Working out imperative for athletes

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 1, 2004

With the workout ethics of today's high school athletes, it's hard to sometimes separate the men from the boys.

It's not surprising for fans to walk into a high school football stadium or gymnasium and see muscular, wellntoned teenagers performing spectacular feats. Such sporting performances could not be possible without the dedication many young athletes have in the weight room. Not only do the athletes want to be able to perform to the best of their ability, but strive to prevent injury.

"I think it's imperative for any athlete to workout in a weight room at school or if they have some free weights at home as long as they're properly supervised," Greenville Rehab and Associates athletic trainer Jason Peavy said. "One of the benefits from working out in a sports arena type atmosphere is that it helps prevent injuries. The stronger you are, the less likely you are to get injured, but there's a con to that as well. If you're doing something wrong in the weight room you're more likely to get hurt and that's why it's important to have a coach that has been properly trained to supervise you while you're doing your workout."

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According to CrozernKeystone Health Systems, each year thousands of high school athletes limp off playing fields and courts with muscle strains and sprains, pulled hamstrings and quadriceps, tendonitis, jammed fingers and broken bones.

Peavy said there's not much an athlete can do about breaking bones and knee injuries because those type injuries are hard to prevent, but working out does help in cutting down on minor injuries.

"Usually it's the younger kids that are going to have the muscle pulls and stuff like that," Peavy said. "Sometimes you can workout as much as you want to or as much as you can and you're still going to have a muscle pull. You're going to always have the major injuries such as ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) tears and things of that nature that you can't prevent."

Injury dropnoff

Since more high school athletes have become active in the gym and coaches have implemented offnseason and innseason workout programs, Peavy has seen a dropnoff in injuries, especially on the gridiron.

"It's important to be strong in any sport, whether it's football or track and field," Peavy said. "With the things that I see, I believe football is the more aggressive, physical game, so they do need to be a little more inndepth in the strength aspect of it. It's different for different sports too. You might want a bigger chest, arms and legs for football and you want to build mass, whereas in basketball you don't want to be too bulky, you'd rather be quick and more defined."

Peavy commended the coaches in Butler County for the workout programs they have their athletes on. He said all the coaches in the area have been wellntrained and know what to teach their players.

"All the coaches played ball and went to great universities and have been taught how to do workout and have taken classes," Peavy said. "I think the best way to learn how to workout is to get with the proper coach. I think the workout programs at the schools in Butler County are wonderful. I wouldn't change a thing. The coaches teach the proper mechanics of the lifts, they watch their athletes and make sure they're doing what they're supposed to do when they're in there."

Alvin Briggs, Greenville High School fourthnyear head football coach, believes having endurance on the football field is important. He said being bulky has its advantages, but said endurance pays off just as much as being strong does.

"With me, it all starts with making sure that you have more endurance than strength," Briggs said. "You've got to have some strength and it's good to be strong, but you have to have endurance to play on the football field because you've got four quarters to play. Very seldom games are won in the fourth quarter. Making your players last through four quarters is the toughest part and you've got to have strength and endurance to do that. Getting the players to understand that and getting them working through that is the hard part."

Brandon Turner, a Greenville senior multinsport athlete, is always willing to work out. In fact, he's always in the weight room.

"You don't have to tell me to get in the weight room," he said. "I'm already there."

Turner, who played safety for the Tigers' football team and guard on the basketball team, said he enjoys working out because of the positive results he has seen. In the four years he's been working out, he's seen drastic changes in way his body looks and his athletic performances. He's also stayed a lot healthier.

"You can stand more punishment on the football field and give more punishment to your opponent," he said. "You don't get injured that often either because you're so much stronger all over."

Last summer, Fort Dale Academy's football players were introduced to the next level of working out as they began using a modified version of the University of Nebraska's workout program. Head Coach James "Speed" Sampley said he started the program in hopes it would help his players become more explosive on the field and be quicker.

"I felt like we got stronger, we did loose some straight ahead speed, but we're back working on that," "We're working on some restrictive running such as pulling sleds and pushing the school bus."

Sampley said if the program wouldn't have helped his players become more agile, at least his players would have been less prone to injuries.

"If nothing else, if you can make your muscles grow around your joints, it can help prevent injuries."

Peavy said he did see changes in many of Fort Dale's athletes this year and didn't have to tend to as many injuries.

"Fort Dale did have less minor injuries," Peavy said. "Stuff you would usually see from people that are not physically fit like hamstring injuries and strains. They even had less knee injuries than they did the year before last. I think that is directly attributed to their workout program. If you have stronger muscles, you're going to get hurt less."

Be careful

Even though working out has its advantages, Peavy warns that injuries can occur in the weight room if athletes are not properly trained. He has seen many athletes come into his office with weight roomnrelated injuries.

"We've had several people come in with pulled muscles, twisted ankles and knees and some offnthenwall type injuries like people dropping weights on their hands. It's important to know your way around a weight room and know what you're doing. You don't need to go in there because you got a wild hair to workout and just jump in there. Make sure you take some classes or talk to somebody that's been working out for a while."

Briggs, who played receiver for Auburn University from 1984n88 and for the Dallas Cowboys in 1988, agrees that weight rooms can be dangerous. He believes athletes need to be properly trained to workout before they begin. He added that workouts have changed dramatically since he was in high school.

"When I was in school, most of the lifting we did was power lifting," Briggs said. "It was all concentrated on the big muscles and nothing was really done about flexibility and muscle endurance. I think we've learned a lot from the Russians and Ukrainians learning that you have to work every muscle in the body and elongate it and strength it and give it endurance because that's what builds it up and makes it stronger."

Getting athletes to get in the weight room is no problem. Briggs said getting them to understand why they are working out is another.

"You've got to get the players to understand that they're doing this to give the muscles more strength and endurance so they can deliver the power and the punch," Briggs said. "Muscle strength and endurance is a big part of athletics in any sport."