How to deal with injured athletes...
We’ve all heard about ’8 Week Fitness Challenges’ run out of almost every commercial fitness centre, well, this is a ’8 Week Coaching Challenge’ designed to help improve your coaching.
At the end of each week we will post a Coaching Challenge for you to integrate into your coaching for the following week.
An unfortunate side effect of playing and training for sports is that injuries do occur.
Sure, we are improving our abilities to minimise the occurrence and reduce the rehabilitation time but the fact of the matter is that you’re going to have injured athletes.
From the athlete’s mental-health point of view, with a few short-term exceptions, it is best to keep them involved in training.
The worst thing a coach can do is to forget about, or even discard, the injured athlete.
In fact, the only thing worse than seeing the Sick, Lame & Lazy (SLL) standing around doing nothing is to not see them at training at all.
This leads us to this week’s challenge.
Coaching Challenge 5: The SLL return to play as a better people, athletes and players than they were before they were injured.
To do this Coach Challenge properly, it will soon be evident that the SLL are going to be the busiest athletes in your squad. This is undoubtably a very good side effect.
Step 1: Work out what planned activities the athlete can do: where can they slot into training as per normal?
For example, can they do the warm up with the squad? What about the tactical or technical sections (where play might be slower and more controlled)? What about the pure skill components of training?
Step 2: See what weaknesses they can address while out injured.
Think of the injury-period as a mini-preseason where some extra work can be done that would otherwise be impossible to fit in.
For example, does the athlete need extra muscle added on? More speed work? Time to rehab some other injuries? What about some individual skill work?
Step 3: Organise for your S&C coach and athlete to meet and discuss a return to play plan that includes improving the physical fitness of the athlete.
(I can almost guarantee your S&C coach will relish the opportunity to have the athlete return fitter than before the injury).
Step 4: Create times in training for the SLL to drive the skills, drills & games.
They must plan, implement and review sections of training that contribute to the development of the squad.
Step 5: Connect each of the SLL with a younger athlete or team they can mentor or coach.
We’ve seen it over and over – a sure way for someone to feel good about themselves is for them to help someone else.
And think how much the youngsters will benefit?
Step 6: Include every one of the SLL on game day.
This is possibly the day that they may feel the greatest sense of loss so make sure they are well appreciated and involved.
Possible roles for the SLL:
- Recovery and Hydration Manager (e.g. filling water bottles, handing out snacks, etc.)
- Director of Statistics & Data (e.g. record tackles, or splits, or serve percentage, etc.)
- Chief Video Officer (includes filming, reviewing & feedback)
These steps are not static. As the athlete recovers so more time will be spent at Step 1, so ensure you re-evaluate the plan regularly.
If you felt the Coaching Challenge helped, or stimulated you in some way, please feel free to share this page or leave a comment below – we’d love to hear about your experience.
For more Coaching Challenges click here.