On the eve of the launch of the AFLW – I thought it would be appropriate to voice my opinion of the dangers involved with girls undertaking football if they are not physically strong or conditioned enough – particularly at the local level.


I am 100% pro girls playing football and experiencing the pure joys that many boys have experienced over the years, HOWEVER, based off last years injury reports – the chances of girls new to football doing ACL injuries is incredibly high and I am here to raise awareness that YOU need to do something about this…


You take the risk of missing a full season, needing time off work, uni and ultimately decreasing your quality of life.


In the first round of the AFLW last year: 4 x ACL ruptures occurred!

There were 7 by the time they were a quarter of the way through!2


And these were ‘professional athletes’ – yes – new to the sport – but had not been exposed long enough to an elite strength & conditioning program.

I would hate to see the local competition injury reports.


1. There has been skyrocketing rates of ACL injuries in youth and amateur athletes over the past few years. Therefore, it’s safe to say that all of our popularized “ACL Prevention” programs aren’t working and are making things worse.

2. Weak athletes get hurt more often. No statistics needed.

3. Want to prevent ACL injuries in girls? Let us start with the basics of proper core, hip, knee and foot mechanics in the jump step and change in directions. And yes, these must be executed perfectly to translate into injury prevention.

4. Prioritizing motor control reeducation drills such as depth jumps, single leg jumps and drop step to jump gives athletes the stimulus to create sound biomechanics and the kind of movement that leads to protective physical actions on the field. 3.

5. Putting an emphasis on pure strength movements such as the goblet squat, deadlift, push-up and split squat while ingraining a mastery level execution of these exercises will do more preventative good than any pretend ACL injuries prevention program. You can’t go wrong with strength.

6. Statistics have shown that the prevalence of this injury is much higher in females as opposed to males. It has been reported that females could be 8-9 x more likely of sustaining ACL injuries.1

7. It is much more important to learn how to land properly first prior to jumping as this is where most of the AFLW injuries occurred.


There are many different areas that could be discussed in ACL prevention such as fatigue levels, previous injuries, excessive practice volumes, or ramping up high-intensity practice levels too.

A number of people have implemented strength programs and jump training programs as part of an injury prevention program.  This is an excellent start! However, you may not be completing the technique to 100% accuracy which is, in fact, ruining the prevention method.

Naturally, football is a high-risk sport because of the amount of reactive running, jumping and change of direction which will occur through the course of a game. Combine that with contact, inexperience and 360 degrees tackling and we have a recipe for disaster.

Girls who have not played the sport for long enough simply do not have the required motor skills, strength, awareness or patterning that promotes injury prevention.

Just like in training, the technique should be addressed first. We need to be careful about applying speed, power, and explosiveness on dysfunctional movement patterns as this will make matters even worse.

A proper training program should focus on both technique and general strength.


First, teach the athlete how to properly sequence a jump.

This is important for skill acquisition. I like to use depth jumps, jump lands – both unilateral and bilateral to promote this. While performing these exercises, have the athlete pay close attention during takeoffs and landings. Ensure that the knee does not collapse inward. As the athlete progresses we must ensure that rotational aspects an external force is added (specific to football).

Secondly, a baseline level of strength should be developed to withstand these forces during football. Focus on proper technique and proper knee control. The knee should stay in line with the athlete’s middle toe. Goblet squat, DB deadlift, SL deadlift, FFESS are all good options for this, to begin with.

So girls….

If it isn’t too late already – start jumping, landing and squatting BUT you must perfectly execute these movements for them to actually be EFFECTIVE.


Perfect execution!!!!

We are here to help.


Daniel Maitland


1. Prodromos, Chadwick C., et al. “A meta-analysis of the incidence of anterior cruciate ligament tears as a function of gender, sport, and a knee injury-reduction regimen.” Arthroscopy: The Journal of Arthroscopic & Related Surgery 23.12 (2007): 1320-1325.


3. Boden BP, Dean GS, Feagin JA, Jr, Garrett WE., Jr Mechanisms of anterior cruciate ligament injury.Orthopedics. 2000;23:573–578.