Coach Tips – Football Australia Perform+
The Warm Up
The purpose of the warm up is to physically prepare players for the demands of a training session and match while also reducing injury risk. It is also an opportunity to improve movement efficiency for actions such as change of direction and landing, in a controlled environment, before increasing complexity with a ball involved. Furthermore, the warm up is also a time to prepare players for contact in the session. The Football Australia Perform+ Warm Up effectively prepares players for training and a match whilst also allowing coaches the opportunity to improve the movement efficiency of players.
Practical Tip: Use the Warm Up as an opportunity to improve the movement patterns of your players. Pay particular attention to change of direction and landing drills, ensuring that the movements are well controlled and knees do not “buckle in”.
How to fit everything in
The Football Australia Perform+ is designed with coaches in mind. The Warm Up component is only 8-10 mins long and is supported by coach educators. The other components of the Football Australia Perform+ (Performance) can be spread throughout the session. For example – the bench, side bench and single leg balance exercises can be performed during rest periods between training drills. The exercises which are often the hardest to fit in – the Nordic Hamstring Curl, Copenhagen Adductor Exercise and Squats/Lunges – can all be done at the end of training to improve player compliance, while further reducing the risk of severe injury (1).
Practical Tip: By spreading the Football Australia Perform+ content over the session, you have the freedom as a coach to decide when the exercises are performed. Just ensure all components are performed 2-3x/week.
More Football Australia Perform+ = IMPROVED physical performance + LESS injuries
The more that players do the Football Australia Perform+, the better they will sprint, change direction and jump. They will also be more available for training and matches which means they will have more opportunity to get better as players and, as a coach, you will have more players to choose from! Everyone wins.
Practical Tip: The players should be exposed to a minimum of 2 complete “doses” of the Football Australia Perform+ per week to ensure the best performance enhancement and injury risk reduction benefits, with 3 doses better than 2 (2). In the case where players only train 1-2x/week, then completing the “Performance” exercises at home can increase strength and power (3).
Football Australia Perform+ is the beginning
The Football Australia Perform+ is designed to be suitable for the entire football community – from grassroots to elite. As a coach, you may want to add exercises or drills to the Perform+ for variety, which is a great idea. The Perform+ will give players a foundation from which more complex and difficult exercises can be added but just make sure the program is done well and regularly. Including the ball into Warm Up drills can be a suitable progression once players have completed the Perform+ program for 3-4 weeks.
Practical Tip: The drills and exercises in the Football Australia Perform+ have a specific performance outcome or injury reduction focus. For example, programs that include the Nordic Hamstring Exercise (NHE) reduces hamstring injuries by up to 51% (4). However, this exercise is not the only exercise that can be performed to reduce hamstring injury risk. Additional strengthening exercises and sprinting drills can be included – just do not remove the Nordic Hamstring Exercise!
Primary Injury Prevention is more complex than the Football Australia Perform+
Primary injury prevention strategies focus on stopping an injury before something happens. This can be tricky to sell to players that aren’t injured or never have been. Often there is a misconception that by doing programs like the Football Australia Perform+ then all injuries will be prevented – this is not correct. Research indicates that the Football Australia Perform+ will reduce injury incidence by at least 40% (1) but there are other important strategies, such as ensuring players are exposed to sprinting and high-speed running at training, that should be included to further reduce injury risk (5).
Practical Tips for Primary Prevention:
1. Players should perform the Football Australia Perform+ at least 2x/week with exercises progressed regularly.
2. Ensure players are well prepared for the demands of the match via adequate high-speed running volume and sprinting performed during the training week.
3. Encourage players to adhere to the rules of the game and promote a Fair Play attitude towards football participation.
Getting Players onboard
This is often very tricky especially if this is something new for them. Some simple strategies are:
1. Give the running of the Warm Up and cool down components to leaders or senior players within your team. If the players run it, they tend to buy in. You as the coach will need to supervise technique and compliance but this can be done as a supporting role rather than a leader.
2. Introduce the program slowly and build up the dose. For example, start with only one set of the cool down exercises for the first session and gradually increase over the first few weeks. Once players are used to it then it will be much easier.
3. Integrate the exercises into football components. The Warm Up can include a ball and passing once players are familiar and competent with the base program. The key is that all exercises are completed, not necessarily that they are done in a set order. All exercises have a purpose that should be respected.
1. Whalan M, Lovell R, Steele JR, Sampson JA. Rescheduling Part 2 of the 11+ reduces injury burden and increases compliance in semi-professional football Scand J Sci Med Sport 2019;29(12):1941-1951.
2. Silvers-Granelli H, Bizzini M, Arundale A et al. Does higher compliance to the FIFA 11+ injury prevention program improve overall injury rate in male soccer (football) players? Br J Sports Med 2017;51:389-390.
3. Veith S, Whalan M, Williams S et al. Part 2 of the 11+ as an effective home-based exercise programme in elite academy football (soccer) players: a randomised control trial Science and Medicine in Football 2021; DOI: 10.1080/24733938.2021.1874616
4. van Dyk N, Behan FP, Whiteley R. Including the Nordic hamstring exercise in injury prevention programmes halves the rate of hamstring injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 8459 athletes. Br J Sports Med 2019;53:1362-1370.
5. Whalan M, Lovell R, Thorborg K, Sampson JA. The 11+ of the future: a primary injury prevention framework for sub-elite football. Br J Sports Med Online First: 15 October 2020. Doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2020-102788.