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Are skilled players at greater risk of injury in female youth football?


Background Knowledge of skill-related risk factors for injury in football is limited.

Objective To investigate whether there is an association between football skills and risk of injury in football.

Study Design Prospective cohort study of the incidence of injuries and a retrospective evaluation of the players' skill-level.

Methods Exposure and injuries were registered prospectively in 82 of 125 football teams (1665 of 2540 female Norwegian amateur players aged 13–17 years) throughout one football season (March–October 2007). A standardised questionnaire designed to assess the football skills of each player was completed by the coaches after the season.

Results Across the different skill attributes, the injury incidence in the high-skilled players varied from 4.4 to 4.9 injuries per 1000 player hours, compared to 2.8 to 4.0 injuries per 1000 player hours in the low-skilled players. Players skilled at ball receiving, passing and shooting, heading, tackling, decision-making when in ball possession or in defence and physically strong players were at significantly greater risk of sustaining any injury, an acute injury and a contact injury than their less skilled teammates (rate ratio: 1.50–3.19, all p<0.05).

Conclusions Players with high levels of football skill were at greater risk of sustaining injuries than their less skilled teammates.

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