Return to Play Resources

Two of the most common questions asked after an injury are: “When can you play again?” & “What can you do at training?”. Like injury occurrence, returning to sport is complex and multifactorial in nature. Importantly, based on the 2016 Consensus on Return to Sport (link available here), the following should be considered:

  • Biological, psychological and social factors. For example, where there is more significant tissue damage the length of time to return to sport is often longer.
  • The support and resources available to the player. For example, does the club have a strength and conditioning coach or physiotherapist.
  • Effective communication between all stakeholders – player, coach, parents, Sports Science & Sports Medicine staff (e.g. physiotherapists, Strength & Conditioning, Sports Science, Sports & Exercise Physicians)
  • Regular reviews of progress and achievement of goals

It is also important to consider that returning to training or playing is not the same as returning to performance. It can often take some time for players to reach pre-injury levels of performance in both a technical and physical aspect. Being patient and aware of this may reduce the likelihood of “pushing” players too hard too quickly once they have returned to training.

In order to facilitate communication between clinicians, practitioners and coaches, Football Australia Sports Science & Sports Medicine staff have designed and developed a Return to Play sheet that can be used from Grassroots & Community level to the Elite. This sheet allows clinicians to select all of the aspects that a player CAN DO at a normal on-field training session.

The sheet is designed to be updated by the clinician regularly and allows for communication of:

  • Drill integration
  • Intensity
  • Volume
  • Rehabilitation-specific session components
  • Likely return to full training and match availability.

Please note, a shared approach to return to sport, in which players, coaches and SSSM staff are involved, is always encouraged with open communication important for a safe, efficient and successful return.