Injury Prevention

Can we prevent all injuries in football? The answer to this question, is of course we can’t. On the other hand we have to ask ourselves a question; is it possible for us to have certain prerequisites in place to prevent as many injuries as possible? The answer to this question is yes, it is possible.

The three most important aspects of injury prevention are; sleep, nutrition and an individual periodised workload. In this blog I will focus on the periodised workload.
A football team consists of 11 individuals that have to work together as a team. Their physiology though is totally different. What we often see in football, is that every player has to go through the same workload as everybody else. This way of working can only mean one thing; injuries waiting to happen.

Is a player really injury prone? Are certain players more unlucky than others? Why do injury tsunami’s happen within one team, but not the other? Research from Prof. Jan Ekstrand et al has shown that the coach is the person responsible for most injuries. But who hires the coach? We all know the answer to this question, the football club. So ultimately, the club is responsible for those injuries because they hire the coach. Is Conte at Chelsea just lucky because of their injury list is far smaller than others?

There are many aspects you have to consider when adjusting the workload for a player. What type of player is he? Does he have a ‘Ferrari’ or ‘Fiat’ engine? Does he have a history of injuries? Is he coming from a lower level of football? Is he a youth player, an experienced player or an older player? Does he study outside of football? Does he train on a full time basis or on a part time basis? There will be players that have different needs and will be effected by a number of the previous questions. There is also many more questions that you will have to consider when optimizing a players workload.

For example; in certain countries youth players can have 5 football activities per week at their respective club (4 training sessions and 1 game). They also train up to 3 times per week with their high school. Accumulating the above demands will mean a player could partake in as many as 8 sessions per week…..and we aren’t finished there. A percentage of those players are very good and will then train with the first team at their football club. To ensure that these players don’t get an injury somebody has to ensure that the player in questions takes part in ‘injury prevention’ sessions. In total they could train in up to 10 sessions per week, including the 2 ‘injury prevention’ sessions.

Now lets look at some answers in relation to the questions previously asked, in reference to the example described above.

What kind of player is he?
He is an explosive player – An explosive player needs more recovery time to refuel his engine after a session.
Is he coming from a lower level of football?
This player is moving up from a lower level of football – At a higher level of playing there is less space and time to execute your actions. In no uncertain terms everything goes much faster!
Does he study outside of football?
He is a young player that has a part time job and studies at university. This means that he uses a lot of energy away from the football pitch.

The chance that this player is accumulating fatigue, because of all these activities and type of player he is, is huge. Accumulation of fatigue is a players worst enemy. He will loose freshness fast and will dramatically increase the chance of an injury.

An explosive player coming from a lower level, working part time, studying and is now starting to play at a higher level of football, must have an individual periodised plan. Why?
• He uses more energy per action, because he is an explosive player.
• He uses energy at work and university.
• He needs even more energy to adjust to the demands of the higher level of play.
• He needs to regain freshness before next session because he is an explosive player.
• He needs to avoid accumulation of fatigue, especially because he is an explosive player.

To be able to avoid accumulation of fatigue and to keep and regain freshness for this player or any other player we need many answers to optimize their individual workload.

Sleep, nutrition and an individual periodised workload will prevent many injuries and it all comes down to one single thing; Education.

Thanks for sharing.