Certain movements place a large strain on the ligaments of the knee. These include stopping suddenly, or planting the foot on the ground and turning in a different direction. Soccer players are especially prone to injury of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee.
The hamstring muscles behind the thigh help protect the knee. How fast the hamstrings contract in response to sudden movements may help prevent injury to the knee. Quick response is a major principle of injury prevention for any athlete out on the field.
A total body response including the upper body, hip, knee, and ankle is also important for soccer players. A training program should include strength and balance training for these areas.
A new program for the prevention of ACL tears in soccer players has been published. It includes training the mechanisms in the knee and ankle to give these joints a sense of where they are and how they are moving. This training involves the use of a balance training board or disk.
The athlete is required to "balance" the board--or move it without losing balance. This action improves the body's reaction time out on the field. This can help prevent knee injuries. Ask your trainer about this type of program if you aren't already doing it.