Soccer has become a year round sport. With club and international play becoming a part of each player’s development in addition to school soccer, injury prevention should be at the forefront of these competitive seasons and developed in their training programs. In the research article found in The Strength and Conditioning Journal vol. 34, no. 1, Feb. 2012“Injury incidence, Body Site, and Severity in Soccer Players Aged 6-18 Years: Implications for Injury Prevention” showed when and where many youth soccer players are becoming injured. It stated that 70% of all injuries are to the lower extremities, and that player contact accounted for 40-66% of these injuries. The major findings for the causes of the injuries were joint instability, muscle strength, tightness, asymmetry, body mechanics, positive injury history, level of play, position, and warm-up and stretching.
There were many different incidents of injury presented. The level of play was shown that players that were higher skilled (based on coaches ratings) were less likely to have injuries especially severe injuries. It was concluded that the higher level of skill players had more training that allowed them to be less susceptible to injuries. Proper warm-up and stretching programs were related to a reduction in muscle strain injuries which accounted for 24% of injuries in the study. Defenders and midfielders were injured more often than strikers and goal-keepers. Girls were shown to have 2-fold greater injury risk in comparison to boys. Women were responsible for 44% of all reported injuries and represented just 27% of the studied population. Youth players (less than 16 years of age) were reported to have a 2-fold greater chance of sustaining an injury.
To ensure safety on the soccer field ample time needs to be put into a few different areas of soccer training. Teaching and educating soccer players the value of an active dynamic warm-up prior to even shooting on the goal, which was the main reason for quadriceps strains, and hamstring strain injuries will keep them on the field longer. At Prescription Fitness, all of our athletes go through an active dynamic warm-up prior to any movement training, or strength training. Our individualized programs provide athletes with proper warm-ups and post static stretching to help alleviate these major muscle group strains which can keep a player out of competition anywhere from one to seven days. As stated in the article, injuries increased with age, but specifically after age 14. It was the author’s opinion that the optimal time to introduce sports specific preparation and training programs should occur before pubescence. With a sport specific training plan youth soccer players will reduce their chance of sports injuries and keep competing. It is our goal to build the foundation for a structurally sound athlete that will be less susceptible to injuries and stay healthy achieving their goals.