Participation in high school athletics carries an intrinsic risk of injury, but that doesn’t mean that certain types of injuries can’t be decreased. There has been a proliferation of injury prevention programs and their ability to improve performance and decrease risk of sustaining certain injuries (especially ACL injuries and ankle sprains). While this information is readily available there has been some hesitancy to adopt these and similar programs.
In a survey conducted in Oregon on high school soccer and basketball coaches, many of the coaches were aware that programs existed, but they were not adopting those programs for their own teams (1). Some of the reasons included the belief that what they currently did was similar to the program, that their program was superior to the researched program or that they were not aware of how much actual sport performance gains occurred as a result of these programs. Those concerns have validity and merit further discussion.
Many injury programs have similar features that are easy to adopt and implement such as squatting, jumping, cutting and using a balance apparatus. The key with any of these exercises is to focus on form and ensure that they athletes are appropriately performing the required the task and not going through the motions. Some of the programs are definitely more involved and time consuming than others and may cut into the limited time available for training. However, before changing or eliminating exercises, it is important to understand the mechanics and rationale behind those exercises and why they were included in the first place. Arbitrarily eliminating exercises can invalidate the program resulting in a failure to achieve the intended prevention outcomes.
A relatively new option for reducing injury risk, improving fitness and performance is to adopt a training program in Physical Education classes (2). This exercise vehicle may be a great way to teach fundamental movement skills to adolescents that carry on to their chosen sport. In a study out of Canada, researchers compared a typical PE class with a specific training PE class geared toward the improvement in movement and reduction in injury and had significantly fewer injuries than the control group. The exercises regimen that they chose was similar to the FIFA 11+ and included squats, jumps, lunges, planks and running drills. The inclusion of this, or a similar program, in middle and high school may help to decrease on field injury rates during athletic participation.
The potential for injury will always be a part of athletics, but accepting that there is nothing to do about it is not accurate. At this point there are many options to keep players healthy and participating safely. Knowing the common injuries in your chosen sport and available resources are essential to successful participation in athletic endeavors.
1. Norcross, M.F., et. al. (2016). Factors influencing high school coaches’ adoption of injury prevention programs. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 19: 299-304.
2. Richmond, S.A., et. al. (2016). A school based injury prevention program to reduce sport injury risk and improve healthy outcomes in youth: A pilot cluster randomized controlled trial. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, 26(4): 291-298.
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*This site is for educational purposes only, it is not meant to diagnose, treat or replace medical advice. Before starting an exercise program always make sure that you are healthy and able to do so safely.*