Health, Wellness & Injury Prevention

%

of Ontario youth aged 5-19 participate in organized sport and it’s a coach’s job to keep participants healthy, happy & safe.

Coaches play an integral role in helping their athletes develop & maintain good physical, mental and emotional health. This holistic approach to athlete wellness develops well-rounded individuals, which often translates to improved performance on and off the playing field.

Injury Prevention

The key to the successful prevention and recovery from common injuries is a well-prepared coach. Understanding the most common injuries for your sport and how to prevent them will allow you to minimize their occurrence. Once you recognize patterns it will also help you to teach your athletes exercises and training practices that will help them to become more athletically resilient overall.

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Warmups

Having a good warm up plan can be a large contributor to your athlete’s success. Most of us would agree that warm ups provided physical benefits by gradually increasing the heart rate, providing blood flow to muscles, and loosening mobility to reduce potential for injury. However, a well constructed warm up can also help your athletes prepare mentally, providing the opportunity to focus on the upcoming task, familiarize themselves with conditions and visualize performance.

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Stretching

Adding a regular stretching routine to your practices can increase your athlete’s range of motion and flexibility by lengthening soft tissues such as muscles and ligaments. It promotes fluid movement during athletic performance, decreases soreness and minimizes injury.

Dynamic stretching (which improves speed, agility and acceleration) should be used during your warmup at the beginning of practice, and static stretching (which increases flexibility) should be included as part of your recovery and cool down.

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Concussions

Any blow to the head, face or neck, or a blow to the body that jars the head – during practice or competition – can cause a concussion. Coaches at every level must be able to identify the signs and symptoms of a concussion and know what to do when an athlete is suspected of suffering from one. Additionally, creating a culture that supports concussion awareness, symptoms and treatments will encourage your athletes to be open and honest about head injuries.

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Mental Health

Athletes can experience mental health challenges for a variety of reasons related to on and off the field activities. As the coach, you can create an environment where taking care of one’s mental health is encouraged and supported, making it more likely for your athletes to come forward when they need help.

It’s also important be aware of your limitations and recognize when to connect your athletes with outside professional resources when necessary.

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Nutrition

Once you are equipped with the right knowledge, you can help your athletes make smart food choices for improved overall health and performance on the playing field. Coaches should also work in partnership with parents, family members and any other support systems involved with an athlete. This creates a holistic healthy eating environment where your athletes will be able to eat well at home, at school and any other spaces in the community where they train and compete. When the healthy choice is the easy choice, athletes are more likely to eat and perform better.

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Hydration

It’s important to help your athlete’s make a hydration plan that will allow them to stay balanced with their hydration needs on and off the field. Too much or too little hydration can potentially have life-threatening consequences. Most importantly, the key to long-term success is empowering your athletes to take control of their own hydration plan.

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