Smart Moves

Local sports trainers offer sound advice for avid athletes, weekend warriors and every active body in between.


Left:Jason Nordby, conditioning coach for for the Milwaukee Admirals.

Above: Allison Hocking, licensed athletic trainer for the Milwaukee Milkmen

Whether you’re a pro athlete playing for the Milwaukee Admirals, Milwaukee Wave or Milwaukee Milkmen, or weekend sports and activities give you occasional aches and pains, our home teams’ athletic trainers can help you stay on top of your game.

Milwaukee Milkmen licensed athletic trainer Allison Hocking is the first responder on the scene when a ballplayer gets hit by a pitch or pulls a hamstring. Hocking became the trainer for the Milkmen — the new independent minor league baseball franchise based in Franklin — through her affiliation with Ascension Health Care.

“I love working with the human body and working with athletes,” Hocking says. “I’m not the kind of person who can be behind a desk.”

Hocking notes that chronic baseball injuries like shoulder or elbow pain and lower back strains can develop over time, or they can be acute, such as an injury caused by outfielders colliding. She diagnoses the problem, applies first aid when necessary, and determines whether the player needs to be pulled from the game.

To help prevent injuries, Hocking recommends that athletes play more than one sport: “Not only will it keep you from getting overuse injuries, it also makes you a better athlete. Let’s say you’re a baseball player – when you play basketball, you’re working muscles and different parts of the body that will help you in baseball.”

Amateur athletes, says Hocking, should work on core strength and get into speed and agility training to keep injuries at bay.

Ricardo Vidal-Chavez, certified athletic trainer for the Milwaukee Wave, works with a player.

Milwaukee Admirals strength and conditioning coach Jason Nordby also relies on player workouts to help minimize chronic injuries. In hockey, he says, shoulder issues are common, as are knee injuries. During workouts, he helps players focus on hips, ankles and shoulder mobility and strength. Nordby pays close attention to back muscles with a regime that includes pull-ups.

Nordby points out that sleep is an important factor for each of us to stay in optimum shape. For athletes under age 25, he recommends nine-a-half hours of sleep, and for those over 25, nine hours per night is ideal. And make sure your diet is heavy on lean proteins and a wide variety of vegetables.

“We also talk about hydration a lot with our players,” Nordby adds. “We see guys who lose one to two pounds per game, sometimes six or seven pounds. Studies show that after losing two pounds in sweat, you start to lose performance on the ice.” Nordby says a good rule of thumb for athletes is to drink about half their body weight in fluid ounces during the day, and he prescribes one bottle of water for each pound of weight lost during a game.

Like Hocking, Nordby recommends that all athletes participate in more than one sport. For hockey players, he suggests tennis, swimming, soccer and, for agility, spikeball.

Responding to injuries and helping players recover and return to the field is just part of the job for Ricardo Vidal-Chavez, certified athletic trainer for the Milwaukee Wave. Sometimes when players come to him with their concerns, he applies a bit of psychology as well.

“The athletes understand that we are there for them. We choose the profession because we like to help people, and they trust us with so many things,” Vidal-Chavez explains.  

To that end, Vidal-Chavez sometimes accompanies players to their medical appointments so that he can interpret for those who need it and have a clear understanding of the doctors’ orders. The team, he notes, includes not just American athletes, but players from Brazil, Tibet, Haiti, Korea and Mexico.

“That’s something that I love — constantly learning from everybody, and their cultures and point of view,” Vidal-Chavez says.

settings, the performing arts ... even NASA has athletic trainers!” MKE