Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2016

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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74 PRESEASON 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED cludes a huge volume of student staff- ers and even a full-time graphic artist. "It's a different communications world, and the notion of sending out a four-color printed piece and having that be who you are, those days are gone," Swarbrick said. "We have to be penetrating all the communication mediums, whether it's Vine, Twitter or Facebook … you have to tailor your content to what- ever that medium is, because they're all different. "You've got to target it to send a clear message about who Notre Dame is to the person you are sending it to. All of that is much more engaged and involves much more than it used to involve. "Our staffing and approach to re- cruiting have changed. That's been a significant investment. We've made a significant investment in the sports sciences and analytics. Not all of that is football-based, but centralized. It all goes to a natural consequence of the communication age. You better have those skills on your staff." SPORTS SCIENCE In 2015, the injury rate of Notre Dame's football team reached a more alarming rate than typical. More than 100 starts were lost to prime person- nel because of various injuries. It is a matter that both Kelly and Swarbrick have investigated seriously in recent years. Sports science has long been a point of interest for Swarbrick, dating back to his days as the chairman of the In- diana Sports Corporation from 1992- 2001 that included involvement with the United States Olympic Commit- tee. Injuries such as the season-ending fractured ankle to quarterback Malik Zaire in the second game of 2015 are defined as the traumatic ones where no amount of sports science can help. "A broken leg is a broken leg," Swarbrick said. "There's nothing that you're going to find there where you say, 'Okay, we're going to change that.'" The point of emphasis in study at Notre Dame has centered on soft-tis- sue injuries — damage of muscles, ligaments and tendons. They often re- sult from a sprain or strain because of an overuse of a particular part of the body. Swarbrick has been satisfied in some of the progress there since first accepting his current job in 2008. "My first couple of years here we had so many hamstring injuries I couldn't keep them straight," he said. "We're great in recovery right now, and I think we're as good as anybody in the country in recoveries. I don't think we have overuse issues [with strength and conditioning]." What is especially being monitored are strength differentials in each in- dividual athlete, or what Swarbrick refers to as "front-end evaluation" of them. The anatomical structures can be the same, but the physiological and genetics of each athlete can be differ- ent, so training methods are tailored to individuals. "We're focused on strength dif- ferentials," Swarbrick said. "One of the things that can create a weakness somewhere else in your body is sort of transferred — compensation from some other weakness. 'Do you have strength differentials? Do you have something affected that needs to be addressed? Do we specifically train to help prevent that?' "The same structural issue that pro- duced one knee injury to Drue Tran- quill [in 2014] produced the other [in 2015], and there is nothing you can do about it. That's genetics in play. We were aware of it, but there's just nothing that you can do. "The big focus for me coming out of it is this notion of the front-end evalu- ation — understanding the risks that you can impact and those you can't." Questions have been abundant about the number of injuries in 2015. Is it the Under Armour equipment? "There's no equipment dynamic because you don't see it reflected in the other programs wearing the same equipment," Swarbrick said. Is it because Notre Dame went to FieldTurf? "The turf dynamic doesn't play in because from a longitudinal analysis, it doesn't hold true at all," Swarbrick said. "Looking at incident rate per activity in various fields, you can't find a trend." Is something amiss in the strength and conditioning program? "I have great confidence in our strength and conditioning program," he replied. "It's that front-end assess- ment. In addition to what everybody else in that position group may be do- ing in strength and conditioning, does this athlete come to us with a weak- ness we need to specially address in the way he or she conditions? That's the focus." INJURY MANAGEMENT While injuries are an inevitable "THIS PROGRAM IS ON AS SOLID A FOOTING AS IT'S BEEN IN A LONG, LONG TIME, FROM EVERY ASPECT OF IT, AND THAT IS COMPLETELY A TRIBUTE TO BRIAN'S ABILITY TO BUILD A PROGRAM. THAT WAS THE THING THAT ATTRACTED US TO HIM WHEN WE HIRED HIM AND WHAT HE HAS DONE SO EFFECTIVELY HERE." SWARBRICK ON FOOTBALL COACH BRIAN KELLY The football team dealt with numerous injuries last year, but Swarbrick has "great confidence in our strength and conditioning program." PHOTO BY JOE RAYMOND

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