As the father of a girl who now plays in the Winnipeg Women’s Soccer League and a coach of minor league girls soccer, I am attuned to information that impacts females in sports.
Over my ten-year volunteer soccer coaching tenure, I have noticed more girls each year having knee troubles that prevent or impact their ability to play. Is it just me or is there an increase in girls getting treatments or having to support ailing knees in order to play soccer?
I acknowledge three biases that may influence my perception of this issue. I may be seeing more injuries because I may be conditioned to perceive an increase. I am directly involved with sports and I have a direct personal interest.
Psychologists suggest if an event occurs close to a person, they will assume there is an increase in the number of those events. Your garage is broken into, therefore crime is on the rise. In my sports, I play and coach for the keeper or goalie position. I also have bad knees in my own sporting ventures.
Coupled with this understanding, I am not a trained professional and I haven’t recorded the trend with statistics to back my supposition. Scepticism is warranted. It just feels like I am seeing more knee problems in kids who I am coaching for soccer.
This news article ACL knee injuries in young athletes can be reduced with training from the CBC website provides some insight into a medical journal that helps support my theory. A journal report Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention from the American Academy of Pediatrics indicates, ACL injuries ( a structure of the knee) has increased and the rate of increase is higher in girls than in boys.
The journal is packed with information that doesn’t require a medical degree to read. Diagrams, graphs, stats and possible root causes for the increased trend in athletes suffering knee injuries is available in the paper. My interests in the report was to try and gain some insight into how as a coach might be able to help prevent the injuries.
The paper does not provide a definitive cause of knee injuries. It is not a simple causality: stop doing this and you will prevent this. It did provide insight into information that helped narrow the search for specific resources on the problem.
Following a link in the journal report, I uncovered this video on how to Prevent ACL injury. One only needs to take a look at the kid’s smiling face to realize how valuable this knowledge can be. A Google search using the term neuromuscular has opened up a world of training exercises I can use in practices to target strengthening young legs.
With this new information, I can renew my commitment to helping kids in sports. As a coach, it pains me to sit a kid on the bench during a game because they are hurt or to prevent further injury. Kids will try and convince me they are fine, “I can still play coach” they will say, just to get back in the game. I now have tools to maybe prevent them from having to come out of the game in the first place.