Saturday, March 28, 2015

From surgery to signing day

It's always great to see my clients sign letters of intent on national signing day, and this year was no different. It's a culmination of significant hard work and support, and it validates the years athletes and their families spend training, traveling and competing in order to someday compete at the college level.

But watching Southern Durham High School defensive lineman Jawwad Evans sign with Hampton University was especially satisfying because I knew where he'd been just two years prior.

Jawwad was a physically gifted sophomore defensive end competing for a starting spot on his varsity team during the summer of 2012 when doctors decided his nagging shoulder injury needed to be surgically repaired, and it kept him off the field for the entire season. Instead of trudging through two-a-days and suiting up on Friday nights, he pulled Therabands and rode an exercise bike in a physical therapy clinic.

After doctors cleared him to return to traditional strength training in October 2012, Jawwad began lifting and running with his teammates. He contacted me a few weeks later because, though he was making progress, certain exercises bothered his shoulder, and he was experience hip pain that he hadn't felt before. He shared with me the strength and conditioning routine his coaches had him following, and after a simple movement screen the problem was clear.

Jawwad's injury had healed, but he still wasn't ready to dive back into the rigors of his sport. He hadn't lifted heavy in months, and his hips lacked the mobility to squat low enough to satisfy his coaches. Plus, the barbell military press and olympic lifts still bothered his shoulder, and he worried about re-injuring it.

So we worked together to get him as strong as possible using exercises that kept him moving through safe ranges of motion. We swapped out exercises like military presses and deep squats and instead performed floor presses with a swiss bar and high box squats with a safety squat bar.

We also improved his olympic lifting technique, first using tire flips and later coaching the clean variations. He performed lots of extra shoulder and upper back exercises like reverse flies, external rotations and face pulls. Before, during and after each session we addressed his mobility issues with soft tissue work, ground-based movements like scorpions and rollovers-into-V-sits, and multi-planar core strengthening so he could eventually return to his team's training program and lift pain-free.

The physical challenges Jawwad faced were obvious, but there's a psychological obstacle that post-surgical athletes must overcome as well. It took awhile for Jawwad to trust his body as I added weight to the bar. At first, he never performed more than the prescribed number of reps in a set.

But a few weeks later, after a set of loaded carries, he asked me if it was okay to do more than the required distance. That was a key moment, not because I'd underestimated him, but because he trusted his own body enough to push himself. By Christmas, he'd stopped asking and instead told me when a set was too light.

After a few months of work, Jawwad had added 70 pounds to his box squat and 30 pounds to his floor press, both of which transferred to his traditional back squat and bench press. He returned to his team's training program in January 2013, won a starting job that fall and led his team deep into the playoffs in 2014.

Congrats to Jawwad and his family and best of luck at the next level!  

No comments:

Post a Comment