In children below the age of 14 years, there is a very little research relating to both epidemiology and the prevention of football injuries (Rössler et al. Sports Med 2014).
F-MARC recently conducted a prospective study over two seasons in the Czech Republic and Switzerland (Rössler et al. AJSM 2016) . The overall injury incidence was lower compared with that in youth players. Interestingly, children suffered from a relatively high percentage of fractures, bone stress and other injuries of the upper limbs.
This data inspired the development of a targeted injury-prevention programme for children, the 11+ Kids. As with the 11+ programme, the kids’ version was designed by a panel of international experts (Rössler et al. J Sports Sci 2016) . The kids programme has a focus on: a) spatial orientation, anticipation, and attention particularly while dual-tasking (to avoid unintended contact with other players or objects); b) body stability and movement coordination (more general than specific); c) learning appropriate fall techniques (to minimise the consequences of unavoidable falls).
The 11+ Kids was first evaluated with regard to possible adaptations in movement skills and motor performance, and it was found that this warm-up programme (after 10 weeks of practice) improved dynamic balance and agility skills in children playing football (Rössler et al. J Sports Sci 2016).
A large randomised trial in four European countries with more than 4,000 kids (age range: 7-12) has shown an impressive injury reduction of about 50% in those teams practising the 11+ Kids as a warm-up (Rössler et al. not yet published). Match injuries were reduced by 31%, training injuries by 40%, lower extremity injuries by 41%, overall non-contact injuries by 55% and severe injuries by 56%.
These findings reflect similar preventive effects of the 11+ programme in older youth male and female football players, and strongly support the implementation of injury prevention via the 11+ kids in children playing football!