Introduction There is growing evidence on the higher vulnerability of the knee in young female soccer players. In adult female soccer populations injury prevention programs had demonstrated positive effects on injury incidence. Beside this functional component it is not only common sense but neuroscientific knowledge from motor learning studies that exercises which include a playful and joyful character are more suitable for young people and may support an enduring effect of prevention.
Purpose The aim of the study was (1) to assess the effectiveness of injury prevention programs in female youth soccer and on the other hand to see (2) if prevention programs have been adapted to this specific adolescent population.
Methods A systematic literature search was performed in relevant databases (PubMed, PEDro, BioMedLib) to identify injury prevention programs. Randomised controlled trials comparing the effects in female youth soccer players (<18) on the incidence of injuries were screened by two independent reviewers.
Results Five studies were included, reporting investigations of injury prevention programs in female youth soccer. Four studies demonstrated an effect on the incidence of different injuries. All programs consist of multi-component exercises categorised by the authors as related to strength, flexibility, plyometrics, agility and balance. In four studies a functional adult prevention program was applied to the young soccer players whereas one study adopted the program to adolescents in terms of the higher variability of exercises to avoid boredom.
Conclusion On the basis of the results of five high-quality studies, this review help to demonstrate the effectiveness of injury prevention programs in female youth soccer players. However, the number of studies investigating such intervention programs should be increased. To strengthen the enduring effect of injury prevention the development of joyful and playful programs especially for female youth soccer players may be an option to construct successful intervention programs.
This project was supported by the Youth Soccer Foundation (http://www.stiftung-jugendfussball.de).
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