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Prediction of Overuse Injuries in Professional U18-U21 Footballers Using Metrics of Training Distance and Intensity

Bacon, Christopher S.1,2; Mauger, Alexis R.1

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: November 2017 - Volume 31 - Issue 11 - p 3067–3076
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001744
Original Research

Bacon, CS and Mauger, AR. Prediction of overuse injuries in professional U18-U21 footballers using metrics of training distance and intensity. J Strength Cond Res 31(11): 3067–3076, 2017—The most common injury in professional football is an overuse injury to the lower limb. A significant external risk factor of this injury is the mismanagement of training and match loads. The aim of the current study was to examine the predictability of overuse injuries in professional youth soccer players using volume and intensity variables derived from Global Positioning Systems. A total of 41 players (age: 17.8 ± 1.1 years) training and match loads were assessed. These external loads were measured over 2 competitive seasons for every training session and match for each individual. A linear regression was used to test the predictability of the injury based on load, which were grouped using loading groups calculated from squad weekly averages. The load groupings assigned were: low load = 1 SD below the squad mean score; normal load = ±1 SD from the squad mean; high load = 1 SD above squad mean. The analysis demonstrated that total distance significantly predicted overuse injury incidence rates (F1,39 = 6.482, p = 0.015), whereas high-speed running meters could not (F1,39 = 1.003, p = 0.323). This study demonstrated that distance covered in training and matches can impact on the incidence of overuse injury in youth soccer players. Coaches should seek to monitor player training loads and incorporate this metric into their decision making for protecting players from overuse injury.

1School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Kent, Canterbury, United Kingdom; and

2School of Health Sciences, University of Canterbury, Canterbury, New Zealand

Address correspondence to Christopher S. Bacon,

Copyright © 2017 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.