Nobody wants to be sidelined with an injury.
Nobody wants to watch their kid suffer through pain and frustration of a major injury and long road to recovery.
Nobody wants to be the coach with a star athlete on the bench because of a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in the knee.
While no one wants to be the victim of an ACL injury, youth sports continue to have the highest rates, sending athletes out of play and putting their dreams on hold. Soccer, basketball, football, and other sports that involve jumping, sprinting, and quick changes in speed or direction are at high-risk for a devastating, season-ending “pop”…a ligament injury in the knee that causes immediate pain, swelling, and instability, and typically requires surgery followed-by a year of rehab to return to full play. What most people don’t realize is that 70% of these unfortunate ACL injuries could have been prevented.
ACL injuries most often occur from a twisting maneuver at the knee during landing, deceleration, or pivoting. Because the athlete is not directly struck in the knee by another player or object, it is referred to as a “non-contact” injury. If the injury is a result of a direct blow to the knee from contact with another player or object, that would be considered a “contact” injury. Non-contact injuries can be avoided over 50% of the time with proper “injury prevention training.”
3 Essentials for Injury Prevention Training
- Injury prevention training for athletes begins with teaching them proper movement patterns. By learning to move with better alignment and mechanics, they will be better equipped to move safely and avoid injuries in real-life scenarios. When the knee is in better alignment between the foot and hip, the result is more effective muscle firing and better balance of forces across the knee to protect it from injury.
- An important element of injury prevention training is to practice and repeat good movement patterns (even if it feels easy!) and to train your body to move that way without thinking about it. The movements will become more natural, the supportive musculature will become stronger, and the impact on overall performance will be evident as well.
- The drills or exercises should be sport-specific, meaning the movements and positions should resemble actions that the athlete does in their sport
Injury Prevention Training = Performance Training
Injury Prevention programs exist and are proven to work, but they are vastly UNDER-UTILIZED. Experts suggest the lack of compliance is because it would take time away from practicing “skills.” Many people think that practicing “skills” is the only way to get better. What they don’t realize is that developing more efficient movement patterns has a great impact on helping an athlete get better at their sport too. In fact, injury prevention training should really be called “performance” training, because performance is what it ultimately improves.
When a strong foundation is in place, with better alignment, and more efficient movement patterns, an athlete’s training efforts for speed, agility, quickness, and power will be exponentially more effective. Performance enhancement is a direct result of a good injury prevention program. The body learns to react quickly and execute appropriately whether it is trying to avoid an injury or out-perform an opponent.
Safety and Performance drills without Giving up “Practice” Time?
If injury prevention training is so effective at reducing injuries and enhancing performance, then why doesn’t everyone do it? If you’re wondering why your athlete is not getting this type of training at practice or during weight-training, you’re right to question it.
Many people simply don’t know what to do or how to coach these types of exercises. It’s not necessarily their fault…it is a relatively new concept and isn’t standard knowledge yet.
Some people think it takes too much time. On the contrary, an injury prevention program takes only 15-20 minutes, and can be used in place of a traditional warm-up. There are programs already designed for this, so coaches don’t have to reinvent the wheel or take time away from practice. For example, the FIFA 11+ is a warm-up routine for soccer teams to do before training and games, and has been proven to be effective at reducing injuries. (You can download the manual as a pdf and learn how to teach athletes to correctly perform the drills.)
In my personal experience, I have found that there are athletes and parents who want to prevent major injuries, like torn ACLs, and they would do whatever it takes if someone just told them what to do.
You can empower athletes to become educated and aware of their movements, which will benefit them this season and for the rest of their lives. You can give them the tools to succeed so they avoid injuries and perform better than ever. Our ACL Strong program is designed to help individual athletes as well as coaches implement injury prevention training without sacrificing practice time. We know that coaches truly have a lot to fit in to a limited amount of time, so ACL Strong takes some pressure off by working directly with the athletes and guiding them step-by-step through a proven system to protect their knees and ankles, develop more stability, and perform better in their sport. You can learn more about ACL Strong here (individual and team registration available).
To get started with our team program for injury prevention and performance, contact us and we will help you figure out if it’s the right fit. We have teams return to our program year after year because it is so easy to implement and incredibly effective when repeated every 6-12 months. The athletes LOVE it, their performance SHOWS it, and the team gets a competitive advantage!