Epidemiology in Young Football Players
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. In order to prevent football injuries in children and adolescent players, it is necessary to obtain valid epidemiological data on injury incidence and characteristics. Injury incidence tends to increase with age through all age groups in youth football. Maturational status seems to have an influence on injury characteristics. Injury characteristics in adolescent players were similar to adult football. In particular, adolescent girls seem to have a considerable risk to sustain an anterior cruciate ligament rupture. Players younger than 15 years seem to have partly different injury patterns. Particularly, fractures, mainly at the growth plates at the epiphyseal–metaphyseal junction, and growth-related osteochondral disorders may result in long layoff times and may have serious consequences in (pre)pubescent children. Specific data for players under the age of 11 years are nearly completely missing. As injury characteristics in adolescent players are comparable to adults, prevention programs proven beneficial in adults are also efficacious in youth football players. Injury prevention programs particularly tailored to children before and during puberty based on the specific needs and characteristics in these age groups need to be developed and evaluated.
KeywordsAnterior Cruciate Ligament Injury Football Player Injury Incidence Injury Characteristic Injury Prevention Program
The Ph.D. studies of Roland Rössler on the “Epidemiology of Football Injuries in Youth Players” were financially supported by FIFA.
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