While we are aware of the effectiveness of injury prevention programmes for adults, limited research has focused on injury prevention in our children under the age of 14 years. Injuries in football players aged 7-12 years are common and can be significant (about a quarter of these injuries cause an absence of more than 28 days from sport). These risk of sustaining this type of injury can be reduced by more than 50% by warming up differently.1.
The 11+ Kids programme is a 15-minute warm-up designed to prevent injuries in children’s football. It consists of seven different exercises each with five levels of difficulty. Dynamic stability, power, core strength and falling techniques are the focus of the warm-up. These exercises were designed to be fun and age-appropriate. In this large multicentre cluster-randomised controlled trial, football teams in the intervention group did the 11+ Kids warm-up twice a week, while the control group of teams followed their regular training regime. The incidence of severe injuries (time off football of at least 28 days from injury) was then assessed in both groups. Fractures were the most common type of injury in both groups while the majority of injuries involved the lower limbs.
The 11+ Kids programme reduced fractures by 49%. The programme also had an impact on the injuries featured on different playing surfaces, with a reduction in overall severe injuries on artificial turf by 64%, by 53% indoor and 65% on grass. Severe non-contact injuries were reduced by 53% in the groups using the 11+ Kids, severe contact injuries by about 45%. It is suggested that improved agility and stability, as well as more skill with falling techniques, can be preventative factors developed when doing 11+ Kids. The risk of overuse injuries could be related to improving neuromuscular performance and stability of the lower limbs/trunk. Using the 11+ Kids programme reduced overall severe injuries in these children by 58%.
These results demonstrate that with just 15-20 minutes twice a week of completing an injury prevention programme such as 11+ Kids, significant gains can be made in preventing severe injuries in children’s football. This is high motivation for coaches and trainers to include these in their teams routine, and to encourage nationwide implementation in clubs from a youth level.
Beaudouin F, Rössler R, aus der Fünten K, et al. Effects of the ‘11+ Kids’ injury prevention programme on severe injuries in children’s football: a secondary analysis of data from a multicenter cluster-randomised controlled trial. Br J Sports Med Published Online First: 02 October 2018. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2018-099062