High injury incidence in adolescent female soccer

Am J Sports Med. 2014 Oct;42(10):2487-94. doi: 10.1177/0363546514541224. Epub 2014 Jul 2.


Background: Previous studies report varying rates of time-loss injuries in adolescent female soccer, ranging from 2.4 to 5.3 per 1000 athlete-exposures or 2.5 to 3.7 per 1000 hours of exposure. However, these studies collected data using traditional injury reports from coaches or medical staff, with methods that significantly underestimate injury rates compared with players' self-reports.

Purpose: The primary aim was to investigate the injury incidence in adolescent female soccer using self-reports via mobile telephone text messaging. The secondary aim was to explore the association between soccer exposure, playing level, and injury risk.

Study design: Descriptive epidemiology study and cohort study; Level of evidence, 2 and 3.

Methods: During a full adolescent female soccer season in Denmark (February-June 2012), a population-based sample of 498 girls aged 15 to 18 years was included in the prospective registration of injuries. All players were enrolled on a team participating in Danish Football Association series. Soccer injuries and exposure were reported weekly by answers to standardized text message questions, followed by individual injury interviews. Soccer exposure and playing levels were chosen a priori as the only independent variables of interest in the risk factor analyses. Injury rates and relative risks were estimated using Poisson regression. Generalized estimation equations were used to take into account that players were clustered within teams.

Results: There were 498 players who sustained a total of 424 soccer injuries. The incidence of injuries was 15.3 (95% CI, 13.1-17.8), the incidence of time-loss injuries was 9.7 (95% CI, 8.2-11.4), and the incidence of severe injuries was 1.1 (95% CI, 0.7-1.6) per 1000 hours of soccer exposure. Higher average exposure in injury-free weeks was associated with a lower injury risk (P value for trend <.001), and players with low exposure (≤1 h/wk) were 3 to 10 times more likely to sustain a time-loss injury compared with other players (P < .01). Playing level was not associated with the risk of time-loss injuries (P = .18).

Conclusion: The injury incidence in adolescent female soccer is high, and this includes many severe injuries. Players with low soccer participation (≤1 h/wk) have a significantly higher injury risk compared with players participating more frequently.

Keywords: incidence; injury; soccer; text messaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Soccer / injuries*