Youth Coaching Responsibility # 6,000 – Overuse Injuries Prevention
As if there is not enough on a youth coach’s plate, they also should stay on top of this, too. Overuse injuries are common in sport, and awareness of the causes and signs of overuse injuries is another responsibility of the sport coach. Many parents have little knowledge of the intricacies of the sport their child plays and are often unaware of the causes and symptoms of overuse injuries. Coaches should help them learn and understand overuse injuries.
“I thought he had one more inning left in his arm”
Those are the famous last words of coaches, who push the limits with kids by overusing them. I cannot begin to count the number of times that I have seen parents or coaches have their sons or daughters practice their pitching immediately after games in which they did not throw very well. For example, a 10-year-old player just threw sixty game pitches and then an adult has them throw another sixty or so pitches immediately after games because their outing was unsatisfactory. Another scenario has pitchers throwing too soon after throwing many pitches without proper rest days. Overuse situations like these are common in all youth sports.
Wanting to help players is commendable, as is coaching them to work hard at their craft, but adults are often unaware of the danger of that help. Recent studies show that performing repetitive actions with young developing bodies lead to injuries that often are career-threatening ones. Many sports injuries are accidents and unavoidable for the most part, but overuse injuries are often avoidable, as long as coaches are aware of things, which they should be.
With good communication among player, coaches, and parents, many injuries are avoidable.
Overuse Injuries Guidelines for Youth Coaching
Coaches should do the following, mostly at beginning of the season.
Explain to player and parents:
- The most common injuries of the sport and those that are avoidable with careful monitoring
- The causes of overuse injuries, along with suggestions as to what constitutes overuse
- The early signs of overuse injuries
- Parents and coaches should listen and believe players, when they say they are tired or sore from playing
- Parents should inform coaches of player soreness, when coaches are unaware of it
- Asking players occasionally how they feel, when having performed the same skills for a reasonable period and asking players to inform you when any soreness or tired muscles appear, is necessary.
- Have the ice available for such soreness or recommend that players ice sore muscles immediately upon getting home.
- Document players amount of play and injury reports for future reference.
- Recommend players consult with a physician when injuries do not go away in a reasonable time.
Of course, teaching players to warm-up correctly and for how to increase their workload gradually is necessary coaching to prevent injuries in the first place. Additionally, every player is different physically, so there are varying degrees of the amount of practice each is capable of doing, another thing coaches must take into consideration.
Communication is crucial, and coaches, who have the “no pain no gain philosophy,” with youth is wrong, as that deters them from speaking up, when soreness first shows up.