Yesterday, Georgia hosted a forum about the health and safety of college athletes Tuesday at the Georgia Center. Ron Courson spoke, and the subject quickly turned to Georgia’s strength and conditioning program and what, if anything could be done to lessen the risk of knee injuries that it seems the Dawgs have suffered a rash of in recent seasons.
Courson, to his credit, got pretty specific with his answer.
… he acknowledged that Georgia has re-evaluated all its training techniques and has introduced some new ones in hopes of preventing ACL and other injuries in the future.
“A lot of it goes back to the science of strength and conditioning,” Courson told the student. “Traditionally a lot of things have been done in strength and conditioning just because that’s the way it’s always been done. We did heavy squats because they’ve always been done that way, and we ran and did a lot of other things because it has always been done that way. I think we’ve got to advance with sports science.”
It seems Richt had some specific things in mind with the hire of Tereshinski’s successor.
… The Bulldogs in December hired Mark Hocke from Alabama to take over their football strength and conditioning program. And one of the techniques that they’re implementing is something called proprioception. In general, proprioception is the awareness of the position of one’s body and, in sports training, it incorporates a lot of balancing techniques into training exercises.
“That’s one thing we found out (helps), learning how to land coming off a jump,” Courson said after the 90-minute program. “Because most ACLs are non-contact. The contact things we can’t do a lot to prevent. But the non-contact things we can. There’s a lot of things we can do from a strength and condition standpoint. We tried to sit down with Coach Hocke and our strength staff and tried to look at what areas we wanted to focus on. For example, we may want to put more emphasis on hamstring, we want to put more emphasis on shoulder and rotator cuff or balance and proprioception. If we can identify trends and factors, it helps us to be better at trying to prevent.”
That they’ve thought hard about the problem is good. Whether this leads to healthier results is the big question now. Malcolm Mitchell, who was also at the forum, is skeptical and doesn’t think Georgia’s training regimen has contributed to his knee problems.
“An ACL isn’t a muscle. I can’t make it stronger. I can make the areas around it stronger and hopefully that prevents the injury. But you still have a chance of that happening. You just look at how Keith (Marshall) got hurt. Was that preventable on his behalf? The way I got hurt, the only thing that was preventable was if I wouldn’t have run down there (to celebrate with Todd Gurley). For Todd, how preventable was that”
“So I’m not sure ACL has one distinct motion or one thing that hurts you. It’s so varied in the way it can happen, you never know. So I don’t think as of right now. There’s nothing that proves that. The only thing that’s been proven is you can recover from it.”
Courson seems to agree to some extent, as he notes that the recent swell of ACL problems is somewhat cyclical. But if there’s anything to be learned from studying what’s happened and there’s a course of action that can cut the risk even a little, it’s worth pursuing. The best part to take from all of this is that there seems to be a different attitude now about what to expect out of strength and conditioning. We’ll see where that goes this season.
UPDATE: The ACL stuff isn’t all Mitchell is cynical about.
Mitchell didn’t indicate any huge immediate changes under the new strength staff, other than “they’re hyped up all day” by virtue of their youth.
“Working out is working out,” Mitchell said. “How tough it is? They’re gonna make it challenging. But at the end of the day it’s just working out to get better. You just do what they say and hopefully you get better.”