Tag Archives: hurt

Absorbing Hits And Falling Down

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In my “Kids Need To Get Hurt” post I argued that in order to deal with pain kids need to experience pain, but I rarely argue a stance without providing what I think is a possible solution to the problem.

First, we need to state the problem and here is what I think the problem is:

Kids need to be protected from pain and injury but still have fun doing what they love to do

Here is my problem with the above problem – it is impossible to protect anyone from everything. Since the ground is hard and solid enough to support a person’s weight, it is also hard and solid enough to cause injury if a person falls onto it. Since we can’t get protect children against the laws of physics we must work with the laws.

Here is my solution to the protect children from injury while letting them have fun problem:

Kids need to learn how to absorb impacts to lessen their chance of injury while still having fun doing what they love to do

Since we cannot take protection to the logical extreme of placing all children in padded rooms and forcing them to use virtual presence devices to interact with people outside of their padded rooms, we should be teaching children how to fall down safely.

I officiate every age level of lacrosse and very few players know how to fall down properly. When they get hit or trip themselves up they instinctively reach out with their arms. Unfortunately, this action causes them to fracture fingers, forearms, elbows, and collarbones. A straightened arm is a rigid structure with very little “give”. The players who don’t straighten out an arm to brace for impact don’t do anything at all, and they hit the ground with a sickening thud, which whiplashes their head into the ground. Now they are dealing with spine, neck, and cranial injuries along with a potential concussion.

All because no one ever taught them how to override their natural instincts when falling down.

I spent six years training in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai Kickboxing to learn how to better defend myself. What may surprise many people is that most self-defense classes start with the lesson on how to fall down if someone pushes you over. The reasoning is simple: it is very hard to defend yourself if you get pushed over and smack the back of your head against the concrete. You’ll be dazed, and unable to prevent the coming beating. In order to avoid this scenario, self-defense classes teach individuals how to hit the ground hard without impacting their head with a high amount of force.

The video below explains how to perform a break fall when hit from the front, and how to perform a roll through when hit from behind or the sides. If players practice these moves on a padded surface enough times, they will develop muscle memory that will kick in if they get hit or tripped on the lacrosse field. I played for ten years and I hit the ground a lot, but I never sustained serious injuries because I knew how to roll through contact with the ground and pop right back up.

A key point to remember about these techniques – You will get hurt when you perform them on a hard surface. That is the point. Your entire body will hurt and be extremely sore, but the one part of your body that will be almost unaffected is your head.

I believe the above video is one potential solution to the problem of kids getting hurt playing a contact sport. They may still get hurt performing a break fall or a roll through, but their chances of getting seriously injured are lessened as the force from the impact is dissipated over their entire body and not on their head or extremities.

We can’t keep protecting kids from everything that may hurt them. What we can do is responsibly teach them that there are dangerous things out in the world and how to deal with them.


Kids Need To Get Hurt

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When you work as a sports official you get used to people sensationalizing just about anything:

  • “If you don’t call that ref someone is going to get killed!”
  • “You must be the single worst official I have ever seen!”
  • “You aren’t keeping my players safe!”
  • “What did I [the coach] do? I didn’t do anything wrong, and if you say I did then you’re a liar!”

Context is huge is officiating. So when I see a sensationalized news story that either does not research the full context of a story, or eliminates a key piece of information that provides context, I like to wait and see what else comes out.

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/10/07/long-island-middle-school-bans-footballs-other-recreational-items/ – This is the article that broke the story of a Long Island middle school banning “footballs, baseballs, lacrosse balls, or anything that might hurt someone on school grounds.” As to be expected, every internet keyboard warrior came out in droves and responded to this article. Some stated that is this proof of the wussification of America, while others said that you can’t be too careful when it comes to protecting children. When I first read this article I had a strong reaction to it because the article was written in a way to get me to have a strong reaction and drive up viewership and comments on the article’s website. However, this CBS Local New York author did not include a major part which actually explains the situation more reasonably.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/09/living/parents-middle-school-bans-balls-recess/index.html – I waited one day, and sure enough a report from correspondent and editor-at-large Kelly Wallace actually put the sensationalized story into context. Apparently the Local CBS writer could not find the school’s press release stating that the ban on “footballs, baseballs, lacrosse balls, or anything that might hurt someone on school grounds,” was also started due to construction nearby. Forcing kids to play their familiar and fun games in much closer proximity to one another, which increased the potential for injury. “Soft nerf balls will be provided during recess, and kids can play with hardballs during gym and intramural athletics” reported Kelly Wallace. That means that the ban that was sensationalized by the earlier article was really just a ban on items that could cause injury due to kids getting packed together because of the construction near the school.

Now, my beef with the CNN article is that while it provided much needed context about the school’s decision to ban fun things to play with at recess, it also had a sensational title. My tenth grade english teacher taught me that titles need to be exciting enough to grab the reader’s attention, but also tell the reader what they will read. Here is what both articles should have titled their reporting with:

Long Island Middle School Bans Hard Balls At Recess Due To Dangerous Construction Activity

See what I did there? It is still a punchy and exciting title, but it provides much needed context to a hot-button issue. Aside from the title, I have no problems with Kelly Wallace’s article. I do have an issue with just about everything in the CBS Local article, and here are a few sentences I have a problem with:

  • “Without helmets and pads, children are much more susceptible to getting hurt, experts said.” – Wow. I feel dumber after reading that. Of course pads and helmets protect children. Heck, they protect everyone! I’m still not going to put a kid in padded armor just so he or she can leave the house unattended or cross the street by themselves.
  • “They have instituted a ban on footballs, baseballs, lacrosse balls, or anything that might hurt someone on school grounds.” – Let’s examine that last point about anything that might hurt someone. That implies that schools should consider eliminating all hard surfaces kids could run into, sharp objects that kids could poke themselves with, small objects that kids could choke on, and hot foods that kids could burn their mouths with. The world is a dangerous place, and you can’t protect a child from everything. I’d rather the kid learn to not run full speed into a concrete wall when he’s four because the memory of not doing something that foolish will be burned into his mind for the rest of his life.
  • Both articles quoted Port Washington Schools Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Maloney stating, “Some of these injuries can unintentionally become very serious, so we want to make sure our children have fun, but are also protected.” I believe Dr. Maloney needs to choose her words more carefully because any injury can “unintentionally” become very serious. I have seen kids fall after a very soft hit, but they break their collarbone because they hit the ground in a weird way. I’ve also seen players take a cross-check directly to their helmet and absorb the hit without injury. There is a huge range when it comes to injuries, but the only way to prevent “unintentional” injuries is to keep kids in padded rooms with a helmet on and no interaction with other human beings. Hopefully they won’t “unintentionally” go crazy from the lack of contact with other people.
  • “The Port Washington district said the softer foam balls put students in the best situation to cut down the chance of getting injured.” – The Port Washington district’s stance on soft foam balls misses a key provision. Say a bunch of kids are playing touch football with the soft nerf ball. One kid jumps up to catch the ball, but doesn’t stick the landing. His awkward landing breaks his leg, which lands him in the Emergency Room, and he has to wear a cast for the next four months. The soft nerf ball did not cut down on his change of getting injured, and I contend that kids have a fair chance at breaking a leg whether they play with a regular football or a soft one.

I am an official. My job is keeping players safe, but I always know that players can get injured on legal plays just as they can get injured on illegal plays. The only way to keep players from getting hurt playing the game they love is to not let them play the game.

The originator of lacrosse rules, William George Beers, said it best – “no game is worth a fig if it has not some spice of danger”. I believe kids need to learn how to get hurt. Otherwise they never learn how to deal with pain.

Featured Image Credit – www.betadadblog.com


Hurt versus Injured

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This is a tough topic to discuss in youth sports, and even tougher because I am not a parent. I cannot imagine what I would feel if I saw my future kid get drilled in a U13 game and not get up quickly. I can only think my insides would be twisting into a Gordian Knot until I see him rise up. Until I have kids of my own, I will cherish my current moments of carefree worry, but I believe the concept of being hurt versus injured is a valid topic for discussion.

Gordian Knot

Gordian Knot

As I said in earlier posts, youth lacrosse is not about teaching players how to play. It is about teaching young boys how to live. Every parent wants their child to learn firsthand about respect, fair-play, honor, hard work, etc. Still, out of all those worthwhile lessons, one of the most difficult lessons to learn is how to play through pain. I am certain no parent wants to see their kid in pain, but there is a serious benefit to learning about pain in a controlled environment.

The hard part about youth sports is that players will get hurt and they will get injured. In fact the National Center for Sports Safety reported that in 2001, “more than 3.5 million children ages 14 and under [received] medical treatment for sports injuries.” Now this information should not scare anyone out of playing. As with all knowledge what matters is how it is applied.

If a player is seriously injured there is no reason for him or her to return to the field of play. Take your pick of injuries: concussion, broken limb or digit, twisted ankle, stitches, etc. There are a multitude of legitimate injuries that may require a quick look from a trainer or the professional treatment of an M.D. In a game, these injuries usually have a coach, parent, or trainer coming to the aid of the player. So players, if you get an injury do not worry about the game. Take your gear off if you are staying on the sidelines and cheer your team on from the sidelines. A friend of mine tore his ACL in a game my senior year. He stayed on the sideline in obvious pain cheering us on till the final horn. I probably played harder than I had all year because of his sacrifice.

This is an Injury

This is an Injury

Flipping over to the other side of the coin: getting hurt. For me, being hurt involves pain. There will likely be a sore spot, bruise, and blood involved in getting hurt. Over my ten year playing career I have gotten hurt more times than I can count. In youth ball my hurts were:

  • Hit in the throat with a shot
  • Bruised ankle on a save
  • Had the wind knocked out of me
  • Got my “bell” rung – no concussion
  • Been stepped on
  • Cross-checked, slashed, and pushed
  • Stuck my stomach with the butt-end of my stick on a ground ball (that really hurts by the way)
  • Playing while sick, ill, or otherwise the walking dead

I played through all of these hurts because of one of my dad’s lessons. He said, “Gordon, “there is a difference between hurt and injured. You can play if you are hurt.” Playing through pain is a poignant lesson that I apply almost daily in my life. Through difficult times on the lacrosse field I learned to break through my personal limits of pain for the greater good of the team. I did not understand the power of that lesson when I was in ninth grade. Heck, I did not see it’s importance at the end of my senior year. I finally realized how profound it was when I was sick as a dog and managed to drag my butt out of bed to get to class.

Playing through a little bit of pain in fifth grade serves me well at twenty-three years old. Can you imagine how well it will serve me when I have a family to support?

Featured Image Credit – www.washparkchiro.com