By Dev K. Mishra, M.D.
President, Sideline Sports Doc
Clinical Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Stanford University
I’m a fan of the FIFA 11+ soccer warmup program. It’s easy to place into any soccer team’s regular warmup, it improves movement skills which likely leads to better performance, and there is solid evidence that it reduces the number and severity of lower extremity injuries in soccer players.
Are there similar warmup programs that can reduce the injury risk in basketball players? Yes, there are. Most of the available published evidence involves smaller groups of athletes, so we do need some better quality studies but there is enough evidence to support including these in your basketball warmup.
Ankle sprains are a particular issue amongst basketball players, resulting in substantial time lost to injury and decreased performance. This study published earlier this year showed a substantial reduction in ankle injuries when teams used a neuromuscular training program in warmup. The program used aerobic, strength, agility, and balance components. The authors reported a statistically significant reduction in ankle sprains in the group utilizing the program.
This study published in 2007 also showed a positive effect of a neuromuscular and balance component placed in the standard prepractice basketball warmup. They showed a reduction in all types of lower extremity injuries.
One of the better designed studies actually used the FIFA 11+ soccer warmup in basketball players. The study authors randomized 11 elite male teenage basketball teams to either an intervention group that would do the FIFA 11+ warmup all season or a control group that trained without it.
The FIFA 11+ program replaced the normal warm-up routine for the teams in the intervention group. All of the exercises were performed before each practice, and the running component was used before games. The authors found that the FIFA 11+ program did decrease overall lower extremity injuries, training injuries, acute injuries, and severe injuries.
There are a number of these programs available as open access resources on the web. I feel the same way about these basketball programs as I do with the soccer warmup programs: you have everything to gain and nothing to lose by implementing them. At the very least they will result in better performance for your players and at best they could also lower injury risk.