Avoiding a Repeat

November 8, 2018

Coaches and athletic trainers try to learn from every game, but it’s not often they get to turn around and put their new knowledge into practice as immediately as the football crew at Liberty University did earlier this season. On Sept. 29, Liberty played the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. One week later, the squad was back in the state to face New Mexico State University.

In the first game, the three-and-a-half hour flight, combined with a time zone difference and major elevation change, took a toll on athletes’ muscles, according to an article in The News and Advance. Player after player fell prey to cramping during the contest.

Liberty got through the UNM game and even posted a 52-43 win, but the experience wasn’t one Head Coach Turner Gill wanted to repeat any time soon.

“It’s the most concerning [game] I’ve had and most challenging for me as a football coach, as a head coach, that I’ve been exposed to in my career,” he said.

To avoid a repeat of the cramping scenario for the following weekend’s game against New Mexico State, Liberty's coaches, nutrition staff, and athletic training staff worked together to get players’ bodies prepared to handle another trip to New Mexico. Melissa Crowson, MS, RD, CSCS, Director of Sports Nutrition, made sure players had recovery shakes after each practice to provide nutrition as well as hydration, and extra focus was placed on having water available in every location players were working. Extra electrolytes and plenty of bananas for potassium were also on the menu.

“It’s definitely going to be different. What we experienced last week is not something we want to experience this week when the game comes on,” Liberty junior quarterback Buckshot Calvert said. “We want to be physically and mentally ready.

“As far as these extra cramps we’ve been getting … we’re not trying to have that much, if not any,” he continued. “That comes with the game and a lot of hard work that we put in. That’s probably the biggest thing, our bodies right now, and that’s something we don’t want to experience. We’re doing everything we can to try to prevent that.”

Barry Finke, MS, ATC, Liberty's Senior Associate Athletic Trainer for Football, focused on getting the team access to massage therapy, with 20 to 25 players getting massage throughout the week. In addition, Gill adjusted his practice plans, shortening some sessions to allow for more recovery.

“We learned from what happened this past Saturday so we’re going to do our best to ensure we’re prepared for this Saturday,” Liberty defensive coordinator Robert Wimberly said.

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