Preparing for Injury

As NBA teams open their camps and other teams prepare for the season, dealing with injuries will come through in typical coachspeak – phrases like “If we can stay injury free”  or “if so and so can return from injury” will be uttered by coaches at all levels.  Injuries are part of the game, but since they can’t be avoided, wise coaches and teams will take steps to prepare for injuries, to lessen their effects, and to shorten recovery time.  In fact, advanced training techniques and the rise in popularity of strength coaches and personal trainers have developed to help us deal with the inevitability of injury.  The problem many of us have, though, is how to develop playing skill while still finding time and energy to address conditioning to prepare for injuries.  Let’s explore some ideas, but also consider how this parallels with family life and our own personal faith.

BASKETBALL – Injuries are part of the game.

As a Division I coach it was easy to get spoiled by having top-notch strength coaches and athletic trainers to design workouts and rehab athletes, but these days any coach without such support and even players working on their own can find quality research and suggested workouts.  One great source is where you can find articles like Injury Prevention Workout and other great ideas to help deal with the inevitability of injury.  Can we prevent all injuries?  No, but you can condition your body to handle the effects and assist recovery from injury.  Now, I’m not saying that everyone can recover from a blown knee like Adrian Peterson of the Vikings, but the bangs, bumps, and twists associated with basketball certainly can be alleviated by a player’s attention to stretching and conditioning.

One of the best teams I was involved with worked with a strength coach who instilled an evening stretching routine for players to do on their own that helped them deal with normal aches, pains, and soreness.  Not only did it have physical benefits, but the confidence and the mental attitude of the players who bought in was hard to ignore.  Any regiment you implement, though, should utilize a variety of static stretches (stationary), dynamic warm-ups (movement), and strength training.  I had the opportunity to watch Dwayne Wade come up through the ranks at Marquette and saw how incredibly hard he plays.  The reports of his commitment to conditioning and fitness confirm how a focus on dealing with and preparing for injuries has allowed him to be an elite player despite his injury-riddled style of play.  Check this Stack Performance Series Video to see how Wade deals with one the most common basketball injuries, rolled ankles.

To sum it all up, Gary Vitti, the long-time trainer with the Los Angeles Lakers gives his insights on injuries in this Stack video and provides a very clear view as he explains that in basketball there certainly will be macro-traumas (major injuries that occur from a significant event); but more importantly, players must deal with the ever-present micro-traumas, those bumps, bruises, and twists that occur through normal wear and tear.  Injury is inevitable.   How players handle and prepare for them often determines the productivity they will experience.

LIFE – The table is a good place to prepare.

Growing up in a blended family with seven kids, one of the things I missed out on during my teens was family meals.  My parents tried, but it was often difficult to get everyone on the same page.  As a parent, though, I’ve bought in totally to the concept of gathering our kids as a family to not just share a meal, but to encourage each other and strengthen the bond of our family.  Kara and I feel as parents that one of the greatest things we can provide our family is a sense of confidence in each other.  Without a doubt, that comes when we share a meal.  By asking each of us in the family to reserve time to not just share a meal, but to laugh together, listen to each other, and share concerns, we improve the strength of our family.  The organization, All-Pro Dad, with which Tony Dungy is involved, has terrific ideas to Bring Back Family Dinner.

It’s not easy, especially with teenagers, but now more than ever, it’s essential for our family.  It’s how we can best prepare for the injuries of life -the bumps and bruises, but also the macro-trauma.  And, this isn’t just advice for families with small children.  It applies to families, couples, teams, and groups of friends.  Don’t underestimate its importance!

FAITH – Prepare through prayer!

Baylor Team PrayerIn the same way, Jesus gives us the definitive way to deal with the injuries of this world when He reminds us:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33)

Just like Gary Vitti tells players that you’re going to have injuries, Jesus tells us this world and this life will be difficult.  We are going to have to deal with evil, with disappointment, and failure – but, He also provides a plan to deal with it and a way to have peace.  In Him, we can overcome and the way we can do that is by tapping into the one who has overcome.  Paul keeps it simple:

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”  (Colossians 4:2)

Do you want to be better prepared to handle the trauma of this world, whether it’s macro or micro?  Take time to talk and listen to the one who cares.  Failure to do so, is like Dwayne Wade throwing himself into the NBA season without being prepared!



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