Here is a short post that I put on my other site, My Kid Plays Sports. While it’s more geared to sport coaches and parents, it still might be worth a quick read.
I found this article about sports specialization for softball players. If you know me at all, you know that I’m not a fan of kids specializing in one sport. Two points from the article did encourage kids not to specialize:
I spent this past weekend at a volleyball tournament. Most of the players were 12 – 14 years old. With so much volleyball to watch, I tried to use it as a chance to gain a better perspective of the sport. I was trying to look at it from both an ATC viewpoint and a strength and conditioning one. I made several observations, some of which I’ll post later this week.
Today I thought that I would discuss the one that stood out the most. One team had a player that I feel is a recipe for a future ACL injury. First off, I hope that I’m 100% wrong. Now for the facts. The girl was already wearing a knee sleeve on one knee, and probably not by coincidence, she had a bad habit of landing only on that same leg after a jump. She was also somewhat overweight. Now, please don’t read too much into the fact that I said that she’s overweight. I don’t believe that fact itself guarantees a torn ACL. I do however believe that it could contribute if other factors are present. My major concerns revolved around her landing mechanics. While I don’t know the girl or her medical history, I would guess that poor mechanics have led to previous knee problems. My question is this: has anyone else realized this? Have her coaches noticed during the endless hours of practice and games? What about her doctor, assuming she saw one about her knee? The next question is when will they work on her landing mechanics? We all know that poor landing mechanics lead to bad things, especially for female athletes. Unfortunately, the first time this gets addressed may be in rehab after an ACL repair. The sad thing is that a good jumping / landing program might be able to lessen the chance of a serious knee injury ever occurring to this girl.
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If you deal with high level athletes, overtraining is always a concern. Of course, even with younger athletes it can become an issue especially if the parents are pushing the kid. While there is a certain level of work that has to be put in for an athlete to maximize their potential, more isn’t always better when it comes to training. Overtraining can cause decreases in performance and leave athletes with an increased chance of injury. Obviously this is the opposite of what we are trying to do. Overtraining occurs over of a period of time when the athlete is not able to adequately recover from training. It doesn’t happen just because you have one hard workout.
So how can you monitor your athletes for overtraining? Here are a few ways:
While there are other more expensive ways to monitor for overtraining, such as blood testing, for most of us these are not feasible or necessary. If you use the above methods you will be able to do an effective job of monitoring your athletes. This should enable them to continue to improve without any issues.
For the football fans in the U.S., our glut of football excitement is about to run out. The NCAA football season ended when Alabama beat LSU. The NFL playoffs are in full swing and soon the Super Bowl will be played and over. So as to not forget our neighbors to the north, the CFL offseason is well underway. Of course, just because the season is over doesn’t mean that things are any less hectic for the coaches, players, and support personnel. No matter what level you are at, this is the period to get better. Coaches are looking for better players through scouting and recruiting. Even high school coaches scour the hallways looking to encourage a “diamond in the rough” to play next year. As for players, they are all (or should be) working to get better. This is the time of year to improve strength, power, and athletic skills so that they can be a better player. This can be just in preparation for next season, or it can be to get ready for various combines and tryouts. It is a very busy time of year for all involved.
If you are a player, right now you should be on a solid program to develop you strength, power, speed, agility, flexibility, balance, and coordination. If you aren’t, you are going to miss out. You will miss out on the chance to excel on the field and possibly miss out on a scholarship or pro contract. Years ago most players didn’t train during the off-season. Nowadays, if you don’t train during the off-season, you probably won’t see the field during the season. If you ask the guys from Alabama, LSU, or any other major college football program, this is when they start to get ready for next year. It doesn’t start in August, it starts now. They lift weights, run agility drills, and do anything else that is necessary to get better. So what should you (or your players) be doing during January?
I’ve written previously about training barefoot and the possible benefits. It seems like the concept is becoming more popular lately. There are more books being published and the concept is getting more coverage in the mainstream media. Recently an article on barefoot training appeared in the Huffington Post. With all of the recent interest, I thought it might be a good idea to mention a few tips before throwing away all of your training shoes.
I’ve been wondering what the new training “fad” will be for 2012. Maybe barefoot training will be it. Ok, maybe not if Nike has anything to say about it haha. Regardless, give barefoot training a try. It will help your feet to gain strength and movement that they haven’t had since you were a kid.
As everyone was putting out their “best of 2011” lists recently, I came across a post that goes right along with my thoughts on sports specialization. It brings up some good points. Rather than rehash the post, I encourage you to read it and see how well it echos my thoughts. It also gives us a few new points to think about in the sports specialization argument. Check it out here How young is too young to specialize in a sport?
Happy New Year!!
Have a great 2012!!
There was a good article published recently about developing young athletes. It focuses on sports specialization in young athletes. Besides the normal reasons I have used to put down the practice of early specialization, it cites another major one. It points out that according to much of the work on Long Term Athletic Development, if a child specializes at too early of an age, they will fail to develop basic athletic skills. The lack of these skills will then limit their overall athletic potential. I believe that this is 100 % correct. I recently watched a high school sporting event. While I was at the event, I spent time analyzing the basic athletic skills of some of the athletes (running form, agility, etc). While some of the players were certainly gifted, it was obvious that many of them had never been coached on basic running form and footwork. Many of the athletes on the field were getting by purely on natural ability. I saw some of the fastest players on the field display poor form. If they had been trained to run well previously, they would have been much faster. Not only would they have made their team better, they would have been better individually. Obviously that should appeal to those who are chasing college scholarships.
So, while early sport specialization can increase the chance of injury for your child, it can also actually limit their overall athletic development. Ironically, isn’t that the opposite of what certain people keep saying? It seems that many coaches continue to convince parents and kids that playing one sport year round is the way to go. My advice when you hear statements like this – don’t believe it!!! Give your child a chance to try other sports, train to develop their overall athletic skills, and last but not least, to be a kid.
I spent this past weekend at the USTA Tennis Performance & Injury Prevention Conference. I always enjoy going to events like this and learning new things. I also think that listening to the perspectives of others helps to make your mind work. It forces you to rethink the way that you have always done things. Hopefully this makes me a better coach.
The presenters did an excellent job of giving info that was useful for all that were in attendance. This says a lot because the audience was made up of individuals with all types of backgrounds – MD’s, Athletic Trainers, Physical Therapists, Tennis Coaches, and Strength & Conditioning Coaches from a multitude of settings. Presentations covered the biomechanics of the tennis strokes, strength and conditioning, warm ups, and there were many sessions on injuries specific to tennis. While each speaker had their own experiences and point of view to share, many of the presenters ended up “on the same page” with some of their advice. There also didn’t seem to be any big egos present among the presenters or attendees. To top it all off, the USTA did a great job of making everything was run smoothly.
I learned a lot about that not only will help me when I train tennis players, but some of the info will help me to train other athletes also. Look for some of tidbits that I learned in my future blog posts and newsletters.
If you know me, it’s no secret that I love college football. It’s much more exciting to me than watching the NFL. As we get near the end of the season, it’s always interesting to hear the fans perceptions of their favorite teams coaching staff. If a program isn’t heading in the right direction, it doesn’t take long for the fans to start calling for coaches to be fired. Of course, if a team seems to fall apart late in games or gets lots of injuries, the fans always blame the strength and conditioning staff. I have to say though, that the best comment that I have heard about this recently was that this is the staff member that fans are least able and qualified to evaluate. I’ve got to agree with this. Here are a few reasons why: