Tag Archives: off season

Can we Improve your Speed in 1 session per week?

imagesIn an April, 2012 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, a research article supports an answer to a question that many parents and players have asked us for years. Can you improve speed and agility performance within a program by just coming to train 1 x per week?

Although I find the rates to purchase the rights to post the full article on this website are ridiculous and you would be bored to tears while reading it, I have added a lay summary and the link to the abstract for you here: long website address. The title of the research article is “Effect of Short Burst Activities on Sprint and Agility Performance in 11- to 12-Year-Old Boys”, by Pettersen and Mathisen.

The premiss of the article is to extract evidence on whether coordinative sprint drills and maximal short burst activities affects children’s sprint and agility performance. The testing groups consisted of dozens of soccer players separated into a Training Group set up with an additional 6-week, 1-hour-per-week, training program and a Control Group that did no additional training, other than their weekly team sessions. In the Training Group sessions, the boys ran through different short burst competitive sprinting activities very similar to the one’s within our programs at Performance Unlimited. Both groups were evaluated through pre- and post testing of linear sprints and agility. Although there were no differences in the pretesting between the groups, the Training Group showed significantly better performances in both linear sprint and agility tests after the training period. The only test that did not show a positive correlation of training progression for the Training Group was in the 10m sprint test.

The most interesting aspect of the research, to me, was the fact that they chose to do this “in-season”, during the times of competition and training for the players…and that they conducted one session for one hour each week. It surprises me, because the typical researcher wants to show absolute effect and does not want outside influence (weekly training/competition) to disturb the research outcomes. Nonetheless, it does reinforce the notion that a training program that follows research based, sports science systems can produce results with just a small amount of time given. I believe that the effect was due to consistency and a quality training program, much like the effect that we see from so many of our players.

Could the players have had additional effect if the frequency was upped to 2x per week or they added strength training? Oxyzoglou et al. “Velocity, agility, and flexibility performance after handball versus physical education program for preadolescent children” found significantly better agility test results in preadolescent boys engaged in 6-months, 3-hours·week, specific handball training compared with a mainstream physical education program. So the question remains, is more better?

Let’s take the following graph as an example of what players go through, in order to achieve performance results. This example can be similar for any learned skill, be that physical or cognitive.

On the bottom of the graph is the progression of stresses being put on the body. This can come in many forms, through social anxieties, training volume and intensity during a given time period, or even academic stresses from school. On the left side of the graph is the progression of the desired performance outcome…let’s assume that the desired outcome is in the form of increased power and thus sprint speed. So our goal is to become a more explosive athlete.

The traditional assumption is that our bodies react and adjust to stresses linearly, thus assuming the harder and more we work, the more results we get…right? This graph (used commonly in academic settings) shows that there is a fine line of increased performance, from the correct amount of stress, to the decrease in performance due to too much stress. Therefore, we can not ignore the holistic understanding of the athlete’s total stresses (in every form) throughout each week, to ensure the best program for increased performance.

I have often had clients come into our program that are playing club soccer (2x week training + 1-2 games on weekends), middle school soccer (3x week training + 1-2 games per week), as well as wanting to enter into our group training 1 x per week. Is it beneficial for the player to come into our sessions and for us to treat them as if they were not approaching or already beyond the peak of the bell curve seen in the graph? Absolutely not! Instead, our mission for every athlete is to do what is best for their increased improvement…therefore we automatically adjust these players’ training curriculum to recovery based training.

By introducing recovery techniques (flexibility, foam rolling, nutrition, etc…) we can increase the lateral size of the curve, so that the “sweet spot” for performance enhancement is larger.  At the very least, we can move the player back towards the left side of the curve, knowing that they will be put under more stresses with their teams, throughout the week.

This is what separates our programs from many of the other, general athleticism, programs in existence. We are all players and coaches of the game of soccer. We understand the weekly process of being a student athlete and have direct empathy through a relationship within every club. Do not…I repeat, do not let your player workout with programs that have no understanding or do not care (more likely) what season you are in or what you are doing the rest of your week. Specific training yields specific results. Do not get better by accident.

Thanks

John

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How US Soccer is killing your development and having you injured in 1 easy step

Step 1: NO OFF-SEASON, no rest, no recovery…just continue to compete or train with programs that have no concept of periodization.

There is not 1 professional or elite athlete, never mind 1 soccer player, that would be crazy enough to skip their most precious portion of the athletic year. Not 1..I dare you to find 1.

Oh wait, here are a few examples of professionals that did not get an off season in 2010, as the World Cup prevented the top flight players throughout the world to skip their time off and push through fatigue from the already exhausting regular season.

robben-brazil-298 world-cup-injuries 0,,17231831_303,00

“The structure of football in England means that a player can play 38 league games, 14 domestic cup games (excluding replays), and between 15-19 European games – totalling a potential 67-71 games in a season. That is a very heavy schedule…In a World Cup year, the number of games a player plays is even more crucial. “

world-cup-statistics.com

Which led to the following:

“The website physioroom.com’s Premier League injury table on the weekend of 4-5 December recorded there were 108 top-flight players out of action.

On average, that is 5.4 players for each Premier League team or a fifth of each club’s designated 25-man squad, with Aston Villa and Tottenham each having as many as 11 players on the treatment table over the weekend.

It is not just in England that clubs are having to juggle their resources due to injury. On the weekend of 20-21 November, 124 players were unavailable to play in Italy’s Serie A due to injury.”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/9239342.stm

Less rest = more injuries

For those of you who are not familiar with or just don’t care about international soccer, a typical top youth club in the US plays anywhere from 15-25 games per season. However, when we factor in all the additional competitions that most young players are involved in (high school, ODP, 3 vs 3, NPL, ID Camps, ect…) we can push that total from 20 to 50 or more games per year, without a break (note that in north carolina, clubs only play 1 season then high school in the opposing season). And that is not even factoring in the notion that some teams that win, play more.

So why is youth soccer in the United States continuing a “more is better” pattern and creating more games, offering less practice, having no emphasis on quality physical training, and creating a new league every time there is an open weekend? Profit my friend!

From ODP, to the Academy, ECNL, High School, 3vs3, Region III (here in NC), etc… What makes us think that this recipe is going to produce quality results in our players? When are the clubs going to step up and live up to their mission statements? Investment in PLAYER DEVELOPMENT, not the pockets of the coaches. note: not all clubs are pushing there players in the manner that I am referring, I am making a summarization of the majority of teams that I see across the country and not just in one location.

Here’s how I see it:

Less Practice + More Games = less skilled + more injured

The first thing that I want to know, as a performance coach that is looking to get you to your goals, is to get an idea of what you are doing now.

I regularly encounter high school aged, as well as 11 or 12 year olds, that are simultaneously playing for a club soccer team,  basketball team, 3 vs 3 team, middle school/high school team, an ODP team, AND trying to fit in 1 or 2 sessions per week of work with me. You say you have knee pain? Not sure why (sarcasm)…It is often that I have players that try to schedule as many as 9 training sessions, per week, between all of the aforementioned organizations. Sometimes, I feel worse for the mom who has to drive to all of these locations than I do the kid who has to train this often. This is insane! I WILL turn away a client that I believe has too much on their plate, rather than take this player into our program.

Sticking to the theme of my last post (go ahead and read it here, if you have not already: http://www.theperformanceu.com/?p=264)…we, meaning US soccer, are doing our youth players an injustice  by producing all of these money making schemes, otherwise known as “leagues” with empty promises of high quality competition. We are pushing our players to strive towards perfection without giving them quality instruction…as if we are pushing them out the door of a plane without a parachute to guide them down.

Prevention of injuries by providing ample recovery time is only one advantage of an off-season.  The best players utilize down time to progress their skill sets. Not one of these additional leagues has proven to consistently generate players that can play at a high level, but instead has produced a multi billion dollar orthopedic and physical therapy field that many people are most thankful, all the way to the bank. The majority of players that do manage to come out unscathed and on top of their game tend to come from the clubs that limit the number of competitions, offer proper physical training programs to their players, and play a more possession styled game.

We are pushing our players to do more and are conditioning them to rest less, so that a player develops only 1 speed of play…hard. I find this ineffective both tactically and physically. The outcome is a player that does not know how to change pace and a body that can not reach top speeds, resulting in an athlete that runs constantly at 3/4 maximum.

So what is the solution?

We have to take advantage of the time that is given to us between seasons and competitions to recoup from injuries, rejuvenate our love for the game, and refine our skills and strength for the upcoming competitive months of soccer. We have to coach our players to relax, not just off the field, but on the field to create a rhythm within the game.

Our young players are too weak for long seasons, too unskilled for the practice to game ratios, too unclear about themselves to be confident, and never given time to understand how to play the game effectively.

Here is my list of parachutes vital for the youth soccer player’s long term development

1) Recovery

2) Proper Movement Patterns

3) Strength

4) Soccer Specific Rhythm

5) Mental Clarity

I will talk specifically about our solutions, in the next post.

Thanks

John

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Performance Unlimited is new training home for Charlotte Eagles

PERFORMANCE UNLIMITED IS THE NEW STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING HOME FOR THE CHARLOTTE EAGLES.

Charlotte-eagles

Charlotte-Eagles-uniform

Performance Unlimited and USL PRO’s Charlotte Eagles are thrilled to announce their partnership for the 2014 season. The Eagles are coming off a historic 2013 run as the runner’s up in the national finals with a heart breaking loss to Orlando City. With a ton of new talent from the top college soccer programs in the country and a slew of players with MLS experience, this years team is setting it’s expectations high.

It’s a natural fit for both Eagles and Performance because of the shared values in developing both personally and professionally within the game of soccer. It will be great to get to know the staff and the players on a level that extends beyond the field.

Performance Unlimited will play the role of strength and conditioning and a supplemental training home for the men’s side, during their 2014 campaign. President, John Lytton, will be heading the relationship along with the Performance staff to work closely with the Eagles coaching staff in order to provide supplemental training developing team and individual strength training, speed, prevention of injury, and nutritional intervention. 

okaiCharlotteIt all starts with a series of testing that we will administrate with each player already signed with the team and those players in trial situations. This will give the staff a good view of the teams current physical condition and know the next step we may need to provide…Our vision is to give a bit of insight into the players physiological state of readiness for training intensity and competition as well as strategies to continue to profess their fitness and maintain health throughout a long season. -John Lytton

For more info on the Charlotte Eagles, go to their website at charlotteeagles.com and check back to our blog for updates and insights on how we are helping Charlotte’s only professional men’s soccer team reach their best.

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5 Myths in Youth Soccer Development: Part 3 – Strength Training

5 myths about physical development in youth soccer

Part 3 

This is the third installment of our “Myths” series; feel free to backtrack the first two parts here (Part 1 and Part 2). The first couple of posts have spawned some great conversations, and I think this week will continue with much of the same. Make sure that you leave a comment or question on the website if you have anything that pops in your mind, regarding these topics. Without further delay…

Myth #3 – Soccer players should not strength train. If youth players begin lifting weights too early, they will stunt their growth.

This is one of my favorite conversations that I frequently have with coaches, players, and parents, even though there has been a plethora of research published regarding this very topic.  In this post, I will try to give a short but descriptive account of the origin of this myth, the research behind the debate, and the anatomy behind growth plates.

baby-lifting-weights2

Early strength training “rules” stated that immature adolescents or preadolescents performing resistance-training exercises would close off the epiphyseal plates (aka: growth plates) and stunt growth or create an irregular bone growth that would cause deformity in the limb.

Although the origin of this myth was so long ago, nobody can pinpoint the exact origin, it seemed to gain popularity due to a study in 1964, by Kato & Ishiko (1) that looked at adolescents in Japan and the nature of their heavy labor for long hours, contributing to their short stature. This, in addition to early studies showing no effect from preadolescent and adolescent resistance training (2,3) (due to the low volume and intensity), spawned the notion that any resistance work (including strength training) would have the same effect and disrupt growth patterns. Unfortunately, this extremely outdated thought process still exists with coaches and parents today.

(1)*Kato, S., & Ishiko, T. (1964). Obstructed growth of children’s bones due to excessive labor in remote corners. In S. Kato (Ed.), Proceedings of the International Congress of Sports Sciences (pp. 476). Tokyo: Japanese Union of Sports Sciences.
(2)Vrijens J: Muscle strength development in the pre- and post-pubescent age. Med Sport 1978;11:152-158
(3)Docherty D, Wenger HA, Collis ML, et al: The effects of variable speed resistance training on strength development in prepubertal boys. J Hum Mvmt Stud 1987;13:377-382

weightsContrary to this statement of the myth, there are hundreds of studies that show this argument couldn’t be further from the truth. Fact is: The epiphyses (growth plates), located in the arms and leg bones, may not even close until the late teen years. Therefore the argument of waiting until 14 or 16 (when growth ceases) years old would not be validated due to the continued existence of fragile bone. Secondly, the fractures or pressures that cause the rare issues within the growth plates are created through a huge amount of shear force. Such force is highly unlikely to exist in resistance training, unless the hundreds of pounds lifted actually falls onto the bone with a considerable amount of force, fracturing the point of the bone where epiphyseal construct exists.

 

In fact, it may be much more of a likely incident that growth would be affected by fractures or pressures on the growth plates, due to the nature of injuries during the game (such as ligament tears and joint dislocation). In a course lecture by the doctors that are credited with the foundational research on growth plates, Salter and Harris, they cite that ligament damage and bone separation, from injuries commonly found in soccer play, and are more likely a source of childhood growth plate separation that would cause growth problems. The quote, from this lecture below, could be a further talking point on why we need to prepare players better (through movement quality and strength training) to combat against ligament injuries.

“The explanation for this apparent paradox …(fractures through the bone are much more common that growth plate separation, even though bone is stronger than the cartilage tissue)…probably is that only shearing forces and avulsion forces are capable of separating an epiphysis. The epiphyseal plate is also weaker than normal tendons and ligaments in children. For this reason, injuries that may result in complete tear of a major ligament in the adult actually produce a separation of the epiphysis in the child. For example, an abduction injury of a child’s knee results in epiphyseal separation rather than in rupture of the medial collateral ligament of the knee. Similarly, the epiphyseal plate is not as strong as the fibrous joint capsule. Hence, traumatic dislocation of major joints, such as the shoulder, hip, and knee, are decidedly less common in childhood than epiphyseal separations in these locations. For example, the injury that usually produces an anterior dislocation of the shoulder in an adult is likely to produce separation of the upper humeral epiphysis in a child” (4).

(4) Salter and Harris:Injuries Involving the Epiphyseal Plate. J. Bone Joint Surg. Am., Vol. 45-A, No. 3, April 1963.

Not only is it appropriate for young athletes to strength train, it has strong correlations to preventing injuries, diminishing already existing injuries, and increasing sport performance and health…therefore advised and encouraged. I have listed below some defining research that justifies the following pro-strength training arguments at early ages:

SONY DSCLet me finish by giving an anecdotal example of how strength training may be the best option for many growth related injuries/issues, that were once considered a clear contraindication against strength training. Osgood-Schlatters disease is a common occurrence amongst growing youth soccer players, and is caused by the growing growth plates creating stress on the Pattelar tendon due to the discrepancy in the speed of growth between the bone and soft tissue. The discrepancy causes a pull on the tendon and small fractured bone creating inflammation and calcification below the patella. Doctors and physical therapists regularly recommend stretching the quadriceps and hamstrings, while strengthening the hamstrings and hip stabilizers, in order to relieve stress from the patella. We all know that strength training will activate and strengthen the muscles for relief, but very few know that resistance training causes a definitive increase in flexibility. In fact, the research study, below, shows that specific strength training is even more effective than stretching, in creating flexibility in a given muscle group.

The effects of eccentric training on lower limb flexibility: a systematic review, by O’Sullivan, McAuliffe and DeBurca, in British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2012 

Strength training with appropriate resistance must be intelligently designed for the individual, taking into perspective the following: strength training history, biological age, injury history, movement pattern quality, and sport demands. Although I do not believe that growth will be ultimately affected by ignoring the previous aspects of screening, it is known that the training will definitely not be as effective and could cause other issues that end in injury. I do hope to touch on these individual aspects in future posts, but the fact remains that every soccer athlete must include appropriate strength, at all ages.

John

 

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5 Myths in Youth Soccer Development: Part 1- Cross Training

5 myths about physical development in youth soccer

Part I

youth-1

One of the many reasons that I love working in the sports performance industry is because the field is expanding and improving, daily. With new research and world-class coaches readily available, I can honestly say that I am learning new information that I can practically apply, every day.

Conversely, one of the most frustrating aspects of this industry is how much of the training by current coaches, players, and parents are detrimental and uneducated.  Most coaches and trainers do not seem to follow the same continuing education path that is necessary to work with young soccer players. So much has changed in what we know about the how the body responds to specific training stress, yet I continue to see the soccer culture making the same mistakes  from coaches decades ago.

With this being said, over the next 5 posts, I have decided to touch on 5 of the biggest and most detrimental misconceptions and myths that I commonly hear from soccer parents and see from youth coaches within the development of young players. I want to keep this short and not get carried away in any sports science jargon, but I believe each one of these aspects deserves an entire post. All points made are generalized and are not directed to any one club or coach.

Myth #1 – Playing multiple sports (cross-training) is always good for Long Term Athletic Development and will keep my child from incurring injuries and “burnout”.

It is believed that playing 1 sport, too early, does not allow the maturation and development of specific muscle groups and coordinated skills, therefore creating susceptibility to chronic injuries due to repeated stress on the same part of the underdeveloped body. For young soccer players, we see this manifest itself in such ways as: plantar fasciitis, Sever’s disease, Osgood Schlatter’s disease, jumpers knee, spondylolysis, and hip flexor/quad/groin strains. It is amazing that I regularly hear of 10 year olds with chronic injuries that should be more commonly found in middle-aged long distance runners. This has become more of the norm than an anomaly.

Resource of interest: http://www.stopsportsinjuries.org/overuse-injury.aspx

PlayersYoga

Due to the repetitive skill sets in soccer and the recurring stress due to similar movements throughout the game; youth soccer players are commonly asymmetric, with extremely strong and tight quads and hip flexors and adversely weak glutes and hamstrings. The constant change of direction and jumping creates a ton of stress on the body, and the asymmetries aforementioned can wreak havoc on the body and create these overuse injuries. This, coupled with the long competitive soccer seasons and imprudent practice to game ratio, has youth soccer organizations mixing a cocktail of inevitable issues that parent and coaches are calling “just a part of the game”. It may be part of the game today, but does it have to be?

Resource of interest: http://www.pediatricsdigest.mobi/content/119/6/1242.short

The “cross-training” rationale, of playing multiple sports, is intended for young players to create an aptly prepared body forthe rigors of soccer (or whatever sport they choose), by changing the nature of the sport and skill sets while developing strength in the typically weak areas of the body. This should, in theory, give the overstressed muscles and joints a recovery period, whilst still being active and developing athletic skill sets, and discovering the sport of choice. This model has been shown only to be successful if some very important principles are followed.

  • Appropriate strength and flexibility training is developed along with the sport skills, throughout all ages of soccer development.
  • 1 sport is played at a time. Never play multiple sport seasons or play on multiple soccer teams at the same time. 
  • Intermittent months throughout the year must be utilized to separate the player from COMPETITIVE soccer. This means taking a second look at participating in winter indoor leagues, 3vs3 leagues, endless camps in the summer, or using soccer as a means of babysitting when your child has nothing else scheduled, unless the programs have an understanding of how to properly develop players for long term athletic success. 

Facility-pullup

I believe that this argument for “cross-training” was valid (and still can be), a decade ago, however the competitive nature of youth sports today has far exceeded the recreational nature it once had and is not a valid justification for injury prevention. Nowadays, competitive soccer starts at 7 years old and often plays the traditional 2-season (spring and fall) club year. The pressure and demand that parents (therefore clubs) put on these young players is immense, while commonly having as many games on the weekends as practices during the weeks. When players continue to play other sports, each respective sport and their teams are equally competitive and do not care nor take into consideration that these kids are going from competitive sport season to competitive sports season, without rest. More often, I find that young soccer players are playing in two different competitive sports in the same season or on two different competitive soccer teams (club and school, multiple clubs) and are moving from practice to practice, sometimes in the same day.

“I often see the best athletes, at young ages, being the players that are suffering the most. Every soccer team wants them to play as many games as possible and other sports try to draw them into their respective seasons. It’s a recipe for disaster.”

What was once a great way to develop a myriad of sport skills may end being more detrimental on the body than ever realized. The absence of an off-season, or more relevant, the absence of lower intensity and appropriate general preparation training, within the soccer season, accumulates fatigue in the central nervous system and trauma in the soft tissue and muscles. This is when injuries start to occur. The developing joints, bones, and circulatory systems are not able to rebuild as fast as the player is breaking down, causing the body to induce inflammation and pain in order to force the body to slow down. Players, at the advice of parents and coaches, tend to play through these pains. Too many games and not enough practice then throw the overly fatigued and underdeveloped players to the “wolves”, where 1 false move/tackle/run can mean trouble.

SONY DSC

So what are the solutions? I think that there are many ways to solve this problem, but it has to be done with education on your goals within youth soccer participation and following some strict guidelines. I am not in the opinion that youth players should avoid playing other sports, actually I think it is extremely beneficial. The point is that parents need to be careful of over doing the competitiveness of multiple sports and avoiding portions of the year when they are able to separate themselves from the competitive game. We need to understand the collective work volume that a player is putting in, each week, that leads to injury and “burnout”. Coaches need to be empathetic with players that are playing several sports at the same time and need to dial it down a notch on the competition and demands at young ages. Here are some guidelines that, I believe, would allow the benefits of multiple sports without the potential for injury.

  • Play one sport at a time and change the sport each successive season
  • When sport seasons overlap, avoid over competing and under training. Also avoid conditioning for 1 team and training for another. They do not compliment each other. 
  • Avoid coaches and teams that tend to spend time “conditioning” players off the ball, before age 13.
  • Players that just play soccer (really all athletes) should participate in athleticism programs to develop necessary skills that are not commonly developed by the sport or club and necessary strength and flexibility that will keep the player injury free for the long term.
  • Make sure that young players are keeping their sport environment recreational, until it is appropriate. That means, club soccer is not best for players that share sports in the same season until after 13 years old (or biological age equivalent).
  • If you do seek out an athletic development training program, make sure that they understand biological age vs. chronological age, training history, injury history, and soccer-specific needs and seasons. It may be just as detrimental to throw your child to programs that train your player like every other sport, regardless of season. Especially at the high school ages.

In every other country, around the world, soccer has been the only sport played by nearly every youth player that develops within the game. Are overuse injuries as prevalent? Although I do not have any research or numbers to back it up, I would say yes and no. No, because of how much training and developing foreign clubs tend to do with their players. They have complete control over the nature of their training, at youth ages, therefore the technical development is priority and the competition is not.  Clubs around the world are beginning to put in physical development programs in with their technical programs, and understanding the importance of developing athletes to physically peak at 26-29, not 17-19 years old. Yes, because these physical programs have not reached the vast majority of clubs, so players are breaking down there, just as they are here.

Below, I’ve listed the topics that will be discussed in the weeks to come. I welcome your thoughts on this subject and look forward to the next blog.

John

Don’t forget to like us on facebook/theperformanceu and follow us on twitter @theperformanceu. 

Myth #2 Speed cannot be taught.

Speed and conditioning is the same thing and trained the same way.

Myth #3 Soccer players should not strength train.

Players should not begin a strength program until 16 years old.

Myth #4 Soccer players need to run long distances.

Young players should run to get fit.

Myth #5 Injuries are a natural part of the game.

There is nothing you can do to prevent injuries.

 

Posted in Blog, Coaching, Culture, Fitness, injury prevention, Nutrition, Recovery, Speed, Strength | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How to prevent injuries and increase performance in 6 weeks

 

“Ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” – Ben Franklin

“The function of protecting and developing health must rank even above that of restoring it when it is impaired” – Hippocrates

 

The ACL injury rate with female soccer players is at an epidemic rate. We all know that…but I am calling out all the parents and coaches that read this and do nothing about it. If you are not helping your player to resist these injuries, you are accepting that this is just a part of every athlete’s journey. I strongly disagree with that rationale, and for those who are already in a strength program, you may want to question everything that your son or daughters trainer is doing and seriously begin to inquire about the effectiveness of their program. I am in constant reminder that players are moving more and more into the notion that they need programs that will work on the physical aspects of the game, but not all programs are created equal.

  • Does your physical program know the demands of soccer?
  • Does your program understand the culture of soccer (seasons of competition)?
  • Does your program understand your individual needs?
  • Does your program include movement quality with strength gains?
  • Is it correctly progressive?
  • Is it grounded in research?
  • Does it force the player to work on cardio conditioning (trust me…most young players do not need it and older players get too much of it)?

My point is that it is up to you, as the consumer, to ask these questions and get to know what the program itself is really doing for your performance.

Here is a letter that I wrote, back in 2010, to a large club, after I witnessed 6 knee related injuries and/or surgeries on 1 team within 12 months. The club gently told me that they already had plans to install a proper warm up for all club teams. I agree that this would be a great step towards injury prevention and enhanced performance…but I am still waiting for that warm up to show up. I have inserted _’s to keep the identity of club and persons involved anonymous.

Thanks _,

I appreciate your concern for the subject and your efforts, so far.

_, thanks for taking the time to listen in on some thoughts/concerns that I have for the female soccer players in this area and throughout the country, as well. Obviously, the direct (or indirect) influence(s) that we may be able to have in regards to creating insight and attention into this epidemic of sorts could have profound effects on a players future objectives within soccer. In turn, this will have an effect in her choice of possible opportunities to study, as well as keeping them away from long term health issues and procedures that may be avoided.

I am close to this matter, only as a coach that has and currently is working with players that have returned to play from knee reconstructions, various soft tissue problems, chronic pains, compartment syndrome, and too many other sports related injuries that _ knows too much about already, as a prominent _ business. It is not just the frequency of injuries that have occurred, but the lack of action taken by clubs and coaches and lack of questions asked by parents and players, that have me a bit confused about the situation.

Why is everyone in the soccer community just considering this part of the game?

_, your daughter is 6 times more likely to tear an ACL than the boy that is playing at her age. As I am taking stock in the number of surgeries that have occurred within the top female teams from U15-U18 at _, it will show up to 1 in every 6 players. WITH THE U16′s HAVING 5 IN THE LAST YEAR AND A HALF! That is a staggering number, and I know that I would want to know how I could keep my daughter away from being one of the 2-3 players PER TEAM that will be having surgery. This is also knowing that 70% of ACL injuries occur in non-contact situations. So, we are not speaking about the “freak” incidences when players collide or a bad tackle happens. These are the avoidable one’s.

I have taken the liberty of going to all area clubs within the Charlotte vicinity and read their mission statements. Every single club, that I have seen, has the player’s “best interest” or “development” as the center piece, but I don’t hear about the ways that they are working to keep each player safe from injury. I apologize if any club (_) is taking measures that I do not know about, however if they are it must be minimal; because I have players at every level at every age group that say otherwise (other than the _ teams going through the _).

I know all that has been written here gives no solution, only a problem that may already be known. I would disagree, but for arguments sake, let’s say that it is being ignored or not being handled. I propose a first step to finding the solution is to give a questionnaire (separate from Performance Unlimited or any profit entity) to each player at the top team at each age group (14-18) that would begin some formal research on what patterns may be causing these injury prevalences.

For instance:

-I know that clubs are creating games for teams to play solely for the sake of the club’s profit, not allowing substantial recovery between competitions.

-There is no such thing as a true off season for soccer players, and the clubs are not helping by creating new leagues and games for profit.

-There are no (to my knowledge) formal physical programs for Pre-hab/injury prevention instilled as mandatory for all players (studies show an 88% reduction in knee related injuries from a neuromuscular program called PEP). Coaches will not institute this, as I know from experience as the Performance Director at Charlotte Soccer Club, because they feel that they do not have enough time already.

-There is no (to my knowledge) formal coaching education on how to instill proper physical conditioning or training to prevent injuries, as mandatory for each director (at least) to go through.

There are patterns to these injuries, and I believe that we may be scared to find out what they are. However, we have to get to the bottom of a solution and keep these girls away from ruining their athletic careers. The research for this injury is monotonous, at the very least, anyone can see what a problem it has been in the past 30 years since Title IX. However, nothing hits home like numbers from your backyard! I am only concerned for Charlotte, and that is why I only care to do a small population review of the female soccer within this city. My issues may come with my ties in a Performance company and my “viewed” ulterior motives being profit driven and looking for a conspiracy theory against some club. I can tell you that neither is in my sights for the end result. I want to see these players succeed, and they can only succeed when they are playing.

Hopefully, you guys can help me

I look forward to your thoughts

Update to 2014…

Nothing has changed, except that clubs are hiring “speed and agility” coaches and letting sports performance companies that know jack about soccer, come in and work with the kids for 1 hour every month. 90% of players never show up and 100% of coaches don’t care. When will we wake up? Probably only when its your child that is on the surgery calendar.

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