25 Aug Female Athlete ACL Injury Reduction Is A Journey, Not A Quick Google Search
Female athlete ACL injury reduction is a journey, not a quick Google search.
Peruse the internet and there are a plethora of balance exercises, prevention programs, and warmups for coaches to get their hands on to keep their female athletes healthy.
While some of these are amazing programs, ACL injury reduction is not about popping in and out of a program, nor is it about doing a cluster of random movements, nor is it about doing the FIFA11+ warmup without coaching proper technique.
ACL injury reduction is about the long-term pathway that utilizes gradual progression to continue to make girls resilient throughout their playing careers.ACL injury reduction is about the long-term pathway that utilizes gradual progression to continue to make girls resilient throughout their playing careers. Click To Tweet
Start With Basics
Before getting wild with advanced plyometric drills, have your girls mastered deceleration with good trunk control and positioning of the ankles, knees and hips?
Stability of the trunk area is crucial for lower extremity mechanics to be controlled, without excessive knee valgus and ankle instability.
Progress to Single Leg
Once landing on two feet is nailed down, then female athletes can get more fancy with their plyometrics with single leg work. After all, it is important to get to this point in a program because ACL injuries occur when forces are acted on one leg.
The 3x Single Leg Broad Jump is a good indicator of balance, trunk stability, and ankle dorsiflexion. These are all things that keep the knee more stable.
Progress to New Planes
Forces in the frontal and rotational plane are what we need to look out for, as these are the greatest risk factors for ACL.
Once linear plane mastered, then you can have girls explore new territory in various planes on one foot. Be sure they own their landings with a 3-5 second hold so they can feel the muscles firing – quadriceps, gluteals, hamstrings.
Now that you see the progressions, what is a realistic timeline to get to all of these? Given a player is training 2x a week at minimum to work on physical preparation, these progressions can be accomplished in 10-12 weeks of time. Yes, it is a big commitment and no days can be skipped.
Motor skill learning takes time and coaches need to ensure their female athletes are on a gradual pathway to development to own the proper joint angles of the ankle, knee and hip (see Total Youth Female Athlete Fitness Mentorship to learn more).Motor skill learning takes time and coaches need to ensure their female athletes are on a gradual pathway to development. Click To Tweet
Too, these movements were just glossing over the tip of the ACL prevention iceberg. In between, we did eccentric strength training, as well as max velocity and max acceleration and deceleration work to get them in an environment more intense than the game. I highly recommend checking out Jason Avedesian PhD research on the brain’s role in ACL injury here.
ACL injury reduction is a journey that nurtures youth female athletes so they blossom for the length of their sports careers.ACL injury reduction is a journey that nurtures youth female athletes so they blossom for the length of their sports careers. Click To Tweet
For more on ACL injury prevention…
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