USA Greco

Coach Lindland’s Weekly Report: Injuries

Coach Matt Lindland talks about injuries from Greco-Roman wrestling

Five Point Move is proud to host US Greco-Roman National Team Head Coach Matt Lindland every week for “Coach Lindland’s Report.” For fans and wrestlers looking for insights regarding the US Greco National Team, we ask Coach Lindland questions pertaining to recent events, training, and other topics surrounding the sport of Greco-Roman. If you have any questions you’d like us to ask going forward, let us know via Facebook, Twitter, or through our Contact page.

This week, simply put, there is not a lot going on. There are no recent events in the rearview mirror and the next one isn’t taking place for another two and a half weeks, when two US Greco Roman delegations head over to Europe. Even still, we talk to Coach Matt Lindland about a subject near and dear to many wrestlers’ hearts — injuries. A few well-known US athletes and their comeback performances are brought up along with some insights as to how Coach Lindland approaches injuries in general. In addition, the fate of a very important event held on US soil is in jeopardy and we tackle that, too.

5PM: Recently, we’ve seen a number of well-known athletes return from significant layoffs. In your opinion, when does an athlete know he is truly “back” to where they should be?

Coach Matt Lindland: Well, that’s a great question and I actually don’t know the answer because every athlete wants to get back and they hope they’re back, and sometimes, they’re back before they should be and they re-injure things and slow the progress down even more. So I think the real answer is when your doctors and trainers say so. We really have to rely on our support staff here at the training center or wherever our athletes are at and what they have for sports medicine. We really have to rely on those individuals to tell us because as coaches, we don’t know. We’re not medical experts.

5PM: As the head coach, do you feel a sense of relief when an athlete comes back and performs well? Even if it’s a wrestler you see all the time like RaVaughn Perkins, who endured a spinal fracture and you already know where he’s at? 

ML: It’s more of a sense of “getting this”, lack of better term, to tell you the truth. I’m just excited to see these guys back, especially someone like RaVaughn, who was out for eight months and really, we were seeing every day. He was in the room, he was watching film, he was on the bike — he was doing whatever he could do while he was rehabbing and essentially, just resting his back. He couldn’t do certain things with that.

But yeah, when I saw Jesse (Thielke) come back in the room from his shoulder injury, that was exciting. It is exciting seeing Robby (Smith), who recently had an ankle injury and took just a couple of weeks off, but he also had to take some time off after a wrist injury he teared right after the Olympics. He took care of that. We knew he was going to take some time off, he stepped on the mat, hurt his ankle that day, and he spent a couple more days off, so it was great to have him back in the room. Corey Hope is also back training with us.

Unfortunately, we still have a couple more guys (out with injuries). Chris Gonzalez just had a sports hernia surgery. It was an elective surgery, but we timed it out, he could take a couple of weeks off and be ready for tours, so he’ll be back on the mat next week. Tracy Hancock did a little shoulder separation. He is surprised at how fast he’s healing (laughs). The guy is 19, you know. It’s not a miracle (laughs). Guys like that are going to heal fast. I remember when I was that age or even into my 20’s, late 20’s, I didn’t get injured too often but when I did, I healed fast. But not at 46. When somebody grabs my neck, I’m taking a few days off and going to the chiropractor and getting a massage.

5PM: What are some of the lessons you preach when it comes to injury prevention?

Coach Matt Lindand: Well I think, first and foremost, that we’re doing the other things outside of the wrestling room. We’re doing the prehab, we’re strengthening and conditioning everything. We have our own individualized plans from our strength and conditioning coaches. We’re testing our athletes to find out where their deficiencies are, so we’re focusing on certain areas. If someone has a weak back, we want to strengthen the muscles around that. Somebody has weaker shoulders, we’re making sure we are strengthening everything around there. We’re not just lifting heavy, we are doing the right kind of strength and conditioning program.

It’s also prehab. It’s much better to prevent things than it is to try and rehab things after you’ve already hurt them. We really do focus a lot on our injury prevention with our strength and conditioning programs. That is probably as much of a focus as being explosive, athletic, and strong, just making sure we’re strengthening the right areas. Each athlete has his own individual plan. That is hard to do in a big program. In college programs, everyone is lifting the same way, the same time. You’ve got your 125 lbs guy doing the same workouts as your heavyweight. It really doesn’t make sense. I’ve seen it, but I’m also hearing it from some of our athletes. There are heavyweights in the college system who are losing weight and maybe it’s just their strength and conditioning programs are cookie-cutter. They’re not focusing on individual plans for guys.

We really have the luxury of having individual plans here. We are very fortunate to have that luxury and the athletes are focused and committed to their plans, and they want to make sure they are doing the right stuff to prevent injuries.

5PM: Moving over to videos, even outside of Greco you have certainly filmed instructionals, DVDs, and etc. For the people who have been watching the videos you’ve been filming lately, is there a certain method you recommend, i.e. watching with a coach, taking notes, what have you?

ML: Obviously, I think you hit the nail on the head there. Taking notes but more importantly, watching with a coach and learning it together. Because I have a lot of coaches out there asking for videos, not just athletes, and there is only so much time in the day to get videos up. But I’ve been pretty committed and consistent, even if it’s just off of my iPhone and a phone-editing app, I’m getting stuff on the internet right now. I want to become more skilled at that and I have an athlete in our program who has at least offered to show me the basics of film editing. I’ve got more that are in the can and need to get edited and put up.

Yeah, I think the best thing to do is watch it with your coaches and really listen to the details, especially with foreign coaches who have a little bit of an accent, like Mohamed (Abdelfatah). Really listen to the details because even while I’m filming the video, and I just saw him teach it earlier and I said, “Let’s film that” because there are some really important details. You might look at it and go, Well I know how to do an arm drag. Everybody knows how to do an arm drag, right? It’s a very simple task — grab a guy’s arm, take it across his body, create an angle, attack. But there are some really nuanced details in there and I learned something. I watched it and thought, My whole career I’ve been forcing arm drags when it’s so simple to… Just watch that video when you get the chance to see where he changes his hands from the elbow to the wrist and he’s already starting to create the angle. Just subtle details like that you have to pick up on are going to make your technique work better.

So I’m really excited people like those. They are getting a lot of views, they are getting shared by coaches, and I’m happy about that.

5PM: There is news that Mark Halvorson and his incredibly important CYC-sponsored Junior World Duals is in need of funding. Is there any mechanism for fans to potentially donate to ensure that it sticks around?

Coach Matt Lindland: Yeah, unfortunately the Community Youth Center in Concord, California has had a tournament that Mark has been hosting for 20 years. The Concord Cup used to be a Senior-level tournament, I used to compete in it. It’s been a Junior tournament for 20 years and before that it was a Senior tournament. I forget how old I am sometimes, Tim. It feels just like yesterday I was wrestling in the Olympic Trials in Concord, California but it was 20 years ago, literally. But since then, the Concord Cup has been a youth tournament and one of the best assets for our youth development in the country. There is no other opportunity like this, outside of traveling internationally, which requires you getting on a plane, landing somewhere in Europe, and competing. There is no opportunity like this given the quality and level of the competitors who come to Concord from Europe.

But better than just being a tournament, we also do a series of duals, where every wrestler can compete against a foreign athlete at their weight class in a dual series. They then train together for a week, which is another very beneficial aspect of this tournament, the camp. Then they get to compete in the tournament itself. We really don’t have a lot of opportunities like this domestically and we get a lot of athletes who make the trek out there.

But it does cost  money to put this event on and we’re $13,000 short. The CYC had structural changes, they have a new CEO, and they are re-evaluating where they are spending their money. And this isn’t a priority right now for the CEO. I don’t think he knows the quality, the level of this tournament and how many people it really impacts. CYC has been a great sponsor for 20-something years and right now they need a little help to make sure we fund this. So yeah, the answer is to reach out to Mark Halvorson via email and get him some checks coming out that way for the Concord Youth Cup. It is a non-profit organization, they do a lot of great things for the community out there in Concord, California and does great things for the US Greco-Roman program at the development level.

Be sure to follow Coach Matt Lindland on Facebook, Twitter, and his official blog for updates on the US Greco Roman Wrestling program heading into the new competitive cycle. 

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