Training tips to keep you in the game during preseason

August 08, 2012|By Katherine Dunn

Preseason has arrived as the first high school athletes hit the field today for the opening day of fall practice in the MIAA. Public schools start practice Saturday and the girls in the IAAM get back to work next Wednesday.

With many athletes working harder than they have in a while, Archbishop Spalding’s certified athletic trainer T.J. Morgan, president of the Maryland Athletic Trainers’ Association, offers a few tips to help the young athletes keep themselves in the game as they rev up their training during the three-week stretch of preseason:

  1. HYDRATE! “First and foremost during the two-a-days is hydration. They’ve got to hydrate themselves not only before but during and after they practice. Hydration does two things for them. 1. If they’re putting back an electrolyte solution, like a Gatorade or Powerade, it’s going to help replenish the nutrients that they lose. 2. The water that they’re taking in during their practice, before and even after is helping to reduce the possibility of a dehydration event where you would see the athlete have an excessively dry mouth and they’re going to start to experience the symptoms of a heat illness because they’re dehydrated and unable at that point to sweat and that reduces their ability to cool themselves.”
  2. You’re going to be sore. “The bodies are going to get sore even if they’ve trained going into the season and that’s OK. That’s normal. Recognizing the difference between soreness and pain is usually where student athletes have a difficult time. Soreness most people can equate to this: You go out and you bench press and do three sets of 10 on Monday and Wednesday, your chest is sore. That’s normal. That’s muscle soreness as a result of using that muscle. After a few more days, that starts to resolve. The problem is when you’re playing a sport like this, they work those muscles hard today and [Friday] muscle soreness sets in and they’re still working them hard, so they have to take care of those muscles. They have to stretch when they’re out of practice, not just at practice. They have to take the time to recognize that the muscles are sore and cool them and that could be as easy as sitting in a bathtub of cool water until the leg is refreshed. They need to be aware -- is this getting worse? Is it only when I’m playing or is it problematic for me after I’m done playing [that] I still feel this tightness in my leg and it’s starting to be more than just sore, it’s starting to hurt? They have to be aware of the difference. Is it just when I’m playing or is it starting to migrate into my rest time and that’s when they need to alert someone who can help them with that like an athletic trainer.”
  3. The “No pain, no gain” mentality is history. “At some point there is some credence to that, but more importantly, ‘No pain, I play.’ That’s really what they’ve got to think. If there’s no pain, I can play. If there’s soreness that’s where they may have to moderate their activity in order to allow themselves to keep things going. Kids tell me all the time, ‘Well, if I tell you I’m hurt, you’re not going to let me play.’ Well yeah, if you tell me you’re hurt. If you tell me you’re just sore, then we’re going to work on the things we need to work on to allow you to continue to succeed. Knowing the difference between hurt and injured -- most of these kids don’t have a clear concept of that. If it’s preventing you from what you’re trying to do at a high left, then you’re probably dealing with an injury. The kids kind of get caught up with that – am I injured, am I hurt or am I just sore? There’s a spectrum there. If you can’t do what you need to do on the field because something is painful, it’s limiting your ability to do it then we need to reduce your activity. If it’s preventing you from competing at the level you’re normally competing at, it’s going to cause a few things to occur. It impacts your ability to compete and it could compromise your safety. It could compromise a teammate’s safety, because if you’re a pulling guard, for example, and you’re supposed to get out and block for your running back and you can’t get to where you’re supposed to be because your quads or hamstrings are hurting and they’re slowing you down, you’re creating a potential injury situation for somebody else. If it’s preventing you from being able to do your job at the highest level, protecting yourself and your teammates, then you probably need to look at what’s going on a little more seriously.”
  4. The athletic trainer is your friend. “Seek out the athletic trainers if you have them at your school, because the athletic trainers are there to help get you through these getting-in-shape pains and those periods of significant soreness. Even to the point where you roll your ankle and it’s not swollen but hurts to walk on, hurts to jog on, the athletic trainers can really help. If the athletic trainer’s not there, they need to report it to their coaches. The coaches need to know. Coaches are aware that if Johnny’s the fastest guy on the team and he’s not out there competing, there’s probably a reason why, so let the coach know what’s going on. And if one of their better guys or one of their high performers is not performing at a certain level, coaches should inquire as to why, because there might be something that the kid’s not telling the coaches about. Ultimately, these kids are competitors and they want to play. They don’t want to be pulled off the field, they don’t want to tell somebody that they can’t do it. We owe it to them to protect their best interest and hopefully put them in a position to continue to succeed.”
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