Injuries in professional male soccer players in the Netherlands: a prospective cohort study

J Athl Train. 2015 Feb;50(2):211-6. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-49.3.64. Epub 2014 Dec 22.


Context: Injuries are a major adverse event in a soccer player's career. Reducing injury incidence requires a thorough knowledge of the epidemiology of soccer injuries.

Objective: To investigate the incidence and characteristics of injuries in the Dutch premier soccer league.

Design: Cohort study.

Setting: The Dutch premier soccer league.

Patients or other participants: During the 2009-2010 soccer season, a total of 217 professional soccer players from 8 teams were prospectively followed.

Main outcome measure(s): The medical staff recorded time-loss injuries, including information on injuries (ie, type, body part, duration) and exposure data for training sessions and matches.

Results: A total of 286 injuries were recorded, affecting 62.7% of the players. The overall injury incidence was 6.2 injuries per 1000 player-hours, 2.8 in training sessions and 32.8 in matches. Most of the recorded injuries were acute (68.5%). Eight percent of the injuries were classified as recurrent. Injuries were most likely to be located in the lower extremities (82.9%). Injury time loss ranged from 1 to 752 days, with a median of 8 days. Knee injuries had the greatest consequences in terms of days of absence from soccer play (on average, 45 days). The most common diagnosis was muscle/tendon injury of the lower extremities (32.9%).

Conclusions: Injury risk in the Dutch premier soccer league is high, especially during matches. Preventive measures should focus on the most common diagnoses, namely, muscle/tendon injuries of the lower extremities.

Keywords: elite athletes; epidemiology; football; incidence.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries* / epidemiology
  • Athletic Injuries* / etiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Leg Injuries* / classification
  • Leg Injuries* / epidemiology
  • Leg Injuries* / etiology
  • Lower Extremity / injuries*
  • Male
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Soccer* / injuries
  • Soccer* / statistics & numerical data
  • Soft Tissue Injuries* / epidemiology
  • Soft Tissue Injuries* / etiology
  • Tendon Injuries* / epidemiology
  • Tendon Injuries* / etiology