Earlier this week it was reported that England International and Arsenal academy graduate turned Bournemouth Loanee Jack Wilshere had suffered another injury setback; fracturing his tibia once more on the same leg where he had suffered a similar injury last season. What was initially expected to take 6-8 weeks to recover, subsequently took almost the entire season for him to get back on the field with Arsenal, and it was hoped a season away from the club on loan whilst being carefully managed at Bournemouth would have him back to his better, fitter days. Alas, he seems to have succumbed to another injury setback, showing the importance yet also the difficult nature of injury-prevention via the use of sports science, because even with all the help and support he’s received from the Bournemouth Sports Science staff (and Arsenal staff working with them, all using the latest in sports technology to accomplish their goals), it was still difficult to prevent this (as it seems the incident that has caused this recently was quite a freak incident).
Although it has effectively ruled out Wilshere for the rest of the season, it’s hard to predict just when he will be back. What we can see, however anecdotal it may be, is the potential cost this setback might cost him, along with all the other previous injuries. Of course there is a potential financial cost, as he enters into the final year of his contract with Arsenal, with discussions of a potential renewal in plans, but the cost can be far reaching; from the direct implications to the success of Bournemouth, to Jack’s own personal sporting development.
Cost to the Team...
Many modern research papers, such as Hagglund et al. (2013) investigated the effects of player availability and a team’s success. The study looked at the association between injury rates and team performance in both domestic leagues and European Cup competitions of males football players across 24 teams from 9 European Leagues over 11 seasons to see if there was a connection between injury rates, player availability and subsequent team performance. After the study was completed, the researchers concluded injuries had a “significant” effect on performance in both domestic league and European cup competitions, and concluded a strong correlation between injury prevention and a team’s chance of success. Although not entirely conclusive, a quick look at physioroom.com shows that current league leaders Chelsea, are 4th from bottom of the injury list currently and have been low all the way through the season, and any look at any of the previous seasons would likely show the teams the normally finish higher up the table, usually had the least amount of injuries. Quite simply, it doesn’t matter how good an athlete is, if they aren’t available to perform at their sport. Whether it be team sports such as football and rugby, or individual sports such as Tennis or Athletics.
Cost to the Individual...
There is course an individual development cost to any athlete who regularly succumbs to injuries; and that is the cost to their own personal sporting development, or as Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger describes it; “consistency of presence”. During phases of injury recovery, not only is the athlete unavailable to perform at their given sport, but they are also unavailable to practise and IMPROVE at their given sport. In the context of Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, it means the time spent rehabilitating would normally be spent practising tactical and positional awareness, or simply achieving technical mastery of his sport. Injuries don’t just rob an athlete of time to perform but also of their time to get better TO PERFORM BETTER, essentially matching with words relayed out by the Arsenal manager on his fears that Wilshere may never be able to fulfil his vast potential due to his injuries.
Is Luck the only factor?
One reference the Arsenal manager made in his recent press conference was that sometimes players achieve that level of “consistency of presence” through sheer luck, sighting Cristiano Ronaldo as someone “lucky” enough in not having experienced repeated muscular injuries. No doubt luck plays arguably the most vital role in injury prevention, but is it all down to luck? Is it luck that Cristiano Ronaldo has experienced little injuries? Or is it also the case that Ronaldo, a consummate professional, has possibly built himself a body more resistant to injuries through excellent strength training and good management of chronic loading on his body?
In either case, injuries to athletes can have a direct and profound effect on a team and their own success, ensuring they miss out on the influence of a key player during their season. But injuries also influence the development of any athlete, particularly young athletes with potential such as Jack Wilshere.
Here are Precision Sports Technologies, we are wishing Jack the best of luck with his recovery, and hope he can return to the field for preseason and finally show the world once more what he is truly capable of, for both the Premier League and for England.
Get well soon, @JackWilshere