ACL Injury Prevention Games for Ages 8-18

Developmental Progression for Healthy Movement and ACL Injury Prevention

U8 – Goal: Coordination, Body Awareness

Developing their sense of how the body moves. Run, jump, leap, hop. Bend, “sit” frog. Throw, roll. 1 foot vs 2 feet. Balanced movement. Right and left. Learning to separate top and bottom half. (“Enhanced” carioca) Forward and backward. Shuffling, sliding, moving sideways. (Coach cuing emphasis: proprioception, not just visual demo.)

Games: leapfrog, enhanced carioca, “lay an egg”

U10 – Goal: Bi-lateral strength, coordination, balance, body sense/movement and speed

More body control but wide range among athletes. Goal: smooth, balanced movement, bi-lateral, bent knee, hop, skip, jump, “squat” games, Team/Band games create a body-learning environment. Use BBB position – balls of feet, head up — when performing ball skill drills. Take warm up seriously. Build routine. Work on form during the fun.

Games: Obstacle course/Band games, the BBB

U12 – Goal: Body control, agility and quickness, reaction time

Agility, quickness, change of direction, accel/decel, controlling speed and body; jump/leap/bound/ combination movement w/ and without ball; receive touch turn; soften touch accel; defend/tackle position. Game skills WITH safe movement habits in place. Rapidly growth in height/limb length creates additional challenge, require extra patience.

Games: Band games, hop and shove, leap and volley, shove the gamut

U14 – Goal: Dynamic strength, begin power, balance, “injury prevention” (learning)

Game IQ added, skills responding to pressure, opponent, game demands, “load;” Soccer/sport-specific tactics/movement performed at game speed. Tackles and defending. Receiving and sending high balls. Jumping and landing. Movement habits patterned.

Training: Jumping and landing; leap for power, agility using ball; partner Nordic hams, core “throw the feet,” medicine ball

U16 Goal: Dynamic strength, balance, power!, “injury prevention” (application: in play)

U18 – Goal: Endurance, power!, game IQ, relationships/team (partner observation)

  • HS challenge: the variability in size, skill, physical development and playing style
  • Non-contact ACL risk high. Beware: reckless play will often injure.
  • Freshman are less mature physically; more finesse, less force.

ALL AGES: Dynamic Warm for ACL Injury Prevention

  • proper form (nonnegotiable!)
  • progressive increase in challenge (essential!)
  • part of team/club culture (senior players teach junior players?)