Modeling the Risk of Team Sport Injuries: A Narrative Review of Different Statistical Approaches

Joshua D. Ruddy, Stuart Cormack, Rod Whiteley, Morgan Williams, Ryan G Timmins, David A Opar

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Injuries are a common occurrence in team sports and can have significant financial, physical and psychological consequences for athletes and their sporting organizations. As such, an abundance of research has attempted to identify factors associated with the risk of injury, which is important when developing injury prevention and risk mitigation strategies. There are a number of methods that can be used to identify injury risk factors. However, difficulty in understanding the nuances between different statistical approaches can lead to incorrect inferences and decisions being made from data. Accordingly, this narrative review aims to (1) outline commonly implemented methods for determining injury risk, (2) highlight the differences between association and prediction as it relates to injury and (3) describe advances in statistical modeling and the current evidence relating to predicting injuries in sport. Based on the points that are discussed throughout this narrative review, both researchers and practitioners alike need to carefully consider the different types of variables that are examined in relation to injury risk and how the analyses pertaining to these different variables are interpreted. There are a number of other important considerations when modeling the risk of injury, such as the method of data transformation, model validation and performance assessment. With these technical considerations in mind, researchers and practitioners should consider shifting their perspective of injury etiology from one of reductionism to one of complexity. Concurrently, research implementing reductionist approaches should be used to inform and implement complex approaches to identifying injury risk. However, the ability to capture large injury numbers is a current limitation of sports injury research and there has been a call to make data available to researchers, so that analyses and results can be replicated and verified. Collaborative efforts such as this will help prevent incorrect inferences being made from spurious data and will assist in developing interventions that are underpinned by sound scientific rationale. Such efforts will be a step in the right direction of improving the ability to identify injury risk, which in turn will help improve risk mitigation and ultimately the prevention of injuries.
Original languageEnglish
Article number829
Number of pages16
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2019


  • sport
  • injury
  • prevention
  • prediction
  • association


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