Football is the world’s most popular sport and 58% of officially registered players are younger than 18 years. Playing football can induce considerable beneficial health effects, and promote a healthy lifestyle. However, football also bears the risk of injury. As younger players show partly different injury characteristics and, thus, adapted needs in injury prevention, the development of an equivalent programme called “FIFA 11+ KIDS” for players younger than 13 years seemed necessary. Comprehensive epidemiological studies on football injuries in children showed that the injury incidences were lower when compared with studies in young players. However, children (7 to 13 years of age) suffer from a relative high proportion of fractures, and of injuries of the upper extremities.
The “FIFA 11+ Kids” injury prevention programme was developed by an international group of experts based on the specific injury profile for younger player and on the “FIFA 11+”.
Junior team of Olympique Lyon (France) performing FIFA 11+ KIDS exercises.
Junior team of HIFK Helsinki (Finland) performing FIFA 11+ KIDS exercises.
Junior team of FC Meilen (Switzerland) performing FIFA 11+ KIDS exercises.
The “FIFA 11+ KIDS” programme is a complete warm-up programme and complemented with three main categories of exercises focusing on: a) spatial orientation, anticipation, and attention particularly while dual-tasking as it is a common challenge in football, b) whole body and unilateral leg stability as well as movement coordination, and c) appropriate fall techniques.
Similar to the “FIFA 11+”, a modular approach was used, with exercises from the three main categories (a, b, c) and five difficulty levels to be composed for a single warm up session.
A large study in four European countries (with ca. 4000 children involved, 7 to 13 years of age) showed that children performing FIFA 11+ KIDS had 38% less injuries compared to their counterparts following other warm ups or trainings. Severe injuries were even reduced by more than 50% in those teams performing the FIFA 11+ KIDS programme!
On the left side: Results of the first large study on FIFA 11+ Kids:
The “FIFA 11 + KIDS” programme can be considered appropriate as it seems to be adequate for inducing (slight) performance enhancement, when accomplished at the start of each training session replacing the traditional warm-up routines.
A research study showed that especially dynamic balance and agility were clearly improved in children practising this programme. Further, jumping performance and slalom dribbling were also slightly enhanced.
No negative side effects of “FIFA 11+ Kids” were observed.
FIFA 11+ Kids. Manual. Official publication of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), Zurich, Switzerland
FIFA 11+ Kids. Poster. Official publication of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), Zurich, Switzerland