Soccer is a great way for kids to get exercise. Around Grade 5 or 6 (U11/U12) those muscle groups start to get big enough to generate appreciable force. If they aren’t sufficiently prepared for what the game demands, injuries are more likely – putting a (hopefully) brief pause to the fun and exercise.
ASC recommends the FIFA 11+ program, which is shown to reduce injuries by up to 50% when followed correctly. These exercises MUST be done properly to have the intended benefit, and if done improperly can in fact INCREASE the risk of injury by putting too much stress on the knees in particular.
11+ is a complete warm-up program to reduce injuries among male and female soccer players aged 14 years and older. Teams that performed 11+ at least twice a week had 30 – 50% less injured players. The program should be performed, as a standard warm-up, at the start of each training session at least twice a week and takes around 20 minutes to complete. Prior to matches only the running exercises (parts 1 and 3) should or may be performed. For all exercises, correct performance is of great importance.
“Player health and safety is our first and most important responsibility. I encourage all of our coaches to incorporate this into their weekly practice and games.”
If you wish to build on these warm-ups, I have created a series of SAQ (speed-agility-quickness) activities and posted them here as easy lesson plans.
Coach Paige Forster