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Pro Soccer GM Talks About Finding The Right Player

Neck Strengthening for Concussions

Understanding Osgood Schlatter's Disease

Two Great and Simple Leg Exercises

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When is it safe for a player to return to the field after an ACL injury? | 90STRONG


Josh Beaumont's picture

When is it safe for a player to return to the field after an ACL injury?

This is a very challenging question. Sometimes you hear about professional athletes that come back from ACL injuries in 4 months. But most of the time, physicians will clear players to return in the 6 to 9 month range. When physicians try and determine when you are safe to return to the field, they will usually only test the ligaments in your knee as opposed to testing your overall physical ability. They will usually leave this up to the physical therapist or certified athletic trainer to make sure the athlete has regained proper control of the knee prior to returning to soccer. The ability to properly control the knee is important in returning safely to the field (see video for proper knee control). Most non-contact knee injuries result because of this. When an athlete returns to play before re-establishing control of the knee they set themselves up for re-injury of that knee or worse the other knee. This can happen because the athlete is lacking competitive soccer for 6 months and the body has become deconditioned. Returning to soccer prior to re-establishing cardiovascular and muscular fitness can also put the player at risk for other muscle injuries such as a hamstring strains.

The most important question the athletic trainer or physical therapist asks is, “is the knee functional?” I attended a conference a few years ago where a doctor stated that their success rate at 6 months was 66% versus 90% at 9 months. By waiting an extra 3 months, the surgery will more likely be successful because the knee has had time to become more functional. Most people that have torn their ACL will tell you that it takes almost 2 years for the knee to feel the same as it did prior to the injury. I believe a lot of that feeling may be attributed to rushing the rehabilitative process and not properly re-integrating back into sports. 

The video below is an example of a single leg exercise you can do to help regain knee control.

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What An Athletic Trainer Does In Soccer | 90STRONG


Elysia Tsai's picture

What An Athletic Trainer Does In Soccer

Have you received a phone call from somebody stating to be the athletic trainer working with your son or daughter?  Ever wonder what it is that an athletic trainer does?  Perhaps you only know them as the person who tapes up your child before practice and gives them an ice bag afterward. Or maybe one has worked closely with your child after an injury to return them to play.

The four founders of are athletic trainers and have worked in a variety of settings. From high schools, physical therapy clinics, amateur sports, professional sports, collegiate athletics, sports performance enhancement and for the US sports associations. We have a very diverse background and can adapt to many situations due to our educational and clinical training.

To become an Athletic Trainer you must hold a bachelor’s degree from a college or university that is specifically accredited for the athletic training curriculum. 

Basic and Applied Sciences include:

  • Human anatomy
  • Human physiology
  • Biology
  • Statistics and research design
  • Exercise physiology
  • Kinesiology/biomechanics
  • Chemistry *
  • Physics *
  • * Recommended but not required by some ATEP

Required Professional Content includes:

  • Risk management and injury prevention 
  • Pathology of injuries and illnesses
  • Orthopedic clinical examination and diagnosis 
  • Medical conditions and disabilities
  • Acute care of injuries and illnesses
  • Therapeutic modalities    
  • Conditioning, rehabilitative exercise and referral
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychosocial intervention and referral
  • Nutritional aspects of injuries and illnesses
  • Health care administration

After graduation from college and completion of clinical hours and rotation, you are allowed to apply for and take national board exams administered through an independent company named Board of Certification, Inc.  After you successfully pass the board exam you can distinguish yourself as a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC).  We are also required to submit 75 continuing education hours every 3 years, maintain CPR for Professional Rescuers and AED certification and standards of practice to maintain our certification.

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) has public service campaigns for ACL injuries, back pain, baby boomers, senior falls and youth sports.  Other areas of interest and position statements include topics on concussion, mrsa, sudden cardiac arrest, heat illness, skin disease and sports injuries. This information is free and can be found on the NATA website.

The athletic training profession has come a long way since the days of smelling salts and throwing water bottles. We prep athletes for practice, oversee any injuries that occur and make assessments for further care, create return to play protocols and carry out rehabilitation or corrective exercises for injuries. Most are involved in pre-participation physicals and keep documents on our athletes. Because we are required to maintain continuing education, we keep up to date on the latest treatments, gadgets and advancements in the profession.

 As the parent of an athlete, your interaction with the school or club ATC may be limited. Some schools cannot afford a full time ATC and some clubs operate without one. If you do have access to an athletic trainer, introduce yourself. Find out if the ATC will be present for games, traveling with the team for away games, present during practices, and available after practice hours for any injuries or rehabilitation needed.  We are there to help keep your child safe so they can excel at their game.

Quick facts about athletic trainers:

The National Athletic Trainers Association was started in 1950.

There are more than 30,000 athletic training members, with 26,000 being ATC and the remainder are AT students. 

Currently regulation/licensure for athletic trainers is present in 46 states.

Almost 70% of athletic trainers have a master’s or doctoral degree.

85% of ATC’s practice in the United States.

50% of ATC’s work outside of the school athletic setting.  We can be found in physician offices, hospitals, physical therapy clinics, the military and government branches, commercial settings and professional sports teams.

Athletic trainers are assigned National Provider Identification numbers and have designated Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes and Uniform Billing (UB) codes.

Athletic trainers are not personal trainers. We practice under the direction of a physician and recognized as health care professionals by the American Medical Association.

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Using Single Leg Box Squats for ACL Injuries | 90STRONG


Chris Phillips's picture

Using Single Leg Box Squats for ACL Injuries

Single leg squat exercises serve as a tremendous asset for soccer players that are returning from an ACL injury. This is because the exercise involves a combination of strength, mobility, and stability of both the hip and knee. However, in order to do the exercise correctly, the load placed on the body must be appropriate. Starting off with a modified version such as incorporating a box or chair to sit on can serve as a safe way to start implementing the exercise. Here’s how you do it:

  1. First, find a bench, a box or any stable seat to sit on.
  2. Start the exercise in a seated position such that the injured knee is bent approximately 45-60 degrees with the foot on the ground and the other leg elevated and set your footing in order to stand up using one leg. You can also use the uninjured leg as support by placing the heel on the ground while keeping it straight. As you get more comfortable with the exercise, you should slowly start from a more difficult position- that being to start from a lower position and have your uninjured leg completed elevated.
  3. To execute the exercise, use your glutes and quadricep muscles to lean forward slightly to position your body weight into your working leg/foot and then stand up tall . S
  4. Slowly return to the starting position. Sit your hips back and control the lowering versus crashing down onto the seat.

Perform this exercise on both legs for about 3 sets of 10-15 reps focusing on being balanced and stable. A clear sign that you have to dial it back is if you notice your knees buckling inward or if you are unable to control the descent back into the chair. If this is the case, you may want to start with a higher chair or box or return to a more fundamental exercise such as squats or lunges.

We will discuss how to progress this exercise and modify it in later posts.

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Use this Ladder Drill to Improve Stability and Reduce ACL Injuries | 90STRONG


Chris Phillips's picture

Use this Ladder Drill to Improve Stability and Reduce ACL Injuries

By modifying the Ickey Shuffle ladder drill, you can improve your knee stability, reducing the chance of injuring your ACL. The athlete will begin on the side of the ladder stepping in with one foot, then the other and transitioning out of the ladder landing on the outside foot. You want to move quickly through the ladder, stabilize and pause on the outside foot. To do this, keep the plant leg beneath you so that the shoulder, knee and foot are aligned one under the other. Repeat to the other side and continue for the length of the ladder. Another important point is to flex the hip, knee and ankle joints so the muscles can shock absorb, protecting the joints, while allowing the athlete to become more balanced. To make the drill more complex, repeat the drill moving backwards.


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Use This Drill To Improve Speed and Reaction Time For Soccer | 90STRONG


Chris Phillips's picture

Use This Drill To Improve Speed and Reaction Time For Soccer

Soccer players need to accelerate, make a touch on the ball, and quickly move to another location. Utilize this Bungee Cord Drill to be a quicker athlete with a solid touch.

How to perform this drill:
The drill will require a bungee cord, a soccer ball and three people.
  • Begin with the athlete attached to the bungee cord.
  • He or she will backpedal five to six steps depending on the stretched length of the cord, then sprint forward, receive a pass from another player and return the pass.
  • Repeat for 10-15 passes.

To vary the drill, you can change the force of the cord to be from behind. The athlete holding the cord will now be standing behind the athlete training. As the training athlete sprints forward to make a pass, they will be pulled backwards, away from the ball. Again, perform the drill for 10-15 passes for 3-5 sets. This drill is great for developing your acceleration and improving your reaction time on the soccer field.


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Understanding Osgood Schlatter's Disease | 90STRONG


Ben Torres's picture

Understanding Osgood Schlatter's Disease

Osgood Schlatter's Disease is one of the most common knee injuries among youth soccer athletes. Although it is rarely surgical, it is often a nagging and at times debilitating pathology with a capacity to sideline a soccer player for quite some time. While it is known to be most common amongst young male athletes, the occurrences of Osgood Schlatter have risen substantially for female athletes, perhaps due to the increasing competition in female sports.

What is Osgood Schlatter?
Most common in young children and adolescents ages 10-15, Osgood Schlatter disease happens when repetitive stress on the knee irritates the bone growth plate in the little bump on your shin bone(tibia) just under your knee cap. This bump is known as the tibial tuberosity. Whenever the knee straightens, the thigh muscles (quadriceps) pull on the patellar tendon,which runs over the knee cap and attaches to the tibial tuberosity. This in turn leads to a subsequent pull on the shin bone in the area of the growth plate. And since growth plate is not as strong as bone, repetitive bending and extending in the knee joint can cause significant pain and inflammation. Most physicians diagnose this disease rather easily as they will notice an obvious bump on the shin bone just under the knee with accompanied swelling in the area.
What are the signs and symptoms?
The signs and symptoms of Osgood Schlatter include pain with physical activity (running, jumping, and bending movements), swelling, and point tenderness on the tibial tuberosity with pain lasting anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on its severity. The tibial tuberosity may also appear much more prominent than normal. Usually, symptoms stop once the athlete has stopped growing. But as long as the young athlete remains in his/her growth phase, a relapse of symptoms may occur.
How is it treated?
Rest and rehabilitation continue to be the best forms of treatment. In very rare occasions, perhaps only when bony fragments have been left in the tibia, will surgery be considered. But for most youth athletes, decreasing the activity that exacerbates the symptoms and taking part in a rehabilitations program will likely be the best bet to alleviate symptoms and manage the disease. Typical treatment protocols begin with rest and decreasing the amount of activity that causes the pain. For the youth soccer athlete, the severity of the symptoms will dictate how much activity should be decreased. That may mean restricting practice to low level drills or restricting soccer all together until the symptoms subside.
Rehabilitation will focus on the stretching of the hamstring, quads, and hip flexors, as well as the strengthening of the glute muscles. Athletic Trainers and Physical Therapists will also have the athlete undergo several bouts of cold therapy in order to decrease pain and inflammation. Doctors may also prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) and patellar tendon straps to help control symptoms during physical activity although more research might be needed to demonstrates its true effectiveness.

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Two Ways to Run Faster | 90STRONG


Chris Phillips's picture

Two Ways to Run Faster

Every soccer player strives for speed. And most spend hours in the gym or on the pitch doing speed drills and lifting weights as the primary method to increase speed. But you can't forget about flexibility. Speed is based on stride length x frequency. How far and how fast you stride will determine your speed. These tips will focus on increasing stride length by increasing the flexibility of your hamstrings and hip flexors. 

Improving hamstring flexibility will improve how your hip flexes and knee extends in the contact or front leg. This lengthens the stride in the front leg and allows for better loading in order to prepare for the next powerful stride. Use the supine knee extension stretch to improve hamstring flexibility.

  1. Begin lying on your back and grabbing the back of your leg with your knee bent and thigh perpendicular to the ground.
  2. Extend your knee as far as possible while keeping your other thigh on the ground.
  3. Hold for five seconds and repeat five times for two sets on each leg.

Perform the stretch two to three times a day. To improve the stretch, flex your ankle by bringing your toes towards the ground.

Your next tip to get faster is to stretch out your hip flexors. Not only will this help you get faster, but may also eliminate low back pain while running since your main hip flexors connect to your your low back. Here is how to perform the kneeling hip flexor stretch: 

  1. Kneel on one leg with back straight. 
  2. Rock forward feeling a stretch on the rear leg.

Perform the stretches multiple times a day especially before and after activity and you will see improvement in your flexibility and speed while reducing potential injuries.

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Tournament Guidelines for Success | 90STRONG


Chris Phillips's picture

Tournament Guidelines for Success

Tournament play can take a major toll on an athlete’s body. By utilizing the following guidelines for recovery between games, players will improve performance during these grueling tournaments. It will also ensure that they are ready to compete at their very best.

Night before Game or Tournament

  • Concentrate on eating a balanced meal with lean protein, carbohydrates and unsaturated fats
  • Low fat, high carbohydrate foods like pasta, potatoes or rice (without cream sauces and butter)
  • Remember vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and squash are a great source of calcium and fiber
  • Continue to drink lots of fluids, especially water. Your daily water intake should be 75% of your body weight in ounces. For example, 100 lbs = 75 ounces of water or about 2.5 liters.
  • For a dessert or late night snack try fruit, Sherbert or yogurt
  • Get a good night sleep of 8 to 9 hours; rest is the key to recovery and optimal performance

Morning before games begin

  • If possible, eat breakfast 2-3 hours prior to competition
  • Eat light and low fat; avoid greasy foods such as hash browns and sausages
  • Try a bowl of cereal, bagel, fruit, fruit juice (1 cup is enough), yogurt, toast, waffles (pancakes can be too filling), and scrambled eggs
  • Continue to drink water. Stay away from sodas and caffeine drinks.
  • Pack snacks with you, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, jerky, carrot sticks, water and sports drink to avoid eating junk food at the snack bar

Between games (short time; 1 to 4 hours)

  • Perform a light cool down following game. For example, a 5-10 minute light jog or walk, repeat a dynamic warm up (etc.), followed by a general static stretch
  • Continue to hydrate with water and Sports drink (ie. Gatorade); 8-16 ounces/hour is a good rule of thumb. Muscle cramps is a sign of dehydration and low electrolyte balance.
  • Eat a light snack within 30-60 minutes of the end of the game. Examples are: a low fat sandwich, fruit, soup, energy/granola bar (not high in protein), yogurt or low fat muffin

Between games (long time; over 4 hours)

  • Perform a light cool down following game as described above
  • Continue to hydrate with water and Sports drink (ex. Gatorade); at least 24 ounces
  • Eat a normal size meal; high in carbohydrates, low in saturated fat and a smaller portion of protein than normal
  • Get some rest and stay cool out of the direct sun. Take a short nap and elevate your legs up above your heart for 30 minutes to aid recovery.

Following last game of the day

  • Perform a light cool down following game as described above
  • Continue to hydrate with water and Sports drink (ie. Gatorade); at least 24 ounces to replace electrolytes
  • Eat a regular size meal high in carbohydrates and protein (to help muscles repair) and low in saturated fat. Unsaturated fats such as nuts, avocado and olive oil are ok.
  • Remember the vegetables; eat your dark leafy greens and other colorful veggies. Have a salad at the end dinner
  • Get a good night’s sleep of 8 to 10 hours
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Tips for traveling long distances for your next game | 90STRONG


Elysia Tsai's picture

Tips for traveling long distances for your next game

When traveling across the county in new time zones, or continents, it is important to be well prepared for your trip. Arriving in a new place or country jet lagged, dehydrated, and hungry  can have a negative impact on your soccer performance. That is why it is crucial to take the proper steps necessary so you can jump off the airplane and perform at your best. Here are some tips for your next away game or tourney. 

One of the biggest hurdles I see with athletes is dealing with the time zone change, whether it’s an hour or 8 hour difference. Your body is used to a certain rhythm and if not properly accustomed to the time change, you can shock your system and disrupt your sleep pattern. It typically takes one day for every hour of time change for your body to adjust. That means if you fly from California to New York and there is a 3 hour time difference, it will take 3 days for you to feel normal, by that time your tournament might be over. You can go to and see the exact time change for your location. Prepare for the time change ahead of time by giving yourself the same amount of days as hour changes. If you are traveling east, you will need to wake up earlier than you are normally used to. Each day go to bed an hour earlier than the night before and wake up an hour earlier. When I was preparing for Germany, for 8 days I kept pushing back my sleep time until I was eventually on Germany time before my trip. You may not have the luxury or schedule to sleep at 3pm, but try to adjust to the new time zone before your trip. If you are traveling west, you would do the opposite and go to bed an hour later each night and wake an hour later each morning. Once on the airplane set your watch to the time at your destination when you get on the plane. You’ll know when you are supposed to be sleeping and when you are to be awake. Below are some other methods you can use to help you can use when travelling on the road to your next tournament:

  1. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated while traveling since the dry air on airplanes can be very dehydrating. Bring an empty reusable water bottle with you. Examples include the stainless steel or hard plastic camping/hiking bottles.
  2. Once you get through security you can refill at the water cooler or purchase water. In some countries you are not allowed to carry liquids onto the airplane, so check before you get on. Drink often to maintain your hydration status and always have water available.
  3. While on the plane move around and keep your blood circulating. Rotate your ankles, get up and stretch or walk the isle. You can wear compression socks to help avoid the blood pooling in your legs and feeling heavy. 
  4. Plan to eat every 3-4 hours during your travel from the moment you get into the car to your final hotel destination. You will need enough food/snack and also plan for the unexpected. Perhaps the airport food services is closed, the airplane food is not to your liking, you don’t have the correct money or you don’t have enough money.
  5. Carry snacks with you. Easy well balanced snacks include protein bars, jerky, trail mix, carrot sticks, apple and bananas. I usually take a backpack full of food and a 1 liter water bottle. 
  6. Frequently wash your hands with soap and rub your hands together for 20 seconds to lather the soap. Always wash your hands before eating or touching the banquet utensils. Always wash your hands after practice, games, shaking hands and using the bathroom. Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or sneeze into your elbow sleeve. Always wash your hands afterward. Avoid rubbing your eyes with your hands or fingers. Clean under your nails and keep them trimmed. You may want to carry hand sanitizer with you.
  7. When you get to your destination get moving and avoid napping when you should be awake.

With proper pre-planning you can help yourself perform at your best.


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