In the last few years it appears that the number of injuries to professional and collegiate players, especially early in the season, has increased greatly. Every week you can read articles about star players being injured. You can even hear fans complaining that if only the athletes weren’t injured, the team would be having a much better season. All injuries are not preventable; however, the number of injuries can be cut down greatly through proper training. This is a proven fact but most teams, especially professional teams, seem to ignore this. They keep hoping that their players will not get injured. But if they do get injured, “it is part of the game.”

One of the reasons for this is that little attention has been paid to the type of training done and when it is done. Also, many players come into pre-season camps out of shape and then work hard to get in shape in 2-4 weeks. But this is impossible. They may get over some of the soreness experienced in the first few days, but it does not prepare the athlete for competition and it is a far cry from preventing injury. The demands of most sports are quite high, and if the athlete is not already in good condition prior to the season it is impossible to get him or her in good shape during the season. Thus, they will always be playing at a sub-par level and be more prone to injury. In addition, programs to develop greater strength or other qualities in-season often lead to more injuries. The reason for this is that the weight training may interfere with the skills that must be executed on the field. This disruption of coordination is a leading cause of injury.

Understand that most injuries have a neuromuscular base. It is a combination of technique and strength or other physical qualities as they relate to the execution of the skills on the field. For example, many players get injured while running and executing cutting actions, two of the more common skills that most players, especially team sport players, must continually execute. When physical contact is added to improper technique, the chances of injuries are increased. For example, many players get hit during the execution of a poor cut which places their leg or body in a vulnerable position. If they had better cutting or running technique, the chance of injury would be less because they would be in a safer position when contact is made.

The above applies equally to the lower-level athlete as well as the elite athlete. Because of this, more attention should be focused on technique of the skills of running, cutting and other key movement skills. This can be done in-season as well as prior to the season. In addition, the players should already have ample strength, speed, quickness, and explosive power developed prior to the season. If not they should continue to work on speed, quickness and explosive power, especially the technique involved in the skills  that exhibit these physical abilities. Strength, however, should be maintained -not increased- as it will interfere with technique execution.

Also, because most teams do not use effective restorative methods after playing a game, it usually takes 2-3 days before the athlete recovers sufficiently for any type of worthwhile training. This does not leave any time to develop new physical qualities prior to preparation for the next game. Thus, the concept of physically preparing the players while in season is only partially effective. It should revolve mainly around fine-tuning the physical and technical abilities already developed. In all cases they should not, as too often presently occurs, play in the hope of getting ready to play.