KIPP for Coaches

The sports medicine experts at Lurie Children’s Institute for Sports Medicine​ have developed two evidenced-based, knee injury prevention programs:

KIPP for Coaches is a free, online training program to help coaches reduce the risk of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears and other lower extremity injuries in their female athletes from ages 12 to 21. In KIPP training, coaches learn how to lead their athletes through a 15-minute warm-up routine that includes strengthening exercises, plyometrics (jumping exercises), balance training, agility drills and active stretching. 

Register at

Girls are four to six times more likely to injure their ACLs than boys in similar sports. Studies show the primary reason for this gender difference in ACL injury rates is neuromuscular. In other words, girls use their muscles differently than boys while performing athletic maneuvers, such as landing from a jump or quick change of direction (pivoting). Girls tend to do these maneuvers with less hamstring activation, less core stability, less knee and hip flexion and greater inward collapse of their knees than boys, which are patterns that are associated with a greater risk of ACL injury.

Preventing ACL injuries is important because they often require surgery and/or months of rehabilitation for a safe return to physical activity. Regardless of treatment, young people with ACL injuries are 10 times more likely to develop early degenerative arthritis in the knee, a condition that causes chronic pain and can limit daily functioning.

The video below, produced by the American Academy of Pediatrics, features Cynthia LaBella, MD, and explains the importance of our neuromuscular training program for girls in sports.

The girls’ high school sports with the highest rates of ACL injury are:

  • Soccer
  • Basketball
  • Gymnastics
  • Lacrosse
  • Field hockey
  • Softball
  • Volleyball
  • Track and field
  • Cheerleading

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four ligaments that holds the bones of the knee joint together. Teenage girl athletes are especially vulnerable to ACL tears due to their neuromuscular activation patterns when landing from jumps, pivoting and decelerating.

Potential health outcomes for girls participating in KIPP include the following:

  • Improved strength, flexibility and coordination in the hip and leg muscles
  • Improved core strength and stability
  • Awareness of unsafe knee positions and movements during athletic maneuvers
  • Improved body mechanics for jumping, landing, pivoting and decelerating
  • Reduced risk of knee and ankle injury
  • Reduced risk of tearing the ACL
  • Reduced risk for activity-related knee pain

The Lurie​ Chil​dren’s Difference

We are committed to community education and outreach in sports injury prevention, and we stay active in our city with our KIPP for Coaches program. Coaches in more than 100 Chicago-area schools have implemented KIPP with their athletes. Results from our award-winning research show that the KIPP exercises reduce ACL tears by 80%, knee sprains by 70% and ankle sprains by 62%. Over 4,000 individuals have taken part in KIPP and KIPP for Coaches.

Our Speci​alists

Cynthia LaBella, MD, is a pediatric sports medicine physician at Lurie Children’s. She is Medical Director of our Institute for Sports Medicine and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine

Cristina Nistler, MS, ATC is a certified athletic trainer. As KIPP Coordinator for our Institute for Sports Medicine, she leads KIPP sessions and is available to offer detailed counseling on the proper ways to train your athletes on the safest knee positions. Cristina brings a wealth of expertise and knowledge to our team from her work with the USA Lacrosse women’s U19 squad and Georgetown University intercollegiate athletics.

Rebecca Carl, MD, is an attending physician at Lurie Children’s specializing in pediatric sports medicine and non-operative orthopaedics. She is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Feinberg School.

Brian Tho Hang, MD, is an attending physician at Lurie Children’s specializing in pediatric sports medicine and emergency medicine. He is a Clinical Instructor of Pediatrics at the Feinberg School.

KIPP Instr​uctors

We have a number of certified athletic trainers and physical therapists who have been trained in KIPP exercises and training techniques. They help lead KIPP sessions throughout the year.

What to Ex​pect

Our Institute for Sports M​edicine offers a free online training for coaches interested in KIPP training.

The training session teaches c​oaches how to:

  • Recognize the risk factors associated with serious knee injuries
  • Incorporate KIPP exercises into their team’s warm-up routines
  • Instruct female athletes how to recognize unsafe knee positions and improve muscle control of their knee motions, thereby reducing risk for knee injury

All participating coaches receive educational materials, training tools and instructional videos of the KIPP exercises. Many schools also provide continuing education credits or continuing professional development credits to coaches and teachers who participate in KIPP training. Coaches are encouraged to check with their school for eligibility.

Learn more about the online training.

Learn M​ore

For more information about knee injuries and sports injury prevention, please visit these help​ful sites:



To register for the online training, visit For more information, please call 312.227.6201.


In addition to KIPP for Coaches, the Institute for Sports Medicine also offers KIPP for Girls, a six-week, neuromuscular training program for female athletes led by Lurie Children’s sports medicine staff. KIPP is offered throughout the year in various Chicago-area locations. Fees apply. Group rates are available. For more information, visit KIPP or call 312.227.6201.

“We implemented the program in our girls' middle school and softball programs. The program was a success and was really embraced by the players. Thank you so much for putting this together and allowing coaches the use of it.”

- Feedback from a 2016 KIPP For Coaches Participant

​"This was outstanding info and was presented so clearly and efficiently. I will pass this course along to the other coaches in my school."

-Feedback from a 2014 KIPP for Coaches participant.

​In the News

Dr. LaBella released a report in association with the American Academy of Pediatrics detailing the importance of neuromuscular training programs for girls in sports.

Read about the report on NBC News.