Planning for the inevitable.
Injuries are inevitable in the game of football. Management, coaches and players all realize adjustments will have to be made during the course of a season because of missed time by players due to injury. There is some luck involved in winning a championship relative to injuries. Regardless of how well you prepare, there are injuries that all the planning in the world probably will not prevent.
The injuries you hope to limit, but will never completely prevent, are overuse injuries. There are injuries that can be reduced by education of safe technique, conditioning, hydrating, and heat and cold environments. Proper diagnosis by the training and medical staff is important to how much time it will take for the athlete to return to the field. Many times, the players themselves want to return to the playing field so badly they return too quickly and worsen the injury.
Because injuries are going to happen, acquiring not only 1st level talent, but depth on your team is critical to sustainable success. That is a balancing act of resources (mainly salary cap implications) to roster top notch starters, but adequate backups.
The standard coaching mantra when a player is injured is: next man up!
This means the backup steps in and you move on without skipping a beat. Confidence is fragile and can be shaken if leadership doesn’t approach injuries with the next man up attitude. If the coaches panic or show a lack of confidence — so will the players. The reality of injuries is that most often the injured player’s replacement is not as talented and productive or he would be starting. At times, a team will have a rash of injuries that make it almost impossible to sustain winning. Injuries to a starting QB are especially devastating. It is difficult enough to find one quarterback, let alone two.
How is it then that some teams overcome injuries to key players?
The first thing that occurs is that the coaching staff does a tremendous job of adjusting the scheme as necessary to emphasize a different aspect of their team to maximize their production. Next, the remaining starters increase their level of performance. At times this happens because they simply get more opportunity to produce due to the injury. If a WR gets injured and he was the #1 receiver, then the #2 ranked receiver may get more passes thrown his way and a star. The same can occur on the defensive side of the ball.
Great teams overcome adversity because they have good coaching staffs that can adapt and have depth to navigate the bumps in the road. Make no mistake, when the best players are injured the team is simply not as good, but great organizations find a way to win!
Learn more about winning strategies in my leadership course.