April 13, 2021



The PEP Program

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Read Time:5 Minute, 53 Second
PEP : Prevent Injury, Enhance Performance 

Soccer is a vigorous game, and good physical fitness is a key to enjoyment, performance, and injury prevention. A famous athlete once said that you cannot consider yourself an athlete unless you know how to take proper care of your body (as well as your mind). Taking proper care means both training that reduces the risk of injury, and proper rehabilitation when you are injured.

ACCYSL is devoted to helping our young players develop into athletes. The league has clinics led by health professionals to help coaches develop proper conditioning exercises for their players.

PEP was developed by the Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Group in order to implement a strategic training program to decrease the number of ACL injuries incurred by female soccer players. It is a highly specific 15-minute training session that replaces the traditional warm-up. It was developed by a team of physicians, physical therapists, athletic trainers and coaches, and has funding support from the Amateur Athletic Foundation (AAF) of Los Angeles. The program’s main focus is educating players on strategies to avoid injury and includes specific exercises targeting problems as identified in previous research studies.

The goals of the programs are to:
• Avoid vulnerable positions
• Increase flexibility
• Increase strength
• Include plyometrics exercises into the training program
• Increase proprioception through agilities

This program should be completed 2 to 3 times a week at a minim


Resource Links

The Stretching Institute – Soccer Stretches

Reducing the Incidence of ACL Injuries

Nutrition Basics

About Sports Medicine

The PEP Program (pdf download)

1. Warm-up: 

Warming up and cooling down are a crucial part of a training program. The purpose of the warm-up section is to allow the athlete to prepare for activity. By warming up your muscles first, you greatly reduce the risk of injury.

A. Jog line to line (cone to cone):
Elapsed Time: 0 – .5 minute

Purpose : Allows the athletes to slowly prepare themselves for the training session while minimizing the risk for injury. Educate athletes on good running technique; keep the hip/knee/ankle in straight alignment without the knee caving in or the feet whipping out to the side. Instruction : Complete a slow jog from near to far sideline

B. Shuttle Run (side to side)
Elapsed Time: .5 to 1 minute

Purpose : engage hip muscles (inner and outer thigh). This exercise will promote increased speed. Discourage inward caving of the knee joint. Instruction : Start in an athletic stance with a slight bend at the knee. Leading with the right foot, sidestep pushing off with the left foot (back leg). When you drive off with the back leg, be sure the hip/knee/ankle are in a straight line. Switch sides at half field.

C. Backward Running
Elapsed Time: 1-1.5 minutes

Purpose : continued warm-up; engage hip extensors/hamstrings. Make sure the athlete lands on her toes. Be sure to watch for locking of the knee joint. As the athlete brings her foot back, make sure she maintains a slight bend to the knee.
Instruction : Run backwards from sideline to sideline. Land on your toes without snapping the knee back. Stay on your toes and keep the knees slightly bent at all times.

2. Stretching:

It is important to incorporate a short warm-up prior to stretching. Never stretch a “cold muscle”. By doing the exercises outlined here, you can improve and maintain your range of motion, reduce stiffness in your joints, reduce post-exercise soreness, reduce the risk of injury and improve your overall mobility and performance.

• Do a large muscle warm-up such as brisk walking for five to 10 minutes before stretching.
• Don’t bounce or jerk when you stretch. Gently stretch to a point of tension and hold.
• Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Concentrate on lengthening the muscles when you’re stretching.
• Breathe normally. Don’t hold your breath.

A. Calf stretch (30 seconds x 2 reps)
Elapsed Time: 1.5 to 2.5 minutes

Purpose : stretch the calf muscle of the lower leg
Instruction : Stand leading with your right leg. Bend forward at the waist and place your hands on the ground (V formation). Keep your right knee slightly bent and your left leg straight. Make sure your left foot is flat on the ground. Do not bounce during the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.

B. Quadricep stretch (30 seconds x 2 reps)
Elapsed Time: 2.5 to 3.5 minutes

Purpose : stretch the quadricep muscle of the front of the thigh
Instruction : Place your left hand on your partner’s left shoulder. Reach back with your right hand and grab the front of your right ankle. Bring your heel to buttock. Make sure your knee is pointed down toward the ground. Keep your right leg close to your left. Do not allow knee to wing out to the side and do not bend at the waist. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides.

C. Figure Four Hamstring stretch (30 sec x 2 reps)
Elapsed Time: 3.5 – 4.5 min

Purpose : To stretch the hamstring muscles of the back of the thigh.
Instruction : Sit on the ground with your right leg extended out in front of you. Bend your left knee and rest the bottom of your foot on your right inner thigh. With a straight back, try to bring your chest toward your knee. Do not round your back. If you can, reach down toward your toes and pull them up toward your head. Do not bounce. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with the other leg.

D. Inner Thigh Stretch (20 sec x 3 reps)
Elapsed Time: 4.5 – 5.5 min

Purpose : Elongate the muscles of the inner thigh (adductor group)
Instruction : Remain seated on the ground. Spread you legs evenly apart. Slowly lower yourself to the center with a straight back. You want to feel a stretch in the inner thigh. Now reach toward the right with the right arm. Bring your left arm overhead the stretch over to the right. Hold the stretch and repeat on the opposite side.

E. Hip Flexor Stretch – (30 sec x 2 reps)
Elapsed Time: 5.5 – 6.5 min

Purpose : Elongate the hip flexors of the front of the thigh.
Instruction : Lunge forward leading with your right leg. Drop your left knee down to the ground. Placing your hands on top of your right thigh, lean forward with your hips. The hips should be square with your shoulders. If possible, maintain your balance and lift back for the left ankle and pull your heel to your buttocks. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

3. Strengthening:

This portion of the program focuses on increasing leg strength. This will lead to increased leg strength and a more stable knee joint. Technique is everything; close attention must be paid to the performance of these exercises in order to avoid injury.

A. Walking Lunges (3 sets x 10 reps)
Elapsed Time: 6.5 – 7.5 min

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