Coming home to roost: injuries in sport

Injuries at all levels of sport are off the charts. Despite much hand wringing, bloviating, and elaborate injury prevention programs injures continue to rise. In the actual sport training, we are so concerned with “load management” that we not stressing the athletes enough to prepare them for the rigors of the competition. In short, we are reaping what we sow – we have a generation of fragile athletes unprepared for the demands of competition.

Look at time spent training for the specific sport. Look at time devoted to so called “injury prevention.” Look at time devoted to recovery – ice baths, massage etc. Then compare those time allotments with the time devoted to actual physical training in preparation for the sport. In most cases it is not even close.

Go back into the athlete’s background. Many specialized early. Few in any had physical education therefore have a poor foundation of physical literacy and competence. Coaching at the foundational level that used to be done by school coaches trained in sound pedagogy is now done by parents and travel team coaches who have no foundation in sound coaching.

At the collegiate and professional the increased specialization and compartmentalization of the coaching and support staff has been a major contributing factor. You have strength coaches, speed coaches, rehab specialists, injury prevention specialists, flexibility coaches and recovery specialists. All of those who come under the umbrella of sports medicine usually lead by a doctor who has no understanding of training. At the professional level you have too many of these individuals pointing fingers to keep their jobs instead of doing their job. All are in silos with no communication, all working independently of the sport coaches who have little or no understanding of the physical preparation piece all these people are working on.

Add to this extended competitive season with the pervasive myth that all you can do in season is maintenance work and here we are. It all has all come to roost, it is not the pandemic, this has been years in the making. It is going to take some serious recognition of the problems, asking, and answering difficult questions to reverse this alarming trend. Ladies and gentlemen, the chickens have come home to roost.