Sports Injuries Often Occur Off the Field

ballet_slippers_web.jpg

An event during this year’s cross-country running season reinforced the point of an article I wrote several years ago called “Injuries- Check Outside Activities.” (PE Update members can find it using the search bar).

The point of the article was, if your athletes sustain an injury – especially a chronic injury – make sure you know what their outside activities involve. And make sure you know what kind of shoes they use for casual-wear.

What reminded me of that article was one of my female runners who complained of foot pain back in the Fall. A week of non-impact training in the swimming pool didn’t help at all – the pain kept getting worse.

It wasn’t until we saw her mosey into practice one afternoon that we realized what was going on. She was wearing ballet-type slippers. Our campus is hilly with a 15-minute walk on paved streets between some classes. She was wearing the slippers because they were “comfy.”

After advising her to wear better shoes, there was still no improvement for a couple of days. We then thought to ask what she was wearing instead of the slippers. Flip flops. Not much better. She explained that they went with her nail polish (this was in late October in a northern climate). Needless to say, we advised another change in footwear.

A week after exchanging her ballet slippers and flip-flops for regular running shoes, her foot pain was gone. A miracle!!

This is a great example of an injury whose origin wasn’t sport-related. The moral is, be careful when you encounter one of your own athlete’s ailments – they may not have occurred on the playing field at all. And athletes often don’t realize how their non-sport activities can affect their injury status – as a result they may fail to mention such activities to you. You must often be very pointed in your questioning when trying to determine the cause of your athletes’ injuries.

dick_headshot_web8.jpg

Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

To subscribe to the free PE Tips of the Week Newsletter, Click Here!
To check out the PE Update.com website, Click Here!

[tags]sports,sport,injuries,sports medicine, coach,coaching[/tags]

Watching the Super Bowl With A Group of Girls

d_blog_tvgirls_web.jpg

I usually don’t go to Super Bowl parties. In my experience, you really never get to watch the game – there’s too much chit-chat going on to concentrate.

However, last night, I made an exception. My university women’s track team had a Super Bowl party and invited the coaches. It sounded like fun, but I hedged my bets, saying that I probably wouldn’t stay for the entire game.

It quickly became apparent that my wife, Terry, and I were the only ones who actually understood the rules of football. Here’s a sample of the questions and comments made during the game:

Them: “What’s that on the back of his pants? Is that sweat?”
Me: “Yes, that’s sweat.”
Them: “Well, why do they have to wear white pants?”

“In fact, what do they WEAR under their pants? Look, you can see his bum.”

“Oh, they’re wearing pads? Is that why they’re so big?”

Them: “Why doesn’t that black stuff under their eyes run?”
Me: “Well it’s not mascara.”
Them: “How come everybody doesn’t wear it?”

“I was going to research football rules, so I’d know what was going on, but I forgot.”

Them: “Sacks? Ouch? They record that?”
Me: “It’s not what you think.”
Them: “Oh good. I was thinking that poor guy. Three times.”

Them: “That’s the end of the first half? Does the other team get the ball now?”
Me: “No, both teams can have the ball in both halves. Both teams had it in the first half. “
Them: “They did?”

All good questions. I had a lot of fun. I love those girls.

But I was home in time for the second half kick-off.

dick_headshot_web8.jpg

Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

To subscribe to the free PE Tips of the Week Newsletter, Click Here!
To check out the PE Update.com website, Click Here!

[tags]sports,football,Super Bowl,physical education,coaching[/tags]

15-Passenger Van Problems

d_van_use.jpg

The most dangerous aspect of coaching is travel. School teams are frequently transported by van, often with the coach at the wheel. I’ve been that driver/coach dozens of times, and it can be risky business.

Coaches experience an adrenaline crash after competition and must often fight fatigue at the wheel. And being the captain of a vehicle containing other people’s children is an incredible responsibility. Their lives and the well-being of their families and friends is literally in your hands. The frightening thing is that their safety is sometimes out of your control. Snow, fog, oncoming drivers (possibly impaired), rain and ice may all be the cause of an accident you can’t prevent.

That’s why my heart goes out to the families of the high school athletes in New Brunswick, who were killed recently while driving home from an inter-school basketball game. I particularly feel for the coach who was at the wheel when their van hit a patch of ice and slid uncontrollably into the path of an oncoming transport. It’s every coach’s nightmare.

It has yet to be been determined whether it was a contributing factor, but the team was traveling in a 15-passenger van. Studies have shown that these vans lose their ability to maneuver when fully loaded. Part of the problem is that adding passengers to such vehicles raises their center of gravity, reducing their stability. The other problem is their configuration, in which a large portion of the vehicle extends past the rear wheels. It’s an unstable design.

Many schools now prohibit the use of such vans. This leaves many teams with a problem— how to provide transport to away games. A common solution is to rent two 7-passenger vans. The problem is a slightly higher cost and the fact that you need two drivers. This is a trade-off because the chances of finding two experienced drivers are less than finding a single driver who is good behind the wheel. The other option is to rent a bus with a professional driver. The obvious problem here is cost.

There is another solution — a 12-passenger van. They are essentially the same as a 15-passenger, but less of the vehicle extends beyond the rear wheels. Our squad has been using them this year and they’ve worked well. There’s enough room in the back luggage area to accommodate at least one bag for most of your passengers. And the cost is about the same as a 15-passenger van. Not all vehicle rental companies carry them, so don’t give up if the first company you contact says they’re not available.

It’s worth looking into.

dick_headshot_web8.jpg

Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

To subscribe to the free PE Tips of the Week Newsletter, Click Here!
To check out the PE Update.com website, Click Here!

[tags]sports,vans,team,physical education,coaching[/tags]

Injury Excuse Extraordinaire

d_blogpic_video_web.jpg

I have heard many reasons for injury in my 25 years of coaching. Some were beauties, but I think the one I heard this week is the best ever.

One of my sprinters has been nursing a sore hamstring. When I asked him how he had strained the muscle, his response was that he was playing hockey…video game hockey!

That’s right, he pulled a muscle playing a video game.

His full explanation: he was sitting on a chair with his legs upraised, feet resting on his bed and the controller on his lap. As he was playing, he kept shifting his weight back and forth and sideways while avoiding checks from virtual defensemen. When he stood up to go the bathroom, he found that he’d pulled his hammie.

I give him full credit for honesty. He must have been tempted to say he’d pulled the muscle while squatting 400 pounds or performing uphill sprints in the snow.

Do you have an injury that matches this? Send it in the comments section, or through the PE Update discussion forum!

dick_headshot_web8.jpg

Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

To subscribe to the free PE Tips of the Week Newsletter, Click Here!
To check out the PE Update.com website, Click Here!

[tags]sports,physical education,injury,coaching[/tags]

Team Christmas Parties

Xmas Elf

One thing that has become a tradition with my track club (for over twenty years) and now my university team, is the annual Christmas party.

Every year around this time we get together at our house for a potluck supper and other festivities, including the showing of race videos, a slide show put to music, annual awards presentations, and finally, a cutthroat Kris Kringle.

So, last night we held my university team’s Christmas party. As always, it was an informal affair. My wife, Terry, dresses like a Xmas elf. She loves the job, which includes hosting the Cutthroat Kris Kringle. There are many rules for Kris Kringles, but the way we operate it , everybody brings a wrapped gift costing less than ten dollars, then writes their name on a slip of paper and puts it into a container. The Christmas elf selects the first name – that person chooses a gift from under the tree, then selects the next name. Each subsequent person has the option of either selecting from under the tree, or stealing a gift from someone who has already selected. It’s a lot of fun, especially when athletes, who tend to be rather competitive, start to steal from each other. However, everyone realizes it’s all in good fun and the hooting and hollering keep it that way. By the way, some items get re-gifted and return year after year. With us, it’s a furry jock-strap and a rubber snake – they’ve become part of the Christmas party tradition.

The video and slide show have become easier to produce as technology has improved. I usually bring a camera and camcorder to all our competitions, and assign an athlete or parents to be the camera person for the day. By the end of the year, I end up with a great visual history of the season. At the party, I just run the videos off the camcorder, but with the photos, I produce a slideshow with a soundtrack. Technology has made this easy – I use a Macintosh, and programs like iPhoto and Expressions (my favorite), make it a snap to organize the digital photos and produce a professional-looking slideshow. The soundtrack just comes from mp3’s already on my computer.

I call the awards the “Annual Turtle Awards,” because the actual award is a Turtle candy that I toss at them (I call it the Slowpoke Awards for my university crew, because we hand out Slowpokes). The awards are tongue-in-cheek and are based on some of the funny occurrences throughout the year. For example this year’s awards included “The Worst Sense of Direction Award,” the “Kamikaze Start Award,” and the “Just Shoot Me” award.

As for the “Quotes of the Year” award, throughout the year, I do my best to immediately write down the funniest comments before I forget them. I end up with a collection of these quotes on the back of file folders, napkins and slips of paper. It’s a hoot to recite the quotes during the party, and once I compile them on the computer, they become a permanent reminder of the fun we’ve had and all the crazy characters I’ve coached over the years. Some of this year’s quotes included “I used to be obsessed with Mr. Bean. I used to pretend I WAS Mr. Bean (strange coming from a female runner), “I feel sorry for whoever dates me,” and “Is that a mitochondria in your shorts, or are you just happy to see me.” The winner was, “We’ll give you chocolate…and ice cream…and BEER, if you stop at the mall on the way home!” (I did…but they didn’t).

A Christmas part takes some preparation but it’s a lot of fun. It becomes a gathering point for athletes and alumni every year, and it’s one of the things that makes Christmas feel like Christmas for Terry and I.

dick_headshot_web4.jpg

Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

To subscribe to the free PE Tips of the Week Newsletter, Click Here!
To check out the PE Update.com website, Click Here!

[tags]physical education,coaching,Christmas,party,team,sport,sports[/tags]

A Canadian Cross-Country Running Experience

Cross-Country Running Photo

Well it was an interesting weekend. I made the six-hour drive to Guelph, Ontario, for the Canadian Cross-Country Running Championships. For those of you who know what Canada is like in December, you might be asking, “But wasn’t it cold? Wasn’t there snow?” The answer is yes, it was cold, and yes, there was snow.

In fact, we drove down in a blizzard. A French exchange student who runs with our club (I coach at Laurentian University and with Sudbury’s Track North Athletic Club), received a true Canadian experience during the drive. He was a little wide-eyed during the near white-out conditions, his comment being, “In France, if it’s like this, we don’t leave the house.” To his credit, he later raced in his shorts.

On race-day, the temperatures was about -8 centigrade (18 degrees fahrenheit), and the course itself was hard-packed snow. It looked like a nordic ski course.

But it was a great event, with music blaring and a group of local drummers heating up the atmosphere. The snow had stopped by race day, and it was a beautiful, sunny day. The footing was OK, since the race organizers had packed it down with a tractor and roller.

Besides, cross-country runners are hardy folk. For most, the worse the conditions, the more fun they have.

This blog has readers from many countries, including places that never see snow, such as Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Malasia, and Australia. For those of you who want a Canadian athletics experience, check out the following FloCast footage of the race.

FloTrack, by the way, is a tremendous website for those of you who are athletics fans. It provides video coverage of many athletics events…in particular, the events that the mainstream media ignores in lieu of Rock, Paper, Scissors tournaments. 🙂

Here’s the link. If you want to see other races from the meet, the links are on the top left. For a school perspective, the Junior races are for athletes under 20. While they include some runners in their first or 2nd year of university, but most are high schoolers. For example, Kendra Schaaf, who won the Junior Girls race, is still in high school.

http://www.flocasts.org/flotrack/coverage.php?c=130&id=6150

dick_headshot_web5.jpg

Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

To subscribe to the free PE Tips of the Week Newsletter, Click Here!
To check out the PE Update.com website, Click Here!

[tags]cross-country running,athletics,sports,physical education, coaching [/tags]