But what about the Children?! – The FIFA 11+ for Kids

Written by: Nadia Colavecchio

 

As we know from our last blog  – The Fifa 11+- What’s all the Buzz About? – the FIFA 11+ is an injury prevention programme that has been shown to increase performance in essential soccer skills such as agility, balance and strength. That being said, this original programme was tailored to players aged 14 and older. What about those youth soccer players under age 14? F-MARC has now created a version of the FIFA 11+ suitable for children aged 7-13, titled the FIFA 11+ for Kids.

Content and Structure

Similar to the FIFA 11+, the FIFA 11+ for Kids focuses on three areas of injury prevention:

  1. Improving coordination and balance
  2. Strengthening the leg and core muscles
  3. Optimising falling techniques

The programme consists of seven exercises that should be performed at the beginning of each training session or game. Each exercise has five levels of progression with each child beginning at level 1. As a coach, trainer or parent, it is important to ensure the children adopt the correct posture and body control in order to take the most from the programme. A few things to look out for;

  • Legs straight: the knee should be slightly bent with feet facing forward
  • Body tension: the stomach and back muscles should be tensed and engaged while keeping the back straight, and the head extending the spine

The FIFA 11+ for kids provides instructions for coaches to correct all mistakes, as well as outlines how each exercise should be performed, and parameters of each exercise at every level.

There have been multiple studies since the release of this programme. Specifically, F-MARC conducted a prospective two-year study of children’s soccer teams from the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Germany and Netherlands. Clubs were randomly assigned to an intervention group where they replaced their regular warm-ups with the FIFA 11+ Kids program and a control group who continued their usual warm-up.

The Results:

  • The primary outcome was an overall reduction in the overall risk of soccer-related injuries
  • Secondary outcomes showed a reduction in the risks of severe and lower extremity injuries

More specifically:

  • 3895 players recorded with over 292 000 hours of soccer exposure
  • The intervention group’s overall injury rate was reduced by 38%, and their severe injury rate (an injury requiring >28days recovery) was reduced by 55%

Another study conducted by Pomares-Noguera et al looked at the effects of the FIFA 11+ Kids programme on several aspects of physical performance and motor skills. This randomized control trial operated the same as the study conducted by F-MARC, grouping the teams into an intervention and control groups.

The Results:

  • Significant between-group differences in favour of the FIFA 11+ players. They had superior results pertaining to their dynamic postural control, agility run, vertical jump height and distance jump

What can we take from this?

It is clear that the FIFA 11+ for Kids programme can prevent injury when implemented into players’ warm-up routines. The FIFA 11+ for Kids can also improve motor skills, and, in particular, agility, dynamic balance, jumping power and technical skills. With its targeted exercises and challenging training workouts, the FIFA 11+ for Kids can help children avoid injury while enhancing their performance. It is a focused and efficient programme that soccer players should use regularly in training.

Next up: The new shoulder programme for goal keepers!

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