Sports Medicine

, Volume 34, Issue 13, pp 929–938 | Cite as

Soccer Injuries

A Review on Incidence and Prevention
  • Astrid Junge
  • Jiri Dvorak
Injury Clinic


Several investigators have studied the incidence and causes of soccer injuries in male professional players; however, epidemiological data on injuries in female soccer players are limited. From the data presented, it can be estimated that, on average, every elite male soccer player incurs approximately one performance-limiting injury each year. Nine studies on the prevention of soccer injuries were found in the literature. There is some evidence that multi-modal intervention programmes result in a general reduction in injuries. Ankle sprains can be prevented by external ankle supports and proprioceptive/coordination training, especially in athletes with previous ankle sprains. With regard to severe knee injuries, the results of prevention studies are partly inconclusive; however, training of neuromuscular and proprioceptive performance as well as improvement of jumping and landing technique seem to decrease the incidence of anterior cruciate ligament injuries in female athletes. Prevention programmes are likely to be more effective in groups with an increased risk of injury. More methodologically well-designed studies are required to evaluate the effects of specific preventive interventions.


Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury Soccer Player Ankle Sprain Injury Prevention Programme Female Player 
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.



The authors gratefully acknowledge FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) for the funding of this study. The authors have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this review.


  1. 1.
    Dvorak J, Junge A. Football injuries and physical symptoms: a review of the literature. Am J Sports Med 2000; 28 (5 Suppl.): S3–9PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Inklaar H. Soccer injuries I: incidence and severity. Sports Med 1994; 18(1): 55–73PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Finch CF. An overview of some definitional issues for sports injury surveillance. Sports Med 1997; 24(3): 157–63PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Junge A, Dvorak J. Influence of definition and data collection on the incidence of injuries in football. Am J Sports Med 2000; 28 (5 Suppl.): S40–6PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Noyes FR, Lindenfeld TN, Marshall MT. What determines an athletic injury (definition)? Who determines an injury (occurrence)? Am J Sports Med 1988; 16Suppl. 1: S65–8PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Dvorak J, Junge A, Chomiak J, et al. Risk factor analysis for injuries in football players: possibilities for a prevention program. Am J Sports Med 2000; 28 (5 Suppl.): S69–74PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Engström BK, Renstrom PA. How can injuries be prevented in the World Cup soccer athlete? Clin Sports Med 1998; 17(4): 755–68, viiPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Inklaar H. Soccer injuries II: aetiology and prevention. Sports Med 1994; 18(2): 81–93PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Taimela S, Kujala UM, Osterman K. Intrinsic risk factors and athletic injuries. Sports Med 1990; 9(4): 205–15PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Askling C, Karlsson J, Thorstensson A. Hamstring injury occurrence in elite soccer players after preseason strength training with eccentric overload. Scand J Med Sci Sports 2003; 13(4): 244–50PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Caraffa A, Cerulli G, Projetti M, et al. Prevention of anterior cruciate ligament injuries in soccer: a prospective controlled study of proprioceptive training. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 1996; 4(1): 19–21PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ekstrand J, Gillquist J, Liljedahl SO. Prevention of soccer injuries: supervision by doctor and physiotherapist. Am J Sports Med 1983; 11(3): 116–20PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Heidt Jr RS, Sweeterman LM, Carlonas RL, et al. Avoidance of soccer injuries with preseason conditioning. Am J Sports Med 2000; 28(5): 659–62PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Hewett TE, Lindenfeld TN, Riccobene JV, et al. The effect of neuromuscular training on the incidence of knee injury in female athletes: a prospective study. Am J Sports Med 1999; 27(6): 699–706PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Junge A, Rosch D, Peterson L, et al. Prevention of soccer injuries: a prospective intervention study in youth amateur players. Am J Sports Med 2002; 30(5): 652–9PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Mandelbaum BR. ACL tears in female athletes: the challenge of prevention with neuromuscular training programs. Annual proceedings from the AAOS Meeting; 2003 Feb 5–9; New OrleansGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Söderman K, Werner S, Pietila T, et al. Balance board training: prevention of traumatic injuries of the lower extremities in female soccer players? A prospective randomized intervention study. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 2000; 8(6): 356–63PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Surve I, Schwellnus MP, Noakes T, et al. A fivefold reduction in the incidence of recurrent ankle sprains in soccer players using the Sport-Stirrup orthosis. Am J Sports Med 1994; 22(5): 601–6PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Tropp H, Askling C, Gillquist J. Prevention of ankle sprains. Am J Sports Med 1985; 13(4): 259–62PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Parkkari J, Kujala UM, Kannus P. Is it possible to prevent sports injuries? Review of controlled clinical trials and recommendations for future work. Sports Med 2001; 31(14): 985–95PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    van Mechelen W, Hlobil H, Kemper HC. Incidence, severity, aetiology and prevention of sports injuries: a review of concepts. Sports Med 1992; 14(2): 82–99PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Morgan BE, Oberlander MA. An examination of injuries in major league soccer: the inaugural season. Am J Sports Med 2001; 29(4): 426–30PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Arnason A, Gudmundsson A, Dahl HA, et al. Soccer injuries in Iceland. Scand J Med Sci Sports 1996; 6(1): 40–5PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Inklaar H, Bol E, Schmikli SL, et al. Injuries in male soccer players: team risk analysis. Int J Sports Med 1996; 17(3): 229–34PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Nielsen AB, Yde J. Epidemiology and traumatology of injuries in soccer. Am J Sports Med 1989; 17(6): 803–7PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Junge A, Dvorak J, Graf-Baumann T, et al. Football injuries during FIFA tournaments and the Olympic Games, 1998–2001: development and implementation of an injury-reporting system. Am J Sports Med 2004; 32 (1 Suppl.): 80S–9SPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Arnason A, Tenga A, Engebretsen L, et al. A prospective video-based analysis of injury situations in elite male football: football incident analysis. Am J Sports Med 2004; 32(6): 1459–65PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Junge A, Dvorak J, Graf-Baumann T. Football injuries during the World Cup 2002. Am J Sports Med 2004; 32 (1 Suppl.): 23S–7SPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Yoon YS, Chai M, Shin DW. Football injuries at Asian tournaments. Am J Sports Med 2004; 32 (1 Suppl.): 36S–42SPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Andersen TE, Larsen O, Tenga A, et al. Football incident analysis: a new video based method to describe injury mechanisms in professional football. Br J Sports Med 2003; 37(3): 226–32PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Hawkins RD, Fuller CW. Risk assessment in professional football: an examination of accidents and incidents in the 1994 World Cup finals. Br J Sports Med 1996; 30(2): 165–70PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Rahnama N, Reilly T, Lees A. Injury risk associated with playing actions during competitive soccer. Br J Sports Med 2002; 36(5): 354–9PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Hawkins RD, Hulse MA, Wilkinson C, et al. The association football medical research programme: an audit of injuries in professional football. Br J Sports Med 2001; 35(1): 43–7PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Arnason A, Sigurdsson SB, Gudmundsson A, et al. Risk factors for injuries in football. Am J Sports Med 2004; 32 (1 Suppl.): 5S–16SPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Ekstrand J, Waiden M, Hagglund M. Risk for injury when playing in a national football team. Scand J Med Sci Sports 2004; 14(1): 34–8PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Hägglund M, Waiden M, Ekstrand J. Exposure and injury risk in Swedish elite football: a comparison between seasons 1982 and 2001. Scand J Med Sci Sports 2003; 13(6): 364–70PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Peterson L, Junge A, Chomiak J, et al. Incidence of football injuries and complaints in different age groups and skill-level groups. Am J Sports Med 2000; 28 (5 Suppl.): S51–7PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Hawkins RD, Fuller CW. A prospective epidemiological study of injuries in four English professional football clubs. Br J Sports Med 1999; 33(3): 196–203PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Lüthje P, Nurmi I, Kataja M, et al. Epidemiology and traumatology of injuries in elite soccer: a prospective study in Finland. Scand J Med Sci Sports 1996; 6(3): 180–5PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Poulsen TD, Freund KG, Madsen F, et al. Injuries in high-skilled and low-skilled soccer: a prospective study. Br J Sports Med 1991; 25(3): 151–3PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Engström B, Forssblad M, Johansson C, et al. Does a major knee injury definitely sideline an elite soccer player? Am J Sports Med 1990; 18(1): 101–5PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Ekstrand J, Tropp H. The incidence of ankle sprains in soccer. Foot Ankle 1990; 11(1): 41–4PubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Ekstrand J, Gillquist J, Moller M, et al. Incidence of soccer injuries and their relation to training and team success. Am J Sports Med 1983; 11(2): 63–7PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Östenberg A, Roos H. Injury risk factors in female European football: a prospective study of 123 players during one season. Scand J Med Sci Sports 2000; 10(5): 279–85PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Engström B, Johansson C, Tornkvist H. Soccer injuries among elite female players. Am J Sports Med 1991; 19(4): 372–5PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Junge A, Cheung K, Edwards T, et al. Injuries in youth amateur soccer and rugby players: comparison of incidence and characteristics. Br J Sports Med 2004; 38(2): 168–72PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Söderman K, Adolphson J, Lorentzon R, et al. Injuries in adolescent female players in European football: a prospective study over one outdoor soccer season. Scand J Med Sci Sports 2001; 11(5): 299–304PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Schmidt-Olsen S, Jorgensen U, Kaalund S, et al. Injuries among young soccer players. Am J Sports Med 1991; 19(3): 273–5PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Yde J, Nielsen AB. Sports injuries in adolescents’ ball games: soccer, handball and basketball. Br J Sports Med 1990; 24(1): 51–4PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Sullivan JA, Gross RH, Grana WA, et al. Evaluation of injuries in youth soccer. Am J Sports Med 1980; 8(5): 325–7PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Cunningham C, Cunningham S. Injury surveillance at a national multi-sport event. Aust J Sci Med Sport 1996; 28(2): 50–6PubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Arendt E, Dick R. Knee injury patterns among men and women in collegiate basketball and soccer: NCAA data and review of literature. Am J Sports Med 1995; 23(6): 694–701PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Harmon KG, Dick R. The relationship of skill level to anterior cruciate ligament injury. Clin J Sport Med 1998; 8(4): 260–5PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Schmidt-Olsen S, Bunemann LK, Lade V, et al. Soccer injuries of youth. Br J Sports Med 1985; 19(3): 161–4PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Hawkins RD, Fuller CW. An examination of the frequency and severity of injuries and incidents at three levels of professional football. Br J Sports Med 1998; 32(4): 326–32PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Fuller C, Junge A, Dvorak J. An assessment of football referees decisions in incidents leading to player injuries. Am J Sports Med 2004; 32 (1 Suppl.): 17S–22SPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    New Zealand Accident Compensation Corporation. ACC Sport-Smart 10-point action for sports injury prevention [online]. Available from URL: [Accessed 2004 Aug 26]
  58. 58.
    Thacker SB, Stroup DF, Branche CM, et al. Prevention of knee injuries in sports: a systematic review of the literature. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 2003; 43(2): 165–79PubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Thacker SB, Stroup DF, Branche CM, et al. The prevention of ankle sprains in sports: a systematic review of the literature. Am J Sports Med 1999; 27(6): 753–60PubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Verhagen EA, van Mechelen W, de Vente W. The effect of preventive measures on the incidence of ankle sprains. Clin J Sport Med 2000; 10(4): 291–6PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    Quinn K, Parker P, de Bie R, et al. Interventions for preventing ankle ligament injuries. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2000; (2): CD000018Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Handoll HH, Rowe BH, Quinn KM, et al. Interventions for preventing ankle ligament injuries. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2001; (3): CD000018Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Astrid Junge
    • 1
  • Jiri Dvorak
    • 1
  1. 1.Schulthess KlinikFIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC)ZurichSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations