With pre season training in full swing across many sports, these integral weeks require a structured, progressive training program to ensure optimal performance and injury management for the upcoming season.

Written by Katsu Inoue, Physiotherapist at The Joint Physio

With winter sport season upon us, January and February form the most integral weeks of pre season training. A well structured, progressive pre season training program is crucial for optimal in-season performance and injury management, irrespective of the sport being played.
Whilst old-school methods focused strongly on high volume and distance running, we have nowadays seen a shift towards more sports specific running and activities.

Here we describe how these are often implemented, using soccer as our example sport. The FIFA 11+ program is evidence based, soccer specific warm up drills to reduce risk of injuries.

The statistics showed that the rate of injury was reduced by about 40% in young amateur football players if the program is performed at least twice a week. There is no similar research conducted at the professional levels. However, the five most highly regarded injury prevention exercises employed by the professional clubs included the elements of the FIFA 11+ program (Bizzini & Dvorak 2015).

The FIFA 11+ is broken down into 3 parts:

  1. Running (light)
    • Straight line jogging
    • Jogging with hip rotations
    • Jogging and circling around a partner
    • Jogging and shoulder-shoulder contact with a partner
    • Quick forwards and backwards running
  2. Strength, Plyometric and Balance
    • Static and varying planks
    • Static and varying side planks
    • Hamstrings Nordics with varying intensity
    • Single leg balance with variations (e.g. holding a ball, throwing a ball, pushing by your partner etc)
    • Squats, Lunges, Single leg squats
    • Jumping drills
  3. Running (hard)
    • Sprint drills
    • Bounding/leap drills
    • Agility/cutting drills

Please refer to the actual manual for further details. The manual is easily accessible and downloadable online here.

The program emphasises on hip-knee alignment with each and every exercise. This means the quality of each exercise is important in reducing injury incidents. Bizzini and Dvorak’s paper also noted compliance as another important factor.

In theory, a sports specific program like the FIFA 11+ warms up not only the muscles and joints (hardware), but it facilitates your nervous systems (the main operating system and circuits) for the activity you are about to perform. It works a bit like muscle memory. This means your entire body system is better prepared and able to perform in less vulnerable body positions. And when your body is unexpectedly subjected to a more vulnerable position (being tackled, landing off balance etc) your body is better able to self-correct itself before resulting in more serious injury.

Read more from Bizzini & Dvorak here:

FIFA 11+: an effective programme to prevent football injuries in various player groups worldwide—a narrative review

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