March 17, 2016

Shoulder Injury and College Volleyball Recruiting

Hey coach - I love your blog!!!  

My daughter is a very athletic setter and has a minor tear of the labrum of her hitting shoulder. Saw a few doctors, and her primary problem is that's she has super flexibility in all of her joints. All the doctors recommended physical therapy to build up the muscles around her shoulders. 

Doctors were split on surgery though. The 2 "sports" shoulder specialists she saw said she should build the muscles up, keep playing, and have surgery only if it gets worse.

She's been playing a year of school and club VB with no issues. She plays on an open 16 team and she's getting inquiries from colleges. Realistically, she's a good D2 level setter, but would prefer to play D3 on an academic.

Our question is - should she disclose shoulder issue to college coaches?   She's playing at a high level with no issues and continues to work the bands to strengthen the area. 

She recently had a follow up MRI and the Dr said it looked great. He said the tear has improved (is that possible?). And she has no limitations on her activities


It is an interesting situation you are facing - My feedback:

*  Athletic Departments have become extremely conscious of a player's physical condition upon before they arrive, as a cost containment procedure.  Athletes now have to submit medical history paperwork, which is reviewed by the Athletic Department trainers before scholarships are honored.  It has become commonplace for releases to be attached to scholarships, protecting athletic departments from the cost of previously sustained injuries.

*  Your daughter's medical history is going to show a tear of her labrum, in her dominant shoulder - This will raise a red flag.  If she discloses now or in her arrival medial paperwork, the school will learn of the injury. For NCAA Division III schools, it may not matter because she would not be on an athletic scholarship, but for any other category which would put her on volleyball money, they will be concerned.

*  The physical stress upon a player in club is nothing compared to what it will be at any collegiate level.  So, even though the shoulder feels OK now, that could/should quickly change in college.  For instance, what if her coach has her in a serving drill where she serves 100 balls in an hour?  

*  I am no orthopedic but I don't believe the tear gets better; it won't fix itself.  The muscles around the tear can be strengthened to provide stability but the injury itself will remain or worsen.

*  What concerns me, is that there is a tear, and because of the length of time remaining in her career, all it take is one 'off' situation and the tear will become severe.  If she was a collegiate senior setter, then she would just finish out her career.  But as a high school sophomore, it just takes one mis-hit, one awkward sprawl, one player crashing inter her, etc., and the small tear is instantly a big tear.

Again, I am no orthopedic, but I would suggest that surgery be strongly considered.  If your daughter had the surgery immediately after the club season, she would be good to go by next club season.  I feel it is better to get to 100% healthy for the last 2 years of club and all of college, than managing this injury.  Maybe it stays this way for her entire career?  Maybe since she is not hitter, the shoulder muscles can carry the stress?  Or maybe, something happens to this weakened shoulder which results in a comprehensive shoulder repair versus fixing a minor tear.


1 comment:

  1. My daughter is a DI hitter who was diagnosed with a labrum tear. We learned that there are small tears which can be successfully rehabbed without surgery. There are others that surgery would be needed to play high end sports. In addition, even if you can get back in the game with just therapy you may want to have a player's hitting mechanics evaluated in case that was a contributing factor for the initial injury. Fortunately for my daughter, her tear was small, her mechanics were fine and did great with therapy and surgery was not needed.


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