Injury Prevention In Youth Soccer
Physical exercise like playing soccer is preventative for many disease processes. Diseases brought about by obesity, for example, are often prevented or avoided through regular physical exercise. It's ironic, therefore, that physical activity itself can cause injury too. As with all things: too much of a good thing can be bad for us. Being or getting physically fit isn't something we can rush into. It's a process. Staying physically fit means subjecting our bodies to controlled stress over time. If we over do it, we can hurt ourselves. If we do too much too fast, we can hurt ourselves. If we don't learn to maintain a more physically fit body that is subjected to regular controlled stress, we can hurt ourselves. Let's talk about it. JRR007 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]Injury Prevention in Youth Soccer - TypesInjuries in youth soccer come in many forms. If you've been listening to this show for long, you know that I gather a lot of things under the safety umbrella: Physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual predation, physical injury, etc. For this episode, let's narrow the focus to avoiding physical injuries due to overuse, over stress, or subjecting athletes to situations where either their bodies or their support system is not prepared. Further, let's break physical injuries into a few sub categories, including:Too much, too fast (coming up off the couch after a long summer of inactivity)Overload (not maintaining balance between stress and recovery)Internal injuriesEquipment and Environmental situations Overuse injuries brought about by stacking similar body movements from different sports on top of one anotherAs always, I'm not going to merely describe each of these five physical injury hot spots, but I will attempt to provide some solutions that you can use to prevent injuries for your soccer players. PLEASE: support the show and/or join our community as a Patron through my Patreon pageToo Much Too FastNot all kids are created equal. As kids get older, their natural flexibility starts to decrease. I'm pretty sure every listener of this show is painfully aware of decreased flexibility that comes with age, but it might not be common knowledge that this decrease in flexibility can start as early as Junior High School. It's true that most kids are still more flexible than most adults, but bones begin to harden, muscles and sinews stretch with the rapid growth of bones and support structures, and additional stress on the body in the form of additional weight all become contributing factors and good reasons for coaches and parents to start paying attention to fitness, stretching, and whole body conditioning early on. I coach high school kids between the ages of 14 and 18. I worry about making sure my players don't get hurt - particularly early in the season before their bodies have a chance to adjust to what amounts to an increased level of activity for most of them. A summer of sitting on the couch seems more and more common these days. It used to be that kids were outside playing street hockey, kick the can, kill-the-guy-with-the-ball (a form of tag), kickball, swimming, frisbee, stick ball, and all manner of creative outdoor games kids use to love. We have a real issue today with kids literally sitting on the couch if they're not being directly instructed to physically play. This makes the Too Much Too Fast problem a real concern. Without adequate pre-season conditioning, players are at risk for stretching, tears, pulls, and even metabolic problems (that I'll talk more about in a minute). Perhaps equally as important, players who's bodies are not prepared for the rigors of a soccer match won't enjoy the match as much. They won't play as well because they're in their head worrying about being gassed. Or, they find themselves facing an early injury they end up wrestling with the rest of the season, or a season-ending injury that takes them out of the game all together.
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