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Nine typical injury patterns in German professional male football (soccer): a systematic visual video analysis of 345 match injuries
  1. Christian Klein1,2,
  2. Patrick Luig1,2,3,
  3. Thomas Henke1,
  4. Hendrik Bloch2,
  5. Petra Platen1
  1. 1 Faculty of Sports Science, Department of Sports Medicine and Sports Nutrition, Ruhr University Bochum, Bochum, Germany
  2. 2 Department for Sports Injury Prevention, VBG, Hamburg, Germany
  3. 3 German Handball Federation, Dortmund, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Christian Klein, Department for Sports Injury Prevention, VBG, Hamburg, Germany; christian.klein{at}


Aim We aimed to systematically analyse the videos of acute injuries in professional men’s football and describe typical injury patterns.

Methods Injuries were registered with the German statutory accident insurance for professional athletes as part of occupational accident reporting. Following each season (2014–2017), video footage of the two highest divisions in German male football was searched for moderate and severe acute match injuries. Two raters then independently assessed the injuries for: game situation, player and opponent behaviour, referee decision, and injury mechanisms.

Results The total data set included 7493 acute injuries. Of these, 857 (11%) were moderate or severe match injuries. The video search yielded 345 (40%) clearly identifiable injuries and of those 170 (49%) were contact injuries. We describe nine typical injury patterns: one each for head and shoulder injuries, two for thigh and ankle, and three for knee injuries. The nine patterns are called: (1) Head-to-head injury. (2) Collision-and-fall shoulder injury. (3) Sprinter’s thigh injury. (4) Perturbation-and-strain thigh injury. (5) Tackle knee injury. (6) Tackle-and-twist knee injury. (7) Non-contact knee injury. (8) Attacked ankle injury. (9) Collision-and-twist ankle injury. Thigh injuries occurred primarily in non-contact situations (44/81), mostly while the player was sprinting (23/44). Knee injuries were often caused by direct external impact (49/84)—mainly suffered by the tackler during a tackle (17/49).

Conclusion The nine common injury patterns in football differed substantially in their mechanisms and causes.

  • football
  • soccer
  • male
  • elite performance
  • injury prevention

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  • Twitter @Chrs_Kln, @patrickluig, @Hendrik_Bloch

  • Contributors CK and PL collected the general injury data from the VBG. CK screened and collected the video footage. CK and PL analysed the video footage. All authors were involved in the development process of the observation form, but mainly CK, PL and HB developed the final version of the applied observation form. CK analysed the data. All authors, but mainly CK, were responsible for the conception and design of the study. All authors participated in the consensus discussions. CK, PL and HB interpreted the data. CK wrote the first draft of the paper, which was critically revised by all coauthors. CK is responsible for the overall content as guarantor.

  • Funding The costs for the access to the media portal of the German Football League were borne by the VBG.

  • Competing interests CK and HB are still, and PL has earlier been, employed with the VBG.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The ethics committee of the Ruhr University Bochum, Bochum, Germany, Faculty of Sports Science, declared no ethical objections to this study design (EKS B 29/2018).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available. General personal information of the participants are available in a public, open access repository via and Epidemiological background data were available via the VBG. These data are not publicly available. The authors have no permission to make the data available. Video footage was available via the media portal ( of the German Football League (DFL).