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Injury prevention training in football: let’s bring it to the real world
  1. George P Nassis1,
  2. João Brito2,
  3. Pedro Figueiredo2,3,
  4. Tim J Gabbett4,5
  1. 1 Department of Sports Science, City Unity College, Athens, Greece
  2. 2 Portugal Football School, Portuguese Football Federation, Lisbon, Portugal
  3. 3 Research Center in Sports Sciences, Health Sciences and Human Development, CIDESD, University Institute of Maia, ISMAI, Porto, Portugal
  4. 4 Institute for Resilient Regions, University of Southern Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  5. 5 Gabbett Performance Solutions, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr George P Nassis, Department of Sports Science, City Unity College, Athens 105 62, Greece; georgenassis{at}

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Overall injury rates remain high in elite football despite the significant research on injury prevention.1 One of the reasons is the players’ low adherence to injury prevention programmes due to their experience of muscle soreness and ‘heavy legs during the match’.2 Additionally, prevention training compliance may be reduced due to the ‘desire to perform as much training as possible with the team’.2 This may be the reality in high-level football, but can we do better? This editorial aims to present evidence-based approaches for improving injury prevention implementation in real-world settings.

Training periodisation: injury prevention starts in the off-season

The off-season is a crucial period for physical and mental recovery. However, there are two main risks associated with prolonged absence from training: (1) a decline in physical capabilities (mainly aerobic fitness and muscle strength) associated with performance and injuries and (2) a reduction in chronic workload. With regards to the latter, it was shown that a 50% reduction in training load for 4 weeks would take an additional 2.5 weeks to restore full capacity. If players perform no training during the off-season or take a longer break, it …

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  • Contributors GPN drafted the original paper. JB, PF and TJG provided feedback on the drafts.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests GPN and TJG serve in a voluntary capacity as Senior Associate Editors of BJSM. TJG works as a consultant to several high-performance organisations, including sporting teams, industry, military and higher education institutions.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.