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Monthly Archives: October 2016

Tips to Coaching

What Coaches Can Do to Create a Positive Youth Sports Experience

  • Redefine success.
  • Be knowledgeable about the sport you are coaching.
  • Be knowledgeable about the age group you are coaching.
  • Understand the unique developmental skill patterns of that age group and make adjustments for that skill level.
  • Remember that the inability to perform a certain skill may just be a lack of developmental timing, rather than a true lack of ability.
  • Reinforce and refine the skills that are achieved without pushing too quickly for other skills.
  • Give kids small tasks to learn to increase chances for accomplishment.
  • Be enthusiastic and genuine.
  • Make kids feel comfortable so they are not afraid to try new skills.
  • Let everyone play and substitute players frequently.
  • Focus your verbal support on what skills they do right. Then your coaching support can more easily be directed at making constructive corrections in other skills.
  • Understand chemical development so you do not train a child like an adult, risking overtraining and injury.
  • Know the limitations of aerobic development so you can maintain a solid aerobic base without overtraining, and concentrate on technique.
  • Use caution in warmer conditions and hot environments and take frequent water breaks.
  • Know when the circumstances are appropriate for weight training.
  • Make your rewarding statements sincere.
  • Have realistic expectations and communicate them so the active youngster can see improvement and acknowledge accomplishment more frequently and be more protected from societal pressure to perform for an ultimate prize.
  • Be alert for signs of overtraining and burnout.
  • Keep kids motivated with positive feedback.
  • Remember the importance of positive effects on early psychological development.
  • As kids progress, give meaningful input on winning and losing and emphasize that every practice and competition is an opportunity to learn and improve.
  • Teach how to learn from successes, disappointments, and everything in between.
  • Do not coach by intimidation.
  • Be a good role model.
  • Instill good sportsmanship (they are watching your example).
  • Teach good fundamental skills that the child can use to build on with the next coach or activity.
  • Foster a sense of self-worth and confidence in the child or teen.
  • Emphasize effort and accomplishment more than winning.
  • Gear the activity toward fun and a positive experience.You may be the very coach that helps inspire a child to stay involved in a sport and truly maximize his or her potential for reality success.

Diving

 Diving is considered a collision sport because of the impact with the water on entry. A diver entering the water from the 10-meter platform is traveling almost 40 miles per hour. These forces are enough to break bones and dislocate joints. Divers are also at risk of injuries from hitting the board or platform as well as overuse injuries similar to gymnasts from frequent jumping, back arching, trunk flexion, and back twisting. Injuries can also occur from training on “dry land.” This type of training usually includes weight lifting and the use of spotting belts, trampolines, and springboards.

While injuries do occur in competitive diving, unsupervised or recreational diving is associated with a far greater risk of serious injury or even death. The following is information from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) about how to prevent diving injuries. Also included is an overview of common diving injuries.

Injury prevention and safety tips

  • Rules. Swimmers should follow pool rules at all times, including
    • Never swim alone. The pool should be supervised.
    • Don’t run on pool decks and wet areas. Abrasions and contusions (bruises) commonly occur from careless falls.
    • Don’t dive in shallow water or any water where the depth is not known.Swimmers should know how deep the pool is and avoid diving into shallow pools less than 3 feet deep. This will help prevent serious head and neck injuries.
  • Equipment. Safety gear includes
    • Swim caps
    • Sun protection (sunscreen, lip balm with sunblock) when outdoors
  • Emergency plan. Teams should develop and practice an emergency plan so that team members know their roles in emergency situations in or out of the water. The plan would include first aid and emergency contact information. All members of the team should receive a written copy each season. Parents also should be familiar with the plan and review it with their children.

Common injuries

Shoulder injuries

Shoulder injuries typically occur during water entry when arms extended overhead get forced back. Athletes usually feel the shoulder pop out of joint when their shoulders are dislocated. Most of the time the shoulder goes back into the joint on its own; this is called a subluxation (partial dislocation). If the athlete requires help to get it back in, it is called a dislocation. Risk of dislocation recurrence is high for youth participating in these sports. Shoulder strengthening exercises, braces and, in some cases, surgery may be recommended to prevent recurrence.

Chronic shoulder pain is usually due to a pinching of the rotator cuff (the tendons around the top of the shoulder). This is more common in athletes with weak shoulder blade muscles. Symptoms include a dull pain or achiness over the front or side of the shoulder that worsens when the arm is overhead. Treatment involves exercises to strengthen the shoulder blade muscles and the rotator cuff.

Neck injuries

Repetitive extension of the neck on water entry can cause an irritation of the neck joints. This results in muscle spasms and stiffness when rotating the neck or looking up. Athletes with tingling or burning down the arm may have a cervical disc herniation or “stinger” and should see a doctor. Stingers are stretch injuries to the nerves in the neck and spine. Because the force of impact is greater with 10-meter platform diving, there are more complaints of neck problems with tower divers.

Elbow injuries

Elbow pain can occur when an athlete’s elbow hyperextends on entry into the water. The ulnar nerve (“funny bone”) can be stretched and cause pain, numbness, or burning down the arm into the fingers. If the ligament of the elbow is stretched, it can cause pain, weakness, and instability of the elbow. Athletes with pain on the outside of the elbow may have a condition called osteochondritis dissecans. This condition can cause an inability to straighten the elbow and locking, catching, or swelling of the elbow. X-rays may beneeded to confirm diagnosis.

Wrist/hand injuries

When divers enter the water, they grasp their hands one on top of the other with the palm facing toward the water. As they try to “punch” a hole in the water, thewrist gets bent backward. Doing this repetitively causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and irritation of the wrist joint. This can be treated with rest, ice, and nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs. Taping or bracing the wrist can also prevent further injury.

When divers reach for the water and attempt to grasp their hands for entry, they occasionally hyperextend the thumb. This causes a sprain to the base of the thumb. Symptoms include pain, swelling, instability, and weakness of the thumb. This can be treated, and may be prevented, by taping the thumb while diving. Occasionally, a custom thumb splint or even surgery is necessary to stabilize the thumb.

Low back pain

Spondylolysis, stress fractures of the bones in the lower spine, is due to overuse from arching or extending of the back. Symptoms include low back pain that feels worse with back extension activities. Back or reverse dives are often more painful. Treatment of spondylolysis includes rest from diving, physical therapy to improve flexibility and low back and core (trunk) strength, and possibly a back brace. Athletes with low back pain for longer than 2 weeks should see a doctor. X-rays are usually normal so other tests are often needed to diagnose spondylolysis. Successful treatment requires early recognition of the problem and timely treatment.

Disc injury may cause low back pain that occurs with flexion—including pike and tuck dives. The pain is usually worse on one side, extends into the buttock, and occasionally down the leg. Disc-related pain can also occur with sitting, lifting, jumping, and twisting. Successful treatment requires early recognition of the problem and timely treatment.

Knee injuries

There are thousands of jumps in practice for each dive seen in competition. Jumping causes pressure on the kneecap and can result in pain in the front of the knee. Patellar tendonitis (also called jumper’s knee) causes pain
just below the kneecap. Treatment requires identifying and addressing the causes of the pain.

The number of dives performed; dry land training; poor flexibility; strength imbalances; and malalignment of the hips, knees, and feet can also contribute to knee pain. Because corrective shoes, orthotics, and knee braces aren’t practical while diving, physical therapy, patellar taping, and training modifications are the mainstays of therapy.

Cheerleading

 Cheerleading is often thought of as a sport only for high school and college athletes. However, it is becoming more popular among younger athletes as well.

Cheerleading shares many of the same types of injuries seen in other jumping sports. However, the risk of injury can be reduced. The following is information from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) about how to prevent cheerleading injuries. Also included is an overview of common cheerleading injuries.

Injury prevention and safety tips

  • Equipment. The American Association of Cheerleading Coaches & Administrators (AACCA) recommends using mats or a soft, even surface when learning new skills as well as during competition.
  • Fitness. Athletes should maintain a good fitness level during the season and off-season. Preseason training should allow time for general conditioning and sport-specific conditioning. Also important are proper warm-up and cool-down exercises.
  • Coaches. It is important for coaches to be experienced and familiar with the rules. Cheerleaders are less likely to be injured if their coach has completed a coaching class such as from the AACCA Safety Course; has more than 1 year of coaching experience; and has a college degree. All coaches should be familiar with the National Federation of High Schools guidelines, which include restrictions on basket tosses, pyramid heights, and twisting/flipping stunts.
  • Spotters. All cheerleaders should be trained to spot properly. Spotters assist or catch the top person in a partner stunt or pyramid. Proper supervision and spotting should be available at all times.
  • Emergency plan. Teams should develop and practice an emergency plan so that team members know their roles in emergency situations. The plan would include first aid and emergency contact instructions. All members of the team should receive a written copy each season. Parents also should be familiar with the plan and review it with their children.

Common injuries

Ankle sprains

Ankle sprains are the most common cheerleading injury and usually happen when the cheerleader lands on the outside of the foot, twisting the ankle inward. Injuries to the bone are more common than injuries to the ligament, especially in younger athletes.

Treatment begins with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). Athletes should see a doctor as soon as possible if they cannot walk on the injured ankle or have severe pain, especially in the bony parts of the foot or ankle. X-rays are often needed.

Knee injuries

Knee injuries commonly occur when a cheerleader lands awkwardly from a jump. Ananterior cruciate ligament tear is usually associated with sudden knee pain and giving way from a twisting, knock-kneed, or hyperextension injury.

Treatment begins with RICE. Athletes should see a doctor as soon as possible if they cannot walk on the injured knee. Knee fractures may not heal if the knee is not treated properly. Athletes should also see a doctor if the knee is swollen, a pop is felt at the time of injury, or the knee feels loose or like it will give way.

Cheerleaders can also get overuse knee injuries, such as patellar tendonitis orOsgood-Schlatter disease, which are common in sports that require a lot of jumping. They usually cause pain just below the kneecap. These injuries can be treated with rest, ice, taping or bracing, stretching, strengthening, and/or physical therapy.

Wrist injuries

Wrist injuries usually happen when a cheerleader falls onto an outstretched hand. Both bone and ligament injuries in the wrist can occur with a fall.

Treatment begins with RICE. Athletes should see a doctor if their wrists are swollen or painful the next day. X-rays are often needed.

Low-back pain

Spondylolysis, a stress fracture in the spine, is a common injury in athletes who do a lot of jumping, tumbling, and back-bending activities. Symptoms include low-back pain that feels worse with back extension activities, like back walkovers or back handsprings. Cheerleaders with low-back pain for longer than 2 weeks should see a doctor. X-rays are usually normal at first so other tests are often needed to diagnose spondylolysis.

Athletes with spondylolysis must rest from back extension activities for several weeks, and usually months. Physical therapy to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles will also help athletes recover.  Back braces are unnecessary in most cases.

Head injuries

Concussions in cheerleading usually occur when a cheerleader’s head hits the ground after a severe fall. A concussion is any injury to the brain that disrupts normal brain function on a temporary or permanent basis.

The signs and symptoms of a concussion range from subtle to obvious and usually happen right after the injury but may take hours to days to show up. Athletes who have had concussions may report feeling normal before their brain has fully recovery. With most concussions, the player is not knocked out or unconscious.

Prematurely returning to play after a concussion can lead to another concussion or even death. An athlete with a history of concussion may be more susceptible to another injury than an athlete with no history of concussion.

Catastrophic injuries

Catastrophic injuries can occur if a cheerleader falls from the top of a pyramid, lift, or basket toss. Head injuries, like concussions or skull fractures, and spine injuries, like fractures or paralysis, may occur after a severe fall. If a severe fall occurs, the athlete should not be moved and the emergency plan should be started right away. No athlete with a concussion or spine injury should return to sports unless it’s cleared in writing by a doctor.

Baseball and Softball

 Baseball and softball are extremely popular among America’s youth. Injuries are common because of the large number of athletes participating. While most injuries are acute, there are specific overuse injuries that commonly affect young ball players. Most of these injuries can be prevented.

The following is information from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) about how to prevent baseball and softball injuries. Also included is an overview of common injuries.

Injury Prevention and Safety Tips

Sports Physical Exam

Athletes should have a preparticipation physical evaluation (PPE) to make sure they are ready to safely begin the sport. The best time for a PPE is about 4 to 6 weeks before the beginning of the season. Athletes also should see their doctors for routinewell-child checkups.

Fitness

Athletes should maintain a good fitness level during the season and off-season. Preseason training should allow time for general conditioning and sport-specific conditioning. Also important are proper warm-up and cool-down exercises.

Technique

Athletes should learn and practice safe techniques for performing the skills that are integral to their sport. For example, baseball and softball players should avoid headfirst slides, and run bases with a helmet and break-away bases. Athletes should work with coaches and athletic trainers on achieving proper technique.

Equipment

Safety gear should fit properly and be well maintained

  • Protective eyewear. Glasses or goggles should be made with polycarbonate or a similar material. The material should conform to the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials. Batting helmets and catcher’s masks with face masks also are recommended.
  • Shoes with rubber (not metal) spikes
  • Pads (knee and shin guards)
  • Athletic supporters and cups for boys
  • For catchers: helmets with face guards, throat guards, knee-saver pads, and chest protectors (Note: Chest protectors cannot prevent direct trauma to the heart.)
  • For batters: batting helmets, face guards
  • Safety baseballs (Softer balls decrease overall injury from getting struck by the ball in addition to lowering the risk of commotio cordis.)

Environment

  • Heat. Proper hydration and scheduling practices and games during cooler times of the day can prevent heat-related illness and dehydration.
  • Lightning. Guidelines should be in place to postpone play until a safer time. Play should be stopped for 30 minutes after the last strike if lightning is detected within a 6-mile radius (follow the 5 second per mile rule). A safe area (buildings with metal pipes or well-grounded wires) should be identified ahead of time. No one should stand under the bleachers or other non-grounded structures.
  • The field. A safe playing field is free of debris; holes and uneven surfaces should be repaired. The infield and pitcher’s mounds should be raked and smoothed regularly. Evening games should be well lit. Breakaway bases should be used to reduce injuries from sliding. A runner’s base placed to the right of the first base foul line in the runner’s lane is one way to help prevent collisions at first base. Safety screens should be in place to protect the dugouts from balls and thrown bats.

Emergency Plan

Teams should develop and practice an emergency plan so that team members know their roles in emergency situations. The plan would include first aid and emergency contact information. All members of the team should receive a written copy each season. Parents also should be familiar with the plan and review it with their children.

Common Injuries

General Treatment for Acute Injuries

Rest, ice, compression, and elevation is the first step in treating an acute injury accompanied by pain and swelling. Athletes should stop playing and apply ice directly to the injured area for 20 minutes. After icing, an ACE bandage can be used to limit swelling. The injured area should be raised above the heart to limit swelling.

Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder impingement is an overuse injury that causes achy pain on the front or side of the shoulder. The pain is felt most when the arm is overhead or extended to the side. Shoulder impingement is common in young athletes with weak upper back and shoulder muscles. Off-season stretching of the back of the shoulder and strengthening of the shoulder blade and core muscles can help prevent these injuries.

Baseball pitchers and other high-volume throwers (for example, catchers) are at risk for Little League shoulder, an irritation to the growth plate in the humerus bone of the shoulder. Limiting the number of pitches a player can throw during a practice or game can help prevent these types of overuse injuries (pitch count guidelines based on age are published by USA Baseball). Any athlete who has shoulder pain for more than 7 to 10 days should see a doctor.

Elbow Injuries

Elbow injuries are very common in baseball players, especially pitchers, and includeLittle League elbow (irritation of the growth plate of the humerus bone of the elbow). As with shoulder injuries, limiting the number of pitches a player throws during a practice or game can help prevent overuse injuries.

Ankle Injuries

Ankle injuries often occur as a result of uneven playing fields or sliding into bases, or from improper rehabilitation/ protection after injury. Fields should be well maintained and breakaway bases should be used. Use of ankle braces and ankle exercises that strengthen and improve balance of the ankles may prevent repeat injury.

Eye Injuries

Eye injuries typically occur from contact with the ball, bat, or a finger. Any injury that affects vision or is associated with swelling or blood inside the eye should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist. Athletes should also stay a safe distance away from any player swinging a bat or playing catch. The AAP recommends that children involved in organized sports wear appropriate protective eyewear.

Heat-Related Illnesses

Athletes who are dizzy or confused, or complain of a headache, are most likely suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Any athlete suspected of having heat illness should immediately be removed from play, cooled by any means available, and transported by emergency medical services (call 911).

Heat-related illnesses can be prevented when athletes are given adequate time to get used to exercising in the heat (usually takes 1 to 2 weeks). Drinking water or a sports drink before, during, and after training, as well as avoiding stimulants includingcaffeine, can also help.

Commotio Cordis

Sudden death as a result of a significant impact to the chest is known as commotio cordis. The usual cause is impact from a baseball, lacrosse ball, or puck, or a direct blow in football or hockey. Recognition and resuscitation alone are rarely successful; however, if available an automated external defibrillator can successfully resuscitate athletes with this condition.