Players’ health

Holistic approach

It is of great importance to realize that health is not only defined by absence of illness. Many factors are influencing a person’s wellbeing, and it is important that the coach is having a holistic approach. Make it a habit to greet each and every player when they arrive to the field. You will soon be able to pick up if something is troubling your players by reading body language, facial expression, weight of handshake or tone of voice. Your care will play a huge role in the players’ health!

Nutrition

Healthy habits

It is not easy for players to decide what to eat, and when, as it at large is depending on the socioeconomical situation in the family. However, it is important to make good choices when possible. Players should be encouraged to eat the food that is served for school lunch – the quality of nutrients the body is getting from a cooked meal compared to eating snacks or a fat-cook, is very big.

Negotiate with the family for the player to bring an egg and a fruit to have before/after practice. Many families are having it at home, why it won’t be any cost implications.

The players should also get used to carry their own water bottle, as hydration is key for the body to function optimally.

Match day nutrition

As you don’t know when your players last had a meal, you should always try to make means for them to get something to eat before the game.

The dos:

  • Provide a small middle meal no less than 1 hour before starting of warm up (i.e. 1h30 before kick off). It could be bread, polony and a banana.
  • Ensure you know if your players are sensitive to any food stuff, or if their religious belief is hindering them from eating certain things. For example bananas are great to eat before the match, but if a player always get a running stomach from eating bananas, s/he should rather have something else to eat.
  • Make sure there is enough drinking water available, even before the game. The better hydrated the players are when getting in to the game, the better

The don’ts:

  • Fatty and spicy food is not good to have before playing. KFC, fat-cooks, NikNaks, and the like doesn’t have a space in the pre match meal.
  • Fizzy drinks should not be taken before playing, as the gas is not good for the players.

Tournament day nutrition

First of all – try to influence the organizers of the tournament to play a point system, rather than a knock-out tournament. With a point system you can plan your meals better, which is crucial for injury prevention.

The energy reserves in the body is said to last for 90 minutes, why you need to ensure you are not depleting it at any time during a tournament.

The dos:

  • If you practice the day before the tournament – make sure the players are getting something to eat before they are going home. Some slices of bread, an egg and a banana will do. This will make the body to recover quicker, and the energy reserves are kept at a better level.
  • On the tournament day – provide a small middle meal no less than 1 hour before starting of warm up (i.e.1h15 before the first kick off)
  • In half time provide a banana and plenty of water.
  • If possible, you can also provide an energy drink (make sure it does not contain caffeine); Energade or PowerRaid can be options, but you can also make your own.
  • Straight after the game; provide banana, water and energy drink (as above).
  • If you are having an hour’s rest to the next game, also provide two slices of bread with polony or peanut butter.

By providing small meals throughout the day, you are making sure the energy levels never deplete, which is crucial to prevent injuries.

Hydration

It is of very big importance both for good health and ability to perform in the field of play, to avoid dehydration. Water is by far the best thing for players to drink.

To be noted:

  • Soft drinks should be avoided, not only because of the high content of sugar, but also because the fizz is reducing the players’ performance.
  • Energy drinks with caffeine should never be given to players, as it is stimulating the brain.
  • Sport drinks, as Energade or PowerRaid can be given to players in half time, or after games when playing in very hot conditions or when playing many games in one day.

1st aid

All minor soft tissue injuries (muscles and ligaments) are to be treated according to PRICE:

  • Pressure
  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

Though it is not common with life threatening situations in the field, it is of great importance to know how to save lives:

Heart stop

If a player is collapsing in the field without any obvious reason, you must act quickly.

Steps of CPR

  1. Check if the person is responsive
  2. If the person is unconscious – check if s/he is breathing and having pulse
  3. If the person is not breathing – check that s/he doesn’t have anything blocking the airflow (the tongue might fall back and block the airways)

Have someone calling the ambulance.

  1. If the person doesn’t have pulse – start CPR

If you are in a remote area, where the ambulance is taking hours to come, put the player on the back of a bucky. Continue the CPR, whilst travelling to the nearest clinic or hospital.

If the player is regaining the breathing, put her in a recovery position, and monitor her closely.

The brain is getting damaged if it stays without oxygen. The heart compressions is helping the blood circulate in the body, whereas the mouth to mouth is giving oxygen to the lungs for further spread in the body, via the blood. Continue the CPR till a medical professional can take over.

Head injury

A player that gets a knock to the head should always be treated as if it is a potential life-threatening condition.

If the player is unconscious; follow the protocol of heart stop

NB! If the player gets unconscious in the air, and falls on her back, there is a big risk that she swallows her tongue. You must first ensure the airways are free. If the player is cramping so that it’s not possible to open the mouth, the only way to save life is to break the jaw.

Always consider possible injuries to the neck, when treating a head injury. Limit the movement as much as possible, whilst waiting for the ambulance

If the player is conscious; monitor the player closely:

Physical symptoms

  • Dizziness
  • Nauseous
  • Headache
  • Double vision
  • Reduced balance

Cognitive symptoms

  • Confusion
  • Memory loss

Always take the player with a head injury off the field to make a proper assessment. If the player is having any of the above symptoms, she should be taken out of the game immediately, and be seen by a medical professional.

Example of questions to ask to find out if the player’s cognition is affected by the head injury:

  • Which day and date is it today? Where are we? Who are we playing against? Is it first or second half? What’s the score? Who scored first?
  • To test the memory, give three words for the player to repeat after you, for example “house, shoe, apple”. The player must repeat straight after you, and again after two minutes. If she fails, she must be taken out of the game immediately.

If any symptoms is getting worse over time, ensure that the player is coming under medical care immediately.

Let the parents know about the injury, and ask them to monitor the player when coming back home.

Asthma

Make sure you know if any of your players are suffering from asthma, and always keep the medicine handy. Ask the parents for guidance what to do in case of problems from the asthma occurring.

Reduce the risk for the player to get an attack by:

  • Be aware of any kind of food allergies, or other allergies
  • Ensure the player is using the medication as per prescription
  • Always do a proper warm up. If needed the player with asthma can start the warm up a bit earlier to get a slow enough transition to physical activity.
  • Always make sure the player is well hydrated.
  • Working on the players stamina, in order for the threshold for the problems to be elevated.
  • Having a good communication with the player. She must always feel that she can trust you if she is getting problems.

If the player is getting problems breathing:

If it is caused by an allergic reaction, for example a bee sting:

  • Stay calm, as stress is aggravating the problems breathing
  • Immediately provide the prescribed medication
  • Rush the player to the nearest clinic, without any delay.

If it is caused by physical activity:

  • Stay calm and bring the player to a quiet place in the shade – stress is aggravating the problems.
  • Follow the advice previously given by the parents/medical professional
  • Give the player the medicine
  • Have the player to breath in through the nose, and breath out through closed lips (push the air out, slowly). If you have access to a plastic bag, or a balloon, it can be good for the player to try to fill it (against resistance) when breathing out.

If the symptoms are not reduced by the above steps within minutes, take the player to the nearest clinic.

Heat stroke

If the player is having full body cramps, it is a serious condition caused by dehydration:

  • The player must be cooled down as quick as possible, and without delay transported to the nearest clinic. If transported on the back of a backie, try to create some shade to protect from the heat of the sun.
  • Give fluid, preferably Energade/PowerRaid that is containing salt.
  • Cover the player with soaked towels
  • Put a bag of ice on the wrists on the palm side (make sure there is a piece of cloth between the ice and the skin, to avoid ice burn)

Dehydration

Players cramping are most probably dehydrated and are risking to get a heat stroke.

To avoid dehydration:

  • Make sure the players are provided with water before, during and after training and match.
  • Ask the referee for water breaks during both first and second half
  • Encourage the players to drink extra water on the eve of a game or a tournament.

In extreme heat, or extreme physical exertion during warm days (tournaments) it is important to maintain a positive salt balance in the body. If possible, provide players with:

  • Energade/PowerRaid, or similar. Make sure it is not containing caffeine.
  • Magnesium supplement
  • ReHydrate, or similar

To avoid overheating, you should

  • Stay out of the sun as much as possible, i.e. warm up in the shade if there are trees at the stadium.
  • Provide the players with ice in half time and after the game.

Dehydration can be caused by diarrhoea. Ensure:

  • Clean water containers
  • Good quality drinking water
  • Access to pills against running stomach. Note that you:
    • at all times must have the parent’s/legal guardian’s permission to give any kind of medication.
    • Should take the player to the clinic, if the diarrhoea is having traces of blood.

Injury prevention

Warm up

A proper warm up is key for preparing the players for practice and match.

Preferably warm up for practice is including the football problem that is going to be addressed in practice from the very onset. Just remember to keep the flow in the warm up, i.e. no breaks for coaching in technical details.

Ahead of the game the focus is to prepare the body and mind for the task ahead, and a football problem does not necessarily need to be addressed, but it can rather be a time of building the team spirit.

Stages of warm up

  1. Slow jog
  2. Light dynamic stretch
  3. Increased tempo
  4. Full dynamic stretch
  5. Explosive movements

Equipment

Players should at all times wear shoes in practice and match. Preferably soccer boots, as it is preventing from slipping, but most importantly is to protect the feet from cuts and bruises. Never allow the mix of players wearing soccer boots and those that are barefoot in the field.

Shin guards is a requirement, as it is reducing the risk for fractures dramatically. Players should use shin guards both during practice and match.

Any kind of jewellery must be taken off during practice and games, as they are posing a big risk for injuries both to the one carrying the jewellery, and to the opponents.

Also the traditional isiSphandla is supposed to be taken off, according to the rules, but on lower level the referee might approve it as long as it is properly covered, and thereby no longer posing a risk to the opponents. The decision is solely upon the referee, and if s/he is demanding it to be taken off it is in full supported by the laws of the game.

Strengthening

It is crucial that the players are fit enough to avoid injuries. If the time for practice in the field is limited, the players should be given a program to do at home at a minimum of twice a week.

Rehab

It is of great importance to realize that health is not only defined by absence of illness. Many factors are influencing a person’s wellbeing, and it is important that the coach is having a holistic approach. Make it a habit to greet each and every player when they arrive to the field. You will soon be able to pick up if something is troubling your players by reading body language, facial expression, weight of handshake or tone of voice. Your care will play a huge role in the players’ health!

Nutrition

Healthy habits

It is not easy for players to decide what to eat, and when, as it at large is depending on the socioeconomical situation in the family. However, it is important to make good choices when possible. Players should be encouraged to eat the food that is served for school lunch – the quality of nutrients the body is getting from a cooked meal compared to eating snacks or a fat-cook, is very big.

Negotiate with the family for the player to bring an egg and a fruit to have before/after practice. Many families are having it at home, why it won’t be any cost implications.

The players should also get used to carry their own water bottle, as hydration is key for the body to function optimally.

Match day nutrition

As you don’t know when your players last had a meal, you should always try to make means for them to get something to eat before the game.

The dos:

  • Provide a small middle meal no less than 1 hour before starting of warm up (i.e. 1h30 before kick off). It could be bread, polony and a banana.
  • Ensure you know if your players are sensitive to any food stuff, or if their religious belief is hindering them from eating certain things. For example bananas are great to eat before the match, but if a player always get a running stomach from eating bananas, s/he should rather have something else to eat.
  • Make sure there is enough drinking water available, even before the game. The better hydrated the players are when getting in to the game, the better

The don’ts:

  • Fatty and spicy food is not good to have before playing. KFC, fat-cooks, NikNaks, and the like doesn’t have a space in the pre match meal.
  • Fizzy drinks should not be taken before playing, as the gas is not good for the players.

Tournament day nutrition

First of all – try to influence the organizers of the tournament to play a point system, rather than a knock-out tournament. With a point system you can plan your meals better, which is crucial for injury prevention.

The energy reserves in the body is said to last for 90 minutes, why you need to ensure you are not depleting it at any time during a tournament.

The dos:

  • If you practice the day before the tournament – make sure the players are getting something to eat before they are going home. Some slices of bread, an egg and a banana will do. This will make the body to recover quicker, and the energy reserves are kept at a better level.
  • On the tournament day – provide a small middle meal no less than 1 hour before starting of warm up (i.e.1h15 before the first kick off)
  • In half time provide a banana and plenty of water.
  • If possible, you can also provide an energy drink (make sure it does not contain caffeine); Energade or PowerRaid can be options, but you can also make your own.
  • Straight after the game; provide banana, water and energy drink (as above).
  • If you are having an hour’s rest to the next game, also provide two slices of bread with polony or peanut butter.

By providing small meals throughout the day, you are making sure the energy levels never deplete, which is crucial to prevent injuries.

Hydration

It is of very big importance both for good health and ability to perform in the field of play, to avoid dehydration. Water is by far the best thing for players to drink.

To be noted:

  • Soft drinks should be avoided, not only because of the high content of sugar, but also because the fizz is reducing the players’ performance.
  • Energy drinks with caffeine should never be given to players, as it is stimulating the brain.
  • Sport drinks, as Energade or PowerRaid can be given to players in half time, or after games when playing in very hot conditions or when playing many games in one day.

Injury prevention

Warm up

A proper warm up is key for preparing the players for practice and match.

Preferably warm up for practice is including the football problem that is going to be addressed in practice from the very onset. Just remember to keep the flow in the warm up, i.e. no breaks for coaching in technical details.

Ahead of the game the focus is to prepare the body and mind for the task ahead, and a football problem does not necessarily need to be addressed, but it can rather be a time of building the team spirit.

Stages of warm up

Slow jog

Light dynamic stretch

Increased tempo

Full dynamic stretch

Explosive movements

Equipment

Players should at all times wear shoes in practice and match. Preferably soccer boots, as it is preventing from slipping, but most importantly is to protect the feet from cuts and bruises. Never allow the mix of players wearing soccer boots and those that are barefoot in the field.

Shin guards is a requirement, as it is reducing the risk for fractures dramatically. Players should use shin guards both during practice and match.

Any kind of jewellery must be taken off during practice and games, as they are posing a big risk for injuries both to the one carrying the jewellery, and to the opponents.

Also the traditional isiSphandla is supposed to be taken off, according to the rules, but on lower level the referee might approve it as long as it is properly covered, and thereby no longer posing a risk to the opponents. The decision is solely upon the referee, and if s/he is demanding it to be taken off it is in full supported by the laws of the game.

Strengthening

It is crucial that the players are fit enough to avoid injuries. If the time for practice in the field is limited, the players should be given a program to do at home at a minimum of twice a week.

1st aid

All minor soft tissue injuries (muscles and ligaments) are to be treated according to PRICE:

  • Pressure
  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

Though it is not common with life threatening situations in the field, it is of great importance to know how to save lives:

Heart stop

If a player is collapsing in the field without any obvious reason, you must act quickly.

Steps of CPR

  1. Check if the person is responsive
  2. If the person is unconscious – check if s/he is breathing and having pulse
  3. If the person is not breathing – check that s/he doesn’t have anything blocking the airflow (the tongue might fall back and block the airways)

Have someone calling the ambulance.

  1. If the person doesn’t have pulse – start CPR

If you are in a remote area, where the ambulance is taking hours to come, put the player on the back of a bucky. Continue the CPR, whilst travelling to the nearest clinic or hospital.

If the player is regaining the breathing, put her in a recovery position, and monitor her closely.

The brain is getting damaged if it stays without oxygen. The heart compressions is helping the blood circulate in the body, whereas the mouth to mouth is giving oxygen to the lungs for further spread in the body, via the blood. Continue the CPR till a medical professional can take over.

Head injury

A player that gets a knock to the head should always be treated as if it is a potential life-threatening condition.

If the player is unconscious; follow the protocol of heart stop

NB! If the player gets unconscious in the air, and falls on her back, there is a big risk that she swallows her tongue. You must first ensure the airways are free. If the player is cramping so that it’s not possible to open the mouth, the only way to save life is to break the jaw.

Always consider possible injuries to the neck, when treating a head injury. Limit the movement as much as possible, whilst waiting for the ambulance

If the player is conscious; monitor the player closely:

Physical symptoms

  • Dizziness
  • Nauseous
  • Headache
  • Double vision
  • Reduced balance

Cognitive symptoms

  • Confusion
  • Memory loss

Always take the player with a head injury off the field to make a proper assessment. If the player is having any of the above symptoms, she should be taken out of the game immediately, and be seen by a medical professional.

Example of questions to ask to find out if the player’s cognition is affected by the head injury:

  • Which day and date is it today? Where are we? Who are we playing against? Is it first or second half? What’s the score? Who scored first?
  • To test the memory, give three words for the player to repeat after you, for example “house, shoe, apple”. The player must repeat straight after you, and again after two minutes. If she fails, she must be taken out of the game immediately.

If any symptoms is getting worse over time, ensure that the player is coming under medical care immediately.

Let the parents know about the injury, and ask them to monitor the player when coming back home.

Asthma

Make sure you know if any of your players are suffering from asthma, and always keep the medicine handy. Ask the parents for guidance what to do in case of problems from the asthma occurring.

Reduce the risk for the player to get an attack by:

  • Be aware of any kind of food allergies, or other allergies
  • Ensure the player is using the medication as per prescription
  • Always do a proper warm up. If needed the player with asthma can start the warm up a bit earlier to get a slow enough transition to physical activity.
  • Always make sure the player is well hydrated.
  • Working on the players stamina, in order for the threshold for the problems to be elevated.
  • Having a good communication with the player. She must always feel that she can trust you if she is getting problems.

If the player is getting problems breathing:

If it is caused by an allergic reaction, for example a bee sting:

  • Stay calm, as stress is aggravating the problems breathing
  • Immediately provide the prescribed medication
  • Rush the player to the nearest clinic, without any delay.

If it is caused by physical activity:

  • Stay calm and bring the player to a quiet place in the shade – stress is aggravating the problems.
  • Follow the advice previously given by the parents/medical professional
  • Give the player the medicine
  • Have the player to breath in through the nose, and breath out through closed lips (push the air out, slowly). If you have access to a plastic bag, or a balloon, it can be good for the player to try to fill it (against resistance) when breathing out.

If the symptoms are not reduced by the above steps within minutes, take the player to the nearest clinic.

Heat stroke

If the player is having full body cramps, it is a serious condition caused by dehydration:

  • The player must be cooled down as quick as possible, and without delay transported to the nearest clinic. If transported on the back of a backie, try to create some shade to protect from the heat of the sun.
  • Give fluid, preferably Energade/PowerRaid that is containing salt.
  • Cover the player with soaked towels
  • Put a bag of ice on the wrists on the palm side (make sure there is a piece of cloth between the ice and the skin, to avoid ice burn)

Dehydration

Players cramping are most probably dehydrated and are risking to get a heat stroke.

To avoid dehydration:

  • Make sure the players are provided with water before, during and after training and match.
  • Ask the referee for water breaks during both first and second half
  • Encourage the players to drink extra water on the eve of a game or a tournament.

In extreme heat, or extreme physical exertion during warm days (tournaments) it is important to maintain a positive salt balance in the body. If possible, provide players with:

  • Energade/PowerRaid, or similar. Make sure it is not containing caffeine.
  • Magnesium supplement
  • ReHydrate, or similar

To avoid overheating, you should

  • Stay out of the sun as much as possible, i.e. warm up in the shade if there are trees at the stadium.
  • Provide the players with ice in half time and after the game.

Dehydration can be caused by diarrhoea. Ensure:

  • Clean water containers
  • Good quality drinking water
  • Access to pills against running stomach. Note that you:
    • at all times must have the parent’s/legal guardian’s permission to give any kind of medication.
    • Should take the player to the clinic, if the diarrhoea is having traces of blood.

Rehab