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Lower limb injuries are a common issue in professional association football (1). Injury prevention exercise programmes exist, but are not always effectively implemented (2). A survey of 18 participants, consisting of coaches (n=9), fitness coaches (n=4) and physiotherapists (n=5) working with elite European male junior football teams, was undertaken to find out what they think of exercise programmes designed to prevent lower limb injuries, so as to give clues about what could be done to enhance implementation.
Most agreed that players are vulnerable to lower limb injuries, and that these affect players negatively. They said that certain injury prevention exercises are important, that they work, and that players should be doing them. They believed that these exercises should be varied and progress over time, and most said that they should be included in football training programmes. They also believe that injury prevention exercises should be performed both at training and separate from training, and should be 15–25 min in duration.
All people surveyed thought that the responsibility for injury prevention was shared between different roles, including the player, head coach, fitness coach and physiotherapist. When asked who was ultimately responsible for injury prevention, answers varied, including the head coach, player and fitness coach.
According to these coaches, fitness coaches and physiotherapists, there are many challenges with implementing an exercise-based injury prevention programme with a professional junior team. Support from the head coach and other staff for the use of such a programme, as a first step, is essential to ensuring teams actually implement such programmes. When looking after an elite academy team, the number, composition and experience of professional support staff involved can pose problems in terms of the acceptance and support of an injury prevention programme. Communication and teamwork is therefore important for the support of such programmes.
This study gives valuable insight into how to improve the delivery of injury prevention exercise programmes, and how to better develop them in the future.
O’Brien J, Finch CF. Injury prevention exercise programmes in professional youth soccer: Understanding the perceptions of programme deliverers. 2016 BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine 2(1): e000075.
Twitter @shereebekker, @CarolineFinch, @DrJamesOB
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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