An examination of the training profiles and injuries in elite youth track and field athletes

Eur J Sport Sci. 2014;14(2):185-92. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2013.809153. Epub 2013 Jun 19.


Australian track and field has a strong focus on State and National elite youth programmes as the development pathway to elite senior international competition. Yet, there are no clearly defined parameters for appropriate training volumes, training intensities or competition schedules for youth athletes. This study sought to examine the training profiles of, and injuries suffered by, elite youth track and field athletes between the ages 13 and 17 years. The participants were 103 elite NSW athletes (age 17.7 ± 2.4 years, 64% girls) who recalled, through a questionnaire, their training profiles (frequency, volume and intensity) and injuries (type, site and severity) at three age groups: 13-14 years, 15-16 years and at 17 years of age. Eighty-one athletes (78.6%) sustained 200 injuries (time loss > 3 weeks) that were predominantly classified as overuse (76%) with 17.3% of athletes retiring due to injuries prior to turning 18 years. The results, analysed using t-test, one-way analysis of variance and chi-square analysis, showed that injured athletes trained at a higher intensity at 13-14 years (p < 0.01), completed more high-intensity training sessions at 13-14 years (p < 0.01) and 15-16 years (p < 0.05) and had a higher yearly training load at 13-14 years (p < 0.01). There was a significant relationship between forced retirement and having sustained an overuse injury (p<0.05). These findings suggest that monitoring by coaches and athletes of training loads, intensity and the number of hard sessions completed each week is warranted to minimise injuries sustained by 13-16 year old athletes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Athletes / statistics & numerical data*
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Track and Field / injuries*