Football is a sport with a significant risk of injury.. There are constant sprints, changes of direction, unexpected events and situations involving complex coordination… We also know that there are factors that can increase the probability of suffering an injury. The players’ age, the exposure time to the stimuli of training and competitions or having previously suffered from another injury in the same body region multiply the risks. One of the main objectives of any coach is to have all the players healthy and ready to compete. This is not just a case of being fit, but also of avoiding injuries. It has been estimated that the monthly financial cost for an injured player from a Champions League team is € 500.000.1
A recent research has just shown that coach replacement increases the number of muscle injuries in teams.2 Researchers have recorded the injury incidence and exposure time of the players in competition and in training sessions in two clubs of the Turkish Super League over three consecutive seasons. During that time, the two teams fired 7 and 3 coaches, respectively. Muscle injury incidence was 2.3 times higher (5.3 muscle injuries per 1000 hours of exposure) in the two weeks after the new coach’s arrival. One month later, muscle injury incidence was 4.5 per 1000 hours of exposure, i.e.,1.9 times higher. The reasons for this increase in the incidence of injuries seem to point to two aspects. On the one hand, the new coach’s arrival often brings about new changes in training. It is not uncommon for exercises, muscle work cycles, schedules, demand, etc. to change. In short, there are very different stimuli to what the players are used to. Secondly, the intensity in training and in competition increases. The player wants to impress the new coach, either to keep on the starting line-up of the squad or to earn it in the case of reserves.
It may be necessary to consider some recommendations to avoid or minimise the risk of injury due to the change of coach:
The new coaching staff joining the team:
- It is necessary to get information about what the players have done with their previous coaches: number of training sessions, type of exercises, schedules, intensity, minutes played.
- It is necessary to study the players’ record: age, injury reports, risks, sporting culture.
- It is necessary to rely on the medical staff or physical trainers remaining at the club as they know better than anyone else how things were done before the new coaching staff’s arrival.
- It is necessary to properly control the training load and to be reasonable because big changes can pose a risk of injury.
The coaching staff leaving the team:
- They must hand in a detailed report explaining the team’s preparation.
- Make themselves available to help the newcomers.
- It is advisable to have a stable structure that remains in place even if the first coach changes. Having one or two physical trainers as well as a medical staff (doctors, physical therapist, S&C coach) who are part of the club staff is recommendable.
- It is necessary to invest in research, qualified professionals, and equipment.
1 Ekstrand, J. (2013). Keeping your top players on the pitch: the key to football medicine at a professional level. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 47:723–724.
2 Donmez, G.; Kudas, S.; Yörübulut, M.; Yildirim, M.; Babayeva, N. y Torgutalp, S. (2018). Evaluation of Muscle Injuries in Professional Football Players: Does Coach Replacement Affect the Injury Rate? Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine.
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