Background: Soccer is the most popular sport worldwide, with about 265 million players, both professionals and amateurs. Most research investigating soccer injuries has focused on professional players because they have greater exposure time, but most soccer players are at the recreational level.
Purpose: To undertake a retrospective epidemiological study of the injuries sustained in Spanish amateur soccer during the 2010-2011 season.
Study design: Descriptive epidemiological study.
Methods: Any injuries incurred by the 134,570 recreational soccer players (aged 18-55 years) registered with the Spanish Football Federation were reported to the federation's medical staff. A standardized medical questionnaire, based on the Fédération International de Football Association (FIFA) Medical and Research Centre (F-MARC) consensus for collection procedures in studies of soccer injuries, was used to classify the injury according to type, severity, location, and treatment.
Results: A total of 15,243 injuries were reported, with an average of 0.11 injuries per player and per year. From the total number of injuries, 67.2% were classified as injuries that resulted in time loss, while the remaining 32.7% were injuries that required medical attention. Most injuries led to a minimum of 1 competitive match being missed (87%), and only 2.5% were recurrent injuries. The rate of injuries per 1000 hours of play was double during games (1.15/1000 hours) compared with during training (0.49/1000 hours). From the total number of injuries reported, 7.7% corresponded to goalkeepers, 24.2% to forwards, 33.8% to defenders, and 34.3% to midfielders. The knee (29.9%) and ankle joints (12.4%) were the most common body locations injured, while ligament sprains and ruptures accounted for 32.1% of the total injuries attended. Older amateur players (age ≥30 years) had a greater number of injuries per year and per 1000 hours of play than their younger counterparts.
Conclusion: The risk of injury in amateur soccer is lower than that previously reported in professional players. The most common complaints in amateur players are knee ligament injuries. Further research is needed to investigate ways of reducing the incidence of injuries in amateur soccer.
Keywords: exercise; performance; rehabilitation; soccer; team sports.