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Prevent Future Problems for Your All-star

First! I am not trying to push you from letting your kids play sports! But, I also don’t want your kid set up for future problems! I have the privilege of working with many different athletes, all from different backgrounds and waves of life. Throughout my time in training these athletes, I have noticed a few haunting patterns, especially when it comes to “retired” athletes. When I say retired, I don’t mean former pro athletes, I mean athletes who played their respective sports from when they were a kid until the end of their high school or collegiate careers.

The one thing I find is that, in many of these athletes, some of their joints and ligaments have absolutely no strength or stability! When I start working with former baseball pitchers, I have noticed most of these athletes have real struggles getting anything overhead and even more trouble holding things there. Years and years of throwing, mostly at their respective limits, really takes its toll on the shoulder joint and the muscles surrounding it. Factor in improper mechanics, such as poor shoulder position, and the effects are compounded!

I’ve noticed similar issues in the knees and ankles of former basketball and football players. I cringe every time I think about the number of athletes going down with knee (especially ACL, MCL) and ankle issues. Year after year of cutting and running, again, takes its toll on the joints, muscles, and ligaments. And again, improper mechanics only compounds the effects of these activities.

Now, I will reiterate! Even after that little rant, I am NOT trying to get you to stop letting your kids play sports! I will never say that. I believe sports are vital for the development of our kids, and, more importantly, instill in them discipline, hard work, and confidence!

But, what I am saying is that now is the time to start building strength and proper mechanics! Strength is sometimes a concern for some coaches/parents, but PROPER MECHANICS are almost always overlooked! I’ve seen too many instances of weight lifted being the priority instead of the more important things like how the knee is tracking, are they using proper weight distribution, or if the athlete can properly brace their core.

By starting at a younger age, your athlete’s body will be able to grow as the demands of their sport grow. By instilling proper mechanics, through targeted movements and exercises, you will help prevent many of the injuries we see plaguing sports today! Sure, a small percentage of the injuries come from freak accidents or genetics, which can’t be avoided, but a large majority can be prevented with proper mechanics and maintenance!

If an athlete is taught how to properly track their knee during a squat, with or without weight, their body will know how it should track when they cut on the court or field. If they are taught proper shoulder position in a push up or overhead press, their body will start to default to the proper positioning instead of a compromising position. These are just two examples of how proper mechanics can go a long way to extend the longevity of an athlete’s career!

Depending on the age of the athlete, they don’t necessarily need to be lifting heavy weight, if any. But no matter their age, they do need to be taught proper movement, mechanics, and maintenance! Doing so will start them on a path that will promote constant growth and longevity in their sport and their life after sports.

About the author:

Troy Folse is the head coach and manager at Crossfit 28 in Pineville, La. He played 4 years of college basketball, as well as one season of collegiate tennis and cross country. He has trained multiple high school and collegiate athletes and teams from various sports. 

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