Background Soccer is a leading sport for participation and injury in youth.
Objective To examine the effectiveness of a neuromuscular prevention strategy in reducing injury in youth soccer players.
Design Cluster-randomised controlled trial.
Setting Calgary soccer clubs (male or female, U13–U18, tier 1–2, indoor soccer).
Participants Eighty-two soccer teams were approached for recruitment. Players from 60 teams completed the study (32 training (n=380), 28 control (n=364)).
Intervention The training programme was a soccer-specific neuromuscular training programme including dynamic stretching, eccentric strength, agility, jumping and balance (including a home-based balance training programme using a wobble board). The control programme was a standardised warm-up (static and dynamic stretching and aerobic components) and a home-based stretching programme.
Main outcome measures Previously validated injury surveillance included injury assessment by a study therapist. The injury definition was soccer injury resulting in medical attention and/or removal from a session and/or time loss.
Results The injury rate in the training group was 2.08 injuries/1000 player-hours, and in the control group 3.35 injuries/1000 player-hours. Based on Poisson regression analysis, adjusted for clustering by team and covariates, the incidence rate ratios (IRR) for all injuries and acute onset injury were 0.62 (95% CI 0.39 to 0.99) and 0.57 (95% CI 0.35 to 0.91). Point estimates also suggest protection of lower extremity, ankle and knee sprain injuries (IRR=0.68 (95% CI 0.42 to 1.11), IRR=0.5 (95% CI 0.24 to 1.04) and IRR=0.38 (95% CI 0.08 to 1.75)).
Conclusions A neuromuscular training programme is protective of all injuries and acute onset injury in youth soccer players.
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Funding Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research. CAE is supported by an Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Population Health Investigator Award, a Canadian Institutes of Health Research New Investigator Award and a Professorship in Pediatric Rehabilitation funding by the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation through the Research Institute for Child and Maternal Health, University of Calgary.
Competing interests None.
Patient consent Obtained from the parents.
Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the University of Calgary, Office of Medical Bioethics.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.