If you’ve ever spent any time with a sixth-grade class - where the girls look like Amazons as they tower over the smaller boys - you’ve seen Peak Growth Velocity in action.
Also known as Peak Height Velocity (or PHV), it’s the time, outside of infancy, when humans grow the fastest. Studies show that the overall growth during this period is roughly the same for both sexes on average, 25 centimeters for girls, 26 for boys.
The big difference is when it happens, and that’s why it’s vital for parents and girls coaches to understand PHV and its potential effect on young female athletes. For girls, it occurs two full years earlier on average (age 11) than for boys (age 13).
It also corresponds with a significant rise in sports-related injuries. A 2014 study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine found that during the year of peak growth velocity, girls had a 43 percent greater chance of a traumatic or overuse injury than the year before. The study also found that girls in their peak growth velocity year missed twice as many practice and game days due to injury than during the prior year.
What does this mean? Well, the bottom line is that girls are at much higher risk much earlier for growth and puberty-related injuries (such as ACL tears) than boys. Meanwhile, studies have shown that the only proven way to effectively prevent those injuries is to give kids several years of neuromuscular training before they hit the danger zone.
In coaching terms, that means that by the time young female athletes are 8 or 9 years old, their coach should already have integrated injury-preventing neuromuscular training into their practices. If coaches only learn about the injury dangers of PHV and puberty when their girls are in middle school, it’s already too late.
That’s why the Beautiful Project believes that coaches of even 2nd grade and 3rd grade girls should be trained to understand female athlete physiology and how to prevent injuries. It’s also why, in collaboration with the experts at the Competitive Athlete Training Zone (CATZ), we created the Beautiful 12 warm up. The 12 minute warmup was designed specifically for the shorter practices of grassroots and community soccer programs.
So if you’re a soccer parent, ask your daughter’s coach if her team is doing injury-preventing neuromuscular training. If not, refer them to www.beautifulgirlssoccer.com and the Beautiful: Training Girls Soccer the Boston Breakers Way video.
Or better yet, refer the president or coaching director of your daughter’s soccer program to us - we have discounts that allow soccer programs to train all their girls coaches for the price of a couple sets of corner flags.