Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Subject: Injuries Common if Young Athletes Don't Prepare During Winter

By: Ashley Ntansah

What physical activities do your kids do during winter? I ask because a kids can lose up to 20% of their strength as well as gain up to 15 lbs during these months. Meaning coaches spend most of the next season playing catch-up.

Athletes who play no winter sports and live a sedentary lifestyle before taking on a spring sport may also be putting themselves at risk for injury. 
When it's cold, kids are less active and when it's time for baseball season, they haven't done anything to get ready for it. So, while you have kids who are over-conditioned and have no time for rest, you also have kids who are under-conditioned and didn't do their necessary pre-season training." 

It’s up to parents to ensure kids don't backslide during the winter months. Expects say simple conditioning activities can have a huge impact and even put kids ahead.

Getting School Out Of Your Athletes For Better Performance
By Ashley Ntansah
The school and sports schedule for young athletes is very demanding. Arguably, they are more demanding than ever before. Our in the trenches experience of working with young athletes during this time of year can dictate the structure of our programming to optimally accommodate what they need most.  The most popular goals for young athletes are speed, agility and strength. This can make for a difficult conversation with prospective athletes and their parent if you lead with mobility of the thoracic spine, hips and ankles rather than extoll the virtues of running 40's, ladder drills and plyo's...as most far too many trainers and coaches do.
Beyond the assumed amount of inactivity during school hours, when speaking with young athletes we learn of the increased (or perceived increase) of opportunity to be active outdoors.
Hours upon hours of sitting in a hunched over position, while flexed at the hips combined with GROWING is a recipe for a slower less efficient athlete. Therefore it is imperative we create programming that includes a reasonable amount of activity to counteract these factors.
Using the Play Fitness template system, input active range of motion and muscle activation in your programming to get school out of their bodies. In particular, be sure to include active ROM, especially for the T-Spine and hips.  Self myofascial release is a great place to start...even with your 10-13 year olds. Hip circles, ankle mobilization, cobra stretches (yoga) and overhead lunge walks are a few examples of actively moving their young joints in opposition to the posture mentioned earlier.  Many programs do not emphasize strengthening the posterior chain of an athlete until they are in High School.  The local muscular system is primarily responsible for joint stabilization. These muscles are immature, as are the gross motor prime movers in our younger athletes. Tight and weak musculature is detrimental to improving performance, resisting injury and problematic when learning new movement patterns as a younger athlete. We describe muscle activation to our young athletes and their parents as "turning on" all the muscles that are critical to success...the muscles that anchor their bodies as well as those that move them.  Variations of prone extensions, hip lifts, planking and toe and heel walks are examples of activities to be utilized for muscle activation. The key to programming that will open up the opportunity for safe and consistent improvement is including the elements that may not look fancy but are most effective. Sometimes that includes helping them combat the poor posture that is commonplace.  The more work we do here as coaches, the more we can do with our young athletes in the future.
Keep changing lives!