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How to Prevent ACL Injuries in Soccer? 6 Effective Methods

How to Prevent ACL Injuries in Soccer? 6 Effective Methods

A pop sound when a player is hit on the knee while on the field of play can be painful for the player and detrimental to the team; it can keep the player out of field activities for a year or more. If left untreated, this injury usually impairs the player’s ability to use the affected foot due to swelling.

Injuries are common at all levels of soccer. Soccer players are especially vulnerable to knee injuries, with the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) being the most commonly injured. It does not spare even a single active participant in the sport.

The ACL connects the femur (thighbone) to the tibia (shinbone) and, along with three other ligaments, helps to steady the knee joint. Apart from soccer, other sports that actively use the legs (and knee of course) can also easily tear or sprain their ACL.

Soccer players are made vulnerable to these types of injuries because these sports require a lot of cutting, leaping, and twisting. Statistics show that sprains or tears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) affect approximately 150,000 individuals each year, with athletes accounting for a vast majority.

A soccer player is getting a Knee Injuries

Regardless of how common the injury is, it can be treated surgically. Fortunately, by preventing it, a soccer player can avoid the physical struggles that come with it, as well as an interrupted season.

For a young, developing soccer player, his career can easily be thwarted. All of these can be avoided if ACL injury prevention methods are applied appropriately.

This article discusses the various methods to reduce pressure on the knees during pitch actions, deceleration, cutting, and changing directions while playing soccer. Reducing pressure on the knee will greatly help the players avoid ACL injuries and thus increase their playing time.

Game Changers: 7 Exercises to Prevent ACL Injuries

Each method’s advantages and disadvantages are also discussed.

What causes ACL injuries in soccer?

Typically, during soccer gameplay, pivots and rotations, combined with a change in direction, have an impact on the ACL’s stability. When these activities are performed with greater velocity and force than usual, there is a greater risk of ACL injury.

A right-footed player who chooses to send the ball to the opposite side of the pitch, for example, must perform a right-to-left motion in which he or she rotates with the left foot.

This foot is anchored to the ground around the knee, but the ball is being kicked across the body, putting the body at risk of injury.

The following activities are known to cause ACL injuries in soccer.

  • Tackling to separate the ball from an opponent

This frequently necessitates changes in body position and approach at the final moment of the tackle.

  • Cutting to track an opponent

This is especially noticeable in pressing situations, where defenders typically make a sidestep cut to reach the ball or tackle an opponent.

  • Wrong posture

Landing on a foot off balance can easily cause ACL tears. Taking an unconventional posture during tackles can also trigger an ACL tear.

  • Concussion to the knee

Receiving a direct blow to the knee from a collision, especially during tackles, increases the likelihood of an ACL injury.

  • Faulty movement patterns

When you move your knees inward during a squat, you increase your chances of getting a knee injury.

Other causes of ACL injuries include regaining balance after kicking, landing after a header, wearing improperly fitting cleats, and abrupt stopping during play.

What are ACL Injuries - Learn the Symptoms, Risk Factors, Why it Gets Torn, and More!

How to prevent ACL injuries in soccer?

Soccer players all over the world dread ACL injuries because they are not only painful but also serious and far too common. However, this does not preclude them from being cured or, better yet, prevented.

The risk of a soccer player injuring his ACL is greatly reduced by taking simple preventive measures. The following methods, when used properly, can help to reduce the likelihood of an ACL tear and thus ensure a safe and effective sports season.

How Do I Prevent an ACL Injury? - ACL Series

Method 1: Understand and Pay Attention to Your Body

Understanding the body isn’t new advice for any soccer player, as coaches constantly make emphasis on it. Soccer coaches and technicians go a long way to encourage their players to always stay fit – which is one of the best ways to ensure their players perform optimally.

To fortify the body against ACL tears, players are taught how to ensure proper body positioning while playing; such as how to push off and land. They are also advised on how to avoid severe injuries that result in knee pains and also how to prepare the body for total weakness if it occurs.

In general, paying attention to how the body behaves during activities leading up to a soccer game ensures that the body is conditioned against ACL injuries.

Soccer gameplays can be so intense, it is easy to lose oneself in them. Paying close attention to the body’s posture at all times reduces the chances of experiencing ACL injuries.


Understanding the body ensures that ACL wear and tear is prevented and also protected to avoid severe escalation if it occurs. It also helps to prevent other injuries that soccer players are prone to, thereby improving their overall performance.


Since soccer is a contact sport, understanding the body and putting preventive measures in place merely keeps a player’s body fit. This in no way guarantees that the player may not be injured when impacted.

A dangerous fouls situation

Method 2: Strengthen Your Ligaments

The ACL, as one of the ligaments, can be strengthened to better withstand severe impact and strain caused by overstretching. Good nutrition, combined with adequate water intake, keeps these tissues healthy and capable of effectively holding bones.

Generally, eating fruits and vegetables helps to strengthen them. Meals containing lean proteins, nuts, and legumes, on the other hand, help the ligaments perform optimally because these foods contain proteins and calcium, both of which are required for a strong ligament.


Eating healthy food not only strengthens ligaments but also keeps the body conditioned and ready for activities on the soccer field.


There are no noticeable cons to this method. Strengthening the ligaments is a good way to prevent ACL injuries.

Food to repair ligaments|How to strengthen knee ligaments?- Dr. P C Jagadeesh|Doctors' Circle

Method 3: Warm-up and stretch regularly

Exercises help to keep the bones in shape while also strengthening them, but they also help to prepare the ligament for ACL injuries.

Muscles and ligaments are typically cold and stiff, making them vulnerable to bone and muscle injuries. By performing warm-ups before soccer games, the muscles tend to loosen up. This reduces the likelihood of ACL sprains and, in most cases, the severity of the sprain should it occur.

Stretching regularly also aids in the development of loose muscles and ligaments. It is recommended that the muscles of the leg, particularly the front and back muscles of the thigh, be stretched regularly.

This is a common sight if you have ever had the opportunity to watch professional soccer players perform warm-up activities before the start of a match.

The ankle should not be overlooked either. Rotational muscles should be stretched to prepare them for misguided overstretching while playing soccer. If the ankle is misaligned, there is a good chance that the leg and knee will be forced to twist as well, resulting in an ACL tear.

Soccer players are warming up


Warming up before intense play does, without a doubt, reduce the likelihood of ACL injuries. It goes a long way toward preparing the body for the stress it will face during the match.

Thus, ensuring that the player’s body gets gradually prepared for intense action. The ankle’s ability to withstand pressure is increased by stretching it.

Overall, warm-ups and stretching before soccer games keep the body in shape.


Stretching muscles before games may result in injuries. Stretching the rotational ankle muscle, for example, can cause it to twist, resulting in twisting of the knee and leg, eventually leading to an ACL tear.

Furthermore, there is still no guarantee that a player who warms up before a game will be protected from ACL injuries.

How To Warm Up Before A Soccer / Football Game

Method 4: Work on improving your balance

The majority of soccer players are required to make tackles on the field of play. Apart from the goalkeeper, all other soccer players would most likely attempt to tackle or fend off a tackle during the game.

This can result in ACL injuries. The majority of ACL injuries during soccer games are caused by a sudden collision, a sudden change in direction, a misguided landing, or a sudden slow-down or stop in play.

Preventing these from happening entails lowering the likelihood of ACL injuries occurring. Improving balance can help achieve that.

This can be done by strengthening the muscles in the feet, ankles, legs, and knees. This aids in the effective prevention of unnatural twists and pivots that result in ACL tears. It also improves the player’s overall game by improving reaction time.


Improving balance improves players’ reaction time while also lowering the risk of ACL injuries. Working on balance also protects the defending player from a faulty landing, which can result in injuries other than those to the ACL.


Strengthening the muscles towards improving balance isn’t always easy. In the worst-case scenario, a player could injure himself or herself.

Balance Drills For Footballers/Soccer Players | Improve Your Balance and Increase Performance

Method 5: Significantly raise your strength with targeted training

The ACL is a ligament in the knee that ensures rotational stability and it is one of four ligaments in there. The knee joint is made up of three bones: the femur, tibia, and patella, and the ACL run diagonally across the center of the knee to allow for joint rotation.

Given the ACL’s importance in ensuring rotation, its strength in preventing tear or strain is critical. Other weakened knee ligaments, as well as knee bone and associated muscle weakness; which can make soccer players more prone to ACL tears and injuries, must also be strengthened.

Exercises aimed at the ACL and other components of the knee improve resistance to knee injuries, thereby preventing these and thus preventing ACL injuries. Among the recommended exercises are those that strengthen the quadriceps and hamstrings of the thigh.


Aside from preventing orthopedic injuries, strength training improves a soccer player’s overall fitness.


You could unintentionally injure your knees during training sessions.

ACL Injury Prevention: 6 Exercises to Prevent Ligament Injuries

Method 6: Use protective equipment

Although it is uncommon, not wearing the proper soccer cleats can result in an ACL injury.

If your cleats do not fit properly, it can throw you off balance. This increases the possibility of trips and twists, particularly when performing high-intensity actions in the pitch. As a result, shocks are delivered to the knee joint, increasing the likelihood of ACL injury.

The lone solution is to always wear appropriate soccer cleats while on the field of play.

Knee tapes are another important piece of protective equipment that can be used to prevent ACL injuries in soccer. Generally, it helps improve knee stability.

Other than preventing ACL injuries, knee tapes are worn to alleviate knee discomfort and any other patellofemoral problems that may arise.

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Last update on 2023-11-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


You are well protected against impact while in the game by wearing appropriate cleats. They also help prevent injuries other than those to the ACL.

During running and dribbling actions on the field, knee tapes help improve your overall knee stability


There are honestly no cons to using protective equipment. Issues may only arise when used equipment is not properly fitted.

Elastoplast: How to strap and support the knee


It is critical to practice suitable techniques to avoid high-impact motions while playing soccer. Apart from that, the technique used by players can make them prone to these injuries. For this reason, players must practice the above techniques as discussed in the article while also informing the coach to ensure it is safe and appropriate.

The article looked at the strength and endurance conditioning of a player’s muscles to help them stay fit and avoid injuries. The importance of understanding the body and the nature of the game, among other things, was also emphasized.