Four Victorian teams set off to the National Youth Championships in Coffs Harbour. As a physiotherapist, it was our role to manage the 17 athletes in each team. We were set with the challenge of ensuring all players were fit to play 8 games in 5 days.
I had the pleasure of working with the U13 Metro Squad, lead by Dean Sacchetta, for the tournament. The week started with torrential rain, which presented an extra challenge for players due to the change in conditions. The U13 Metro boys were all eager to compete and were prepared to give 110% to ensure they were available to play each game. The most important part of the tournament for physios is help the players to showcase their skills and development.
To achieve our goals all teams are exposed to an elite athlete's routine. They participated in pre-activation prior warm-up, rehydration and refuelling routines, daily physiotherapy treatment for any knocks and soreness (often this was just establishing good habits on how to manage them), recovery (especially through rest)/ foam rolling and ice baths. This routine was fundamental to reduce the risk of injury throughout the tournament and also to manage fatigue as a result of the amount of games played throughout the tournament.
All squads managed this routine with extreme professionalism, which was exceptional to see from a group of young athletes. As team physiotherapist, we would check in with each player in the morning and before and after each match. It was important to chat with each athlete to discuss soreness levels, fatigue levels and any new injuries that may have occurred during the game. This allowed me to identify injuries early and then chat with the coaching staff in regards to team selection.
Treatment strategies involved a range of injury prevention techniques - focusing on pre-activation strength, foam rolling and individual physiotherapy treatment for the athlete's specific concerns. The main report of pain throughout the tournament was hip flexor and hamstring soreness. The U13 Metro boys were diligent with their exercise program and physiotherapy treatment, which resulted in none of the athletes missing a game throughout the tournament.
Working at the National Youth Championships was a fantastic experience. It was a pleasure working with these young athletes and I look forward to following their development with great interest.