An international research group showed that a neuromuscular training program can not only reduce injury risk, but also improve performance. The encouraging findings are just published in British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Winning and performance are key factors for coaches and players, and we all know that it is often difficult to convince coaches to spend 15-20 min on injury prevention warm-up exercises.
Thus, motivating coaches and players to follow exercise programs, such as the 11+ or other comparable multifaceted injury prevention programs is more likely easier if they do not only prevent injuries, but also provide direct performance benefits.
2011-Canadian football season and performance tests
During the 2011 football season (May-August), coaches of 31 teams were introduced to the 11+ through either an unsupervised website or a coach-focused workshop with and without additional on-field supervisions.
Playing exposure, adherence to the 11+, and injuries were recorded for female 13-18-year old players.
Performance testing included the Star Excursion Balance Test (SEBT), single-leg balance, triple hop, and jumping-over-a-bar tests.
Improved functional balance and reduced injury risk
Pre- and post-season performance tests were available for 226 players (67% of the original cohort). Better functional balance was found for those players who highly adhered to the prescribed 11+ exercises during season compared to those with fewer exercises; the same players who displayed a 72% lower injury risk.
Just look at Martha and Messi
These are good news for all coaches and players, just look at the world´s best players. For football players, proper functional balance and body control is essential for technical and tactical performance to efficiently position themselves in relation to the opponents.
2 clear messages
The present investigation has a clear message: 20 min of regular structured warm-up exercises improves your balance performance and helps you to stay healthy!
It also sends out another strong message: “You have to take the ”medicine”, if you want to see an effect” – adherence - doing what you are told - is important!
The coach is the key!
Coaches are our key persons to get friends with when we successfully want to implement injury prevention warm-up exercises, Kathrin Steffen comments,
- and now, as we know that the 11+ program also improves players´ balance, this should be an easy buy-in: Use structured warm-up exercises regularly. 15-20 min structured warm-up is a cheap and easy investment in player´s health and performance!
International project group
This study was conducted in Canada in the 2011 and led by Kathrin Steffen from the OSTRC together with Maria Romiti, Carolyn Emery, Winne Meeuwisse, Jane Kang (all University of Calgary, Canada), Mario Bizzini, Jiri Dvorak (F-MARC, Switzerland), and Caroline Finch (Australia).
Read the paper in British Journal of Sports Medicine.