The COVID-19 lockdown in Australia: a case study of exercise programming in male academy football players to prepare for return to play

Publication Name

Science and Medicine in Football


Purpose: In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced global lockdowns. Herein, we examine the effect of a lockdown exercise programme in a case-study of youth Australian A-league academy football players. Methods: Fifty-five u13-u15 age-grade players were provided with a 110 minute exercise programme including technical, tactical, cardiovascular and muscle strengthening exercises to perform 4 per week at home during the 10-week COVID-19 lockdown. Results: Pre/Post lockdown, maximum aerobic speed was determined via the 30–15 intermittent fitness test (IFT). Exercise compliance was high (78.5% CI72.2–83.8) with an average of 3.15 sessions completed each week. All time-loss (TL) and medical attention (MA) injuries were recorded. Pre/Post lockdown, no difference in the mean incidence or burden of total time-loss (TL), match TL, training TL or medical attention (MA) injuries or injury rate ratio (1.21 CI:0.85–2.74) was observed. Similarly, no difference was observed in any injury incidence or burden data or the injury rate ratio (1.53 CI:0.85–2.74) when comparing the 9-week period prior to lockdown with the first 9 weeks post lockdown (9v9 only). A 9.6% (p = <0.01) increase was also observed in Pre/Post 30–15 IFT composite scores (18.7 CI: 18.3–19.1 to 20.5 CI:20–21). Conclusion: In this case study, compliance to the home-based exercise programme was high and no increase in injury was apparent. These findings must however be considered alongside the limitations associated within this case-study.

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