Shoe and Field Surface Risk Factors for Acute Lower Extremity Injuries Among Female Youth Soccer Players

Clin J Sport Med. 2016 May;26(3):245-50. doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000236.


Objective: To describe acute lower extremity injuries and evaluate extrinsic risk factors in female youth soccer.

Design: Nested case-control study.

Setting: Youth soccer clubs in Seattle, WA.

Participants: Female soccer players (n = 351) ages 11 to 15 years randomly selected from 4 soccer clubs from which 83% of their players were enrolled with complete follow-up for 92% of players.

Interventions: Injured players were interviewed regarding injury, field surface, shoe type, and position. Uninjured controls, matched on game or practice session, were also interviewed.

Main outcome measures: The association between risk factors and acute lower extremity injury using logistic regression to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI).

Results: One hundred seventy-three acute lower extremity injuries occurred involving primarily the ankle (39.3%), knee (24.9%), and thigh (11.0%). Over half (52.9%) recovered within 1 week, whereas 30.2% lasted beyond 2 weeks. During practices, those injured were approximately 3-fold (OR, 2.83; 95% CI, 1.49-5.31) more likely to play on grass than artificial turf and 2.4-fold (95% CI, 1.03-5.96) more likely to wear cleats on grass than other shoe and surface combinations. During games, injured players were 89% (95% CI, 1.03-4.17) more likely to play defender compared with forward.

Conclusions: Half of the acute lower extremity injuries affected the ankle or knee. Grass surface and wearing cleats on grass increased training injuries.

Clinical relevance: The majority, 64%, of female youth soccer players' acute injuries involve the ankle and knee and injury prevention strategies in this age group should target these areas. When considering playing surfaces for training, communities and soccer organizations should consider the third-generation artificial turf a safe alternative to grass.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity / injuries*
  • Risk Factors
  • Shoes
  • Soccer / injuries*
  • Washington / epidemiology