Injuries in young elite female soccer players: an 8-season prospective study

Am J Sports Med. 2008 Feb;36(2):276-84. doi: 10.1177/0363546507307866. Epub 2007 Oct 11.


Background: Epidemiologic data on injuries in young female soccer players at elite levels are scarce.

Purpose: The aim of the present study is to investigate the incidence of soccer-related injuries in young elite female French players.

Study design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 2.

Methods: Injuries sustained by players between 15 and 19 years of age, during 8 seasons, were diagnosed and documented by a sports physician according to type, location, severity, the date the injury occurred, and playing position.

Results: Altogether 619 injuries were documented for 110 players (92.4%). Of these injuries, 64.6% (4.6/1000 training hours; 95% confidence interval [CI], 4.2-5.0) and 35.4% (22.4/1000 match hours; 95% CI, 19.4-25.4) were sustained during training and matches, respectively. The risk of injury was greater in the youngest (under age 15) group compared with the oldest (under 19) group (relative risk 1.7; 95% CI, 1.3-2.3). Traumatic injuries amounted to 536 (86.4%) and 83 (13.4%) were overuse injuries. There were 51.9% minor injuries, 35.7% moderate injuries, and 12.4% major injuries. Most injuries were located at the lower extremities (83.4%), with the majority affecting the ankle (n = 157). The most commonly diagnosed injury was ankle sprain (16.8%). Twelve anterior cruciate ligament ruptures were sustained, with the majority occurring during matches (n = 10; 1.0/1000 match hours; 95% CI, 0.4-1.6). Reinjuries accounted for 4.4% of total injuries, and September was the predominant month for injury (14.2%).

Conclusions: The results, when compared with those of other investigations on female soccer players, revealed high rates of both traumatic injury and match injury, whereas recurrence of injury was low. Injuries, notably sprains, to the ankle were common, suggesting a need for the implementation of specific injury prevention strategies for this joint.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / epidemiology
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Lower Extremity / injuries
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recurrence
  • Seasons
  • Soccer / injuries*
  • Upper Extremity / injuries