In 1983, Ekstrand et al published the first randomised controlled trial (RCT) of an injury prevention programme for team ball sport. Three decades on from this landmark study, it is worth reflecting on the progress made and the current ‘state-of-play’ in the field of team ball sport injury prevention research. The volume of published research has grown considerably with a recent systematic review of team ball sport injury prevention exercise programmes (IPEPs) identifying over 50 published trials. The scale, quality and outcomes of recent RCTs are also encouraging with a Swedish trial including over 4500 female soccer players and demonstrating a 64% reduction in the rate of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries.
Injuries in team ball sports (eg, soccer, handball, volleyball and basketball) are common, accounting for 44% of all nonfatal sports injuries in the 27 EU Nations.1 Combined with high participation rates, this gives team ball sports the potential to pose significant health burdens, and highlights the importance of preventing injuries in this context.