Don't Injure Your Players While Testing Them

Mar 6 The difference between the old ballplayer and the new ballplayer is the jersey.  The old ballplayer cared about the name on the front.  The new ballplayer cares about the name on the back.  ~Steve Garvey

The title seems like a fairly obvious one.   Don't injure your players while testing them. Yet we hear reports of players getting injured during strength assessments more often than we should.


Case in point  just this week
Linebacker Barquell Rivers, a rising junior, tore his left quadriceps tendon Wednesday during max-out weightlifting testing and will miss five to six months, which means he might not be ready for the beginning of preseason practices in August.  See full article

So Mr Rivers is likely out until at least the start of the pre-season and who knows how this inury may affect his career.  This kind of injury is highly preventable by following some simple guidelines when assessing your athletes strength.

[S.A. We first covered the topic of testing back in 2003. See testing]

You don't need to look at max singles to see who's getting stronger.  A heavy set of 6 or 8 reps will tell you just as much as a max single will and with a whole lot less risk.  Compare the number of reps at a certain range with the same range from the last assessment and bingo, you see if your athlete has improved or not.

I'm not sure why the mystique of the one rep max exists.  Sure it shows what your strength limits are but realize also that since it is a limit lift, there is a higher potential for form to break down.  If the form does break down, you are essentially doing the lift in a manner you have not practiced.  This means you may compromise joints, tendons and ligaments because they are being asked to bear maximal load in new patterns.  At least if your form breaks down on the last rep of a weight you can lift eight times, you are not near your structural limits, so a new movement pattern is less risky than if it occurred with a one rep max.

So to recap, one rep max assessments tell you no more than an assessment with a lower weight and higher number of reps, but DO come with more risk.  So more risk to find out the same information is not an acceptable protocol to be putting your athletes through.

Think about the pride you can show telling Johnny's dad how strong he was and that you're sure he'll help lead the team's way to the championship once he heals up from your max-out weightlifting testing.

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