Personal Column: Do coaches make a difference?

by Ashley LaBounty

During my sophomore year of college, I learned I had been doing push-ups wrong my entire life.
No one ever told me that if my arms were at the wrong angle it would apply too much stress to my shoulder, causing damage. This made me question what else did I do wrong when it came to sports and physical activity?



In the 20 years I have participated in sports, playing teeball, soccer, field hockey, softball, doing ballet, figure skating, and cheerleading. Not one coach had pointed out that I, or any other teammates, were doing push-ups incorrectly. This meant that not all of the coaches knew about proper body mechanics or physiology.

In kinesiology class, which is the study of human movement, I learned that if people participating in sports are performing certain actions incorrectly, over time it could cause injuries. (Kinesiology addresses the mechanics and physiology, as well as anatomy in relation to movement.)

I never damaged my shoulder, but if I had never studied exercise sciences, I would have continued doing push-ups incorrectly and risked injury. If your arms are out too far while performing a pushup, it can stress the rotator cuff muscles. The muscles of the rotator cuff help stabilize the shoulder, and overstressing the rotator cuff can result in tendinitis.

A common mistake people make while doing a push up is having their arms far out and at a 90 degree angle. For a proper pushup, the head should be at a neutral position looking down. The spine should be kept straight. The arms should be kept closer to your body, while the hands should be close to your chest and the elbows should be kept in line with your wrists. To watch a video on proper technique, click here!

I think it is important for all coaches to have an understanding of kinesiology to ensure the safety of sports participants. It should be the coach’s job to point out incorrect body movements, whether it is throwing a baseball, or doing a simple conditioning exercise.

There are many classes and certification programs people can take for coaching, but there are no requirements out there that coaches have to be certified. To ensure you’re learning how to safely perform exercises and sports, make sure you have a coach who is authorized with the proper certification. That way people avoid unnecessary injuries before it is too late. There are many types of certifications out there. Some examples are the American College of Sports Medicine Certification, National Academy of Sports Medicine Certifications, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and there are others out there as well.

To minimize risk of injury and to ensure your technique is the best, make sure you have a good coach knowledgeable about not only the sport being performed, but about the human body’s anatomy and how it moves efficiently and properly.


Check out other articles on fitness! Fitness trackers like Fitbits have been very popular. Read Kendra’s article about them to see if they really work or not!



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