Effects of an Injury Prevention Program in Elite Pro Soccer

Soccer is regarded as a high intensity intermittent contact sport exposing players to continual physical, technical, tactical, psychological, and physiological demands.

At the elite level, the regular demands of match play and training performed during the season’s entirety makes players susceptible to injury. Intuitively, losing players to injury will be to the detriment of team success, particularly for teams unable to replace players of similar abilities due to limited resources.

Therefore, injury prevention programs have gained greater impetus as part of the player’s daily training schedule.

Benefits of an Injury Prevention Program

Due to the continual physical, physiological, and psychological demands of elite level soccer increasing the incidence and risk of injuries, preventative training pro- grams have become a common feature of soccer players training schedule.

The aim of the current investigation was to examine the effectiveness of a structured injury prevention pro- gram on the number of muscle injuries and the total number of injuries within elite professional soccer.

The present study was conducted over 2 consecutive seasons, of which the first (2008–2009) being the intervention season and the second the control season (2009–2010).

What the Training Showed

In total, 26 and 23 elite male professional soccer players competing within the Scottish Premier League and European competition participated.

The training program was performed twice weekly for the entirety of the season (58 prevention sessions). The results revealed an increase in the total number of injuries within the intervention season (88 vs. 72).

However, this was largely due to the greater number of contusion injuries sustained within the intervention season (n = 44) when compared with control season (n = 23).

Significantly less muscle injuries were observed during the intervention season (moderate effect), and this occurred concomitant with a bigger squad size (large effect, p, 0.001).

The findings from this study identify that a multi- component injury prevention–training program may be appropriate for reducing the number of muscle injuries during a season but may not be adequate to reduce all other injuries.

Player Down Injured injury prevention program

Practical Application

  • Injury prevention–training strategies are a common feature in a practitioners training schedule.


  • Despite a plethora of training exercises being available to use within a multi-component training program, there seems little evidence-based guidance as to what exercises may be considered effective in actually reducing the incidence of injury.


  • The present study reveals how a multicomponent injury prevention program within the elite level of professional soccer can have significant effect on the incidence of muscle strains and tears, which are regarded as the most commonly encountered injury in soccer across many levels.


  • Therefore, when implementing a multicomponent injury prevention–training program, practitioners should clearly justify what they intend to address during the chosen exercises and overall training session.


  • Therefore, giving priority to a specific element (exercise, duration, intensity, load, etc.) within a multi-component training program may be a more appropriate way to address player’s weakness previous injury, or susceptibility to injury.


  • Although undeniably a difficult task, by establishing what physical component may be more effective in reducing specific injuries, the practitioner may have greater scope to develop more time efficient and appropriate individualized training drills.

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