I am a soccer coach for a girls’ competitive soccer team. I am interested in putting together a ACL injury prevention program for our soccer club. What is the most effective program?

There have been many ACL injury prevention programs and screening tools developed in the past decade as participation in youth sports is on the rise and the number of ACL injuries is also on the rise, particularly with young females. Some research estimates that return to sport after ACL rupture and repair is as low as 50% in young athletes, while epidemiological studies estimate that females are four to six times more likely to suffer and ACL injury compared to their male counterparts. Universal ACL injury prevention programs are more beneficial than screening programs for young athletes as they are a cost effective strategy for reducing the physical, psychological and financial burden of ACL injury.

These programs typically involve an altered warm up and inclusion of certain fitness drills in practice that include core work, stretches, plyometrics, strengthening and sport-specific agility drills. The end goal is to optimize muscle balance and improve the athletes biomechanics, particularly with jumping and cutting type movements that typically stress the ACL. Two programs that have the most research supporting their effectiveness and the Sportsmetrics and Prevent Injury and Enhance Performance (PEP) Programs. It is advisable to look at these programs online and also look around your local community of physical therapists and athletic trainers to see if any programs currently exist in your area.