“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.
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.
-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.