Background In the Netherlands, volleyball is ranked among the top 5 sports with the highest number of injuries, and over 35% of these injuries are sustained by youth players.
Objective To assess the effectiveness of a volleyball specific youth injury prevention program on injury incidence, injury severity and injury burden.
Design Quasi-experimental study based on a prospective controlled design with a follow-up period of one volleyball season. Randomization was based on competition region (2 intervention regions, 2 control regions). Exposure data of youth volleyball players were collected by trainers on a weekly basis. In case of absence due to a volleyball related injury, injury details were obtained.
Setting Youth teams playing in the Dutch volleyball competition.
Participants Players aged under 17 years who train and compete in the Dutch volleyball. In total, 518 players were included in this study (286 intervention group, 232 control group).
Intervention A volleyball specific warming-up programme tailored to youth, aimed at increasing motor ability and neuromuscular control.
Main Outcome Measurements Injury incidence, injury severity and injury burden. Subgroup analyses for injury onset (acute or overuse) and injury location (upper extremity or lower extremity).
Results No overall effect of the intervention was reported for injury incidence, injury severity and injury burden. Subgroup analysis showed that upper extremity injury rate was reduced by ~60% (HR 0.41, 95%CI 0.20 – 0.83). A trend was found suggesting that the risk for an acute injury was reduced by ~40% (HR 0.61, 95%CI 0.36 – 1.02).
Conclusions No overall effect of the youth volleyball injury prevention program was found. The preventive program was, however, very effective in reducing upper extremity injury rates in youth players. With respect to acute volleyball related injuries, results were promising.
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