Strength development and non-contact lower limb injury in academy footballers across age groups

Steven Jones, Zoe Clair, Russ Wrigley, Richard Mullen, Thor Einar Andersen, Morgan Williams

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    Abstract

    Non-contact lower limb injuries are common in academy football. Yet, the impact these injuries have on strength development in academy footballers remains unclear. This study aimed to investigate the impact of non-contact lower limb injury on hip, groin, and knee flexor strength development in male academy youth footballers. Furthermore, this study: reports normative strength data of emerging field-based tests that can be easily deployed in football academies; explores the effect of age on injury occurrence; and highlights the number of days lost from injury in male youth footballers. Assessments of hip adductor, abductor, and eccentric knee flexor strength were obtained from 195 academy football players during pre-season and at the end of season. In-season injuries were recorded by medical staff. Those footballers who sustained non-contact lower limb injury were compared with those who did not sustain a non-contact lower limb injury. No between-group differences were observed for any strength assessments when controlled for pre-season measures. Stronger footballers at pre-season experienced strength loses, while those weaker players gained strength across the season. Hip strength development was impaired in older age group footballers. Sustaining a non-contact lower limb injury had minimal impact on strength development. In the absence of in-season lower limb strength monitoring, development in academy youth footballers may not progress as expected, and in particular, stronger and older youth athletes may benefit from individualized strength training.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)679-690
    Number of pages12
    JournalScandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports
    Volume31
    Issue number3
    Early online date28 Nov 2020
    DOIs
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Nov 2020

    Keywords

    • football
    • injury
    • soccer
    • strength
    • youth

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