It seems that when you read the sport page today it is a medical report rather than a report of game or match performance. It seems paradoxical that with all the advances in athletic development, sports medicine, and sport science that we are seeing the type of injuries, number of injuries and the severity of the injures that are occurring. Certainly it is a great concern to all involved. The human and economic costs are astronomical.
Let start with a couple of problems where there is universal agreement:
1) The extended competitive season that does not allow for an off-season where training can done to both build and rebuild the athlete as well as recharge the batteries. Top players in some sports have gone as long as three years without more than a three-week break from competition in their sport!
2) We are now bearing the fruit of down side of early specialization and the lack of physical education at younger ages. These athletes are a product of their background. They arrive at the highest levels of their sport with poor general athletic skills but finely honed sport skills. It is a house made of cards. They have the sport skill but not the fundamental movement skill base to stand the test of the competitive cauldron. The strong and gifted sometimes survive and the weak are cast by the wayside
The solutions are rather simple, but certainly uncomfortable, there will have to be some radical changes. There is no quick fix. Realistically the extended competitive schedule will not change, we can not turn back the clock. Money is the driving factor here. That being the case then all those in athletic development, sports medicine and sport science need to unify our efforts, in essence get on the same page (or at least in one room) and come to some consensus regarding logical solutions to the problem. Because the problems are systemic the solutions must be systemic. It certainly is not more hamstring prevention or rehabilitation programs, or more or less small-sided games. Rather we need to look at the whole performance team, including the composition and structure of that team as well as the development pathways and see what can be done in the short term, medium term and long term to develop and implement a bottom up systematic development approach. The goal at the end of the development journey is simple: When the athletes arrive at the elite level all physical limitations are eradicated, fundamental movement skills are thoroughly developed and they are ready physically, psychologically, technically and tactically to thrive in order to compete to win in the competitive arena. The task is to turn those words into action.