Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center

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Information about project titled 'Quantifying heading exposure in youth football using self-report – watch your steps!'

Quantifying heading exposure in youth football using self-report – watch your steps!

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Project status: Published
Project manager: Stian Bahr Sandmo
Supervisor(s): Roald Bahr, Inga Katharina Koerte
Coworker(s): Jolien Gooijers, Caroline Seer, David Kaufmann, Ofer Pasternak, Michael L. Lipton, Yorghos Tripodis


Background: The link between repetitive heading in youth football and potential neurological consequences is poorly understood. Importantly, ongoing prospective studies exploring this link need accurate measures of head-impact exposure. Self-report has been targeted as a viable option for long-term surveillance.  

Aim: To assess the validity of self-reported heading exposure in male youth soccer players.

Methods: Participants (n=34) completed a questionnaire on heading exposure at the end of a two-week period with their team, including matches and training sessions; self-reported numbers were then compared to observation (reference).

Results: For all participants combined, we observed 157 training sessions and 64 matches. Compared to reference, players systematically overestimated their heading exposure with a factor of 3, and with considerable random error (46%); Spearman's rho was 0.68 (p<0.001). Overestimation was higher in training sessions than matches (factor of 3.7 vs. 0.5).

Conclusion: Self-reported heading exposure in male youth soccer warrants careful interpretation, and should not be regarded a suitable tool for determining individual exposure levels.