Dr. Rajeev McCrea-Routray is the medical lead for the Grange Cricket Academy. His work ranges from youth development to high performance environments in a multitude of settings including professional football where he is team doctor at Heart of Midlothian Football Club. Raj also works in professional boxing and disability sport and has a special interest in athlete education and well-being.
- What has led you into youth sport (background etc) ?
Like many, my initial involvement in sport came as a youth athlete working my way through various national age grade cricket squads. In my late teens I went onto study medicine at The Edinburgh University. Throughout my degree I was able to maintain my sporting involvement and was fortunate to be supported by the universities sports bursary scholarship. The exposure I gained to different athletes and a wide variety of sports through this scholarship helped to foster my developing interest in sports and exercise medicine.
After I completed my medical degree I gradually built my experience over a number of years through work in the UK and overseas. In 2013 I started working as one of the Team Doctors for Heart of Midlothian Football club which involved care for the senior and junior athletes and the supporting staff. I am privileged to continue in this role to date and work alongside excellent practitioners in the medical, physiotherapy, sports science and strength and conditioning fields. My other roles include involvement in professional boxing as deputy chief medical officer at the BIBA and medical advisor at Cricket Scotland.
My main youth sport involvement is as medical lead for the Grange Cricket academy based in Edinburgh. Formed in 2016 with head coach John Blain, our goal Is to deliver a safe and constructive environment which prioritises personal development alongside sporting skill improvement and success.
- What has been your biggest influence in your practice in youth sport?
My young family remains my biggest influence and serves as a daily reminder that, whilst we continue to push the boundaries in performance sport, the most important factor for the developing athlete is to create an environment where enjoyment and welfare underpin everything. I believe in the focus being on the ‘process rather than outcome’.
- What is your philosophy when it comes to working with young athletes?
Recognising that development is unique to the individual and taking into account the players evolving physical growth, biological maturation and behavioural development is key when working with young athletes.
In practice this means when putting together the physical aspect of any programme we take careful and individual consideration to a players athletic exposure and maturation. Taking both physical and cognitive load into account and thus allowing time for sufficient recovery and adaptation is important especially when working with our fast bowling group.
We have recently updated our athletic development pathway (attached) as we recognise the need to assist the player in managing sport -life balance across the entire development pathway.
The framework of our philosophy is based on the IOC Consensus Statement on Youth Athletic Development.
- Do you have a particular area of interest and how do you think the particular area applies to youth athletes?
My wife and I (Dr. Carrie McCrea- Routray) are currently researching the trends of social media use in professional and high performance sporting environments.
In recent times we have recognised the increased use of social media in both athletes and staff. As a result we have felt it necessary to introduce a dialogue early with the players to discuss the positives, negatives and potential pitfalls around the various platforms. Attached is details of a recent workshop we held when we asked the squad to come together and form their own guidelines/code of conduct.
- What is the best piece of advise you’ve received?
“Enjoy what you do, do what you enjoy”
- What advice would you give to coaches working with youth athletes?
Promote a safe environment featuring both unstructured (deliberate play) and structured sport related activities to develop a wide range of athletic, creative, problem solving and social skills. This approach is more likely to encourage sustained sport participation and enjoyment for youth athletes. I believe it is also good practice to regularly seek constructive feedback from both your athletes and colleagues.
- Can you recommend any particular resources for youth sports coaches?
I’ve personally found the BJSM podcasts to be a very a helpful resource in terms of keeping up to date in developments in sports and exercise related research
I’d recommend the FIFA Football Medicine Diploma as its suitable for different disciplines and whilst its focus is football related it’s useful for those working in other sports. It’s a great free and evidence informed resource.
8.Where can people people find out more about you and your work?
I am currently not on social media but am readily contactable via email on firstname.lastname@example.org
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