Background: Most soccer injuries concern the lower extremity with a higher injury rate during the second half of matches. In advising safe return to sport, hop tests are usually assessed at the point of return to sport under non-fatigued conditions. No studies exist investigating hop test outcomes before and after a match in soccer players returning to performance after lower extremity injury and non-injured teammates. The objective is to assess differences in hop test outcomes before and after a match in and between soccer players returning to performance after lower extremity injury and their non-injured teammates.
Methods: A repeated-measures design was used to measure outcomes on five hop tests before and after a soccer match. For analyzing differences in hop tests before and after a match, paired sample t-tests were used. Independent t-tests were used to analyze differences between soccer players after injury and non-injured teammates. Effect sizes were calculated using Cohen's d.
Results: Hop tests were completed by 61 amateur soccer players after injury and 121 non-injured teammates. Differences in hop tests before and after the match within both groups had negligible to small effect sizes (d=0.00-0.49), except for the figure of 8- and 30-seconds side hop in the injured leg of RTPf soccer players (d=0.56 and d=0.71 respectively). Differences between both groups were negligible to small (d=0.00-0.36).
Conclusions: Soccer players returning to performance after a lower extremity injury showed similar scores on hop tests than their non-injured teammates. More demanding sport-specific performance test and measurement of quality of movement are additionally recommended for safe return to sport decision-making.