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ACL Injury Prevention

Every year, more and more girls tear their ACLs – the anterior cruciate ligament. While the definite cause of these injuries has not been determined, there are measures that a player or coach can take to reduce one’s likelihood for injury. Unfortunately, many programs continue to ignore this advice:

“A lot of coaches aren’t receptive to it because it interferes with their regimen or their practice,” Eric Marchek, a physical therapist for Providence Downtown Rehabilitation said. “But then they get a star player go down, and how much does that interfere with their season?”

Of course, some coaches do take a proactive approach:

West Linn girls basketball coach Glen Lee consulted a physical therapist five years ago to organize a prevention regimen. Since then, his team has strictly adhered to the 20-minute warm-up, and the Lions went without a knee injury until last summer.

“We built it into our practice plan. I swear by it,” Lee said. “If we have to switch up our practice plan, our girls are like, ‘What about our warmup?’ You’ve just got to face the fact that it has to be done.”

Southridge High School, one of the nation’s top high school girls’ basketball programs this decade, incorporates a jump training program:

It includes a 12-minute daily warmup, core-strength workouts and a jumping program.

“We work a lot on how they land,” Southridge coach Michael Meek said. “Even when they’re doing lay-ins, we try to follow through with that stuff. When they’re jump-stopping, we make sure it’s a soft landing.”

When I coached a girls’ high school team last season, we spent the first 10 minutes every practice going through a dynamic warm-up focused on developing eccentric strength, balance and landing skills. Of course we had other things we needed to do as well, as we had some beginners playing varsity basketball, but players cannot improve if they are on the sideline for a season with an injury. So, training basic general movement skills was the first priority.

Other articles on ACL injuries and prevention:

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