Written by: Nadia Colavecchio
It is no secret that soccer is the most popular sport played in the world, with approximately 265 million playing recreationally, competitively, or professionally. As with many sports, soccer players across all levels are at risk for injury. Beginning in 2003, the FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC) developed an injury prevention programme titled “The 11”, which has since been revamped into today’s FIFA 11+, and gaining popularity worldwide.
What is it?
The FIFA 11+ is an injury prevention programme targeted specifically to players aged 14 and older. This complete warm-up protocol is aimed towards strengthening the body’s natural defence mechanisms to become more resistant to injuries by working certain muscle groups and stabilizing the surrounding joints. This programme not only promotes injury prevention, but it has been shown to increase performance in essential soccer skills such as agility, balance and strength.
The FIFA 11+ only takes 15-20 minutes to complete, and it should be performed at least twice a week as the warm-up to games, or at the beginning of each training session. It is comprised of 15 exercises divided into three sections that should be performed in the specified sequence.
- Part 1 features low-speed running exercises, both isolated and coupled with active stretching and controlled partner contacts.
- Part 2 focuses on strengthening as it contains six sets of exercises for core and leg strength, balance and plyometrics/agility; with the opportunity to progress in difficulty.
- Part 3, to finish off, turns its attention back to running exercises, but this time, at moderate to high speeds combined with planting/cutting and other change of direction movements.
For each part, F-MARC states that athletes must pay attention technique: that is maintaining a correct posture, good body control which includes straight leg alignment, knee over toe position and soft landings.
What does the Research Say?
Since the creation of the FIFA 11+, research studies and reviews have been conducted to test the programme’s validity, or the extent to which the program does what it was set out to do; that is prevent injury and improve performance. Well-designed studies consisted of:
- targeting a population based on characteristics such as sex, age, level of competition, etc and selecting study participants to reflect that population
- fitness and skill testing the participants that would serve as baselines
- the division of study participants into groups, typically an intervention group (i.e. those who implemented the FIFA 11+) and a control group (i.e. those who continued their regular warm up routines).
- surveillance of the groups by skilled professionals
- analysis of the results and conclusions
To date, this research has provided results that indicate significantly lower injury rates to those teams carrying out the FIFA 11+ protocol. Generally:
- training injuries reduced by 37%
- match injuries reduced by 29%
That’s what all the buzz is about!
If you are interested in implementing the FIFA 11+ into your team’s training, be sure to visit the following website for the full details of the
FIFA 11+ protocol.
Want to download the exercises?
Bizzini, Mario, and Jiri Dvorak. “FIFA 11+: An Effective Programme to Prevent Football Injuries In Various Player Groups Worldwide—A Narrative Review”. Bjsm.bmj.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 8 Mar. 2017.
“FIFA 11+ | A Complete Warm-Up Programme”. F-marc.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 8 Mar. 2017.
Oluwatoyosi B. A. Owoeye, Olajide A. Olawale. “Efficacy of The FIFA 11+ Warm-Up Programme In Male Youth Football: A Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial”. PubMed Central (PMC). N.p., 2017. Web. 8 Mar. 2017.