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Injury patterns differ with age in male youth football: a four-season prospective study of 1111 time-loss injuries in an elite national academy
  1. Eirik Halvorsen Wik1,2,
  2. Lorenzo Lolli3,4,
  3. Karim Chamari1,
  4. Olivier Materne1,
  5. Valter Di Salvo3,5,
  6. Warren Gregson3,4,
  7. Roald Bahr1,2
  1. 1 Aspetar Sports Injury and Illness Prevention Programme (ASPREV), Department of Research and Scientific Support, Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar
  2. 2 Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center (OSTRC), Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, Oslo, Norway
  3. 3 Football Performance and Science Department, Aspire Academy, Doha, Qatar
  4. 4 Football Exchange, Research Institute of Sport Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK
  5. 5 Department of Movement, Human and Health Sciences, University of Rome “Foro Italico", Rome, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Eirik Halvorsen Wik, Aspetar Sports Injury and Illness Prevention Programme (ASPREV), Department of Research and Scientific Support, Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha 29222, Qatar; eirik.wik{at}


Objectives To describe age group patterns for injury incidence, severity and burden in elite male youth football.

Methods Prospective cohort study capturing data on individual exposure and time-loss injuries from training and matches over four seasons (2016/2017 through 2019/2020) at a national football academy (U13–U18; age range: 11–18 years). Injury incidence was calculated as the number of injuries per 1000 hours, injury severity as the median number of days lost and injury burden as the number of days lost per 1000 hours.

Results We included 301 players (591 player-seasons) and recorded 1111 time-loss injuries. Overall incidence was 12.0 per 1000 hours (95% CI 11.3 to 12.7) and burden was 255 days lost per 1000 hours (252 to 259). The mean incidence for overall injuries was higher in the older age groups (7.8 to 18.6 injuries per 1000 hours), while the greatest burden was observed in the U16 age group (425 days; 415 to 435). In older age groups, incidence and burden were higher for muscle injuries and lower for physis injuries. Incidence of joint sprains and bone stress injuries was greatest for players in the U16, U17 and U18 age groups, with the largest burden observed for U16 players. No clear age group trend was observed for fractures.

Conclusion Injury patterns differed with age; tailoring prevention programmes may be possible.

  • soccer
  • epidemiology
  • adolescent
  • sports medicine
  • paediatrics

Data availability statement

No data are available.

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Data availability statement

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  • Twitter @eirikwik, @Lorenzo_Lolli90, @ProfChamari, @oliviermaterne, @spswgreg, @roaldbahr

  • Contributors EHW, LL, WG and RB were involved in the study design and data analysis. All authors have been involved in the interpretation, drafting and critical revision of the manuscript and approved the final version.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.