Archive for “injuries” Tag

5 Tips to a Healthy Football Season – And Any Sports Season

Football Season is Here

The season is upon us. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s football season. The time of year where you can lose more friends than in an election year. So with that said, 2016 may be an interesting year. Let’s call 2017 the year of reconciliations.

If you are an athlete, football season can be grueling and can wear you down. If you are a coach, it can do the same thing. If you are a parent…well, parents have it easy. All you have to do is print out this article, tape it to the fridge, and your young athlete will follow all 5 tips, right?

The goal of this quick article is to give the athletes 5 tips to a healthy football season and give coaches some things to harp on with your athletes. In a loving way, of course.

5 Tips to Having a Healthy Football Season

Tip #1: Nutrition

Eating “properly” for performance is a year long struggle for the young athlete and can get even more difficult during football season. One of the hardest goals to meet is getting the calories an athlete needs to perform. With lunch around noon and practice after school, kids can go 6-7 hours without eating in the afternoon.

Pro Tip: Bringing snacks to school is important to fill those huge gaps in the day. But don’t forget, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Don’t skip it.

Tip #2: Strength Train

If we work hard in the off-season, why lose all those “GAINS” during the season? Yea, I know, “I don’t have any time” or “we gotta spend that time watching film” is a common reason for skipping strength training. Time can be of the essence, but 2 days a week minimum is a must! Get into the weight room.

Pro Tip: The main goal in-season is to combat muscular imbalances that are caused by the season which CAN help prevent injuries. Oh yea, athletes CAN get stronger in-season! Don’t skip out on strength training during the season. Your off-season will thank you!

Tip #3: Sleep

You know what? I love video games too! I think it’s important to have fun with friends but don’t let it affect the season. Athletes need 8-9+ hours of sleep each night so the body can repair itself. Period.

Tip #4: Injuries

This is a big one for highly motivated athletes. Nobody likes to be hurt and miss games. But that slightly rolled ankle can quickly turn into a season ending injury if not treated correctly. There is a big difference between some bumps and bruises and an injury that can lead to something more serious.

Pro Tip: Maintain a good working relationship with ATC’s and make sure injuries are discussed.

Tip #5: Academics

Poor academics can lead to ZERO play time. Make school work a priority. Time management is one of the skills athletes will need to learn as a student athlete.

Pro Tip: Take advantage of free time. Use study hall for studying and homework (obviously), and use bus rides for the same thing. Being an athlete is work!

Have a Productive Football Season

Parents, I hope this is “fridge worthy”. Coaches, keep these tips in the front of your mind when it comes to your athletes. I hope that your football athletes will use these 5 tips to have a healthy and productive football season.

Josh Ortegon


About the Author: Josh Ortegon

Josh Ortegon - 5 Tips to a Healthy Football SeasonJoshua Ortegon is co-founder and the Director of Sports Performance Enhancement at Athlete’s Arena in Irmo, SC. Joshua earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Western Michigan University in 2000.

As an IYCA-certified High School Strength and Conditioning Specialist, speaker, and writer, Joshua has helped establish Athlete’s Arena as the premier high-performance center in South Carolina since 2005.

Joshua has worked with a wide range of athletes from youth to professionals specializing in the areas of injury prevention, return to play and performance enhancement.


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NFL Pro’s Journey Through Injuries – A Message for Your Athletes

NFL Pro’s Journey Through Injuries

Along the path to the NFL, I confronted many different forms of adversity. My journey was like many others who dare to achieve something rare. One form of adversity that I frequently faced was dealing with serious injuries. When I say serious injuries, I mean injuries that take at least six months of recovery.

Although serious injuries are physically and emotionally painful, it is important to remind your athletes that they can be excellent teachers.

My First Injury

My laundry list of serious injuries started in high school when I severely tore my left hamstring. It happened while doing jump squats. The hamstring gave way during the last set as I landed with 205 lbs on my back. My left hamstring immediately grabbed.

Instead of seeking medical attention, I fought through the sharp pain for months. The injury only worsened. Not until my explosiveness had diminished drastically did I finally see a doctor. It took me two years to fully recover from that hamstring injury. Imagine if I would have addressed it right when it happened. The recovery time would have been exponentially less.

My Second Injury

patch-510168_640My second severe injury took place months before fulfilling my childhood dream of playing college football. After finishing a rep of power cleans, I lowered the barbell loaded with 265 lbs to the ground instead of just dropping it. Poor choice and form. I felt a pop in my lower back.

For the next few days, my only symptom was back soreness. All of a sudden, about a week after the incident, my left leg went numb. I was diagnosed with a herniated disc. Improper Olympic lifting form took me on a 6-month detour from prepping for my first year of college football.

My Third and Fourth Injuries

My third and fourth severe injuries were ACL reconstructions. The first one occurred in the fourth quarter, in week thirteen during my first start as a rookie in the NFL. The fatigue of over-training had caught up to me. As I was running down on a kickoff, I attempted to stop and redirect. Unfortunately, my overworked and fatigued leg muscles gave way when my left knee twisted awkwardly rupturing my ACL.

My second ACL reconstruction was somewhat of a mystery. While doing a minor operation on my left knee, the ortho observed that my ACL was a ticking time bomb barely attached by a small strand. We opted to do a full reconstruction to ensure the stability of the knee. Pushing it too hard led to 2 ACL reconstructions and 18 months of rehab.

Thanks to modern medicine and training, I fully recovered from all of my injuries—turning potentially devastating injuries into positive learning experiences.

Lessons I Learned

Lesson #1: Listen to the body.

The body has ways of communicating. If your athletes feel an ache here or pain there, the body is indicating that “something isn’t right”. I’m not saying that any small ache or pain justifies sitting out. But learning “the why” leads to learning “the how” in recovery and preventing future problems.

For example, after having recovered from my first ACL, I began to have achilles tendonitis in that same leg from over using my calf muscle when I ran. I was taught that I needed to activate and strengthen my “glutes” in that leg to alleviate the stress off of that calf muscle. After making glute activation and strengthening a daily routine, my achilles tendonitis subsided. Properly troubleshooting aches and pains with the athlete goes a long way in fully recovering from and preventing injuries.

Lesson #2: If injured, physical abilities count for nothing.

Availability is the most important ability. That means when performance training, health is priority number one. Your athletes will need to feel good in order to play good. It’s not about how much weight your athletes lift, but how they lift that weight that counts.

For instance, performance training has become synonymous with Olympic lifting. The sport of Olympic lifting is extremely technical. Most athletes who are not Olympic lifters will naturally prioritize learning the skills of their sport over Olympic lifting—increasing the likelihood of poor technique and risking unnecessary injury. Why train for a sport with another sport?

Train your athletes like they compete while minimizing potential injury and stress on the body. There are a number of different alternatives to Olympic lifting that are more effective in developing sport specific skills and that are easier to learn, while minimizing wear and tear on the athlete.

Lesson #3: Rest is as equally important as work.

Resting for those who are strong workers can be challenging. But it is essential for optimal performance. A good night’s sleep is necessary in regenerating and re-energizing the body, mind and spirit. Tapering during the season, as I learned, is crucial. Counting a game as a high intensity workout can help in balancing the scale of rest versus work.

Wrapping it Up

Injuries are a part of athletics. Not all injuries are preventable. They are a form of adversity that, if managed correctly, can work as springboards. It all comes down to empowering your athletes to learn from the injuries. That is key.

Brady Poppinga


About the Author: Brady Poppinga

Brady PoppingaBrady Poppinga played in the NFL for eight seasons (2005 to 2010 Green Bay Packers, 2011 St. Louis Rams and 2012 Dallas Cowboys). Brady is a member of the 2010 Green Bay Packers Super Bowl championship team. After retiring from the NFL over three years ago Brady has reinvented himself as an inventor of the worlds first Omni directional smith machine.

Brady is also an entrepreneur starting up a company called Ultraflex Fitness LLC (www.myultraflex.com). He’s also a nationally recognized broadcaster (Fox Sports, Fox Deportes and Westwood 1 radio) and author of the book True Spirit of Competition.

Being bilingual, Brady made history by calling Super Bowl 48 in a purely Spanish production for the first time ever. Drawing from the training principles that he learned while playing football at the highest level, Brady has designed his own 20 to 30 minute high-intensity training program.

 

5 Injury Myths You Need to Know

Injury Myths: What You Need to Know

football-619243_640Does it just seem that some people are more injury prone than others? I know this from personal experience, I was one of them.

Perhaps that’s what drove me to become a physical therapist—a yearning to understand what was wrong with me.

Along the way I learned a few things and with that, I now share with you my favorite 5 Injury Myths.

5 Injury Myths

Injury Myth #1: “A Torn Rotator Cuff is a Torn Rotator Cuff. Doesn’t Matter How It Happened.”

 
The cause of injury is just as important as the injury itself.

I remember once having a 45-year-old male construction worker and an 18-year-old baseball pitcher both in rehab at the same time for reconstructed rotator cuffs.

What stood out in that moment was the athlete saying, “Oh, he has the same thing as me.” Not even close.

The construction worker was carrying a ladder over his shoulder and turned a corner, hit a wall, and it jerked his arm backward causing a forceful twisting of the shoulder, shredding the rotator cuff.

The baseball pitcher was the result of throwing 150+ pitches a game, back-to-back days for several years. These two injuries are not the same.

The construction worker’s injury was the result of instantaneous load that exceeded his ability to control motion. The baseball player’s injury was from years of microtrauma. The former was an accident, and the later was more deliberate.

These two are not rehabilitated the same way or for the same purpose due to age, cause, and desired return to a specific activity.

Injury Myth #2: “Kids heal faster than adults. You don’t need to worry about them as much.”

 
Oh contraire! Adults have fully formed, constructed body parts that when damaged, a blueprint exists to reform the broken parts.

It sure won’t occur as fast as children but the body’s healing mechanisms have an idea of where everything is supposed to go.

Children, particularly athletes, are in the process of writing the blueprints.

There is a pre-determined set of instructions that is being edited daily by the forces of physics. With enough beating and breaking, even the most resilient athlete may result in having these blueprints messed up.

I am not talking about legs and arms that are 3 inches shorter or longer. I am referring to subtler things such as lower legs that are prone to shin splints or bony formations in the shoulder from inappropriate friction. This stuff shows up later.

It is imperative that the body tissues get to the finish line, fully completed, and ready for the decades of life to come.

Injury Myth #3: “The more it hurts the worse the injury is.”

 
Pain is not input, it is output. Past experiences, desire, experience with handling injury, mood, environment, and education are just a few of the things that cause pain.

In our multi-billion dollar youth sports world that is high competition and high volume (both of which need a bit of balancing but that is for another blog post) this idea of pain is tricky.

Pro Tip: If there are concerns, it is best to leave it to the professionals. When your car starts making funny noise, unless you are a mechanic, you don’t open up the hood and start moving things around. Same with your young athlete—take them to the shop for a diagnostic and tune up.

Injury Myth #4: “Swelling is not a big deal as long as the body part is wrapped.”

 
Swelling does something funny to body parts, particularly joints: it makes them work pretty crappy.

Swelling is the body’s natural response to damage—starting an inflammation process to get rid of damaged tissue and restore parts to normal working order. It also shuts down muscle activity to help facilitate this regeneration.

Pro Example: Clinically, if I have an athlete recovering from an ACL surgery and during the course of sports conditioning the knee gets really swollen, I will shut everything down. Why? Because I know that thigh muscle is going to fire as fast or as strong due to the joint swelling. That could impact the stability of the joint, putting the ACL at risk. This could also be true that the same swelling makes the knee less responsive, sluggish if you will.

Fluid is not compressible, which is why we have hydraulic systems in our cars. It helps transfer energy from one area to the other because fluid cannot compress.

Everything else in your body, including nerves, ligaments, muscles, even bones are compressible and that fluid pressure wreaks havoc on all the parts affected.

Injury Myth #5: “If it hurts, just take some anti-inflammatories and it will be fine.”

 
I would like a few doctors to give their two-cents on this one but I am happy to stick with this simple statement: Stop it.

Children are not adults. If you have an athlete that is taking fifteen 200mg tablets of ibuprofen every day to get him through hockey season, just sit down and ask yourself, why?

bandage-1235337_640If your doctor made this suggestion then follow orders.

There is a reason for this, but if it’s because this OTC, cheap treatment gets your athlete through the day and without it they are miserable, limping blobs of pain, then there is no understanding of “the why”.

Almost every serious overuse injury that resulted in missing whole seasons or having surgery before the age of 20 has a similar backstory.

Many times parents and athletes do not report this to the doctor. They weren’t hiding anything, they just thought this was the norm and wasn’t worth mentioning. THIS IS NOT NORMAL!

A drug that has interactions on the body should not be taken lightly just because the athletic world has been eating them like Skittles for decades.

Dr. Keith Cronin, DPT


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About the Author: Keith J. Cronin

Keith CroninKeith J. Cronin is a physical therapist and owner of Sports and Healthcare Solutions, LLC. Keith currently supports US Operations for Dynamic Tape®, the “Original” Biomechanical Tape®, providing guidance for education, research, and distribution. He graduated with his Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) from Belmont University in 2008 and later earned his Orthopedic Certification Specialist (OCS).

Prior to graduate school, Keith was a collegiate baseball player and top-level high school cross country runner. He also had the opportunity to work as a personal trainer (CSCS) prior to his career in physical therapy, providing a very balanced approached to educating fitness and rehabilitation. Keith has focused his career on the evaluation, treatment, injury prevention, and sports conditioning strategies for athletes, with particular attention to youth sports. He currently lives in the St. Louis, MO area with his wife and two daughters, Ella and Shelby.

 

Why Do ACL Tears Occur?

ACL Tears: Why Do They Occur?

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four main ligaments in the knee and provides a significant amount of stability during agility and sports specific movements.

Unfortunately, over 200,000 athletes are affected by ACL tears each year, and even more importantly the ratio of females to males is 9:1.

The most common age for ACL tears to occur ranges from 15-45 y/o with the primary focus being the youth sports population due to the higher demand and intensity of youth sports. (Griffin, 2000 & Chapman, 2001)

70% of all ACL tears are found to be non-contact in nature. This means that 70% of all ACL tears result from a biomechanical abnormality or insufficiency.

They can also result from an athlete performing a sports specific movement incorrectly causing too much stress on the ACL than it can withstand, resulting in a tear.

The other 30% of all ACL tears occur due to a contact force during a practice or game. For example, a contact ACL injury is when a football player tears their ACL by having a linemen tackle them on the side of the knee.

Both non-contact and contact ACL injuries most commonly occur in basketball, soccer, skiing, and football. (Griffin, 2000 & Chapman, 2001)

One of the Biggest Questions Is…Why do ACL Tears Cccur??

Early Specialization Among Youth Sports

 
Overall, youth sports in America today are completely flawed, secondary to youth athletes specializing in one or two sports too soon.

When early specialization occurs there is a lack of skill development with basic human movements leading to kids in America becoming undeveloped, under-prepared and over-exposed.

Athletes who focus too soon on one sport during the developmental process can cause their bodies to be exposed to inappropriate developmental stressors, therefore leading to injury and poor performance.

Pro Tip: It is highly recommended to encourage all youth athletes to participate in a variety of sports and activities to allow for proper development and well-rounded athletes. “You need to crawl before you walk.”

Knee Valgus Angles

 
A knee valgus angle is defined by the angle formed at the knee joint when it goes inward utilizing the tibia and femur as the axes “knocked knees”. During all functional and sports specific movements it is ideal to see 5 degrees or less of knee valgus.

When athletes are not trained correctly and/or do not have the proper body awareness during functional and sports specific movements, increased knee valgus angles at the knee are common causing significant amounts of stress on the ACL. (Hewett et al, 2006)

Poor Form and Muscular Activation/Strength with Functional Movements

 
It is important for all athletes to understand proper form with all functional and sports specific movements and to develop a solid baseline level of strength in all musculature groups important for their given sport.

It is common to see several athletes on a field performing sports specific movements with poor form, naturally increasing stress on the knee.

The lack of cross training for a given sport to develop the proper amount of muscle activation and strength in muscles is very common.

Pro tip: Due to the higher demands and intensity of sports, it is crucial for all athletes to participate in a well-rounded cross training program including balance, strength, coordination, education with verbal and visual feedback etc. This is to make sure each individual athlete understands proper form with all sports specific movements.

Balance and Proprioception Deficits

 
Balance is defined by the ability for an athlete to maintain stability and control during sports specific and functional movements. Proprioception is the ability for an athlete to understand where the body is in space during a given time both on and off the field.

Both variables are important for every athlete to develop early on to allow for participation in an open environment and demonstrate control and stability with sports specific movements.

If an athlete does not participate in a training program with balance and proprioception as components of the program, they are at greater risk for ACL injuries during maturation. (AAOS, 2007)

Poor Neuromuscular Education and Control

 
The development of accurate and efficient neurological pathways to muscles during the maturation of a youth athlete is crucial.

The ability of the brain and important muscle groups to communicate allows an athlete to develop proper muscle activation, timing, control, and stability with functional and sports specific movements.

If the proper neuromuscular pathways are not developed and an athlete does not participate in the proper amount of neuromuscular education within their training, they are more at risk for ACL injuries. (AAOS, 20007)

Gender Specific Anatomy

 
The primary reason for the 9:1 ratio of females to males being more at risk for ACL injuries is due to gender specific anatomy.

The first area to focus on is the q angle.

It is defined by the angle developed when you draw a line from the ASIS of the pelvis (bony landmarks on front of hips) to the mid-line of the patella “kneecap” and a second line from the tibial tuberosity (bony landmark below your kneecap) through the midline of the patella.

Women by nature have an average Q angle of 11-15 degrees which is 4-5 degrees greater than males. A larger average q angle for women compared to men is related to having a wider pelvis meant for childbirth.

A wider pelvis will naturally cause larger knee valgus angles leading to increased risk of ACL tears. (Griffin, 2000 & Chapman, 2001)

Secondly, common trends among women compared to men tend to lead to significant quad dominance, weakness of hip extensors “glutes” and over pronation of feet “flat feet” during functional movement causing increased stress on the knee.

Lastly, female hormones during their monthly menstrual cycle have been shown to lead to ligamental laxity putting women more at risk for ACL injuries. (Griffin, 2000, Chapman, 2001, & Hewett, 2006)

Summary

Encourage all youth athletes to participate in well-rounded training programs and ACL injury prevention programs to ideally allow an athlete to develop and mature properly, prevent injury, and maximize sports performance.

Brittany Lillie PT, DPT, CSCS
Brittany Lillie


References

  1. Chapman MW. Chapmans Orthopaedic Surgery. 3rd Edition, Volume 3, 2001; 2348-2388
  2. Grifffin LY. Noncontact Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries: Risk Factors and Prevention Strategies. Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. 2000; 8: 141-150.
  1. Hewett TE, Myer GD, Ford KR. Anterior cruciate ligament injuries in female athletes: Part 1, mechanisms and risk factors. American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2006 Feb; 34(2):299-311. Hardaker W
  1. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, July 2007, Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury: Surgical Considerations, http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00297#A00297_R4_anchor (July 11, 2008).

Develop Well-Rounded Athletes by Preparing Them To Perform

Dr. Lillie references the importance of developing well-rounded athletes, which is why it is so important that your athletes are Prepared to Perform!
 
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When The Body Says “Yes, But The Mind Says “No”

By Tom Hurley

It is estimated that between 15 and 20 million sports injuries occur in the United States alone. These injuries can range from nagging constant pain due to overuse, to season ending injuries such as ligament damage in the ankle, knee or shoulder; and the age of the athlete’s affected can range from very young, (7 years) to not so young, (70 years and beyond). The statistics are staggering, but not necessarily unpredictable. The bottom line is, in terms of classifying athletes, it has been said that there are two types: those who have been injured, and those who have not been injured yet.

As opportunity for youth participation in sport grows, the number of injuries related to participation naturally rises. Not only does this create a larger need for the biological, (physical) problems associated with the injury to be addressed through possible surgery, rehabilitation and conditioning, it also creates a necessity for young athletes, parents and coaches to understand the mental and emotional, (psychological) factors that need to be addressed for a full recovery.

“Get back on the horse”
So you want to get your son/daughter/team member/athlete back in the game. The Doctor has given them “medical clearance” and all physical indications are that he/she should be able to participate at their pre-injury level. You’ve tried everything to get them there, but nothing seems to be working. You wonder “what will it take to get them back on the horse”? This is a huge subject matter, one that can not be fully addressed in a simple article. There are however, some specific strategies that can be noted for further exploration.

sports injuries

Scenario 1:
The young athlete begins practicing with the team and aside from a let down in physical “game-time” conditioning, seems to be performing at or near pre-injury level. This is the scenario that we would all like to experience. In this case the child simply needs to know that there is an open, non-judgmental line of communication available to them should they begin to experience pain or inhibition.

Scenario 2:
The young athlete refuses to return, or when they do begin practicing, doesn’t seem to have the same intensity or focus that they once had. They are noticeably more “timid” in their approach to the sport. This is an extremely common scenario whereby we see the physical return to the sport but factors are in play that are creating inhibition. It can not be understated that open non-judgmental communication between the athletes, parents, and coaches is vital in all of these situations, and should be the standard for all youth athletics. There are usually three different factors involved in the “timid play” scenario.

“It still hurts”
The first factor could quite simply be that the child still experiences pain as they are trying to play. Though it may sound simplistic, we often forget to ask the proper question. If the young athlete feels empowered as a member of their own re-habilitation team, they will be more likely to let you know that “it still hurts”. The fix here is simple; go back to the doctor or get a second opinion.

“I’m all done”
This factor is a little more difficult to rule out. In our efforts to promote our children through sport we sometimes forget that they are not little adults. Their likes and dislikes are fickle at best as they move through development and maturation. Today’s favorite activity may be tomorrow’s memory. Your child/athlete may be trying to let you know that they have simply lost interest in this sport and don’t know how to tell you for fear that they will let you down.

The temperament, coping skills, daily stresses, trait anxiety and emotional maturity of each young athlete is unique and under construction. The injury and pain associated with it may have been enough to disengage that child’s desire to continue with this particular sport.

Of course we all want athletes to “get back up on the horse” because it “builds character”. The suggestion here is to begin having conversations with the athlete about their continued participation. It has been my experience that once a child knows that they are able to have good honest “talks” about how they feel; they are more likely to make decisions based on how they actually feel as opposed to how they think they should feel. Often times the child will understand where the apprehension to perform is coming from, and will be willing to try to work through it and continue with the activity. Of course, the fact remains that they simply may be “all done”.

“I’m Scared”
Fear is a primary emotion. That said, when a young athlete focuses on the fear of re-injury it is nearly impossible for them to focus on the prospects of returning to pre-injury play. The fear of re-injury not only inhibits intensity of play, but places the athlete at a higher risk of more injury due to compensatory movement patterns as they avoid using the injured or affected body part. This is the factor most commonly associated with an athlete’s return to full participation, and can be the most frustrating for the athlete to try to overcome.

There are four vital elements that should be considered when dealing with the psychological aspects of all of these injury scenarios. For this scenario, since it is often times the most difficult to deal with, it’s important to be familiar with all four, though within the confines of this article, and because we are focusing primarily on the child athlete, concentration will be on the first two of these.
1) First and foremost it is vital to validate the child’s fear as a rational, normal and completely expected outcome of having been injured.
2) Set specific, progressive, reasonable goals for the athlete’s full return to play.
3) Utilize imagery and relaxation techniques.
4) Incorporate positive self-talk.

Encouraging a young athlete to discuss feelings of apprehension or of being “afraid” to play again is extremely important for their emotional development, not only as an athlete but as a person in general. The realization that they are experiencing a normal consequence of having felt pain, and that all athletes at some point experience the same thing, allows them the freedom to move toward dealing with this emotion. Remember, we are talking about children who are still in the process of developing psycho-socially. This is an important first step toward eventually returning to activity; especially when it is a young athlete’s first injury.

Setting goals may sound easy, but requires that you know whether your child is ego oriented or task oriented. In its simplest terms, an ego oriented athlete bases their self-worth on how well they perform compared to others, while a task oriented athlete is driven by an internal desire of skill mastery, effort and self-improvement.

An example of a simple ego-oriented goal may sound like this: “Jane (a teammate) made four lay-ups in a row from the right side, now it’s you turn to see how that knee holds up.” Though the focus of the goal ends with a statement regarding this athlete’s knee (the site of the prior injury), this ego oriented athlete will focus on trying to do as well as Jane; allowing her to perform on the rehabbed knee while focusing on performance.

An example of a task-oriented goal may sound like this: “Today you will perform 3 sets of lay-ups from the right side. Each set will be made up of 10 reps. Try to make as many in a row as possible.” Here the focus is on the lay-up, which will require her to decelerate then drive through her previously injured knee. No concrete number is given as a goal for completed lay-ups per set, as this athlete will use the first set as a benchmark and attempt to improve on each subsequent set. Remember, a task oriented individual is driven by self effort and improvement.

Notice, in each of these examples we kept it as simple as possible by not creating a time limit or actual person to person competition. The point here is whether ego or task-oriented, the goals remain attainable, reasonable and progressive. We also need to remember to debrief or discuss with the athlete how they felt during these performances. Allow them the opportunity to share what it felt like. When a goal is achieved, celebrate with them by recognizing the achievement, and then increase the difficulty of the goal. The young athlete’s self-confidence should continue to improve. As adults we need to be aware that all healing takes time and sometimes the emotional and mental healing requires more time than the physical healing. These are, above all, developing human beings.

Earlier I mentioned imagery, relaxation, and positive self talk as vital elements to incorporate in the injury recovery process. Though I use them on a regular basis with athletes that I work with, it is not something that was learned overnight or in a brief article such as this. Concentrating on good open communication and development of proper goal setting skills can go a long way in helping young athletes through emotional challenges.

Reference:
Murphy, S. (2005). The Sport Psychology Handbook. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Tom Hurley, M.Ed., YFS3, YNS, SAS, HSSCS applies over 30 years of combined knowledge as a Behavioral Therapist, Health and Physical Education Teacher, and Mental Skills Coach in his current business as a Performance Specialist. He currently programs with over 200 athletes and is dedicated to providing each one with the opportunity to develop spirit, mind and body.