Training and game loads and injury risk in elite Australian footballers

J Sci Med Sport. 2013 Nov;16(6):499-503. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2012.12.004. Epub 2013 Jan 18.


Objectives: To examine the relationship between combined training and game loads and injury risk in elite Australian footballers.

Design: Prospective cohort study.

Methods: Forty-six elite Australian footballers (mean±SD age of 22.2±2.9 y) from one club were involved in a one-season study. Training and game loads (session-RPE multiplied by duration in min) and injuries were recorded each time an athlete exerted an exercise load. Rolling weekly sums and week-to-week changes in load were then modelled against injury data using a logistic regression model. Odds ratios (OR) were reported against a reference group of the lowest training load range.

Results: Larger 1 weekly (>1750 AU, OR=2.44-3.38), 2 weekly (>4000 AU, OR=4.74) and previous to current week changes in load (>1250 AU, OR=2.58) significantly related (p<0.05) to a larger injury risk throughout the in-season phase. Players with 2-3 and 4-6 years of experience had a significantly lower injury risk compared to 7+ years players (OR=0.22, OR=0.28) when the previous to current week change in load was more than 1000 AU. No significant relationships were found between all derived load values and injury risk during the pre-season phase.

Conclusions: In-season, as the amount of 1-2 weekly load or previous to current week increment in load increases, so does the risk of injury in elite Australian footballers. To reduce the risk of injury, derived training and game load values of weekly loads and previous week-to-week load changes should be individually monitored in elite Australian footballers.

Keywords: Injury prevention; Load monitoring; Odds ratios; Team sport.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Australia
  • Football / injuries*
  • Football / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Conditioning, Human / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Workload
  • Young Adult