Marcus Lattimore, Running Back for The University of South Carolina
If you keep up with sports, there’s no doubt that you heard about the injury to Marcus Lattimore this past weekend. While I’m not a South Carolina fan, I loved watching him run the ball. Even though he was coming off of ACL surgery last season, he was still a great back with an incredible future in front of him. While I’ve never met him, a lot of people have great things to say about him as a person. I’m one of many people who is hoping a praying for a full recovery for him.
Now comes the really unfortunate part of things. I’m sure that Lattimore lifted, ran, conditioned, rehabbed, and did everything else that he should have done to be 100% healthy and to prevent any type of injury. I’m sure that his ATC’s, PT’s, and S&C Coaches did everything they could to prepare him for the physical demands of playing football in the SEC. The unfortunate thing is that no matter how good of a job we all do to prepare the athlete, not every injury is avoidable in sports. One of the major purposes of a quality strength and conditioning program is to help prevent injuries. Unfortunately, we can’t prevent all of them. Lattimore is a prime example of this. He has suffered two knee injuries in the last two seasons. Both were contact injuries and I’m not sure that either could have been termed as “preventable”.
I had a discussion with one strength coach recently about this very topic. He was frustrated because several of his athletes had recently had season ending injuries. He knew that the kids worked hard in the off-season and he hated to see them have significant injuries. I pointed out to him that no matter how good the program, sometimes injuries just happen. Unfortunately, they are a part of sports. I know that this didn’t really cheer him up, but I felt that it was accurate.
Of course, his feelings on the issue are a great example of how Coaches, Athletic Trainers, etc feel about their athletes. We all want the very best for every athlete that we work with. We want them to excel on the field, in the classroom, and in life. We also want them to stay healthy. When they don’t, we all take a look at the situation and wonder if there was more that we could have done or if there is more that we can do to get them well quicker. That’s the nature of a good coach and a good person. It’s also what fuels the fire for some strength coaches to never stop searching for a better way. Because yes, injuries do happen in sports. However, that doesn’t mean that we should just accept that fact and stop trying to eliminate all of the injuries that we can.