Two studies came out this week that specifically pertain to coaches. Both articles focus on the injury aspect of coaching (one of the responsibilities of being a coach), but deal with different aspects.
As you have seen me write numerous times, there are ways to decrease the risk of suffering certain injuries. One of the most widely studied injuries, and most detrimental to a player, is the ACL. Soccer has been looking at ways to reduce ACL injuries for years and have implemented several different programs with that end in mind. A new study is now examining the effectiveness of ACL programs that are run by the sport coach or by a clinical provider (think PT, ATC, MD, etc). The results of the study show that coaches who demonstrate understanding of a program can effectively implement it with their athletes at the same level as a clinician.
What that means for coaches is that with adequate training in an injury reduction program, coaches can effectively implement it with their team. Most injury prevention programs are pretty simple and focus on developing and improving nueromuscular control. Teaching and reinforcing how to squat, lunge, jump, land, balance and change direction are the key elements of this type of program. By constantly incorporating and reinforcing proper movements every day during a warm up session, athletes develop and improve their movement over time. This will in turn carry over into their movement on field. As I've said before, the added benefit of these types of programs is that they also tend to build strength and thus, improve performance.
The second article deals with preparing for an handling an emergency situation. Unfortunately, injuries, including serious injuries, are a part of sports. Once again, with adequate training and practice, these can be managed effectively. In our local area alone there have been a couple of sudden collapses on the field or on the court. With quick acting and an AED, athletes can be saved. Hopefully, none of us will ever encounter a life threatening injury, but it is important to practice CPR skills just in case.
A task force looked at the development of emergency preparedness and response and created an outline with their recommendations. The focus of their work was on preventing and managing conditions that result in sudden death or disability and include cardiac conditions, head and neck injuries. Amongst their findings are creating a specific Emergency Action Plan per sport and per location, adequate training and practice of neck stabilization, access to an AED in the event of an emergency and proper practice during periods of extreme heat.
Huggins, R.A., et. al. (2017). Interassociation task force document on emergency health and safety: Best practice recommendations for youth sport leagues. Journal of Athletic Training, 52(4), 384-400. natajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.4085/1062-6050-52.2.02?code=nata-site
Pfile, K,R, & Curioz, B. (2017). Coach-led prevention programs are effective in reducing anterior cruciate ligament injury risk in female athletes: A number-needed-to-treat analysis. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1111/sms.12828/full
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