How to Stop Sports Injuries
This is a simple story on how to reduce time lost due to injury.
I was originally going to call it 'what is proof?'. But then I remembered that sometimes I like people to actually read my posts, so I gave it a catchier, but far less clever title.
I'm in a group on Facebook for coaches around the world and someone posted a question recently suggesting a football (soccer) coach stopping players from trying to kick the ball really hard, because it will increase their risk of injury.
My response was that they were right, it will increase the risk of injury, but kicking hard is important so the solution is actually to make sure the child is physically able to kick hard without injury. I went on to say that can be done with some simple movement exercises 5 minutes at the beginning of practice, and 3 minutes at the end, every time (the durations are largely irrelevant, the point is regular, small periods of time).
Their response was completely reasonable. They asked for proof that those exercises reduced injury, how much they reduced injury, and how that was determined. Completely reasonable questions. Interesting though, no question about what those exercises actually are.
It got me thinking about proof and science. Because I didn't know the answer to those questions. I haven't actually done the research or read the studies. But my answer was:
- I have been fortunate to work with some of the best S&C coaches and medical staff in the world, in a couple of different sports
- Without exception, based on their research and experience, they recommended exercises done in this framework
- I then implemented those exercises, every practice, every match
- I did not do a double blind study
- I didn't wait for a year before implementing them so I could track time lost due to injury before and then after (even though this is still not remotely valid scientifically)
- Anecdotally is the only way I had of assessing their impact, and they made a huge difference
- I can say that after a couple of years, injuries to backs, knees and shoulders reduced
- I can also say that the ability to jump, move in a low position and execute some skills more effectively from a technical perspective increased
So, what is proof? I got advice from international experts that was specifically aimed at the age, gender, development level and long term goals of the children I coach. Then I implemented a plan immediately, and I'm very very happy with the results.
I think that is proof. I don't know if it is science. And I do know it is good coaching.