(Image courtesy of www.physiotutors.com)
It is that time of year, when the "serious" training starts in preparation for winter sport. Here are three things to think about, for coaches and players alike, embarking on that unique pleasure:pain cycle that is Pre-Season.
If you, like many, spent the summer at the beach/river enjoying the indulgences of food and drink, then pre-season may see you having to prepare that summer body for some serious sport. It is also a time to "get your head in the game" (to quote Troy from High School Musical).
Research also shows that:
"...what doesn't kill us makes us stronger as a group."
...and I can think of a few coaches were subscribed to this mantra!! So those suicide runs are all about bonding, right??
If nothing else, get to know your fellow players and make those connections that might just see you as a group go on to a premiership.
Now here is where things get controversial. Can we predict injury through screening? Well, to date there are a number of tests that demonstrate an association with injury risk, but according to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, these tests may not be sufficiently accurate for injury prediction.(http://www.sasma.com.au/Portals/3/Members/Education/2017%20Prereadings/Screening/Screen%20Bahr%20BJSM.pdf?ver=2017-04-27-151312-173)
Perhaps what we can do, is take the time to look at each player and assess them for potential gains in their physical capacity or address areas that they may be concerned about with the goal of making them better athletes.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but predicting injury and aiming to "prevent" those specific injuries through training has no scientific basis (see the article above). We also know that...
"...high training loads can contribute to injury but training in itself is "protective"."(http://www.sasma.com.au/Portals/3/Members/Education/2016%20Prereadings/2016%20Conference%20Readings/Gabbett_2016_Training-injury%20paradox_Train%20smarter%20and%20harder_BJSM.pdf),
- we just have to get the ratios right!
Tim Gabbot from Brisbane's School of Human Movement Studies (see above article) has summarised some complicated athlete monitoring protocols, finding that "...the ratio of acute to chronic training load is a better predictor of injury". And this will be different for every athlete.
What does this mean for the non-professional athlete? I think it means talking to athletes individually - how do THEY find the training....not too heavy, not too light? Is it "Just right"?
Ask if they are energised by the training, or feeling totally fatigued?
Are they feeling stronger, or sorer?
And if you are starting your preseason, talk to your coaches, health professionals and peers. Find your "sweet spot" for training...and have a great season.