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Background: Despite the availability of high-quality evidence describing injury patterns in European professional soccer players, there is a paucity of data regarding American athletes. This disparity is accentuated for elite youth athletes. Our study identifies position-specific injury patterns occurring in elite youth male soccer players. Hypothesis: We hypothesize that there are injury types, locations, and specific injuries that occur most frequently in elite youth soccer players and that certain positions have a higher frequency of these injuries than others. Methods: Data from a retrospective review of the IRB-approved Male Academy Soccer Registry from August 1, 2019 through June 30, 2022 including demographics, team (U15, U17, or U19), injury details, and severity was obtained. Results: 260 injuries occurred in 201 athletes for an injury rate of 1.29 injuries per person-year. Rates of injuries were highest in forwards and defenders at 1.42 and 1.3 respectively. The incidence rate was consistently the highest for forwards, markedly increasing from U15 to U19. Goalkeepers had the lowest rate of 1.08 injuries per person-year. In the U19 team, goalkeepers had a significantly lower injury incidence of 0.167 compared to other positions at 1.6 (p<0.001). U19 goalkeepers had a significantly lower rate of injuries than their U17 counterparts (p<0.02). Hand and finger injuries comprised 25% of goalkeeper injuries. Among defenders, 29.7% of injuries were sustained to the thigh with 15.45% sustained to the hip and groin. Among midfielders, the hip and groin were most injured at 27.4%, followed by thigh injuries at 19.3%. Forwards sustained more ankle injuries than the other positions at 23.5%. Though goalkeepers had the lowest injury incidence, 50% of their injuries were classified as severe, requiring more than 28 days of recovery. Of injuries sustained by forwards, midfielders, and defenders, less than 25% were severe. Stress reactions were 2.7% of injuries. Surgery was required in 3.46% of injuries. Thigh injuries were 43.6% of overall injuries compared to 37.8% for the hip and groin. Conclusion: Treatment and prevention of injury is one of the primary tasks of sports medicine physicians and requires an understanding of underlying mechanisms and epidemiology of injury. Recognition of injury patterns in pediatric athletes allows those dedicated to the care of such athletes to provide developmentally tailored recommendations to coaches and athletic trainers. While further research is still needed to elicit injury patterns, our data provides an initial insight to help navigate the next steps in keeping elite male soccer academy athletes safe during sport.

Publication Date



Pediatrics | Sports Medicine

When and Where Presented

Presented at the 11th Annual Pediatric Research in Sports Medicine Society (PRiSM) Meeting; Anaheim, CA; January 25-27, 2024

Position Specific Injury Patterns in Male Developmental Academy Soccer Players