Purpose: The study investigated the effects of FIFA 11+ and HarmoKnee, both being popular warm-up programs, on proprioception, and on the static and dynamic balance of professional male soccer players.
Methods: Under 21 year-old soccer players (n = 36) were divided randomly into 11+, HarmoKnee and control groups. The programs were performed for 2 months (24 sessions). Proprioception was measured bilaterally at 30°, 45° and 60° knee flexion using the Biodex Isokinetic Dynamometer. Static and dynamic balances were evaluated using the stork stand test and Star Excursion Balance Test (SEBT), respectively.
Results: The proprioception error of dominant leg significantly decreased from pre- to post-test by 2.8% and 1.7% in the 11+ group at 45° and 60° knee flexion, compared to 3% and 2.1% in the HarmoKnee group. The largest joint positioning error was in the non-dominant leg at 30° knee flexion (mean error value = 5.047), (p<0.05). The static balance with the eyes opened increased in the 11+ by 10.9% and in the HarmoKnee by 6.1% (p<0.05). The static balance with eyes closed significantly increased in the 11+ by 12.4% and in the HarmoKnee by 17.6%. The results indicated that static balance was significantly higher in eyes opened compared to eyes closed (p = 0.000). Significant improvements in SEBT in the 11+ (12.4%) and HarmoKnee (17.6%) groups were also found.
Conclusion: Both the 11+ and HarmoKnee programs were proven to be useful warm-up protocols in improving proprioception at 45° and 60° knee flexion as well as static and dynamic balance in professional male soccer players. Data from this research may be helpful in encouraging coaches or trainers to implement the two warm-up programs in their soccer teams.