Are you doing all you can to protect your players from tearing their ACLs?
Instituting a regular dynamic warm-up is an important first step toward keeping our athletes healthy. In my last post, The Dynamic Warm up, Why Do it?, we looked at the three primary reasons players need to warm up. If you don’t have a fixed warm-up, find the basic steps here.
Even if you’ve implemented a dynamic warm up and been running players through it for years, chances are there are three things making it less effective than it could be:
- It’s getting stale and players are complaining about having to do it.
- You’ve turned it over to your captains who are doing it half-assed.
- You figure that as long as your team is doing any dynamic warm up, you’re doing all you can to protect your players from ACL injury.
On #1 and #2, am I right? On #3, you’re probably wrong.
With the speed and physical nature of play today, athletes need to be stronger, more dynamic and better skilled than ever before to protect their bodies from injury. You can start supplying this in your warm up. I challenge you to add three things (2-3 minutes, max!) to increase the injury prevention potential in your warm-up. Add one activity from these categories: strength, plyometrics (jumping/landing), and sport-specific agility.
I realize you don’t have a lot of time, so just make it simple. For athletes 12 years and up, try these three activities as written/shown. I’ve also included “advanced” and “beginner” options for each. Perform each skill/drill for 30 seconds at the end of your standard warm up. Correct form is always the goal, not high repetitions.
Strength – one-legged squats.
Balance on one foot and sink low slowly, head up and body under control. Be sure the knee bends straight over the toe (not past the big toe) and doesn’t bend inward. Hips sink down and body stays upright, not bowing forward from the waist. (Advanced: free leg extends forward; Beginner: free leg is bent. Challenge: perform in pairs and test each other’s stability and balance with a gentle push.)
Plyometrics – two footed jumps side to side over a cone or ball. (video here)
Spring off two feet and land lightly and quietly, springing back up and over to the other side. (Advanced: try this one footed, hopping over cone or ball. Cone be tipped over rather than upright to modify difficulty. Beginners: leap laterally from one foot to the other foot over the cone or ball. See simpler lateral leap video here) Remember: form not reps!
Sport-specific agility course – diagonal run and cut to change direction (video here)
The cone course has many options: may shuffle side to cone, sprint and cut at cone, or weave forward/backward through cones. In all cases, execute turn with bent knee, foot planted firmly, pushing off strong in the direction of next cone. (Lacrosse and field hockey players may wish to add a stick; basketball players can add a ball and dribble.) (Advanced: bend low at turn to touch top of each cone with hand. Add a pivot for very advanced players. Beginners: shuffle to straddle each cone with feet evenly placed on each side in “frog” position.)
See how easy it is to make a dynamic warm-up into an injury prevention warm up?
You’ve added three skills requiring approximately 2 additional minutes and included the knee-bending, hamstring activating, diagonal force-producing movements so crucial to protecting that anterior cruciate ligament.
Thank you for your dedication to helping athletes play hard and stay safe on the field!
For more on ACLs and dynamic warm up, see ACL Injuries: Prevention and Recovery. Read more here:
Killer Dynamic Warm Up in 5 Simple Steps