Despite the fact that injury prevention programs have been shown to reduce often-painful ankle, knee and other lower extremity injuries in sports, the programs are not being widely used in high schools, according to a recently-published study from Oregon State University.

Marc Norcross, an assistant professor of exercise and sport science in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences, and colleagues surveyed 66 head soccer and basketball coaches from 15 Oregon high schools and found that only 21% of the coaches were using an injury prevention program, and less than 10% were using the program exactly as designed.

In 2013-14, more than 1.7 million students competed in high school soccer and basketball in the United States. During that period, about 335,000 of the athletes had a lower extremity injury that required medical attention and kept them from participating for at least one day.

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Injury prevention programs are designed to help reduce lower extremity injuries that occur during play or practice but aren’t as a result of contact with another player. 

While they can vary in structure and content, most injury prevention programs include often include similar activities, such as strength exercises, cutting/jumping drills and balance exercises with a focus on using proper technique.

The OSU researchers noted that although about half of the boys and girls coaches were aware of existing injury prevention programs, less than half of the coaches perceived lower extremity injuries to be a problem for their team.

While most coaches surveyed were not using a formal injury prevention program, about two-thirds of the coaches reported that they use activities similar to those found in such programs, which the researchers noted may be a reason why more formal programs had not been adopted.


1. Marc F. Norcross, et al. J Science Med Sport, 2015; DOI:10.1016/j.jsams.2015.03.009