Physical, Nutrition and Concussion
Physical Preparation - What's it all about?
Our program sets out to achieve player Robustness through teaching a variety of skills and exercises designed to strengthen and ready the players body... essentially getting them ready to participate in everything life has to throw at themLed by the Head of Physical Preparation, Jason St Clair Newman, the players are continually assessed and given guidance as to how to use their body, ultimately leading to more time on the pitch and less time off it. With a focus on; 1. Flexibility. 2. Balance and Co-ordination work. 3. Posture. 4. Correct techniques for Game Speed movement and strengthening of their body. Programs are guided by testing and player observation to help each player concentrate on their own personal weaknesses and strengths in an effort to improve them as an athlete an and be more robust. The physical development of children is a growing industry, professionals worldwide have noticed this, and are providing specialty training in sports for children across all age groups. This has the potential to be very positive or very negative depending on the coach, the child and the rate of development that is expected.
Kids aren't adults.Coaches sometimes forget children are not mini-adults, and utilise drills and exercises too advanced for their current physical ability, often resulting in poor exercise technique or learning the incorrect way to use their bodies, leading to possible injury. This often leads to a negative view of physical preparation and your child dropping out. On the positive side coaches who take into account each individual's rate of development, age, and ability, often get the best results, and the child instead develops a positive view of healthy activity, and often performance improves as a result of this. At the academy we care about every player, and it is important to us that we provide the highest level of care for your child, and develop them at a rate that builds their robustness and targets them enjoying their football. Instead of fitness training, we use the term Physical Preparation. We use this term as we focus on more than a child’s wants, requiring a program that addresses all aspects of healthy performance across many different aspects.
Technique, technique technique...During training it is important to us that technique is the guiding principle, if technique for an exercise cannot be shown or maintained the drill is adjusted or stopped depending on the goal for that session. At each level, your child will need to competently perform the required exercises with good technique and understanding, before we will advance them to the next stage. This allows for each child to develop at their own pace with our guidance. What it means for us at the academy, is each child’s program is essentially individualised and monitored constantly so they can continually improve and set new goals based around their learning speeds.
Zero Tolerance for Non Contact Injury.As you know, there are aspects of the game where injuries cannot be avoided, such as the tackle ball situation in which the player being tackled cannot control what the opposition does. However, we believe there are aspects which can be avoided and this is in the area of non-contact injuries. Within football the most common are ankle, hamstring and groin injuries. We have set the hefty goal of Zero Tolerance on non contact injuries. Our focus is on your child’s foremost needs, staying injury free, and enjoying the game.
What if my child already has an injury when they enter our academy?It is the priority of our Physical Preparation coaches in conjunction with our Medical team to address this first and all aspects of their program will be adjusted to individualise the recovery. What if an injury occurs during the season? Our medical team or the child's regular medical advisor will be the first to take care of the program (in agreement with the parent(s), working with the physical preparation coaches to ensure complete healing takes place. Certain criteria are used to determine when and to what extent the child can begin training again and before we reintroduce them back into a regular training schedule.
At the European Football Academy, we take a child’s health very seriously whether that be training on the pitch, in the gym or during matches, a concussion can be one of those injuries that occurs in the uncontrollable environment of a football match.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a disturbance to the normal working of the brain. It normally occurs when a blow directly or indirectly to the head is felt. The brain is made of soft tissue. It is cushioned by spinal fluid and encased in the protective shell of the skull. When you sustain a concussion, the impact can jolt your brain.
The result? Your brain doesn't function normally. If you've suffered a concussion, your vision may be disturbed, you may lose your equilibrium, or you may fall unconscious. In short, your brain is confused. Any player with the European Football Academy who suffers a concussion will be stood down by our coaching staff, to allow for recovery.
Follow this Webmd link to learn more about what a concussion is.
Why do we use Stand Down Protocol’s?
Another blow to the head before complete recovery can result in further and more significant damage to a growing child’s brain, a brain still under development. Successive blows before recovery can result in future situations where less impact causes further concussions, it has been noted this can interfere with academic performance, potential for neurological impairment and shortening of a sporting career.
We therefore utilise the protocol’s to ensure the recovery window is adhered to. Any ongoing issues are directed to a medical professional for further assessment.
Headway website is a good source of information for parents on what to do if their child has suffered a concussion and what to look out for with ongoing symptoms.
Although rugby is not our sport we believe the English Rugby Football Union are leading the way on concussion protocols and how they should be handled with children through their Headcase website.
An injury to the head in football whether it be a clash of heads going for a ball, an accidental kick to the head, or landing awkwardly or any other impact on the head it will produce the same result as a impact concussion in rugby all be it probably occurring in a different way. That is why we have incorporated their protocols in to our program, all head injury should and are to be taken very seriously.
Although medical doctors should be up to date with this, we have experienced first hand poor information being given to our players from the A&E departments. One recent example was a player who received a mild concussion which results in blurred eyesight, dizziness a sore neck and headaches being told they would be fine in 3 days and could return to play the following training session.Upon questioning our player and sticking to our protocols, we found that the headaches were still persistent 3 days later and, sub sequentially we stood our player down from all activity for 2 weeks as a minimum then bought him back in to trainings.
Although many kids may say they feel fine and want to train within the stand down period, we are strict on this and adhere to our protocols on return to play. We hope parents and players understand why we do this. Players can attend and watch trainings and matches and we encourage they do so as they are still a part of our team, but they will not be able to participate in physical activities while there.
We believe a young persons brain health is not something to take a chance on and will not put our players in this position.
Return to Play
As we have mentioned, the European Football Academy use the English Rugby Football Union protocol for return to play, as we believe if follows a complete guide for concussion and reintroduction back to sport that has a child's health as its priority.
The Graduated Return to Play (GRTP) approach gives us guidelines to follow that have your child and our players health, first and foremost as the highest priority. The standards set below are the minimum time frames accepted, ongoing symptoms increase the time of return to play.
2 weeks rest* and symptom free;
Clearance by Doctor;
GRTP 48hrs per activity stage;
Clearance by a doctor;
Earliest Return to Play = 23 days.
*Rest = Avoidance of, Reading, TV and Computer games.
Possibly 1-2 days off school depending on symptoms but this will be confirmed by your Doctor.
A player will begin starting their return to play once all symptoms have resolved and have been cleared by a Doctor. Consultation with teachers or tutors to ensure Academic performance has returned to normal will also be carried out to ensure a child is not struggling at school as a result of the injury.
Stages of Graduated Return to Play.
Stage 1: Rest;
Stage 2: Light Aerobic exercise - Walking, swimming etc no resistance training. Heart rate kept low;
Stage: Sport Specific exercise and Running drills with no head impact;
Stage 4: Non -contact training drills - More complex drills, reintroduction of resistance training if they are old enough;
Stage 5: Full contact practice;
Stage 6: Return to play.
To move from Stage 1 to Stage 2, a player must be symptom free for 48hours.
Each stage can be successively introduced as long as they are symptom free. For our players due to their ages we adhere to the recommended 2 days for each stage as a minimum.
Once the player is full integrated back in to play we make sure they stay healthy and monitor any future incidences.