Once upon a time I was a soccer coach. I even worked for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

I was fortunate enough to take numerous soccer coaching courses, some of which were a week long and required you to hit the books and pass quite a few assessments to receive your diploma.

Regardless of the soccer coaching course you take one of the first items you’ll learn is correction methodology. If a player on your team shoots the ball over the crossbar, the lesson (and frankly, your ability to pass the course) comes in explaining to the player why it happened.

Most courses use the following steps:

a. Identify the problem
b. Recognition of the “teachable moment”
i. Should the exercise be stopped?
ii. What can and cannot be ignored?
c. Freezing the action
d. Effective demonstrators
e. Restart the game

The methodology forces us below the surface to find the root cause of shooting the ball over the bar and find the technical flaw. More than likely, the player was leaning back, which caused his foot to strike underneath the ball and send it over the bar.

In high school I had extremely problems with my ankles. I taped them, used splints, iced, stretched and treated all of the symptoms. Once I reached by early 20’s, every round of golf featured me on my ass at least a few times, thanks to uneven ground and a messed up ankle.

That baseball on the side of my ankle in the photo? That was my ankle on a daily basis. The MRI to the right shows where the ligament was torn. 

Enough was enough. Thanks to a quick visit to the surgeon, I had torn my ligament in my right ankle. I quickly scheduled surgery and had the ligament repaired via Brostroms Procedure. 89 days later, I was cleared for full activity. Yeah buddy.

Problems since?

Zero. Nil. Cero.

So, what now? Well, the above methodology works just as well for diagnosing injuries. Let’s use my ankle as an example, shall we?

Identify the problem
What is the injury. When did it happen? Where?
Me: Constant overuse, injured in high school. Consistent pain and instability. Diminishing quality of life (quite seriously)

Recognition of the “teachable moment”
Recognizing the injury is, in fact, an injury and not a simple ache or pain.
Me: This is an ongoing injury, not a simple bruise or sprain.

a) Should the exercise be stopped? Does this injury warrant taking time off and exploring?
Me: Yes, I need to take time off and solve the problem.

b) What can and cannot be ignored? Is it an ache or pain that is coming from training. Or is it a larger injury that needs to be treated and assessed.

Freezing the action  
I stop training and begin to look at solutions.
Me: Schedule an appointment to have a surgeon look at the ankle and determine next steps.

Effective demonstrators 
Find a coach, doctor, PT, ART and get to the root of the problem. If the problem is biomechanics, watch form videos and look at your form to determine corrections.
Me: Find surgeon, diagnose ligament tear, schedule surgery, recover with physical therapy.

Restart the game
Restart training and ensure the problem has been corrected. Return back slowly and be aware of changes.
Me: Cleared for full activity 89 days later. Took it easy coming back, made sure ankle was solid before pushing 100%. No problems for six years.

Let’s bring this into the real world for context. It is snowing and your roof is leaking. How do you solve it?

Would putting a bucket under the leak cause the leak to stop? No, it just stops water dripping on the floor.

Wait for the snow to go away? Sure, that stops it, but once it snows again, you are in the same position.

What if you went up and put some wood over the hole? That may stop it for a short time, but it will only come back in the future.

Would buying a better, bigger bucket help? It could collect more water so you don’t have to empty it as often, but eventually it will overflow.

The correct way to solve it is to go on the roof, find the hole or issue, determine how to stop it, buy the materials, hire someone if necessary and patch it up!

So, stop using the bucket already!

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