Sports Medicine

pp 1–11

Exercise-Based Interventions for Injury Prevention in Tackle Collision Ball Sports: A Systematic Review

  • Nicola Sewry
  • Evert Verhagen
  • Mike Lambert
  • Willem van Mechelen
  • Wayne Viljoen
  • Clint Readhead
  • James Brown
Systematic Review

DOI: 10.1007/s40279-017-0704-4

Cite this article as:
Sewry, N., Verhagen, E., Lambert, M. et al. Sports Med (2017). doi:10.1007/s40279-017-0704-4



The injury burden in collision sports is relatively high compared to other team sports. Therefore, participants in these sports would benefit by having effective injury prevention programs. Exercise-based interventions have successfully reduced injuries in soccer, but evidence on exercise-based interventions in tackle collision sports is limited.


The objective of this review is to systematically examine the evidence of exercise-based intervention programs reducing injuries in tackle collision sports.

Data sources

PubMed, EBSCOHost, and Web of Science were searched for articles published between January 1995 and December 2015. The methodological quality was assessed using an adapted Cochrane Bone Joint and Muscle Trauma Group quality assessment tool.

Study selection

The inclusion criteria were (1) (randomized) control trials and observational studies; (2) sporting codes: American, Australian and Gaelic Football, rugby union, and rugby league; (3) participants of any age or sex; (4) exercise-based, prehabilitative intervention; and (5) primary outcome was injury rate or incidence (injury risk). The exclusion criteria were (1) unavailability of full-text; and (2) article unavailable in English.


Nine studies with a total of 3517 participants were included in this review. Seven of these studies showed a significant decrease in injury risk. These studies included three sporting codes and various age groups, making it difficult to make inferences. The two highest methodological quality studies found no effect of an exercise-based intervention on injury risk.


There is evidence that exercise-based injury preventions can be beneficial in reducing injury risk in collision sports, but more studies of high methodological quality are required.

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
National Research Foundation
    University of Cape Town
      Oppenheimer Memorial Trust

        Copyright information

        © Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

        Authors and Affiliations

        1. 1.Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, Department of Human BiologyUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa
        2. 2.Amsterdam Collaboration on Health and Safety in Sports, Department of Public and Occupational Health and EMGO+ InstituteVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
        3. 3.South African Rugby UnionCape TownSouth Africa

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