Purpose: The objective of the present randomised controlled trial was to study the effect of a neuromuscular warm-up programme on performance tests in youth female football.
Methods: Four youth female football teams with players aged 12-16 years were randomised into an intervention group and control group. The intervention was a 15-min neuromuscular warm-up programme carried out twice a week during the 11-week study period. Baseline and follow-up measurements of performance were made indoors and included the star excursion balance test, a countermovement jump test, a triple-hop for distance test, a modified Illinois agility test, and 10- and 20-m sprint tests.
Results: Fifty-two players (intervention 28; control 24) took part in baseline measurements, and after dropout, 41 players (intervention 23; control 18) were included for analysis. Minor positive changes were seen in the control group compared to the intervention group for a sub-score of the star excursion balance test (P < 0.05) and in the modified Illinois agility test (P < 0.05). No improvement was seen in the intervention group from baseline to follow-up.
Conclusions: The study showed that a neuromuscular warm-up programme carried out during 11 weeks did not improve performance in youth female football. This could indicate that the programme does not contain sufficient stimulus to improve performance. A low player attendance at training sessions, and low specificity between exercises in the warm-up programme and the evaluated performance tests may also contribute to the lack of effect.
Level of evidence: I.