Objectives This study assessed knowledge, beliefs and practices of elite female footballers regarding injury prevention.
Methods A survey was sent to players participating in the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019. Questions covered three injury prevention domains: (1) knowledge; (2) attitudes and beliefs; (3) prevention practices in domestic clubs. Additionally, ACL injury history was assessed.
Results Out of 552 players, 196 women responded (35.5%). More than 80% of these considered injury risk to be moderate or high. Players listed knee, ankle, thigh, head and groin as the most important injuries in women’s football. The most important risk factors identified were low muscle strength, followed by poor pitch quality, playing on artificial turf, too much training, reduced recovery and hard tackles. In these elite players, 15% did not have any permanent medical staff in their domestic clubs, yet more than 75% had received injury prevention advice and more than 80% performed injury prevention exercises in their clubs. Players identified the two most important implementation barriers as player motivation and coach attitude. Two-thirds of players used the FIFA 11+ programme in their clubs.
Conclusions This diverse group of elite players demonstrated good knowledge of risk level and injury types in women’s football. Of the risk factors emphasised by players, there was only one intrinsic risk factor (strength), but several factors out of their control (pitch quality and type, training volume and hard tackles). Still players had positive attitudes and beliefs regarding injury prevention exercises and indicated a high level of implementation, despite a lack of medical support.
- injury prevention
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Contributors All authors have contributed to this survey. CG and LG were involved in designing the protocol, administering the survey, data extraction, data analysis and co-leading of the writing. AF was involved in data extraction, analysis and co-writing of the manuscript. JH was involved in the development of the questionnaire and review of the manuscript. AW and CO were involved in the development of the questionnaire, data collection and data extraction, as well as review of the manuscript. RB was involved in development of the protocol, development of the questionnaire, data collection and review of the manuscript.
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.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Ethics approval The local Ethics Review Board (Anti-Doping Lab Qatar) classified this as exempt from review.
Data availability statement Data collected during this survey are available upon reasonable request. Anonymous data are held by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Medical Office.
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