Purpose: Does a prospective proprioceptive-coordinative additional training intervention in elite female soccer changes frequency and pattern of injuries?
Materials and methods: 24 female soccer players of the German first division team of FC Bayern München were thoroughly supervised during the season 2003/04 regarding injuries resulting in an absence from at least one scheduled training session or game. During the winter break an additional proprioceptive-coordinative training program was initiated, which was performed on a regular basis during the second half of the season. Furthermore, we evaluated jump&reach, throwing power, coordinative skills, and flexibility.
Results: All evaluated fitness results increased significantly during the season after the training intervention, such as jump&reach 44 +/- 4 cm vs. 38 +/- 10 cm (p < 0.05), coordinative power left and right leg, respectively (71 +/- 44 s vs. 45 +/- 37 s, 80 +/- 41 s vs. 50 +/- 32 s, both p < 0.05), flexibility left and right hip (89 +/- 8 degrees vs. 78 +/- 13 degrees and 88 +/- 9 degrees vs. 79 +/- 10 degrees, p < 0.05). Comparing the 1st to the 2nd half of the season, 25 vs. 26 injuries after foulplay and 69 vs. 52 without contact occur (p < 0.05). Muscle injuries resulting in game or training absence were significantly reduced by 400% (12 vs. 3, p < 0.05). In the 1st half of the season, 2 anterior cruciate ruptures (ACL) occur vs. none in the 2nd half after the training intervention.
Conclusion: An additional proprioceptive-coordinative training intervention increases coordinative abilities, jump power, throwing power, and flexibility during a half season. After initiation of the proprioceptive-coordinative training the incidence of muscle injuries resulting in an absence of at least one game or practice session was reduced significantly by 400 %. Regarding the reduced incidence of ACL injuries after proprioceptive-coordinative training in female elite soccer players, further studies have to be performed to elucidate the value of this training intervention.