The PEP Program

The Santa Monica ACL Prevention Project has developed the PEP Program in order to implement a strategic training program to decrease the number of ACL injuries incurred by female athletes. Since the implementation of Title IX legislation in 1972 allowing equal opportunity for girls and women to participate in sports, not only has the number of females participating in sports increased so has the number of injuries, including non-contact ACL injuries. Studies have shown that a female soccer player's risk of sustaining an ACL injury is two to eight times greater than her male counterpart. Subsequent studies have shown that adding neuromuscular and proprioceptive exercises to the training protocol can reduce the number of ACL injuries by two to four times.

What is the PEP Program?

The PEP (Prevent injury, Enhance Performance) Program is a highly specific 20-minute training session that replaces the traditional warm-up. It was developed by a team of physicians, physical therapists, athletic trainers and coaches, and has funding support from the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles (AAF). The program's main focus is educating players on strategies to avoid injury and includes specific exercises targeting problems as identified in previous research studies.

The Goals of the Program are to:

  • Avoid vulnerable positions
  • Increase flexibility
  • Increase strength
  • Include plyometric exercises into the training program
  • Increase proprioception through agilities

Most program exercises and drills are already part of a team's standard training. This program requires attention to detail on the part of players, coaches and athletic trainers. Optimally the program should be performed at least 2-3 times per week during the season. This prevention program consists of warm-up, stretching, strengthening, plyometrics, and sport specific agilities to address potential deficits in the strength and coordination of the stabilizing muscles around the knee joint. It is important to use proper technique during all of the exercises. The coaches and athletic trainers need to emphasize correct posture, straight up and down jumps without excessive side-to-side movement, and to reinforce soft landings. This program should be completed 2-3 times a week. The field should be set up 10 minutes prior to the warm-up. This will allow for a smooth transition between the activities.

This program should take approximately 15 – 20 minutes to complete. Along side each exercise you will notice a statement of “Elapsed Time” with the approximate amount of time that should be spent on each activity. This will serve as a guideline for you in order to conduct your warm-up in a time efficient manner.