In the final entry into our blog series on specialization, USA Women's National Team Trainer Jill Wosmek offered up her own blog to touch on the subject. Thank You Jill.
Hello Athletes, Parents and Coaches!
If you are not checking out the USA Volleyball Facebook page regularly…I urge you to! Recently, one of our sponsors did a great piece titled “Stay in Love with Sports; Play OtherSports”.
The objective of the article was to demonstrate that as athletes we may develop a strong passion for one sport, but we should not specialize at such a young age. Many of the GREAT athletes from the London Olympics were multi-sport athletes growing up. This got me thinking…earlier in February I presented at the USAV HP Coaches Clinic and one of the topics was concerning injury prevention with young athletes all the way to the elder Olympians I get the pleasure to work with.
Did you know…starting middle hitter Foluke Akinradewo didn’t start playing volleyball until her sophomore year in high school?! During her high school career she was an All-American in basketball and track as well as volleyball. Working with Foluke the past 4-years in preparation to the London Olympics…I watched an athlete in her 20's continue to LEARN the great sport of volleyball as well as tap into athleticism and movement efficiencies she has been excelling at for years!
I have great respect for Foluke as both an athlete and a person. I think Foluke’s successes as one of the top middle blockers in the WORLD is great props to her movement patterns learned and mastered in other sports. For example…as a middle blocker you need to be fast laterally – both for blocking and running the slide. Foluke’s speed and mechanics is something she learned in the track world. Her speed seems effortless at times. I think this ingrained pattern allows her brain to process the game a bit…heck she usually is up in the air long enoughJ
Oh yeah…the faster you move…the greater force you can create into your VERTICAL! Also another great athletic move we see in both track and basketball athletes. OK – I think you get it. Foluke is an awesome athlete! Last comment…Foluke is only 25 years old. Hopefully there are quite a few more years of playing ahead of her. It is my job to make sure she stays healthy and continues to enhance her overall performance.
In the USA gym we “train” the athlete as a WHOLE with respect to all movements. If all we did was play volleyball for endless hours…we would see a lot of overuse injuries! There needs to be a detailed training plan to both enhance her performance and continue to fine-tune movement patterns and to address as deficiencies or compensations that we see on and off the court.
I want to be clear…VOLLEYBALL is a great sport and I am an advocate for GROWING THE GAME! As a sports medicine professional [and an athlete myself] I have great respect for the sport…and many others! I think the youth will become even better volleyball ATHLETES by exposing themselves to many different sports. I think this creates a DIVERSE athleticism as well as “PROTECT” are young athletes from overuse injuries, stressors of specialization, burn-out, etc.
A couple GREAT references to check out:
· Responsible Sports: http://www.responsiblesports.com/
· STOP Sports Injuries: http://www.stopsportsinjuries.org/
Have FUN…play SAFE…and strive to be your BEST!!