Swimmers perform the same movements, day in and day out, without as much as an after though. This is true for most athletes, but most athletes are not training year round and focusing only on one sport in the way that most swimmers do. It is great when an athlete is passionate about the sport they participate in and I fully support their decision to do so. When it takes place at a young age, as is usually the case with swimming, it can lead to overuse injuries if the right measures are not taken to prevent them.
When an athlete performs a movement repeatedly there should be a performance training aspect that assists in improving swim performance while reducing the chance that chronic injury develops. Swimmers are notorious for developing knee and shoulder injuries throughout their swimming careers. This is unfortunate because reducing and in most cases preventing an injury from ever taking place is possible, but it involves both the swim coach and performance coach doing their jobs both effectively and efficiently. Most of all, it involves both coaches being on the same page as far as training inside and outside of the pool.
There are going to be repeated movements that take place in sport, which is understandable and expected. There has to be an action plan that prevents these repeated movements from leading to chronic injuries. Swimming injuries are for the most part due to chronic overuse without having a properly designed performance training program. And no, running does NOT count as performance training!
The goal of the sport performance coach is to increase performance while minimizing injury. Knowing what the physical demands of the swimmers are gives the performance coach the ability to program a training plan that will strengthen their movement patterns, while continuing to give them the best shot at reducing their chance of injury. The sole goal of the swim coach is to increase performance while minimizing injury. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? For the swim coach to do these things there needs to be a well programmed training year, which includes recovery. When both coaches get on the same page great things start happening.
Everyone has to be involved in helping these young athletes become strong, powerful swimmers, while reducing their chance of injury and making sure that they are having fun. The parents and the coaches have to both do their part in making this an enjoyable and successful experience.
SPU's Alex Drayson and Matt Migiano write the SPU Athletic Performance Blog.
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