Be prepared before hitting a sports fantasy camp

A professional pianist slides into second base, fracturing his right hand a week before a scheduled performance with Aerosmith, an orthopedic surgeon breaks his ankle rounding third and a homemaker dislocates her finger trying to barehand a ground ball. These are all examples of injuries seen in the growing business of fantasy baseball camps.

Adult fantasy sports camps allow participants to swing, shoot, putt, ski or bat with their sports idols. As the variety of camps and participation has grown, so has the number and type of injuries.

“I advise campers to start out slow and gradually build up as the camp progresses,” said Greg Spratt, a certified athletic trainer with the New York Yankees who has worked with many baseball fantasy campers over the years. “Unfortunately, many try to go all-out on day one and often end their camp experience in the training room. There is no fantasy disabled list.”

Spratt provides incoming campers with a program that includes stretching, running, hitting and throwing drills. He advises that the program begin 12 weeks prior to the big week.

Preparation for a sports fantasy camp will only involve a small percentage of athletes but the lessons are easily applied to any athlete preparing for a competitive season.

Some important tips include:

Physical exam. Make an appointment for an annual physical exam with your physician before heading to the gym. This should include a cardiac stress test if necessary.
Lose weight. Spring is a good time to get rid of any extra pounds put on over the winter. It will also put less stress on muscles and tendons.
Stretch. The most common injuries in sports camps are torn muscles, particularly the hamstrings. Adequate warm-up cannot be over-emphasized.
Sport-specific movement. Incorporate activities that involve swinging, throwing and jumping similar to the actual sport.

Sports fantasy camps usually require a significant financial investment. That investment will pay off greatly if it includes getting into better shape.

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