Background There are well-known challenges to implementing injury prevention strategies in amateur soccer, but information from other soccer settings is scarce. This cross-sectional survey analysed the injury prevention perceptions of soccer coaches, fitness coaches and physiotherapists from 4 male teams in a professional youth soccer academy.
Methods The respondents (n=18) completed a web-based survey relating to lower limb (LL) soccer injuries, the value and practicality of injury prevention exercise programmes (IPEPs) in general and, more specifically, the IPEP endorsed by FIFA, the FIFA 11+.
Results There were very high levels of agreement regarding players’ susceptibility to LL injury and the seriousness of these injuries. Respondents agreed unanimously that players should perform evidence-based injury prevention exercises. Despite 61% of respondents having previously heard of the FIFA 11+, just 6% reported current use of the full programme, with a further 22% reporting modified use. 22% believed the FIFA 11+ contained adequate variation and progression for their team and 78% felt it needed improvement. Respondents identified multiple barriers and facilitators to maintaining IPEPs, relating either to the programme content (eg, exercise variation), or the delivery and support of the programme (eg, coach acceptance).
Conclusions The coaches, fitness coaches and physiotherapists of professional youth teams support the use of IPEPs, but enhancing their impact requires tailoring of programme content, along with adequate delivery and support at multiple levels. The findings suggest that the FIFA 11+ needs modification for use in professional youth soccer teams.
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