When we think of reducing injuries we often think of pre-hab routines, ACL prevention programs or things like stretching and foam rollers. Done correctly,consistently and with qualified coaching those things have been proven to be helpful in reducing the likelihood of injury. But two recent studies point in another direction, to things we can do outside the gym or workout that appear to have at least as great an impact on brining injury rates down.
A study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports followed 340 students at elite level sports high schools in Sweden over a school year. The athletes came from a variety of sports. During the second semester the researchers found that athletes who reported sleeping at least eight hours per night during the first semester were 61 percent less likely to report and injury ( a physical complaint that produced pain, reduced their performance or caused them to miss training) during the second semester.
61 percent is a big number but, a study at Harvard-Westlake high school in California found a similar relationship between sleep and injury. Student athletes who slept fewer than eight hours a night were almost 70 percent more likely to get injured.
The Swedish study also found that student athletes who reported eating the recommended amounts of fruits, vegetables and fish were 64 percent less likely to report an injury.
We talk with athletes we coach about the stress and recovery cycle; about matching the hard work of training or competition with the things we need to adapt and grow. We ask, “ What do you need to put in the recovery bucket to help you play well, stay healthy and get the most out of your sport?” Sleep and nutrition are always near the top of the list. The next step of course is to change behaviors.
This doesn’t mean that eating your vegetables and going to bed will make you bullet proof. But, combined with a good training program those things appear to have a significant impact on keeping you healthy.
If you would like to find out more about the research you can follow the links or check out this article by Alex Hutchinson in Outside Magazine.
You can also check out the research by Cheri Mah with collegiate athletes at Stanford University.
The next training group for U15-18 girls soccer begins January 8. The groups are kept small to accommodate the individual needs of each player. Our group in Victoria trains on Mondays and Thursdays from 3:45 to 5:00 at the Victoria Recreation Center.
If you love to play the game, you enjoy the challenge of getting better and you want to take your play to a new level then consider joining us.
For nearly 15 years Kick-It! Training has been helping young players discover and develop their potential in a healthy, positive environment. Sometimes that means moving from C2 to C1 and sometimes that means taking their game to the collegiate level. But, it’s always about an athlete centered approach that works with the whole person. You can find out what our past players, their coaches and parents think here.
To get the details and sign up click here https://kickittraining.com/training/u15-18-girls-soccer-training-group/
Getting Better Together
A piece of wisdom to ponder over the weekend. I share this because I know from experience it is easy to forget. From THE INNER GAME OF TENNIS.
“But who said that I am to be measured by how well I do things? In fact, who said I should be measured at all? Who indeed? What is required to disengage oneself from this trap is a clear knowledge that the value of a human being cannot be measured by performance – or by any arbitrary measurement. Do we really think the value of a human being is measurable? It doesn’t really make sense to measure ourselves in comparison with other immeasurable beings. In fact, we are what we are; we are NOT how well we happen to perform at a given moment.”
Something to ponder in the season of tournaments and tryouts.
As the club season was winding down last June one of the seniors in this group sent me an e-mail asking if we could start training again to get ready for the upcoming high school season.
And so we put a group together, spread the word and invited a few of the sophomores and juniors to join us.
They wanted to put the emphasis on fitness and conditioning. So we did and it was a lot of hard work. They came to train even when it was hard and they could have been somewhere else. They worked hard and took workouts with them when they couldn’t make a session. And, they challenged and supported each other all the way through.
Two weeks ago they won a conference championship and last night they came from behind to win in overtime in the first round of the section playoffs.
Having a goal is important and then a good process to accomplish it. They brought the first and I provided the second. But … what drives winning or performance is character. It’s what you bring to the process and into the arena that make the biggest difference.
It’s hard to run twenty 30/30’s in a workout. It’s hard to come back from 0-1 with less than 10 minutes to go. That’s where good stuff is though. And the real growth is not in a faster 40 time or bigger vertical jump but in the lessons we learn and the ways we grow as people by stepping up to a challenge.
What was being formed in those days in July and August when they were working on strength or speed or fitness was really character. They have it in spades and it was fun to see them draw on it this week. Good luck going forward!
As Brene Brown says, ” We are hardwired for struggle.” Yet it’s tempting to try to manage our way around it or pull back rather than embrace it, even though we know it’s the struggle and challenge that provide the stimulus for our becoming better athletes and better people.
In his book Listening Point, Sigurd Olson has a short chapter on The Paddle. He writes, ” The paddle is made of native ash from a tree that grew in a cold swamp and gathered its toughness from bitter springs and cold falls when even staying alive had been an effort… into the new paddle went those qualities of texture and spirit that develop only under stress.”
Those qualities of texture and spirit grow in us through our efforts to respond to the difficult days of training, the match with a tough opponent, the recovery from an injury. When we rise to meet the challenge, like that ash tree rising from the cold swamp, reaching for the light, we too gather that toughness and resilience.
It takes patience though. The new growth rarely happens overnight whether it’s physical strength or changing an attitude. As Olson writes about his paddle, ” It’s fineness of grain came from slowness of growth, some so fine it could barely be seen with the naked eye, evidence in those sections that life had been difficult.”
So what’s the challenge you’re facing? Improving a skill; developing a physical quality; changing an attitude or a belief? Maybe it’s not even on the field. Maybe its a difficult conversation you need to have with a teammate or coach or player.
Whatever it is, embrace the struggle. Match your efforts with time to rest. That’s part of the process too. But, embrace the struggle. It’s where the transformation begins.
And, part of what you may discover is, that transformation allows you to bring even more to the people, and causes you care about.
I am inspired almost daily by the athletes and coaches I get to work with. This week I congratulated a college player who was back in the lineup and having a good start to the season after recovering from serious surgery last winter. Her response “Thanks for thinking of me. Trusting the process.”
We talked a lot about trusting the process and leaning into the challenge as she was preparing to make the leap from club to college a few years ago. So, to hear her talk about “trusting the process” had a profound impact.
Trusting the process changes our attitude, internally and externally. We free ourselves up to lean into the challenge. It doesn’t make it easy but it gives us the energy and the courage we need to move forward, physically and mentally. We give ourselves the green light.
When we trust the people in the process, the ones making the journey with us, we often find unimagined resources and support to draw on; the coach or teammate who was there for us in unexpected ways.
Trust is like a muscle – it can be strengthened by exercising it, practicing and dealing with the occasional pain that is part of the process. Lean in this week, trust the process … and the people. Allow yourself to be surprised by the results.
One of the things that comes up right away when I ask sport coaches what their athletes need to work on is running. Poor mechanics diminish speed, make players less efficient and leave them vulnerable to injury.
Like any skill; throwing a ball, swinging a racket or a club it needs to be learned and practiced to improve. But investing the time and energy to develop a smooth, powerful stride that allows for a coherent efficient flow is a game changer.
Steve Magness has a great introduction to running form, why it’s important and how to coach the changes. You can read it here. Its often neglected because coaches don’t know how to coach it or because with a large number of athletes we feel we just don’t have the time. Magness offers some simple thoughts on how and where to begin.
One of the things that’s needed is a whole body integrated approach to learning to run well. Another is an individualized or personalized approach to helping the athlete find cues and adjustments that help them developing a smooth efficient style that’s also their own.
There are few things more satisfying than helping and athlete find that sweet spot and feel the “take off” and ease that comes with it. We can do all the strength training and plyometrics we want but if the mechanics or technique aren’t right we’re wasting energy at best and stacking strength and power on top of dysfunction, courting injury at worst. How may cases of shin splints are influenced by poor mechanics?
Check out Steve’s article and his book the Science of Running and if you want to improve your skill as a runner, whatever your sport or age get in touch by clicking here and we’ll get started.