It’s pretty obvious what happens to players or club members when they get injured. They have to take themselves away for a while, speak to a professional and get it sorted out. But there’s a wider, more devastating impact that those injuries have on clubs.
You see, clubs rely on people.
Volunteers, coaches, committee members, organisers and many more people in all sorts of roles to help the club run smoothly.
More often than not, these people are parents of junior members or individuals who have become so socially involved in the sport and the club members that they love to help out.
While parents might not be actively involved in the sport themselves, the socially involved individuals are, but the hidden injury plague concerns them both equally.
Let’s use Jonny as an example:
Jonny is ten years old and is obsessed with triathlon. He attends all the club sessions and since he’s there all the time anyway, his Dad decided to do a basic coaching award to help out.
Jonny has spent the last 2 years completely absorbed in the triathlon world and he looks like a promising athlete. He spends much of his spare time with his triathlon buddies and loves going to the club sessions to be with them.
Then one day, out on a club ride, he hits a pothole and comes off his bike, breaking his arm in three places.
He needs it pinning and can’t now spend his time at the club, doing the sport he loves.
While this is devastating for little Jonny, the impact on the club is huge too.
Since he no longer needs to take Jonny to club sessions, his Dad loses interest in coaching.
And since Jonny was such a bubbly character, the dynamic of the group changes too. Instead of being light-hearted and fun, the sessions become serious and the other juniors start falling out.
After a while, more juniors start to drop out because they don’t like the new dynamic, which means a loss of revenue for the club and the loss of more volunteers.
Soon the club starts to get a reputation among the parents in the school yard for being a bit too serious (whether that’s true or not) and they start choosing to take their kids to a different one.
In the meantime, little Jonny has got fed up of not being able to do triathlon, and found a new sport to become obsessed about (kids are fickle aren’t they?!).
While there might not be anything be anything we can do about falling off bikes, the whole point of the injury prevention process is to make the body more robust and resilient, which means that the body is far more capable of absorbing the forces of falling off – resulting in a more minor injury.
This pattern of events can be followed whether the subject of the story is an adult volunteer who participates in the sport or not.
Injuries don’t just impact individuals, they also have wider repercussions.
Not only does little Jonny never reach his full potential in the sport, but now the other juniors aren’t pushed so hard to try and keep up or beat him.
Because of this, the standard of competition within the club drops, and the remaining juniors don’t achieve as much either.
Now imagine if the club had a more robust approach to injury prevention.
They had a policy which meant that every coach at every level was educated to incorporate injury prevention into every single session, without changing how they coach or a degree in anatomy.
Then the juniors rising up the ranks wouldn’t leave, performance standards across the board would go up, parents would be falling over themselves to take their children to the club that puts their child’s safety first and the club would have more members and volunteers than they knew what to do with.
In addition to that, the club would have athletes at the forefront of races across the country, soon gaining a reputation as being the best, and the juniors that become adult members, would be much more robust, and resilient to injury than those in other clubs. Which, in turn, gives them a much better chance of winning their races.
There’s a saying that goes something like “winners aren’t born, they’re made”, but as far as I can see, there’s an awful lot more we can be doing to help keep more people in sport, giving us far more chance of producing winners, than simply choosing from those who have survived the training for the longest.
Injuries are also not born, they’re made. So let’s stop making them shall we?
Coaches can discover how to make tiny but immediately effective changes to their sessions with my BRAND NEW SMARTT™ Coach Certification.