Do Successful Teams Have Fewer Injuries???

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This is an interesting topic. I have had seasons where I have a lot of injuries among my teams and other seasons where there are very few injuries. Is there a reason for this? Is it a complete coincidence? I am the Athletic Trainer at East Ridge High School. I am going to base this article mostly on my teams that made it to state this fall: boys’ soccer, football and girls cross-country. At East Ridge, we have had a very successful fall sport season. With that being said, I have had minimal injuries across the board. And what I mean by “injuries” is season ending and/or missing out on a week or more of practice/competition. There are a number of minor issues that the athletes have had that they can play with and have not had to miss games/competitions for.


Let’s think about this. If you’re on a team that loses most games, you may be more likely to sit out of practice/game for an injury because if you feel like you’re probably going to lose anyway then why rush to get back. If you’re on a team that wins most games, it would be the opposite. You would want to get back in the game because you will most likely win and that’s fun. You can have an athlete with the same injury: The athlete on the winning team is going to be a lot more likely to “suck it up” and be able to play through some pain than the athlete on the losing team that figures they might as well sit out because what’s the point of playing through some pain if we’re just going to lose anyway. Things hurt a lot less when you win. I can tell this in my athletic training room after a football game. If we win, it clears out pretty quickly. If we lose…. not so quick.

Now there are some injuries where you don’t have a choice to play and you have to sit out. Those are the broken bones, ligament tears, concussions, etc. where the athlete can’t make the decision if they’re ready to play or not. They’re body (along with their athletic trainers and doctors) won’t allow them to play.

Do-successful-teams-have-fewer-injuries 2But this all leads me to this question:

Does a lower injury rate cause team success or does team success cause a lower injury rate?

I think a little of both. If you have a good team, then you obviously have good athletes on your team. Good athletes have (for the most part) better proprioception and can adapt and move to possibly avoid injury. Off-season workouts make a big difference. You have to have the right training for your body to be able to adapt. We are very blessed at East Ridge to have one of the best off-season training programs around that is run by our strength and conditioning coach.

There is also a strong mental aspect to healing. If you’re in a positive mental state (like you would have on a winning team) you are more likely to work hard and get back quicker. If you’re in a negative mental state you are less likely to work hard so it will most likely take longer to get back.

I think I should end this with the actual situation: Successful teams do not have fewer injuries. But the athletes on successful teams are more likely to play through the “smaller” injuries so it APPEARS these teams have fewer injuries when they really do not. I have a number of boys on my football team that have been playing with injuries this season. I asked all of them if they were on a team that was losing most games would they be playing with these injuries. The answer was the same across the board…no. What are your thought?