The relationship between the skill attributes underpinning performance in football and injury risk is largely unknown.

 

Previously, there have been indications from male football that skilled players may be at greater risk of injury than their less skilled counterparts.

 

Hence, more documentation is needed.

 

The aim of this large study (82 football teams) was therefore to investigate whether there are any associations between technical, tactical and physiological skill attributes in football and risk of injury in young female players.

 

Exposure and injuries of 1665 female Norwegian amateur players, aged 13–17 years, were registered prospectively throughout one football season (March–October 2007).

 

A standardized questionnaire designed to assess the football skills of each player was completed by the coaches after the season.

 

The results showed that players with good technical, tactical and physiological football skills have a greater risk of injury than their less skilled teammates.

 

Players skilled at:

- ball receiving

- passing and shooting

- heading, tackling

- decision-making when in ball possession or in defense

- and physically strong players

 

were at 2-3 greater risk of sustaining any injury, an acute injury and a contact injury than their less skilled teammates.

 

One hypothesized explanation is that skilled players are more likely to be in ball possession and consequently are more exposed to tackles and other duels.

 

However, subsequent studies are needed to determine whether stricter enforcement of the Laws of the Game and modification of coaches’ and players’ attitudes towards fair play and high-risk game situations are required.

 

The investigation was carried out by PhD student Torbjørn Soligard, Hege Grindem, Roald Bahr and Thor Einar Andersen.

 

Read the paper in British Journal of Sports Medicine.