Background: Research on age-related injury incidence in elite youth soccer is needed to identify high-risk groups.
Purpose: To investigate the incidence of soccer-related injuries in elite French youth players based at the Clairefontaine Football Center.
Study design: Cohort study (Prevalence); Level of evidence, 1.
Methods: Injuries sustained by players in the younger than 14-, 15-, and 16-year-old age groups during 10 seasons were diagnosed and documented by a sports physician according to type, location, severity, the date the injury occurred, and playing position.
Results: Altogether, 1152 injuries were documented across all age groups with 69.1% and 30.9% sustained during training and matches, respectively. A total of 4.8 injuries per 1000 hours' exposure time were recorded and 11.2 and 3.9 injuries per 1000 hours for matches and training, respectively. There was no significant difference in injury frequency between age groups. The youngest group sustained more training injuries (P < .05) and osteochondroses (P < .05) and fewer match injuries than did the oldest group. Injury incidence varied throughout the season, peaking in September in all groups. The majority of injuries lasted less than 1 week (60.2%), contusions were the predominant injury type (30.6%, P < .05), and the upper leg was the site most often injured (24.5%, P < .05).
Conclusion: Those players younger than 14 years incurred more injuries in training and sustained more growth-related overuse disorders. Older players were more often injured during matches. Injury incidence and the frequency of overuse disorders were highest early in the season.