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Sports Medicine

, Volume 43, Issue 9, pp 819–837 | Cite as

Football Injuries in Children and Adolescent Players: Are There Clues for Prevention?

Review Article

Abstract

Football (soccer) is the world’s most popular sport with most players being younger than 18 years. Playing football can induce beneficial health effects, but there is also a high risk of injury. Therefore, it is necessary to implement measures for preventing injuries. The present review analyzes and summarizes published scientific information on the incidence and characteristics of football injuries in children and adolescent players to arrive at sound conclusions and valid considerations for the development of injury-prevention programs. A literature search was conducted up to November 2012. Fifty-three relevant scientific publications were detected. Thirty-two studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria for pooled analysis. Additional information from the remaining 21 studies was considered where appropriate to obtain a broader perspective on the injury problem in children and youth football. Training injury incidence was nearly constant for players aged 13–19 years, ranging from 1 to 5 injuries per 1,000 h training. Match injury incidence tended to increase with age through all age groups, with an average incidence of about 15 to 20 injuries per 1,000 match hours in players older than 15 years. Between 60 and 90 % of all football injuries were classified as traumatic and about 10–40 % were overuse injuries. Most injuries (60–90 %) were located at the lower extremities with the ankle, knee, and thigh being mostly affected. The frequency of upper-extremity and head/face injuries was higher in those studies that analyzed match injuries only. The most common injury types were strains, sprains, and contusions (10 up to 40 % each). There is some evidence that the risk of traumatic injuries and, in particular, of sustaining a fracture, contusion, or concussion was higher during match play than in practice sessions. Fractures were more frequent in children younger than 15 years than in older players. About half of all time-loss injuries led to an absence from sport of less than 1 week, one third resulted in an absence between 1 and 4 weeks, and 10 to 15 % of all injuries were severe. Separate data for players under the age of 11 years are almost absent. Maturation status seems to have an influence on injury characteristics, although evidence is not conclusive at this time. Three main areas seem to be of particular relevance for future prevention research in young football players: (1) the substantial number of severe contact injuries during matches, (2) the high number of fractures in younger players, and (3) the influence of maturation status and growth spurts.

Keywords

Injury Risk Football Player Overuse Injury Injury Incidence Fair Play 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

Oliver Faude and Astrid Junge were responsible for the concept of the article and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. Roland Rößler was involved in the literature search and in data extraction. All authors contributed to the final article by reading and correcting the draft version. We thank Don Kirkendall for his input on an earlier draft of this review as well as all reviewers and the responsible editor for their valuable and constructive comments on the first submitted version of this manuscript. All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest that is directly relevant to the content of this review. Astrid Junge is employed by F-MARC (FIFA-Medical Assessment and Research Centre). The authors gratefully acknowledge FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) for the funding of the study.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Exercise and Health SciencesUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  2. 2.FIFA-Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC), Schulthess ClinicZurichSwitzerland

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