MINIMISING RISK OF INJURY IN YOUTH SPORT

Injuries are something that I unfortunately have a lot of experience with. Whether that be through my own time as an athlete or through the athletes I work with in the gym each week.

The truth is that injuries will always be a part of youth sport. The good news is that there’s a lot of things that can be done to help minimise the risk of many injuries you see, such as ACL tears, muscles strains, tendonitis, ‘growing pains’, etc.

Here a a few quick tips to help you on your way:

1. Don’t specialise too early. Play as many sports as possible to help your body develop different movement patterns, increasing your physical literacy and movement competency.

2. Warm up. Run through an effective 10 – 15 minute warm up before practice and competition. This does not mean that you should simply go for a jog and do some leg swings. An effective warm up involves raising your heart rate, activating specific muscles, mobilising joints and potentiating your nervous system. This will need to be tailored to each individuals specific needs to get the most out of their warm up.

3. Resistance training. Undertake a progressive resistance training program focusing on technique, motor control, strength and joint mobility/stability. This helps to correct muscular imbalances, strengthen muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons and create strong robust athletes.

4. Manage training loads. Slowly progress training loads and avoid large spikes and drops in training. Training loads will also need to be adapted depending on your current life stresses and competition schedule.

5. Recovery. Make sure you are covering the three bigs rocks of recovery: nutrition, hydration and sleep. Once these are covered you can look into alternative options (e.g. compression gear, massage, hydrotherapy, etc).

6. Don’t do stupid things. This one is pretty self explanatory, but probably the most important! I wish I listened to this one when I was younger!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Harry Weatherstone is the founder of the Youth Athletic Development Academy and the head Strength and Conditioning Coach at St. Andrew’s Anglican College. He is an ASCA accredited Strength and Conditioning Coach and has a Bachelors Degree in Sport and Exercise Science and Sport Management. Harry has been a sports coach for the last nine years, surrounding himself in high performance sport, athletic development and performance throughout New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and now Queensland. He has dedicated the last six years of his life to creating this movement in youth athletic development; investing countless hours into his own professional development to create the best programs possible for his students, athletes and clients.

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