The first edition of FIFA’s guide “Health and Fitness of the Female Player” for players and coaches was published on occasion of the FIFA Women's World Cup China 2007™ - at the time to dispel the multitude of myths and misbeliefs still surrounding the women’s game. Now, four years later, the ever-increasing numbers of girls and women playing the beautiful game and the explosion in technique, speed and agility have done their part to refute still lingering prejudices.
Therefore, the second edition of the guide to be published in Germany focuses on protecting the health of the millions of grassroot and amateur as well as the still few professional female players enthusiastically kicking the ball in Africa, Asia, North and South America, Europe and Oceania.
Sensitivity and awareness of health issues has also built among coaches. “We are seeing an ever-increasing number of injuries in the women’s game. It is essential to recognise the demands that the game places on the body”, says Hope Powell, women’s football national coach, The Football Association. “Players can reduce the risk of injury by introducing into their conditioning programmes elements of strength, balance, agility and core stability work. This must become a natural part of their training routine.”
Accordingly, the updated guide pays tribute to the in the meantime considerably grown knowledge particularly on injuries in women. The chapters on prevention account for new insights: FIFA’s “11+ - a complete warm-up to prevent injuries” has replaced the former chapters on ankle and knee injury prevention as “11+” provides comprehensive protection against different kinds of injuries. The decisive study demonstrating its effect had in fact been done in female adolescent players.
Birgit Prinz, German national team striker and trained physiotherapist herself, knows about the difficulty to discipline yourself: “It is not easy to motivate yourself to do preventive exercises before training sessions – you don’t see the results immediately. Unfortunately, you only realise how important your health is once you have been injured. Then, you are grateful for effective, structured prevention programmes such as ‘11+’.”
Further, a new sideline test to recognize concussion in players with head injuries has been included. The well-tried chapters on nutrition, protecting your bones and “female questions” are as valid as before.