Preventing Injuries in Volleyball

July 17, 2023

Injury prevention has been a cornerstone of youth sports as a way for young people to stay active. However, learning new skills can increase the risk of injury, particularly during puberty when the body is undergoing significant physical changes. Overuse injuries, in particular, can be a common problem in youth sports.

What causes overuse injuries?

Overuse injuries occur when the body is subjected to repetitive stress without enough time to rest and recover. Most sports have their own specific overuse risks actions. The worst culprits in volleyball are jumping and hitting, but quick pivoting can also case problems. Overuse injuries can be particularly problematic for teenagers during puberty due to rapid growth spurts causing changes in muscle, bone, and connective tissue. These changes can make the body more vulnerable to injury.

  • One common overuse injury that affects young athletes is patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), also known as “runner’s knee.” PFPS occurs when the kneecap rubs against the thigh bone, causing pain and discomfort. This can be especially problematic for sports that involve a lot of running or jumping – such as basketball or volleyball.
  • Stress fractures are another common injury caused by overuse. These are tiny cracks in the bone that can occur as a result of repetitive stress. Jumping may result in increased risk for stress fractures, particularly in the bones of the lower leg, and particularly during intense growth spurts.
  • Sports that require a lot of twisting, may be at increased risk for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. The ACL is a ligament that connects the thigh bone to the shin bone, and it can be torn or strained when the knee is twisted or bent in a certain way. ACL injuries can be particularly problematic for girls because they can lead to long-term knee problems and may even require surgery.

Ideas on Injury Prevention

One important preventative step is to make sure that young athletes are getting enough rest and recovery time between practices and games. Those who participate in multiple high-level sports may be at increased risk of injury because they may not be getting enough rest time. On the other hand, athletes who focus on a single high-level sport will be at higher risk for targeted overuse injuries. Encouraging athletes to take breaks and rest can help prevent these injuries from occurring. Younger athletes in particular should widen their sport repertoire to strengthen and teach their muscles a wider range of action and develop more innovative muscle memory.

As a coach, it is important to recognize overuse activities and to encourage rest days. Not only does it help prevent physical injuries but also keeps athletes excited to play.

Athletes who mention they “play through the pain” on a regular basis may be at risk of physical damage that may hinder their sports progress for years to come. Coaches and parents should take such comments seriously.

Another important step is to make sure they are using proper technique and form when executing skills. Coaches and trainers should emphasize the importance of proper warm-up and stretching before games and practices, and should also monitor the player’s technique to ensure they are not putting excessive stress on joints or muscles.

Finally, it is important to wear appropriate footwear and equipment. Shoes that provide proper support and cushioning can help reduce the risk of stress fractures and other injuries. Protective equipment, such as knee pads can help prevent injuries that involve impact with the floor. Ankle braces can help prevent twisting injuries (sprains).

Taking steps to prevent injuries will improve their chances of remaining healthy and strong to compete at their optimum level for years to come:

  • Ensure proper rest and recovery time;
  • Emphasize proper technique and form;
  • Use appropriate footwear and equipment.

By emphasizing the above factors, coaches, trainers, and parents can help young athletes stay healthy and active while participating in their favourite sport.