- Warmup based injury prevention programs such as the FIFA 11+ and others show a dramatic reduction in injury rates for young athletes
- The results are so impressive that I believe all youth sport organizations should recommend one of these warmup based injury prevention programs for their young athletes
I’m a big believer in using warmup based training programs as part of the overall effort to reduce the numbers of injuries in athletes. I’ve previously written about the FIFA 11+ and we include videos with support from Dr. Bert Mandelbaum in our Sideline Sports Doc injury recognition course for coaches. The early evidence about the FIFA 11+ showed dramatic reductions in many types of lower extremity injuries in soccer with no downside.
Over time additional positive evidence has surfaced. In Europe, the FIFA 11+ has been used in sports outside soccer such as basketball, and some new training methods have also been developed. A study published in September 2016 in the American Journal of Sports Medicine came to one solid conclusion: these training methods are effective in reducing injury rates for adolescent athletes in a variety of sports, and teams would be wise to implement one of these.
The study is a “meta analysis”, where results from several studies are pooled and statistically analyzed for quality and strength of the evidence. Ten independently produced studies were analyzed. The pooled results demonstrated a significant injury rate reduction with the use of injury prevention programs versus control interventions overall. Interestingly, basketball/handball experienced a greater injury rate reduction with injury prevention programs than in soccer. Non-FIFA11+ programs experienced a larger injury reduction rate than FIFA11+ programs. But results for all the programs were impressive.
Here are some of the key findings:
- Five of the included studies used the FIFA11+ injury prevention program, while the remaining five studies investigated generic programs with warm-up, stretching, strengthening, and balance board exercises.
- Injury prevention programs were associated with a statistically significant 40% reduction in injury rate over a total of 756,461 training and match exposure hours when compared to control groups
- Handball/basketball experienced a 51% reduction in injury rate with injury prevention programs versus control while a 30% reduction was observed in soccer
- Non-FIFA11+ programs were associated with a 48% reduction in injury rate compared to control while FIFA11+ programs demonstrated a 32% reduction in injury rate
The results of this study suggest that the consistent use of injury prevention programs can help to reduce the risk of injury in adolescents competing in team sports. Further research is necessary to dig deeper into the possible differences of the training programs by sport, but overall I would have to say that all of the programs showed large reductions in injury rates. The improvements are so large with essentially no downside that I think every youth sport organization should be recommending one of these for their members.
Search your local sport organization or children’s hospital for programs you can use; there are quite a few in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. If you live in the New York City area I like the Hospital For Special Surgery’s Sports Safety Program, and the downloadable FIFA 11+ can be found here.
Bottom line: injury prevention programs are effective in reducing injury rates for adolescent athletes. Find one and use one.