I did something I have never done before at a Fit2Finish soccer session recently. I scrapped my complete injury prevention training plan, and we spent the whole 40 minutes talking, stretching and mending. Why? Because all but one of the players in the group were injured! Several told me they would be training later that evening after doing camp all day. And this was the third day of four-day summer soccer camp.They would be back again tomorrow.
How have things come to this?
This is a question I don’t have a good answer to. Because??? … this is what we do in youth soccer? Peer pressure. Peer expectations. Kids need something to do for the summer. Because coach said so. Season is starting soon. It seemed like a good idea on Monday…
All I know is that I’m looking at a bunch of beat up girls and know that my injury “prevention” training will do them no good if they’re already injured. They seem relieved that I am not gonna make them further aggravate their knees, shins, hips, backs and ankles.
So, now what?
I begin where I begin with all players old enough to understand this. “Not all injuries are preventable.” That, of course, is obvious and draws some chuckles from this group, but it doesn’t go without saying because it’s the prelude to the rest of the message I have for all kids: “You can’t prevent it when a player slide tackles you from behind and takes out your knee”….”But I don’t want you to be that player.”
There are grimaces, nods of assent and shakes of the head. I have their attention.
Your body is the most precious thing you have. It is yours and no one else’s. What you do with it is up to you. Completely. That means that too much is too much. Two and three teams. Multiple coaches. Overlapping schedules. Little rest and eating on the run. These are all things they must say no to, so they can say yes to themselves. “No,” I tell them, “is a complete sentence,” realizing that this is something I have to keep reminding myself.
They know what’s good for them, and they know what’s not. I don’t want them to be the player who is injured, just as I don’t want them to be the player guilty of causing an injury. To anyone.
The Fit2Finish session is designed to prevent injury so everyone can play well. Some days, this means we don’t train; we just talk, rest and stretch. Because this is what their bodies need. There’s a lot about the body that kids don’t understand. Injury prevention, they definitely get. Keeping their body healthy, on the other hand, is something they are eager to learn about.
They have a long way to go with the body they’ve got. Preventing the injuries we can is every body’s business.