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Exercises To Prevent ACL Injury Among Female Soccer Players

“Female soccer players are up to seven times more likely to tear their ACL compared to male soccer players,” says Dave Knight, an athletic trainer at the UW Health Sports Rehabilitation Clinic and an expert in ACL injury rehabilitation and risk reduction.

According to Dr. Kerwyn Jones – a Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon “a young female soccer player misses a year of playing due to an ACL tear, only to return the following year with a tear in the opposite knee.”

Over the past decade, innumerable training programs have been developed, which have shown to decrease the risk of ACL injuries in most cases. One such training program is Sportsmetrics™ developed by Dr. Frank Noyes at Cincinnati SportsMedicine and Orthopaedic Center.

In this article we cover their WIPP  program (Warm-up for Injury Prevention & Performance), which consists of 20 exercises in 20 minutes, beginning 6 weeks to 1 month prior to the season and continuing throughout the season.

WIPP Program Benefits

Reduce the risk of serious knee injury

Increase vertical jump height; up to 4”

Improve hamstring to quadricep strength and symmetry in right-to-left leg power

Improve landing mechanics and reduce side-to-side movements at the knee

  1. Straight Leg March (20 sec): A great way to stretch your hamstrings and lower legs as part of your warm-up routine. With arms straight out in front of the shoulders, kick one leg up to meet the hands (no knee bending or leaning backward). Step and repeat with other leg. Remain tall and facing forward.
  2. Hand Walk (20 sec): Bend at the waist and place the palm of the hands on the ground. Keeping the legs & back straight, walk using hands and feet. Try to keep the legs shoulder-width apart.
  3. Cradle Walk (20 seconds): Walking forward, lift one leg in front of the body, bending at the knee. Rotate the knee outward and the foot inward. Hold the foot with both hands, standing on one leg. Hold for 3 sec. and repeat on other leg.
  4. Hip Rotation Walk(20 sec): Pretend that there is an obstacle beside you. Facing forward and keeping your shoulders and hip square, rotate one leg out at the hip and then bring the leg up and over the obstacle placing it back on the ground. Repeat with other leg.
  5. Tuck Jump (30 seconds): Start in an upright neutral stance and jump to tuck the knees simultaneously to chest and repeat. Avoid bringing chest to knees with head down, double bouncing between jumps, landing loudly or with straight legs.
  6. Squat Jump (30 seconds): Begin in squat position with chest/head up and back straight. Reach hands to the outside of heels, then jump up reaching as high as possible. Return to squat position and repeat. Avoid knees over toes, knees going inward.
  7. 180 Degree Jump (30 seconds): Starting from an upright neutral stance, jump straight up into the air and make a 180-degree turn before landing. Reverse direction and repeat. Mistakes to correct: over-rotating, body not turning as a unit, loud, straight leg landing, and jumping in the same direction.
  8. Scissor Jump (30 seconds): Start in a deep lunge position with front knee directly over ankle. Alternate legs by pushing off the front leg and landing with opposite leg bent in front. Avoid landing with wobbly knees or knee past toe, switching legs without power or height and landing straight-legged.
  9. Barrier Hop Side/Side (15 seconds/leg): Using a 6-8” barrier, perform a single leg hop side to side over the barrier. Start with a double leg jump if the single leg hop is
    too difficult. Avoid landing with stiff , straight knees or wobbly knees and ankles.
  10. Steamboats (30 sec/leg): Isolate specific muscle groups by wrapping the resistance band around a stationary limb and then move the other. Direction of movement determines which muscle group receives the workout. Wrap the band around both ankles. Leave one leg stationary, and move the other leg out to the side. Do three to five sets, increasing the the number and speed of motion.
  11. Lateral Step (30 sec/direction): Place band around ankles. Start with feet shoulder width apart and step out to side approx 10-12″. Slowly and under control, follow with the other foot to return to the initial position. Repeat and then switch direction to  the other side.
  12. Supine Ham Bridge (30 seconds/leg): Lie flat on back, bend one knee and place heel close to the gluts. Extend other leg straight up in the air. Push with the heel to lift gluts off the ground and the extended leg higher in the air. Keep abs tight and upper back on ground. Repeat for the allotted amount of time, then switch legs.
  13. Ab Crunch (60 seconds): Lie on back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Raise upper body off the ground until shoulders are no longer touching the ground.
    Hold for 3 seconds and return to start. Repeat for the allotted amount of time. Hands can be placed behind head or across the chest as long as the neck remains neutral and relaxed.
  1. Plank (60 seconds): Lie face down placing elbows under shoulders and forearms on the ground. Place legs hip-distance apart and curl the toes under. Lift the body up onto elbows and toes. Maintain a neutral position with back flat and neck straight. Hold the position for the allotted amount of time.
  2. Hamstrings (20 seconds/leg): While seated, extend left leg fully and bend right leg placing the inside of the foot along the left calf. Keeping the back straight, bring the chest toward the knee. Reach with both hands toward the toes.
  3. Hip Flexor (20 seconds/leg): Stand with feet in a lunge position with the front knee slightly bent. Push up on the rear toe. Press the hips forward while tightening the gluts until a stretch is felt in the front of the hip. The upper torso should remain upright and centered directly over the hips.
  4. Quadriceps (20 second/leg): While standing, grab the foot or ankle and lift it up behind the body. Press the foot in your hand while pressing the hip slightly forward. The foot should not rest on the glutes.
  5. Calf ( 20 seonds/leg): Stand in a long lunge position with the front knee bent. Make sure the front knee does not extend past the ankle. Place hands on front of thigh, press forward and keep the back leg straight. Press the rear heel down.
  6. Quick Feet (30 seconds/direction): Start at left end of a sideline, in front of the line, facing the field/court. Step right foot forward and diagonally to the right over the line followed quickly by the left. Next step right foot backward and diagonally to the right over the line followed by the left. Repeat for the allotted amount of time, then switch direction so other leg leads
  7. Nebraska Drill (2 reps): Set 2 cones 30’ apart. Begin on right side of 1st cone, sprint to left side of 2nd cone. Pivot around cone until facing 1st cone. Sprint to right side of 1st cone. Pivot around cone until facing 2nd cone (make a figure 8). Staying on
    right side of both cones, sprint to 2nd cone. Upon reaching the 2nd cone, backpedal to the start. Make sure to bend at knees and touch every cone with one hand.

Sportsmetrics focuses on muscle and joint preparation, strength, flexibility, agility and plyometrics, which involves correct body alignment and form while jumping and pivoting.


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