The USA is a sports overloaded country. There are millions of kids every year who participate in some form of organized sport and a large number of them get injured. Coaches can play a huge role in not only the prevention of injuries, but also the return to play. Some coaches or organizations are blessed to have Certified Athletic Trainers working with them (Ok, so I’m a little biased.) Many other coaches, on the other hand, have to go it alone. It was this aspect that got me thinking…Do coaches really know what they are doing in terms of injury prevention or care? I would say most likely, no, but it totally depends on the coach. Back in the day, you had the old school coach who said “water breaks show weakness”. Well that’s just crazy. Any sane person knows that dehydration can lead to a whole host of problems and anyone who is exercising (particularly in hot or humid conditions) is going to sweat and they need some way to replenish that fluid. Studies have shown that athletes (or the active population) need to drink approximately 8 oz (some studies will say different amounts) for every pound of weight lost during exercise to replenish your system. Sports drinks are a good alternative to water if you prefer but good old fashioned water works too. You also have the old school coaches who say “rub some dirt on it”. I’d like to think that this was more of a joke and was basically telling the kid to suck it up but you never know. Putting dirt in an open wound…NEVER a good idea (just wanted to throw that out there in case anyone was unsure.)
My personal pet peeve is when teams jog, stretch, shoot (or something), so the players are all nice and warmed up and then the coach comes in and sits them down to talk about plays or the practice plan for the next 20 minutes. That whole process of jogging and stretching and what-not was just eliminated because the coach wanted to talk. Coaches…I beg you…talk before they warm up or after practice or talk for a shorter amount of time. Once an athlete is warmed up, those effects only last about 15 minutes or so if the athlete just sits around. If you absolutely MUST talk for 20 minutes, please give them time to warm up again. Making you’re your athletes are warmed up prior to exercise (not just at some point that day) will help decrease the chances of an injury, specifically muscle pulls.
Other good suggestions for coaches who want to move into the 21st Century:
1. Pick up any loose equipment around the playing surface. Balls, bats, jump ropes, etc lying around can lead to ankle sprains if an athlete were to land on it.
2. Give adequate water breaks…especially if it’s hot or humid outside (even for indoor sports)
3. Don’t move a joint if it looks deformed (like a dislocation). If you aren’t trained to reduce dislocations…DON’T. Just because you’ve done it once to yourself or a friend, doesn’t mean that you should attempt it on a player.
4. If you suspect an injury, seek professional medical help. Not all ankle sprains are the same or should be treated the same.
5. You are responsible for injuries that happen whether they were preventable or not, so don’t just ignore them.
~ Missync MS, ATC, LAT ~