The ‘control-choas continuum’ Blending science and art during return to sport following knee injury in elite football


  • The ‘control-chaos continuum’, provides a framework to create drill content relevant to the phase aims and objectives, aligned with the physical, technical, tactical and injury-specific requirements of the player.
  • Strength and power diagnostic testing throughout the RTS process provides objective feedback on components of physical performance and associated loading strategies, helping to inform progression of rehabilitation and decision-making.
  • The use of constraints-led approach to shape the on-pitch environment allows the practitioner to manipulate movement variability, running load demand and decision-making while incorporating greater perceptual and neurocognitive challenges, respecting the principles of specificity and ecological validity.

High control

In the ‘high control’ phase, the player returns to the pitch under controlled conditions to minimising risk by moving at low intensity with the purpose of develop the athletes’ confidence.

Moderate control:

In the ‘Moderate control’ phase the player are introduced to changes of direction with the ball under controlled circumstances.

Control > Chaos

In the ‘Control > Chaos’ phase, the player are introduced to sports-specific  practise with unpredicted and random movement and interactions that can be transferred into a playing situation.

Moderate Chaos

In the ‘Moderate Chaos’ phase, the player are introduced to high-speed actions under moderate chaos (unpredictable movements), adding more intense sports-specific movement patterns and playing situations.

High Chaos

In the ‘High Chaos phase’, the player are introduced to “chaotic” scenarios with high velocities/intensity/chaos as was it a normal playing situation. Here the goals is the put the player under high demands in competition as a final preparation for a return to play.


Allen T, Wilson S, Cohen DD, Taberner M. Drill design using the ‘control-chaos continuum’: Blending science and art during return to sport following knee injury in elite football. Phys Ther Sport. 2021 Jul;50:22-35. doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2021.02.011. Epub 2021 Feb 24. PMID: 33862346.

Aspetar Journal: FROM CONTROL TO CHAOS TO COMPETITION BUILDING A PATHWAY FOR RETURN TO PERFORMANCE FOLLOWING ACL RECONSTRUCTION – Written by Matt Taberner, Tom Allen, and Emma Constantine, UK and Daniel D Cohen, Colombia

Blog by Tim Trevail: Grappling with the Chaos: Return to Play Framework for Jiu-Jitsu Athletes

Podcast: Ep. 6: The Control-Chaos Continuum in ACL Rehab with Madi Franek by Athletes First Performance Podcast

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Andreas Bjerregaard
Articles: 317

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