In the Winter 2016-17 edition of VolleyballUSA magazine – the official magazine published by USA Volleyball – there is an article that made me want to pull my hair out. They had a Junior Journal column featuring content from a youth player. In this particular instance, that player had been part of the USA U18 national team. Her article is titled “7 mistakes I’ll never make again”.
The very first “mistake” made me want to scream. It was not stretching enough before playing. Here’s the full text of it.
“Every time I tried to play without properly stretching, I ended up with an injury of some sort. Stretching and warming up before playing is even more important when you’re sore from previous workouts. Just a few extra minutes can prevent you from months of injury rehab.”
Repeat with me everyone – there is no evidence linking stretching before training or competition with injury prevention. In fact, as I wrote long ago, there is evidence suggesting that it can actually impair performance – albeit in a limited way.
You would think by now our players would be educated about this sort of thing. Clearly not, however. We coaches need to do a better job of that.
What really bothers me is this is a kid in the USA Volleyball system. When I attended the High Performance Coaches Clinic and CAP III courses in 2017 there were medical and training staff there telling us how useless stretching is for either injury prevention or avoiding soreness. Shouldn’t this stuff make its way to the athletes?
Clearly, I’m not against warming up. It’s just that static stretching is at best of questionable value.
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