Injury Prevention Secrets

USP - Injury prevention secrets


Staying healthy and injury free is vital to your success as an athlete. There have been countless numbers of talented athletes that have had their careers curtailed due to injury. If you want to succeed at the elite level you must stay healthy and injury free.

If you’re injured, you cannot train or play to the best of your ability and you’re out of the eyes of the scouts-so it makes sense to know how injuries occur and what you can do to prevent them. Below are a few of the Key Strategies you should implement to stay injury and pain free! A good mate of mine from the Adelaide Crows  Matt Hass said that, ” The best ability is availability” and “Durability is more important than ability”!

Joey Hayes, Adelaide Crows High Performance Manager and former Brisbane Lions triple Premiership winning Physio Victor Popov at the AFL High Performance Camp

Massage Therapy
Decreases muscle tone and tension which prevents Injury. Quality therapists are hard to hard and can be expensive. The athletes I coach use foam rollers to assist with decreasing muscle tone.

Foam rollers useful tool for decreasing muscle tone

Body Tempering
And just recently we’ve been experimenting with a technique called body tempering which has been used by some elite coaches and therapists in the USA. You can click here to check out my article on this revolutionary rehab technique that literally feels like you are being crushed to death…

USP Coach Joey Hayes performing some Body Tempering techniques on Australian Olympic Team Swimmer Yolane Kukla

Dry Needling
Is another great method I use to eradicate trigger points and rehabilitate injuries. Western Bulldogs AFLW Captain Katie Brennan had the tightest quads I’d ever seen and suffered a 12cm tear in the 2017 season. During her 2017 off-season we implemented dry needling modalities to optimise muscle tone and reduce adhesions and trigger points. Her quad was the best it felt in years with no signs or strains during the 2018 season!

Static Stretching
Elongates muscle and improves tissue length. Both play a pivotal role by optimising joint space keeping you pain and injury free! To see the precise stretches to perform and how to do them correctly Check out the Yoga for Athletes DVD.

We’ve had our USP athletes doing yoga since 1998 and the results have been phenomenal!

A very smart therapist that has been working with elite athletes for well over 50 years gave me some great advice. He had a theory that for every hour of training you do, you should try to stretch for the equivalent amount of time. You train for 4 hours per week stretch for at least 4 hours per week. If you do this, you will stay healthy and injury free.

Whilst consulting with an elite AFL Footballer, I told him about the 1:1 theory and suggested we put it to the test. The elite AFL Footballer undertook an hour of stretching for every hour of training he did. To this day he has not sustained any preventable soft tissue injuries for the last 4 years when every single one of his team mates has been injured.

For those that simply want to be stretched Cat Mcnab has produced some amazing results with FST otherwise known as fascial stretch therapy! Click here for more information about Cat and her FST.

What do I do to keep my athletes healthy and injury free?

1. I know the athletes injury history. (Athletes undertaking Joeys’ private elite strength and conditioning program undertake a 50 page questionnaire related to every facet of health and performance). It’s this thorough approach form the start-that ensures USP Athletes receive world class results.

2. I have the athletes perform a highly Specific Warm Up that prepares the athletes for their sport. You can click here to check out a small snippet of how our warm up is radically different from the traditional ways.

3. I do not use Non Specific Training Methods (like long slow distance runs). You can check out the theory and results from utilising AFL Specific Training Methods like those featured at our AFL high performance Off-Season Training Camps. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.

Skill and Games Based fitness Drills are the Best way to make you a better footballer! The simultaneously develop-technical skills like kicking,. marking, tackling, handballing, fitness, speed, agility, endurance, repeat sprint ability and decision making all in the one drill!! Now that’s efficiency!

4. I ensure my USP athletes implement Recovery Processes. All athletes that are part of my private elite coaching program receive a tailored recovery program based on their needs. We are fortunate to have a great relationship with P3 Sports and recovery that ensures our USP Athletes are accessing world-class recovery processes.

5. I’m aware of the athlete’s total workload including their school sport, club sport, rep sport and extra-curricular activities. Given that most athletes are performing various modes of training with various coaches it’s imperative that load and total volume be monitored and managed appropriately. Every USP athlete that’s part of our junior elite coaching program has an individual weekly training schedule with all modes of training with various coaches input into the template. From this information, loads can be assigned and training protocols managed and modified. I recommend all coaches read my article how to periodise training to learn how they can manage their athletes’ workloads and get elite results!

Australian Boomers Basketball Player Matt Hodgson training with Joey Hayes at USP during the 2018 Off-Season
Australian Boomers Basketballer Matt Hodgson Weekly Off-Season Schedule Training with Joey Hayes at USP
Knowing how to use RPE data is handy for coaches to certain an athletes recovery status

Use Heart Rate Variability
We use HRV
or Heart Rate Variability to gauge an athletes recovery status. AFL High Performance Camp Physio Victor Popov introduced me to HRV a few years ago and it has been one of the cornerstones to our athletes ability to stay healthy and injury free. HRV data provides real time feedback as to how recovered an athlete is and allows me to modify the training session and program based upon the data. It’s simple to implement and cheap to implement and all that is required is a heart rate monitor and phone app. Click the link here for more information on how you can use HRV to ensure you never get sick or injured again.

USP Athlete and Former Sydney Swans AFL Player Kurt Tippett Heart Rate Variability Testing in The PIT Circa 2013
Sample of an Athletes Heart Rate Variability using Athlete App7

Escapism is a relatively under-utilised recovery process. Escapism is simply a tool athletes can use to effectively decompress. We’ve had athletes take trips overseas even India to hang out in the mountains devoid of mobile phones, social media and the internet etc. Evidence suggests the constant bombarding of text messages, emails, notifications is similar to a sniper being on high alert for extended time frames which leads to chronically elevated cortisol levels. Getting back to nature allows you to reset cortisol rhythms and circadian cycles. Others go hiking or bush walking, read a book or watch a movie-anything that allows athletes to switch off without the use of drugs and alcohol. I was impressed by racing car driver Mark Winterbottoms’ balance and ability to switch off and be present in all endeavours, be it family, social or sporting seen here relaxing by the pool with myself and former Essendon AFL Footballer Sam Michael whilst celebrating our mate Essendon Strength and Conditioning coach Paul Turks’ Wedding.

Professional Racing Car driver Mark Winterbottom is a great proponent of escapism. Seen here relaxing poolside with former Essendon Player USP Athlete Sam Michael and Joey Hayes

8. Sound Healing Therapies

The use of sounds to enhance recovery, calm the mind, stills the senses. Improved recovery and improves sleep quality and quantity. Minimises internal chatter, enhances other recovery and treatment modalities.

Western Bulldogs Superstar Katie Brennan literally was in a deep state of meditation within a few minutes of undergoing sound healing therapy with USP Coach Joey Hayes

Here’s a little clip of our USP High Performance Tribe members undergoing a little sound therapy.

9. Use little known nutrition secrets to alleviate pain and inflammation. Joeys’ joint jelly is a favourite of mine. eradicates pain and is healthy and tastes great! Click here to check out the recipe.


Joint Jelly for Athletes!


Follow the guidelines above and they will help you stay healthy and injury free forever! For more information check out the Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation Strategies Manual in the Store Section of the website.

All the best,

Joey Hayes