Knee and ACL Injuries – Coaching Landing Mechanics to Reduce Injury Risk
Following on from the previous blog (click here to open) using the FIFA 11+ warm up with your teams to reduce the risk of Knee and ACL injuries, we will take a look at one of the aspects of the warm up, and that is Landing Mechanics. Coaching how to land safely can help prevent the Knee joint from moving into a dangerous or vulnerable position during sporting activities.
There are other trainable physical aspects that are important in maintaining good Knee position during sports activities, such as strength in the muscles around the Hip and Knee joints, which will be looked at in the next blog. Learning how to decelerate properly and pivot are also quite important.
Proper Landing Mechanics can be coached when a player lands on either 1 or 2 feet, but the coaching points remain the same. When Knee injuries occur, they tend to involve the joint buckling inwards and also possibly with the Knee in a straight or extended position. When we look to train the correct landing mechanics we want the player to avoid these positions.
The main coaching points include
- Land with the Knee and Hip joints in a slightly bent or flexed position
- Maintain alignment between the Hip, Knee and Ankle joints
- Land softly on the ground (Listen for a heavy or soft landing. A nice cue is to tell your athlete to think of landing like a helicopter, not like a plane)
- Land and ‘stick’ in that position for 1 second before moving onto the next movement
There a variety of drills that can be used when coaching these points, and depending on the capability of the players, they can be made easier or more difficult. For example, increasing landing height or hop distance, moving from 2 leg to 1 leg drills and adding in moving diagonally or turning in the air are ways of making the drill more complex. On the other hand, reverting back to an exercise such as a single leg squat will be less challenging and may be an easier starting point.
In the next and final blog, I will look at the role of some of the muscles of the hip and the role they play in maintaining good Knee health.