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Poor training can lead to injuries
I have worked with many youth athletes who perform at the national level and/or for their college or university. Usually when they come to me with injuries, it is due to overuse. In other words, they have used their bodies to play their sport, and only their sport, for too long at high intensities.
Too often, the movements and exercises or drills created for the purpose of enhancing their ability to execute their technical skills are usually overlooked, or they are not taken as seriously as they should be. Give a footballer a move to do with a football and it would appear that the athlete has sound conditioning. Ask a volleyballer to spike or golfer to drive the ball, and you would think likewise. It isn’t until the movements are broken down and the muscles isolated, or applied the same fitness components in a different way, that you realise just how overspecialised their bodies have really become.
Is a footballer only ever required to move with a ball on their feet? Certainly not. Footballers are often in situations where they have to negotiate a situation after a tackle that has broken their momentum in mid-stride from which he/she is required to recover while maintaining possession of the ball. Yet, when I give a footballer a bear crawl to do, or crab walk, oftentimes the form is deplorable…inefficient.
A volleyballer, with a tonne of spiking power, many times ends up with lower back pain. Why? Sometimes, it is because she hasn’t been taught that even though she is required to hyperextend her shoulder and torso that her core is never released. Such a manoeuvre would leave the spine lacking support, develop muscle imbalances, and generally just vulnerable to injury,
While I was still earning my bachelor’s at Troy University, I had to work with almost every Division-one sport we had. American football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s golf, women’s volleyball, male and female cheerleaders and every single one of them was part of the strength and conditioning programme at the school. As a member of the university dance team, I remember we had to be on a strength programme as well.
Most of the athletes started their routine with a dots drill. Five dots, like on a dice cube, printed on rubber mats were all lined up along the corridor that led to the weight room entrance. It served as a good warm up to get the heart rate up, and a way to target the fast twitch muscle fibers. Any fast-paced sport, whether that pace occurs in spurts or throughout play, fast and precise footwork and placement is very important. Reaction time in response to plays made or the beep of a starter, these are all components that can be targeted and developed in young bodies. Regardless of what school the athlete came from or how important you were on the team, no male or female was above doing any part of the workout routine, from drills to stretches.
Before the start of field training, the footballers all took up positions on the field to which they were assigned, and made to do their warm-up as a team. It was something that was taken very seriously by the entire coaching team and therefore, by the athletes. I remember one of our linebackers being one of the most flexible athletes I knew of, of any of the teams, outside of the female cheerleaders. I thought about that time in my life after I went to my yoga class, instructed by a male, and realised that in the class of ten, there were as many males in the class as there were females. Young guys, all seemingly quite athletic, and taking their practice very seriously. For some strange reason, flexibility has been seen by guys as something for girls to focus on, not men. Perhaps this mindset is slowly changing.
In T&T, we are still feeding too much off natural talent. We are waiting for someone to show themselves as gifted and to take their own chances on their own talent before rendering any real support. Talent scouting should be more deliberate and more calculated than that. Once talent has been identified, the best job to develop all aspects of the child while here should be done physically, academically, mentally, socially and spiritually. Then would we really be equipping the youths with the best chance to succeed in the international arenas.
Asha De Freitas-Moseley is a certified athletic trainer with the National Athletic Trainers’ Association of the USA. She has over ten years’ experience working with athletes and other members of the active population, rehabilitating and returning them from injury to full play. She can be reached at #17 Henry Pierre Street, St James. Tel: 221-4237.
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