Dangerous trends facing youth soccer
- Over 171,000 youth soccer injuries each year
- Youth soccer players are at a higher risk for injury than other contact sports
- The most common injuries in youth athletes are muscle strains and ligaments sprains (such as ACL)
- 400% increase in ACL tears in teenage athletes in the last 10 years
Injuries affect more than soccer
- Less than half of players who sustain ACL injuries return back to normal performance
- Many players do not play again
- School work can be impacted (decreased GPA)
- Poor health in the future (increased risk of early knee arthritis after an ACL tear)
- Increased risk for depression, anxiety and low self-esteem following an injury
The Problem: Misaligned Movement
Have you ever seen a player go down with an injury even though no one touched them? These types of injuries are called “non-contact injuries” and often occur when a player has misaligned movement.
What is misaligned movement? The human body is like a machine similar to a car. When a car’s alignment is off it begins to have wear and tear, perform poorly and then ultimately it will break down. Our bodies are no different. If the body’s alignment is off during athletic movement, the body can experience wear and tear, perform poorly and eventually get hurt.
Example of misaligned movement. When this player pivots on the field his knee dives inward, ankle twists and upper body leans to the side.
Moving this way can lead to ankle, knee and back injuries and decrease soccer skills. Many youth soccer players show some of these misaligned movements.
[Excerpt from book, Prevent Soccer Injuries: The On-Field Manual for Coaches, Parents, Players & Clubs to Maximize Player Development & Performance]
The 3 Step Movement Solution to Decrease Injury Risk and Increase Soccer Skills
To maximize performance and minimize injury risk, you need to make your training fit each player’s individual needs. The following “3 step movement solution” can help you prevent up to 88% of non-contact injuries and boost player performance.
QUICK START GUIDE STEP 1: ANALYZE MOVEMENT
Analyze player movement with the naked eye or with a cell phone or tablet device. Determine if the player is moving using one of the five most common misaligned movements that are shown below.
QUICK START GUIDE STEP 2: GIVE CORRECTIVE EXERCISES
Once you see a particular misaligned movement in a player, then you can easily match the exact exercise they need to improve. See the below for examples of matching a corrective exercise to a misaligned movement.
QUICK START GUIDE STEP 3: IMPROVE THE MOVEMENT
To ensure movement improvements in your players you can break down the misaligned movements into simple exercises called movement breakdown exercises. These exercises will improve the player’s ability to perform the desired movement with proper alignment. Coaches can additionally give instructions, referred to as cues, to facilitate aligned movement.