Objective: This chapter reviews the existing epidemiological studies on pediatric soccer injuries and discusses possibilities for future research.
Data sources: A comprehensive, web-based search of existing soccer injury literature was performed with an emphasis on the pediatric population. The search encompassed all available studies, including European journals and texts, and initial investigations from the 1970s which serve as a basis of comparison to more recent work.
Main results: Youth soccer is a relatively safe sport with an injury incidence ranging from 2.3 per 1,000 practice hours to 14.8 per 1,000 game hours. Similar to adults, youth soccer injuries occur mostly in the lower extremities, specifically the knee and ankle. Contusions are the most common injury, and minor/moderate injuries predominate. Extrinsic risk factors for youth soccer include: dangerous play, play on small fields, and inclusion of youth players on adult teams. The most important intrinsic risk factor is the relation of knee injury and female gender.
Conclusions: Adolescent females suffer a disproportionate number of knee and anterior cruciate ligament injuries compared to adolescent males, but recent injury prevention studies yielded encouraging results. Head injuries in youth soccer are low, and rarely, if ever, occur from head to ball contact. Adherence to the rules of the game, proper coaching, and adequate refereeing are important factors in youth soccer injury prevention.