The trend of high school showcases and combines has increased dramatically over the last decade, especially in baseball and football. These events gather or invite individuals to compete in a variety of sports skills and/or physical tests to provide data to college and professional scouts. With the increasing number of younger athletes involved in year-round sports (see Sparta Point January 14, 2009), we must be cautious to ensure proper rest and off-season training, whether that be cross training in a different sport or with professionals at a facility such as Sparta.
In a study at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Alabama, injured baseball players (requiring elbow or shoulder surgery) went to four times as many showcases as those who were healthy.
There are many explanations for this alarming fact, but the most likely explanation is the group attending these showcases is highly motivated. Motivation is a phenomenal attribute, one of the best lessons of playing a sport, but such dedication must be channeled to avoid overuse, which can certainly lead to injury.
Another explanation for the higher injury rate in showcases is the nature of testing. For example, the 40 and 60 yard sprint are staples of football and baseball combines, respectively. Both of these movements have a very low correlation to their sport (see Sparta Point May 6, 2009), meaning the results on these runs don’t necessarily predict better athletic performance on the field. In fact, these tests actually recruit such different muscles, specifically the hamstrings, that we have seen some major muscular injuries during showcases because athletes aren’t used to such foreign distances.
Showcases can provide a genuine venue to display your talents as an athlete, allowing college recruiters to see you in isolated settings, especially if you play in a smaller league or distant town. However, there is no need to attend more than a couple of these events before your risk of injury exceeds the intended exposure of your skills. Furthermore, we all seem to be forgetting the best showcase of all, your high school or club season. There are many athletes, who run a fast 60 or 40 yard dash, yet struggle to hit a baseball well in games or cover a receiver on a simple post route.
So if you’re competing against our athletes, please attend as many showcases as possible to risk injury and allow less preparation for your season.