before being cut in October. He ran 12.0 points below expectation on just 20 kicks overall.Touchbacks are the new blackAnother area where kickers can provide significant value, and where we also see creepily constant improvement, is in kickoffs. Of course, kickoff results depend somewhat on special teams kick coverage (though hang time and location matter as well), but one mostly objective metric we can track is frequency of touchbacks (note that the large shift from 2010 to 2011 is a result of the NFL moving the kickoff spot up to the 35): In a big surprise to me — and a big loss for those of us who despise the punting game — punters and kickers seem to affect the game similarly. They each claim five of the 10 players with the highest value added this season,9Gay has been both a punter and kicker (and is identified as both by but handles only kickoffs in the NFL. with punters taking four of the top five spots. Although most coaches are probably costing their teams points by punting too much instead of going for it, the ones with better punters are costing their teams less.That doesn’t mean punters have quite caught up to their place-kicking counterparts, at least at the very top. Johnny Hekker — the league’s most valuable punter, as well as a guy who admits he’s more comfortable with his Pokémon deck than he is tackling people — falls 3.3 points short of Gostkowski as the most valuable overall. Therefore Stephen Gostkowski of the New England Patriots is our 2015 NFL Football Player10Who actually uses his feet. of the Year.Finally, here, for your perusal, is a sortable table of value added by all punters and kickers this season: The average attempt distance has seen a steady increase, which might logically result in a decrease in efficiency, but the continued improvement of kickers has outpaced the increase in distance.This includes them making 65 percent of their kicks from 50+ yards — second only to the 2013 kickers — despite taking a record 160 such attempts. Here’s how they performed over each distance category:The 2015 kickers struggled a little bit from middle distances of 40 to 50 yards. And by “struggled,” I mean they had top-five all-time seasons but didn’t set records.From 55 to 59 yards, they made 13 of 19 attempts, or 68 percent — the best rate of all time for that range. In the four seasons from 2002 through 2005 (the first four years of the data shown above) they made 13 of 42 such attempts, or 31 percent.To better compare seasons, I’ve created an adjusted field-goal percentage that accounts for the distances of each kick and gives us that season’s expected make percentage for a baseline kick from the 30-yard line (about a 48-yard attempt):4The average kick is much shorter than that, but that’s about the sweet spot for a distance with lots of attempts where performance over time varies the most. It’s also a spot that requires both distance and accuracy and is around the area of the field where kicker improvement has the biggest impact on fourth-down decisions. The differences here are pretty depressingly drastic for punt haters. In the 2002 and 2003 seasons, the average punt from 60 to 90 yards out (the part of the field where end zone locations don’t come into play) netted 37.3 yards, while in the 2014 and 2015 seasons those punts netted an average of 42.7 yards. That’s a 5-plus-yard difference on every punt!So perhaps punt coverage has gotten worse? Nope. If you look at raw punt distance, punts have gotten 4.7 yards longer on average (47.8 vs. 43.1). Although 2015 punters set records at virtually every distance, the absolute margins are smaller when you get closer to the goal. For kicks 30 to 60 yards from the end zone, the gain has been 2.4 yards — but those yards may mean more if they help trap an opponent in dangerous territory. (The value of a single yard only really spikes at both end zones and the outer reaches of field-goal range.)Note that I have not fully modeled punting improvement’s impact on fourth-down decisions as I have with kicking8Mostly because it’s more complicated. When you’re at the 40, the difference between 30 net yards and 32 net yards is greater because trapping an opponent close to its goal line is valuable (which, of course, is yet another reason why kicking a field goal and fourth and goal at the 1 is one of the worst plays in sports). Expected points models may help clear this up, but in some ways using the current models begs the question, since these models make assumptions about punting. — yet — but it’s bound to be significant. Factoring in 10 years of kicking improvement was enough to swing many borderline fourth-down decisions in favor of kicking. Of the 40 situations I looked at, 11 had differences of less than two-tenths of a point — which is probably about the amount that midfield punts have improved. If a fourth-down model doesn’t adequately account for these highly predictable improvements, it could be getting many “go or no” calls wrong.The punting expectation curve is relatively easy to model with a polynomial linear regression, which means we can find the expected distance of each punt and then compare a punter’s results with that expectation.The punter of the year isn’t even a close call. The 6-foot-5, 236-pound Johnny Hekker of the St. Louis Rams led the league with a 47.9-yard average punt and netted his team 271 yards relative to expectation in the process.On the other end of the spectrum, the Jets’ Ryan Quigley averaged 43.8 yards per kick and lost his team 297 yards relative to expectation.Football player of the year (who actually uses feet)If we convert those punting yards into points as we did with kickoffs above, we can get down to business and calculate each kicker’s complete value added from kicks.Note that some punters also kick off and some kickers kick off, but there are (presently) no kickers who also punt. So for this chart I’ve plotted value gained from kickoffs vs. value gained from punting and kicking combined. Bubble sizes correspond to the total value the player added or cost his team, in expected points: The rate of touchbacks has been increasing pretty steadily, both before and after the rule change, reaching an all-time high of 57.4 percent in 2015 (not counting onside kick attempts). The average starting field position has clearly flattened, as we would expect, though 2015 still set a record: The average opponent starting position was 21.7 yards from the team’s own end zone, beating last season’s previous best of 22.0.Still, those couple of yards here and there on kickoffs add up. For example, the Colts��� Pat McAfee (aka “The Boomstick”) had touchbacks on 67 of 74 (non-onside kick) kickoffs (91 percent). That’s close to 25 more touchbacks than we would expect from an average kicker. As a rule of thumb, a typical touchback is worth about 4 yards,5This season, the average non-touchback return came out to the 24-yard line. meaning McAfee’s touchbacks alone were likely worth in the neighborhood of 100 yards, or the equivalent of 6 to 8 points over the season. That may not sound like much, but any player (especially a non-QB) who can get his team half a point or so above average per game is doing great.To get a clearer picture of which kickers are most valuable, we can compare each kickoff to league expectation to find total yards saved and then convert those yards saved to point equivalents.6Using a rough conversion of 15 yards per point. (The full results are in the table below.) If you combine kickoff value with field-goal value, Gostkowski’s lead as place-kicking champion widens: Add in the 11.6 points the Patriots earned on kickoffs (not counting onside attempts, which would help Gostkowski even more as the Patriots recovered both of their attempts this season), and Gostkowski earned 23.8 points for them above expectation. Second place is Buffalo kickoff specialist Jordan Gay with 10.8 points above expectation (all from kickoffs).Don’t look now, but punters are also changing the gameFinally, let’s turn to the most reviled of all football plays: the punt. Why teams voluntarily give up possession all the time instead of fighting tooth and nail to keep the ball — particularly with good field position — is an ongoing mystery. But they are getting better at it. Indeed, in recent years, the improvement in punting is perhaps even more marked and consistent than it has been with kicking.7Unlike with field-goal kicking, this rate of improvement seems to be more recent. The average yards per punt appears to have hovered around 40 from the ’50s through the ’80s. Source: ESPNCORRECTION (Jan. 13, 7 p.m.): The original version of this post contained several points that were based on a critical calculation error discovered by a reader, Jason Hahn. In determining the best kickers of 2015, we attempted to exclude onside kicks, but because of an error in how we filtered our data, onside kick recoveries by the kicking team were treated as a touchdown instead of being ignored. After a recalculation, Stephen Gostkowski of the Patriots becomes the most valuable kicker, not Johnny Hekker of the Rams, who moves to second place. In earning kickoff points above expectation, Jordan Gay of the Bills takes second place, not Mike Nugent of the Bengals. The touchbacks kicked by Pat McAfee of the Colts were worth 6 to 8 points over the season, not 8 to 10 points. The rate of all touchbacks reached a high of 57.4 percent in 2015, not 56 percent. The Patriots earned 11.6 points on kickoffs, not 7.7 points. These and other smaller errors have been corrected in the text of the article and in the charts and tables. read more

Senior goalkeeper excels on and off field for Bucks

Last Sunday, the Ohio State field hockey team won its Big Ten opener at home against Indiana. A last-minute goal propelled the Buckeyes to a thrilling 3-2 victory. This season, the team is led by an experienced defense, allowing just 1.3 goals per game. Senior goalkeeper Lindsay Quintiliani, who was elected team captain, anchors the defense. Quintiliani is a four-year starter in the program and owner of 13 career shutouts, including three in the last four games.Quintiliani began playing field hockey after being encouraged by her friends in 7th grade. Within her first month of playing she settled on being goalie. Ten years later, she’s still in the net and is just two victories short of becoming the all-time leader in OSU history.“I obviously want to win more than two more games this season,” Quintiliani said. “I don’t really like to think about [the record]. It’s not something I want to think about during a game.”What Quintiliani is thinking about this season is winning another Big Ten title. That goal is shared by the entire team and has been since the end of last season, when the Buckeyes suffered a 2-1 overtime loss to Iowa, Quintiliani said.The Bucks can move a step closer to winning the conference this Friday when they play a pivotal game against Penn State in Happy Valley, Pa. A victory would be a big step toward winning the Big Ten and would extend the Buckeyes’ current six-game win streak.The last time the field hockey team won the Big Ten was in 2006, when Quintiliani was a true freshman. She lists winning the conference as the most exciting moment in her career but says because she was just a freshman, she didn’t enjoy being conference champs as much as she should have. That drives her even more to win another Big Ten title, she said.That season, Quintiliani stepped in and started all 19 games for the Buckeyes and posted five shut outs. “That year, I drew confidence from my coach and teammates,” she said. She added that she received encouraging e-mail after a tough loss that kept her going. Quintiliani has since displayed no shortage of confidence in her career at OSU.With a Big Ten championship already to her credit, along with four career Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors, including two this season, and two major OSU records (shutouts and victories) within reach, Quintiliani is poised to finish her career strong.When the star goalkeeper isn’t shutting out opponents on the field, she’s racking up awards for her outstanding work in the classroom. She has been selected as an NFHCA National Academic Squad member three times and is a three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete. She’s also a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and the recipient of the team’s Harriet Reynolds Scholar-Athlete Award.Quintiliani is studying speech and hearing at OSU and is currently applying for graduate school to pursue a career in speech pathology. read more

Defense special teams carry Buckeyes to victory

No offense, no problem.Ohio State’s (5-1, 3-0) defense and special teams fueled a 31-13 win over previously unbeaten Wisconsin (5-1, 2-1) Saturday at The Horseshoe.Three of the Buckeyes’ four touchdowns were non-offensive.“When you get two defensive touchdowns and then a kickoff return touchdown, that’s more than you could ever wish for,” coach Jim Tressel said.Senior safety Kurt Coleman returned from a one-game suspension and returned an 89-yard interception for a touchdown to give OSU a 7-0 lead. “I don’t want to take much of the credit for it,” Coleman said. “It was the whole defense that really helped me out with that pick. But it’s definitely a great feeling for me to come back after a week off and really help this team out as much as I can.”After intercepting quarterback Terrelle Pryor, the Badgers faked a field goal and rushed for a 12-yard touchdown to tie the game.That score was the only touchdown Wisconsin managed on offense, even though they possessed the football for nearly 43 of the 60 minutes. The Badgers certainly had opportunities, as they ran 89 plays to OSU’s 40.Buckeye coaches “always preach to the defense that we have to be ready to go 60-plus minutes, and more if we have to,” Coleman said. “At the same time, we definitely were looking for a few breaks out there, but we know that we’ve got to be ready for anything at any moment.”Still, the Buckeye defense never really tired, ceding just a pair of field goals after the trick-play touchdown.OSU’s defensive line “got pressure on their quarterback the entire game, and you could tell that he was rattled,” senior linebacker Austin Spitler said. “We did a good job of rotating and keeping players fresh, so we were able to wear them down.”For the brief time the Buckeye offense spent on the field during the first half, it struggled. Pryor led the group to just one first down before an 88-yard touchdown drive gave OSU a 14-10 halftime lead.Pryor connected with sophomore receiver DeVier Posey for a 32-yard score.“We knew we needed to get a touchdown when the score was 10-7,” Posey said. “Coach told us that we were going to get a touchdown, so we pulled together as an offense and got it done.”Wisconsin started the second half with the ball, but only until safety Jermale Hines returned an interception 32 yards for another touchdown, padding OSU’s lead to 11.“We strive to score a defensive touchdown every week,” senior safety Anderson Russell said. “So it was huge to get two.”Following a Wisconsin field goal, senior receiver Ray Small returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards to push the Buckeyes’ advantage to 28-13.“It was almost like he was shot out of a gun,” Tressel said. “I saw him take that thing and he downshifted and he was gone.”Despite such a significant advantage in time of possession, Wisconsin never found a rhythm on offense. Sophomore running back John Clay, who entered the game fourth in the nation in rushing, was limited to 59 yards on 20 carries.“It came down to stopping the run first,” defensive lineman Cameron Heyward said. “Clay is a great back. And after that, we have to get pressure.”OSU’s defense placed constant pressure on Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien, sacking him six times.“We just basically attacked,” Heyward said. “We just had so many guys that we could rotate in and out, that we just kept getting off the ball.”Overall, just about every offensive statistic favored Wisconsin. The Badgers recorded 22 first downs to OSU’s eight, and Wisconsin doubled the Buckeyes’ total yardage output, 368 to 184.Even so, OSU’s trio of touchdown returns were too much for Wisconsin to overcome.“Anytime you give Ohio State points without their offense being on the field, you’re going to have problems,” Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. “I’m glad to be heading back home to Wisconsin.”The victory gives OSU sole possession of first place in the Big Ten, with a 3-0 conference record. Iowa, the only other team with an unblemished league record, sits at 2-0.The Buckeyes travel to West Lafayette, Ind., to take on Purdue Saturday at noon. read more