Michel Bruyninckx is a Belgian soccer coach and proponent of differential learning. In an article on the Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association web site, Michael Carr recounts a coaching conference where he listened to Bruyninckx speak about his methods.
He made one incredibly interesting point:
Dr. Marc Comerford of Australia is a proponent of the strength of the pelvic area in preventing future problems and persistent injuries for soccer players. Bruyninckx sees a reason for the lack of pelvic strength is due to not developing players to be strong with both feet, which keeps the pelvis in the correct position and utilizes both sides of their body. Without strength in the pelvic area injuries develop in numerous areas of the body. Prevention of reoccurring injuries in players should be a major concern. Michel points out that over half of all the World Cup Players in 2002 and 2006 took anti-inflammatory medication during matches. All of Michel’s training sessions utilize skill and comfort. Players are told that tackling is a last resort to win the ball. Often times warm up exercises with the ball are done without soccer shoes. Michel brought out that the FIFA 11 was found to be a cause of pelvic issues and is now in the process of changing.
I have trained two players who have had stress fractures in their hip, so I have grown more interested in these injuries. The idea that unequal skill development of the two legs could lead to potential injuries is an interesting idea, and one with application to one’s pivot foot.
I advocate the teaching of an inside pivot foot for young players so they develop both feet like we believe that they should develop both hands. The ability to use either foot as a pivot foot makes a player a more dangerous offensive player. While one may use the left foot (for a right-handed player) most of the time, there are instances when one cannot choose his pivot foot and he has to use the right foot as a pivot foot. In these instances, a player who uses a permanent pivot foot and never practices with a right-foot pivot foot is more likely to travel and less likely to make an effective move.
As overuse injuries increase (Brenner, 2007), people search for causes. Misalignment could be one of these causes (speculation not science here). Repetitive movements and actions are one cause of overuse injuries. Year-round competition is cited as one reason for the increase in overuse injuries. However, what is it about the year-round play?
If a player uses a permanent pivot foot (left foot for a right-handed player), he repeatedly uses the left foot as the initial breaking mechanism for deceleration. Similarly, a right-footed soccer player will repeatedly plant on the left foot for right-footed kicks. If repeated movements lead to overuse injuries, the repeated use of one pivot foot could lead to slight misalignments which are exacerbated through more repeated movements.
Using both feet as the pivot foot may reduce some of the reliance on one leg, while also developing the two legs more equally, thus reducing the misalignment.
Again, this is speculation, not science, but it is an intriguing idea. Both players who I have trained who had hip problems had problems with their left hip, and both used a permanent pivot foot. That hardly proves causation, but it is a point worth investigating.
Since I am already a proponent of the inside pivot foot to develop both feet, this further supports my beliefs.