In a study published last year by Emery and Meeuwisse (2010) from the University of Calgary, Canada, the effect of a soccer-specific neuromuscular training on injury rate was examined in 13-18 years old players. 750 players were split in two groups: the neuromuscular training group and the control group. Players in the first group supplemented their regular training with a neuromuscular training program performed before training. Players in the control group did only regular training. The program was for 20 weeks.
Neuromuscular training included:
-15min warm up
-10min of neuromuscular training with body weight
-15min of balance training using a wobble board
Some of the exercises are presented in figures 1-4 below (pictures are from Emery and Meeuwisse, 2010, Br J Sport Med).
-Injury rate was almost half in the neuromuscular training group compared with the control group. In particular, the overall injury rate in the neuromuscular training group was 2.08 injuries/1000 player-hours and 3.35 injuries/1000 player-hours in the control group.
-Rates of ankle and knee sprains were lower in the neuromuscular training group compared with the control group.
CONCLUSION AND PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS
It seems that this neuromuscular training program reduces the risk of ankle and knee sprain injuries in youth players.