Common Soccer Injuries
Soccer injuries are those that occur during the course of play. Part of being a responsible parent or coach is understanding important concepts on how to reduce them.
As the athlete gets older the frequency of injuries injuries increases. (1) The past number of years we've seen various new programs come out about injury prevention. FIFA came out with "The 11". Another program called PEP is a well known program for reducing injury. Either one of these programs would be an excellent choice and I hope to write about these in later articles. But for now its important to first know what the common soccer injuries are?
Based on a 2005 report Youth soccer injury incidence occured in 2.3 per 1000 practice hours and 14.8 per 1000 game hours. As I've reviewed some of the literature a common theme has popped up in a couple articles. Youth soccer injuries happen most frequently in the lower extremities. The knee and ankle areas are common injury areas in the lower body. "Contusions are the most common injury." (3)
What causes these injuries?
Sometimes poor decisions by adults can cause increased injury rates in youth players. Certain extrinsic risk factors may play a part in the increased incidence of injury. One factor that surprises no one is unsafe play by an opposing player. Poor technique, timing, inability to control emotion and coaches who push players to "take out" another player all contribute to injuries. Another factor is putting young players on adult teams before they are ready physically and mentally. Even playing on a small field could be a factor to look at. (3)
Another commonly known factor is the relationship of the female athlete to knee injury. This is has been known for quite some time now. Female athletes especially should participate in an injury program.
The unfornate part about all of this, is that no matter what we do freak accidents will happen. Players will always encounter coming down on someone else's foot or catching a piece of poor quality sod and sprain an ankle.
Why Reduce the Incidence of Injury?
An athlete that is not playing or practicing is not developing skills or becoming a better player physically. A player that is not on the field cannot contribute to wins on the field. But with all these factors we must always look at the long term with young soccer players. I have held the belief that is does not matter if you have a great 6 year old soccer player so develop for the long term and keep it fun in the short term.
What affect do injuries have in the long term?
Reducing injury has far greater consequences than making sure the athlete can play. In 2007 a group out of sweden studied the long term affect of ACL and meniscus injuries. They found that 10 to 20 years after the injury 50% of those with the ACL or meniscus injury (on average) have oseoarthritis with pain and impairment. In other words, as they report, its a young patient with an old knee. (4)
Quick Tips to Reduce Injury
Knowing the common soccer injuries is less than half the battle. The true important part comes with applying the knowledge you just gained. Injury prevention is all about doing. Lucky for us expert organizations have come up with great programs for athletes to reduce injury. Two well known programs are FIFA's "the 11" and the PEP program program.
FiIFA's 11 program is a great place to get started. Its designed to reduce injury.
Another easy place to start is to warm before practice and games. There evidence to suggest that a proper warm can reduce injury by as much as 30%. (2)
Take a responsible roll in reducing the young soccer players injury. I understand the fun part is playing soccer but if the player gets injured they can't be on the field anyways. Far more important than whether they are on the field now is their future development. As the study showed, 10 to 20 years after the injury there exists some impairment and oseoarthritis. So, its critical to implement a structured injury prevention program, such as those from FIFA and the PEP program.
- Tucker AM, Common soccer injuries. Diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation. Sports Med. 1997 Jan;23(1):21-32.
- Kirkendall DT, Dvorak J. Effective injury prevention in soccer. Phys Sportsmed. 2010 Apr;38(1):147-57. FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Center (F-MARC)
- Giza E, Micheli LJ. Soccer injuries. Med Sport Sci. 2005;49:140-69.
- Lohmander LS, Englund PM, Dahl LL, Roos EM. The long-term consequence of anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus injuries: osteoarthritis. Am J Sports Med. 2007 Oct;35(10):1756-69. Epub 2007 Aug 29.