A lthough athletes carry the responsibility of showing up to practice prepared to inform their coach of a supposed injury, coaches should take more action, making sure they are familiar with an athlete’s recovery plan.
Generally, an athlete partakes in a sport they love and cannot wait to get back to practice. In some cases, the coach may be the ones wanting their player to get back to the game as soon as possible, which may lead to injuries becoming more severe.
It is crucial that coaches are well-informed about their athletes’ injuries as well as the severity to prevent their athletes from returning too early, which may cause injuries to become more serious.
Coaches are responsible for doing what they think is best for the team, but they must also be empathetic with an athlete’s limits regarding injuries even if it does impact the team’s performance.
“I had a really bad concussion last year,” senior volleyball player Bryce Rockwell said. “It was so bad I couldn’t leave my bed. The volleyball coach last year was not familiar with my recovery plan, he kept pressuring me to come back.”
Rockwell was unable to attend school for a large portion of first semester of her junior year.
Her anticipated recovery time was one week from the time of her injury but, giving into her coach’s pressure, she continued to practice, resulting in a longer recovery time.
This year, a football player endured a similar experience.
“I fractured a bone and tore a ligament in my thumb last year,” senior Cam Huard said.
“My coach actually wanted me to keep playing with a cast on my hand, but I told him I wasn’t going to do that. Ultimately, I quit and they were pretty understanding.”
Huard holds no doubt that abstaining from practicing will lead to a fast recovery.
“If I had kept on playing I’m sure it would’ve gotten worse,” Huard said. “I’m really glad I made the right decision.”
One suggestion that may help a coach understand an athlete’s recovery plan is for them to be familiar with various injuries that may commonly occur in their sport. Due to her coach’s familiarity with concussions, senior volleyball captain Clara Chiu had a positive experience with her concussion recovery her junior year.
“[Although] my concussion was minor, my coach still knew about the recovery process,” Chiu said. “My coach was somewhat familiar with my personal recovery plan because some other girls on the team have had concussions as well.”
The more educated and informed coaches are about injuries as well as their athletes’ recovery plans, the more likely they will be able to help their athletes recover. Exercising more compassion may decrease the pressure some put on their athletes to return to the sport. At the same time, it also decreases the pressure athletes put on themselves to come back prematurely.
A crucial part of treating injuries while playing a Paly sport are the trainers. They are on campus during after-school practices, and examine athletes with any pre-existing injuries and make sure those who are freshly injured are taken care of. Overall, athletes have had positive experiences, saying the trainers are knowledgable, but there is one repeating request to increase the number of staff.
“The trainers are really friendly,” Chiu said. “It’s hard that there are only a few trainers. They are not always easy to find when you need them.”
Senior water polo captain Gigi Rojahn mirrors Chiu’s opinion about locating the trainers.
“It was difficult for me to track them down,” Rojahn said. “The trainers were pretty helpful and efficient [but] if it were to be improved I think they should be easier to track down for athletes . . . especially when they aren’t available during our unusual practice time and place.”
Both Rojahn and Chiu partake in Paly sports that practice off-campusdue to construction of the two gyms and the aquatic center. Practicing off-campus in addition to practicing at abnormal hours makes it harder for athletes like them to get checked out as soon as possible if an injury was to occur.
[pullquote speaker=”Cam Huard” photo=”” align=”left” background=”on” border=”all” shadow=”on”]My coach actually wanted me to keep playing with a cast on my hand, but I told him I wasn’t going to do that. [/pullquote][pullquote speaker=”” photo=”” align=”left” background=”on” border=”all” shadow=”on”]
There is a large number of Paly athletes while there are only two trainers resulting in long lines at the trainers’ office as well as a difficulty locating them during regular practice hours, not to mention off-campus practices.
Injuries from athletics can severely impact an athlete’s life outside his or her sport. An injury can impede on an athletes ability to focus in school and study at home.
It is obvious that injuries are not 100 percent preventable but if coaches were to be more cautious and informed of specific injuries that occur commonly in their sport, as well as taking the time to become familiar with their injured athlete’s recovery plan, it would lead to shorter recovery times for athletes and ultimately safer practices.
Although Paly has an overall strong athletic department, we must foster a proactive athletic community and be better equipped to help athletes excel in their sporting events.