Soccer Performance and Injury Prevention

Injury Prevention/Rehabilitation

Ankle Injuries

Ankle injuries are one of the most common injuries in soccer. The lateral (outside) ankle sprain is the most common site of ankle injury. This injury can range from grade I mild sprains to grade III complete ruptures. There are three ligaments of the lateral ankle. These ligaments can be partially or completely involved with an ankle sprain, dictating the severity of ankle sprain.

The most important point in recovering from an ankle sprain is early management of the injury. This includes medical examination and diagnosis, protection of the injury for healing, and physical therapy for restoration of function, and return to play. Recurring injuries to the ankle are often experienced when management of injury is incomplete.

See Ankle Injury Presentation.

Performing balance activities helps to restore the ankle joint’s responsiveness to change of position. Position sense of the ankle can be impaired by sustained immobility, swelling and pain. A recommended addition to training the ankle for return to sport and prevention of ankle injuries is the use of the Dyna Disc Ankle Cushion.

Dyna Disc Balance Ankle Brace of Choice (ASO)

Performance Training

Components of Soccer Conditioning

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Explosiveness is another way of saying POWER. Power is the ability to your body weight over a short distance as fast as you can. Power requires strength and speed. To train for power you must exert maximum speed in short bursts. An example of training for power is to jump horizontally, on one leg or two, three times. You should be able to accomplish this as fast as you can, and in a short period of time.


Acceleration is the ability to move quickly over a short distance. In soccer, the athlete must be able to move quickly from a standing position in a lateral, forward or backward direction. Acceleration is the time it takes to get full speed. This is usually accomplished in 10 to 20 yards. To train for acceleration the movement or drill should be accomplished in 2-3 seconds. The effort should be maximal.

To enhance the training for acceleration the soccer athlete should include deceleration into the drill. This would require running 5-15 yards, come to a stop, and then accelerate to another location. This can be accomplished with cones, or with reaction to a ball and/or player.


Speed training should be accomplished in short and all out effort (>95%). If your effort is not near maximal, you will not be training efficiently. Speed training requires the duration of 3-6 seconds. This window of time is where your neuromuscular system will most efficiently make changes that will result in speed development. It is important that if you are training for speed rest intervals must be provided to allow for recovery. The appropriate recovery time is at least for every 1 second of work there is at least 1 minute of rest. An example, run 3 secs. and rest 3 minutes. To train appropriately for speed, fatigue should not be a limiting factor. Speed is a complete neuromuscular activity, and utilizes the Alactic Energy System. Therefore, no lactic acid is produced.

These components of soccer conditioning; Explosiveness, Acceleration and Speed are highly specific in the manner in which they are trained. To reap the benefits careful consideration must be given to the intensity of the effort, the duration of the effort (short), and the rest interval that is incorporated into the session. Additional emphasis must be given to technique, strength training and proper preparation for the Training Session (Warm-up).

Soccer-Specific Fitness Testing

Soccer specific fitness testing provides important data for player development, identification of individual and team conditioning status, and provides criteria for return to play following injury.

The primary areas of Fitness Testing include:

1. Flexibility and Strength

Strength and flexibility are assessed as an indicator of joint mobility, strength and dynamic control through a range of motion. The extremities and core musculature are areas that require assessment. This is the foundation to injury prevention and development of athletic ability. Many overuse injuries can be prevented with strength and flexibility programs. Identification of muscular and joint imbalances are beneficial in developing individual and team programs.

2. Explosiveness and Power

While strength and flexibility testing can isolate specific deficits, power and explosiveness considers a dynamic look at multiple joint flexibility and strength. Explosiveness and power are athletic abilities critical for speed development. The foundation to explosiveness and power is strength, and the ability to provide a burst of energy in a short period of time. A good example of power is a vertical or horizontal jump. Increased power translates to increased speed.

3. Agility and Change of Direction

The essence of testing the soccer athlete for agility and Change of Direction is to mimic the varied movements in soccer. The soccer athlete must run forward, lateral and backward, and with sudden changes of direction. The testing criteria is timed bouts within short distances(within a 10 meter box for example). This requires short bursts of acceleration and deceleration, with emphasis on body control and coordination.

4. Acceleration and Speed

Testing  acceleration and speed should be performed within 6 to 7 seconds of duration. This requires all out effort. Acceleration is the period of time it takes to achieve full speed. This is most commonly performed over 10 to 20 meters. Speed must be assessed after the athlete is able to accelerate to top speed. For the young athlete this will occur by 20 meters. Maximum speed, therefore, will occur in a window 20 to 30 meters after the first 10 to 20 meters. The athlete must be in a non-fatigued state when testing for speed and acceleration.

5. Speed Endurance

The ability to maintain a near maximal speed, or repetitive bouts of work at a near maximal speed is the goal for defining an athlete’s speed endurance. Performing maximal work for a sustained period of time is limited by the accumulation of lactic acid in the system. A test to perform repeated sprint bouts of 30 to 40 meters for 6 to 8 repetitions can measure speed endurance. Rest intervals of 10 to 30 seconds are provided. Defining the change of speed in the fastest repetition to the slowest repetition in terms of a percent change can be used to understand an individual’s ability to maintain a near maximal speed.

6. Endurance

Soccer requires a high level of fitness. Aerobic capacity is a measure of an individual’s ability to perform sustained effort at an elevated, sub-maximal, heart rate. This increase in aerobic capacity will help performance of repetitive work bouts, recovery from high levels of effort, and as a team, wear down the opposing side during a game. To test for aerobic capacity a player, or team, can perform repeated work bouts with short rest breaks, or run for a constant duration for approximately 6 minutes. – Largest Selection of Extremity Braces! Click here!

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Posted by  Randy Bauer


9 responses to “Soccer Performance and Injury Prevention

  1. Pingback: Soccer routines Utilize Aerobic and Anaerobic Soccer Conditioning | Plyometric Exercises and Drills·

  2. Pingback: Developing Speed Endurance | WellEvolvEdU·

  3. Pingback: Soccer Performance: ACL Injury Prevention | WellEvolvEdU·

  4. Pingback: Athlete Wellness: A Game Plan for Success | WellEvolvEdU·

  5. Great website you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any community forums that cover the same topics discussed here? I’d really love to be a part of community where I can get opinions from other knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Bless you!

  6. Pingback: Soccer Performance and Injury Prevention | Bauer Physical Therapy |·

  7. Reblogged this on Optimal Performance Consultants Blog and commented:
    It is summer time and people who may not have taken care of fitness during the winter months are out playing tennis, soccer, frisbee etc. Here is a great Blog by a fellow Physiotherapist Randy Bauer about the prevention and treatment of typical ankle injuries. Now go out and have fun while getting fit! JE Sleeth Reg PT and Ergonomic Consultant

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