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Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Finding the Balance

We have all heard of the problems caused by sport specialization, many were discussed in our previous post The Hype Behind Sport Specialization  .   However there is a new trend occurring with youth sport, the do everything phenomenon.   This seems to be the counter balance to the specialization phenomenon.  What this is creating is a new problem that is erasing the benefits of being a multi-sport athlete.  Young athletes are participating in multiple sports in one season.  The point of children doing multi sport was to give them a wide variety of skills and mental experiences.  What is happening though is children are being shuttled from sport to sport in one day.  Indoor soccer practice to hockey game or tumbling practice to dance practice.  
Situations like increase the child's level of fatigue, increased chance of injury and burnout.  All typical outcomes for sport specialization as well.   We tend to forget about scheduling time for play, sleep and homework for our young athletes.  During a recent seminar a group of young athletes were shocked when told they should be getting between 8-10 hours of sleep a night.  They pointed out that after practice and homework, they are closer to 6-7 hours.  It is important to note that athletes who get less than 8 hours of sleep per night are 1.7 times more likely to suffer an injury.  
The goal of participating in multiple sports was to broaden the young athletes development and was geared towards year round sport.  Multiple sports should be played over multiple seasons.  This allows for our youth athletes to focus on one sport at a time, focus on school and as well as allowing them to have time to be KIDS.  
So if you are finding it exhausting from running from sport to sport, think about this is effecting the kids.  
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Friday, 27 February 2015

What Makes a Great Coach?

Being  a coach in any sport is not an easy task, beyond being technically and tactically sound, what else can you do to become a better coach.  These are  few tips that came from instructing the Hockey Canada Safety Course. 
1) Be a Good Role Model - demonstrate to your athletes good life skills, teach them to win gracefully, learn from their mistakes and failures.  
2) Create a Safe & Respectful Environment - Not only will skills develop better when athletes feel safe, your athletes will achieve more success as those skills develop.  Respect plays a major role in safety be it respect for your competition, team-mates or training partners, the respect you give the athletes and show to other coaches and officials. 
3) Continue Education - Educate yourself. Take courses, be it to improve your technical or tactical repertoire as it is always important to fill your tool box.  It is also important to take courses or seminars that will improve player health, safety and well being.  First Aid, CPR, and injury courses, nutrition, goal setting, anything that can improve you or give you tools to improve your athletes is a benefit. 
4) Take in Account the Whole Athlete - We all at times forget that athletes are not just physical beings.  When we ask how they are doing we need to get beyond the skills, the techniques, the injuries or the performance.  The mental and emotional aspects of athletes can effect all of those.  Events that are occurring with family, friends or at school can weigh on how an athlete performs.  These distractions can also lead to being more injury prone as they aren't focusing on proper technique or tactics. 
While this list is definitely not inclusive these few tips can help you be just a coach who can teach skills and tactics into a coach who truly creates a great environment for their athletes to excel both in sport and life. 

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Risk Management the Coach's Responsibility

Many coaches find it difficult to come up with a complete risk management plan for their team.  For some it may be that they don't understand the importance of one or not feel it is their responsibility, for others it is not knowing where to start or what all comprises of a complete plan.  As a coach you are the decision maker for your team, you need to make safety and risk management a priority as it can be the difference between success and failure or life and death. 

Risk management is an ongoing process that must begin prior to the season beginning and does not end until after the season is over. 

So what all does a coach need to do? We will discuss the basics of a risk management program for sport teams. 

Emergency Action Plan (EAP) - the EAP is designed to make sure all the proper steps are taken when an injury occurs and that specific people have a designated roles/jobs so that all are prepared.  Basic EAPs consist of 3 roles, the charge person who is attending to the injured athlete, the call person who contacts EMS and the control person who maintains order among the crowd, opposing team and liaises with the facility.  

Have First Aid and CPR - it is all great that you have an EAP but if you don't have basic injury management skills such as first aid and CPR, what are you going to do if something occurs?  You can not rely on always having a trainer, athletic therapist on your staff or that each year you will have parents who are doctors, nurses or paramedics.  These are added bonuses not sure things.  

Take an Injury Management Seminar - First aid and CPR only get you so far in the world of sports.  You need to understand the types of injuries that will occur in sports and how to apply the knowledge you gained in first aid and CPR to those situations.  A good seminar will not only discuss sports injuries but go in-depth on risk management, injury prevention and return to activity. 

Carry a First Aid Kit - each team should carry an individualized first aid kit for their sport and the knowledge of those who will be using it.  Sports require more than just few pieces of gauze and band-aids but unless you are trained to do so you don't need a stitch kit. 

Do Risk Assessments - at practices and games.  Know what the areas of risk are in your sport and at each facility you are at.  By doing so you can implement prevention strategies and be more prepared for situations that are specific to each activity. 

By no means is this a complete list of everything that comprises a risk management program.  After each practice, game or competition you will tweek your plan based on what occurred.  Rely on past experiences as well to help form your full plan.  Risk management is about creating a safe environment for your athletes, your staff as well as the other team and spectators.  Though when you first start working on your plan it is a lot of work, the benefits pay off throughout the seasons.  When injuries do occur, because you were prepared they will take less energy and focus at that time than if you did not have an effective risk management plan. 

For more information on risk management, EAPs and the coaches role please visit our website at www.eliteinjury.com  and follow us on Twitter @EliteInjuryMgmt 

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

What Came First the Athlete or the Injury?

The question of whether there is more sport related injuries in youth sports begs is similar to the which came first the chicken or the egg, or is the rooster crowing more?

Though in recent years there has been some decrease in sport participation for adolescents, overall 75% of children aged 5-17 participate in some form (Sports Participation 2010).  All sports bring with them a risk of injury, younger athletes tend to suffer traumatic injuries while those over the age of 13 tend to suffer more chronic overuse type injuries, (Pediatric Sports Injuries An Age Comparison of Children Versus Adolescents)

So what really came first?  Are there more young athletes or are the young athletes getting injured more?  If there are more athletes participating then it would be logical to assume that there would be more injuries.  However statistics do show that there has been a decrease in participation in certain sports, yet sports that did not exist in 90's are very popular today.  

However, the way sports are played has changed.  Many things that would be considered activities are now organized sports, ie. Ultimate Frisbee.  Sports are seen as a means to an end, school scholarships and professional contracts are the ultimate goal for many parents and athletes.  Due to this athletes are pushing and being pushed at a younger age.  Sport specialization and the formalization of youth sports has these young athletes performing more often and at higher intensities.  

One of the major changes in sport is the culture.  The "old school" thought was that if it wasn't broke you played.  Former athletes were taught to tape an Aspirin to it and keep playing, that playing through injuries no matter how severe was what made you strong.  Athletes are now taught to let their coaches, parents, teachers and athletic therapists know if they are injured.  This point alone could attest for the rise in injuries.  It may not be there is more occurring, it is just that there are more being reported.  

No matter the reasoning for the increase in sports injuries, they are occurring at a greater rate.  As a parent, coach, teacher, athletic therapist/trainer, and athletes we need to focus on injury prevention and proper management.  There needs to be a greater focus on player safety and overall wellness.  For our young athletes to truly get the best experience in sport, they need to be able to participate without fear of injury. 

For more information follow us on Twitter @EliteInjuryMgmt and our website at www.eliteinjury.com 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Preparing for the Upcoming Season as an Athlete

As an athlete there are many things that come up as your season starts.  For many of you school starts at the same time as your sport, adding more pressure and time commitments.  

There are a few things that you must do to prepare yourself for the year.  Some of the aspects that are part of this is being physically prepared to participate and participating because you want to. 

Eat well.  Your mind and your body can not function properly if it is not being given the appropriate fuel. As much as a bag of chips and a pop seem like a good idea for lunch.  By the time you finish school, practice and studying you will not be doing so at full capacity.  Depending on your schedule and activity level, the amount and number of times you will eat will vary.  What is important is to make sure you are eating whole food, and drinking lots of water.  The less you let your energy levels fluctuate, the more consistent your performance at school and sport will be. 

Have a schedule.  Know when your practices are, when your games/competitions are and when your assignments and tests are.  If you know there is going to be a conflict, talk to your teachers ahead of time, this way you are both prepared for the situation. 

Find a buddy. It can be a team mate, class mate, sibling, friend, coach or teacher.  There is going to come  time where you may feel overwhelmed or not sure of how to handle a situation.  Use this buddy to talk to.  Sometimes just talking to someone can make the world of difference.  Knowing that someone else is going through the same thing as you or maybe them not being directly involved will give them a different perspective.  Never feel like you have to make it through anything alone. 

Take time for yourself.  Outside of school and sport, do something else.  Go to a movie with your friends, spend time with your family outside of driving to a practice or game.  By being involved in other things you will avoid mental burnout, what you must remember is not to over schedule your life.  Down time and rest are extremely important. 

The final thing to do for the season and during is to have fun. Nothing else matters.

To find out more of our athlete services please visit our website at www.eliteinjury.com and follow us on Twitter @EliteInjuryMgmt 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Preparing for the Upcoming Season as a Parent

Well the September long weekend is over, kids are back at school and the fall/winter activities are starting up.  As a parent you are getting the year schedule and are soon finding your calendar is full.  Before you reach for the bottle of wine, take a deep breath, you will get through this.  The following will help you get through this season hopefully injury free, but if an injury does occur with your young athlete, you will be prepared for it. 

Write down the schedule, not just this months, but the whole year.  Put it in a master calendar with everything on it.  Important school dates, holidays, practices, games, tournaments and competitions.  Again before you scream there is a reason for this.  Do you notice any trends?  Are there days off?  If you your child is in multiple activities are there any conflicts?  Is there conflicts between each child's schedule?  By noticing any conflicts now, you have the time to manage them now, instead of last minute.  The stress that you express when something happens is felt by your children and can distract them their task at hand.  Back to days off.  Rest is important, very important.  Both physical and mental fatigue lead to injuries or burnout.  For more on fatigue in athletes go here.  

Proper meal planning is also very important.  Being prepared with lots of meals in the freezer that can be easily thrown into the oven or slow cooker will save you time and the dread of heading through the drive thru.  A supply of healthy snacks in the car can get you through those school to sport moments.  

Being prepared for injuries is like having insurance, you hope you don't need to use it but are glad you have it if something does happen.  Knowing basic injury management principles will help you not only with your child's injuries but are also a good life skill to have.  It is also important to have a health care professional that you trust in case your child does suffer an injury, that way your not searching after the fact.  If the sport your child is involved in is prone to concussions, have baseline evaluations done by a qualified health care professional.  

Asking your child's coach, teacher or instructor as to their qualifications and preparedness for injury situations.  Do they have first aid and CPR?  Have taken an injury management seminar or course?  Do they have an EAP and a risk management plan?  What is their policy on return to activity after injury?  These are all questions you need to ask them.  Most of the time they will be the one responding to your child's injury, not you.  You want to make sure they are prepared for the situation and that there will be no confusion after the fact as to return to activity. 
The final thing that you must remember to do for the season is to have fun. 

For more information on our injury management seminars and other services offered check out our website at www.eliteinjury.com.  Please follow us on Twitter @EliteInjuryMgmt