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September 2009

Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic

Student Tom Ball: Mental Focus for Physical Success

What is the most challenging thing about being a chiropractic student for exercise physiologist and cyclist Thomas Ball? Sitting down all day!  However, developing the mental focus for studying and class work helps Tom compete in cycling. He says many people don't realize how much mental focus is necessary for athletic competition.

It must work. He placed second in the South Carolina State Cycling Championships on August 29th at Fork Shoals, SC—two weeks before National Boards. "I find racing to be a stress reliever," Tom says. "You can't think about school when you are riding inches away from another cyclist around a curve at 30 miles an hour."  He was surprised to do as well as he did since he trained less than usual before a race, but he says his mental game was strong.

Thomas Ball, Sherman Student
Sherman College is a sponsor of Tom Ball's cycling team.

To maintain a “balanced” life, Tom has chosen to take a reduced course load so that he can spend more time with his wife Clair and daughter Emily, stay healthy, and still have time to work part time. Some of that quality time he spends at swim meets where Emily is a state-level competitor. His wife, Clair, was a junior Olympic swimmer and she is an inspiration and a source of support for both Tom and Emily.

Because of his part-time schedule, Tom feels fortunate to be able to get to know students from many different quarters.

Tom trains and races with the Spinx racing team which is a group of cyclists from both Spartanburg and Greenville.  The team trains in Greenville at the winter bike league where US Pro Champion and Tour De France cyclist George Hincapie (who happens to be a resident of Greenville) often joins them through the winter months on these long (up to 100 miles) and cold training rides.

Race team
The Spinx Racing Team - Tom is the second from the left on the front row.

Tom has a strong background in health and fitness with a bachelor's degree in Health Fitness, and a master's in Exercise Physiology.  Information from his master's thesis, Effects of Carbohydrate-Electrolyte Drinks Taken during Exercise, was published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition, and in Medicine Science Sports and Exercise. Lance Armstrong's coach, Chris Carmichael, referenced Tom’s publication in his book Food for Fitness: Eat Right to Train Right. Tom is also a certified triathlon and cycling coach with 20 years of experience.

He chose to change careers after a severe back injury (Spondylolisthesis L5), which led him to take enough ibuprofen to cause an ulcer, and forced him to give up his previous career. Tom says the injury had a limited response from other healing modalities, such as acupuncture and physical therapy. He wanted to avoid surgery on the advice of his father, a retired surgeon, so he tried chiropractic and was amazed with the results.  Tom soon developed a strong belief in the philosophical aspect of maintaining health through chiropractic.

His goal has always been to help people stay healthy, and he considered studying to be an orthopedic physician on his way to studying exercise physiology. He came to Sherman, "twice as old as half the people here, " but that hasn't deterred this driven athlete and trainer. He particularly likes the location and the weather, being near his family, and he enjoys the straight philosophy and friendly atmosphere here.

Tom has had two “wise” mentors, his chiropractor in Natick, Massachusetts, Bradley Weiss, D.C, ('85) who helped him recover his health and then encouraged him to look at chiropractic as a career, and his present chiropractor, Nicholas Wise, D.C. ('00), who helps him stay “straight” for maximuml health and performance.

Tom Ball
Wise Chiropractic is also a team sponsor.

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Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic
P.O. Box 1452, Spartanburg, SC 29304