Video Can Help Mitigate Risk and Prioritize Your Athletes’ Health

Injuries are a part of sports, but there are steps you can take to bet­ter pro­tect your play­ers and low­er their risk of get­ting hurt.

Video Can Help Mitigate Risk and Prioritize Your Athletes’ Health

Injuries are a part of sports, but there are steps you can take to bet­ter pro­tect your play­ers and low­er their risk of get­ting hurt.

Athlete safe­ty has nev­er been more promi­nent in sports than it is now. Some NFL play­ers are con­sid­er­ing ear­ly retire­ment to pre­serve their bod­ies, NBA teams rou­tine­ly rest their stars to pre­vent wear and tear, and soc­cer influ­encers are learn­ing more about the impact head­ers have on concussions.

While pro­fes­sion­al and col­lege teams gar­ner most of the con­ver­sa­tion, these top­ics cer­tain­ly affect high school ath­letes as well. Younger play­ers are still devel­op­ing phys­i­cal­ly and haven’t reached their peaks, leav­ing their bod­ies vul­ner­a­ble to addi­tion­al punishment.

Coaches and ath­let­ic direc­tors want to keep their play­ers safe at all costs, for both the ben­e­fit of the indi­vid­ual and the team, but how can you pro­tect ath­letes across your pro­gram? Here are a few ideas to keep your ath­letes healthy and in the game.

Prepare Them

Every time an ath­lete steps on the court, field or rink, they’re putting their body at risk. Sports involve move­ment and col­li­sions the body isn’t nat­u­ral­ly trained for, and ath­let­ics some­times push the limits.

You can mit­i­gate risk by prop­er­ly prepar­ing ath­letes, start­ing with off­sea­son train­ing. The more engaged the body is year-round, the less shock it will receive when the sea­son begins. Through off­sea­son con­di­tion­ing and weight lift­ing, ath­letes train their bod­ies to han­dle the grind of the season.

Preparation goes beyond what occurs dur­ing play or in the weight room. What ath­letes eat and drink great­ly impacts their per­for­mance. The bet­ter fuel you put in a car’s engine, the bet­ter it will per­form. Make sure your cafe­te­ria offers healthy options and con­sid­er sup­ply­ing pro­tein shakes or fruit after prac­tices. If play­ers con­stant­ly fill up on piz­za, hot dogs and soda, their play will suf­fer and their defens­es will be vulnerable.

Sleep also plays a huge fac­tor in health. The body needs time to recharge and heal, and if play­ers are rou­tine­ly get­ting sev­en or eight hours a night, they will be bet­ter pre­pared for com­pe­ti­tion and less sus­cep­ti­ble to injury.

None of these ideas are exact­ly rev­o­lu­tion­ary, but do high school ath­letes know about them? Think back to your own teenage years — were you con­cerned about how much water you drank or how much sleep you got? Most high school­ers sim­ply don’t know how impor­tant these fac­tors are, so edu­cate them. Hold ses­sions before each sea­son and stress the impor­tance of healthy diets and get­ting rest. You can’t force them to go to bed ear­ly or take the cheese­burg­er out of their hand, but you can help them real­ize how they can help themselves.

Utilize Video

No mat­ter how much you pre­pare the body for action, sports require a num­ber of col­li­sions, falls, twists and turns — wear and tear is inevitable. Even if an ath­lete avoids major injury, each prac­tice and game puts a few more miles on his or her odometer.

One way to lim­it ero­sion is lim­it­ing phys­i­cal reps and increas­ing men­tal ones, an idea many high school teams are already embrac­ing. The Pennfield High School (N.Y.) foot­ball team is a prime exam­ple. Jay Johnson, the head coach and for­mer mem­ber of the Pittsburgh Steelers, saw NFL teams using more video to cut down on col­li­sions with­out affect­ing performance.

Athletes build mus­cle mem­o­ry from watch­ing them­selves and oth­ers per­form. When they sub­se­quent­ly take the field or court, they’re more like­ly to use prop­er tech­nique, which cuts down on sense­less injuries. 

The most impor­tant thing for me is, with Hudl I don’t have to get a kid to pound his head into anoth­er kid 80 times to get 80 reps,” Johnson said. I can have them do it 10 – 20 times, and then they can watch it and cre­ate mus­cle mem­o­ry through that. With all the research about the impact with the head and neck and spine, it reduces a ton of that. It reduces the hits and cre­ates mus­cle memory.”

There is no sure­fire way to pre­vent injuries. Accidents will unfor­tu­nate­ly always be a part of sports. But coach­es and ath­let­ic direc­tors can help lessen the chances by edu­cat­ing their ath­letes, keep­ing them active in the off­sea­son, sup­ply­ing them with the finest equip­ment, and reduc­ing the blows their bod­ies take. The less injuries your ath­letes sus­tain, the hap­pi­er and health­i­er they will be — and the more suc­cess your teams will have.