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Playing Position is Associated with Injury Incidence Rate in Male Academy Soccer Players

Hall, Elliott CR, Larruskain, Jon, Gil, Susana M, Lekue, Josean A, Baumert, Philipp, Rienzi, Edgardo, Moreno, Sacha, Tannure, Marcio, Murtagh, Conall F, Ade, Jack D, Squires, Paul, Orme, Patrick, Anderson, Liam, Whitworth-Turner, Craig M, Morton, James P, Drust, Barry, William, Alun G and Erskine, Robert M (2022) Playing Position is Associated with Injury Incidence Rate in Male Academy Soccer Players. Journal of Athletic Training. ISSN 1062-6050

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Abstract

Context: It is unclear whether playing position influences injury in male academy soccer players (ASP). Objective: To determine if playing position is associated with injury in ASP. Design: Descriptive Epidemiology Study. Setting: English, Spanish, Uruguayan and Brazilian soccer academies. Participants: 369 ASP from Under 14 (U14) to U23 age groups, classified as ‘post-peak height velocity' using maturity offset, and grouped as goalkeepers (GK), lateral defenders (LD), central defenders (CD), lateral midfielders (LM), central midfielders (CM) and forwards (FWD). Additional analysis compared central (CENT) with lateral/forward (LAT/FWD) positions. Main Outcome Measures: Injuries were recorded prospectively over one season. Injury prevalence proportion (IPP), days missed and injury incidence rate (IIR, injuries per 1000 training/match hours, n=116) were analysed according to playing position. Results: No association with playing position was observed for any injury type/location regarding IPP (P≥0.089) or days missed (P≥0.235). The IIR was higher in CD than LD for general (9.30 vs. 4.18 injuries/1000h, P=0.009), soft-tissue (5.14 vs. 1.95 injuries/1000h, P=0.026) and ligament/tendon injuries (2.69 vs. 0.56 injuries/1000h, P=0.040). Regarding CENT vs. LAT/FWD, there were no associations with IPP (P≥0.051) or days missed (P≥0.083), but general IIR was greater in CENT than LAT/FWD (8.67 vs. 6.12 injuries/1000h, P=0.047). Conclusions: ASP playing position was not associated with IPP or days missed but the higher general, soft-tissue and ligament/tendon IIR in CD suggests this position warrants specific attention regarding injury prevention strategies. These novel findings highlight the importance of including training/match exposure when investigating the influence of playing position on injury in ASP.

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