There is new evidence that suggests coaches who utilize a bit of neuromuscular training in their soccer warm up routine will help players stave off ACL injuries.
The anterior cruciate ligament is one of the four main ligaments which help to stabilize the knee joint and assist in movement. They are crucial when you’re doing anything that requires any form of agility to perform, which is basically the entire game of soccer.
Every coach wants a player whose endurance can withstand the grueling pace of a full soccer match, but that pace can become quite taxing on the player. The good news is that resistance and endurance training are a part of the neuromuscular regiment you’ll want to work on as a coach.
Neuromuscular training is like prepping your knee for certain actions or reactions. Teaching your body how to move is like learning an instrument, eventually it becomes what we colloquially call “muscle memory”. ACL injuries can be unavoidable depending on the circumstances, but training the body to move will help reduce those odds.
Basic neuromuscular training focuses on things like balance and strength. Core training is one of the primary components, but players should learn plyometric movement as well. One popular drill to run is to have players walk a ladder, alternating which foot steps within the rungs of the ladder as they move. You can also have them twist their torso, placing one foot in front of the other, as they walk the ladder. Encourage a brisk pace, which will help players develop agility and maneuver better on the field as well.
You might need to invest in some extra soccer gear, but the costs are minimal compared to the potential payout. A rope ladder is one item you’ll find useful, medicine balls are another. Weights will help, but aren’t required. One can squat, and get the full benefits of squatting, using little more than the support of the body’s weight. Planking and boat pose are equally useful when working on the player’s core. Players are also recommended to utilize a balance board at home for continued training.
There are real costs here too, outside of the costs to upgrade equipment. In one study, the group engaging in neuromuscular training saved almost $1,000 in potential medical costs caused by minor injuries to the ACL. Of course, coaches must be properly trained in the use of new equipment and regiments.