CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 · Sports Med Int Open 2018; 02(03): E84-E90
DOI: 10.1055/a-0631-9346
Training & Testing
Eigentümer und Copyright ©Georg Thieme Verlag KG 2018

Pre-season Fitness Level and Injury Rate in Professional Soccer – A Prospective Study

Eyal Eliakim
1   Wingate Institute, Zinman College of Physical Education, Netanya, Israel
Ofer Doron
1   Wingate Institute, Zinman College of Physical Education, Netanya, Israel
Yoav Meckel
1   Wingate Institute, Zinman College of Physical Education, Netanya, Israel
Dan Nemet
2   Child Health & Sports Center, Meir Medical Center, Pediatrics, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University Kfar Saba, Israel
Alon Eliakim
2   Child Health & Sports Center, Meir Medical Center, Pediatrics, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University Kfar Saba, Israel
› Institutsangaben
Weitere Informationen


received  09. Februar 2018
revised   01. Mai 2018

accepted 03. Mai 2018

22. August 2018 (online)


The aim of the present study was to assess prospectively the effect of pre-season fitness on injury rate during the competitive season among professional soccer players. Thirty-one players participated in the study during two consecutive competitive seasons (2015–16 and 2016–17; a squad of 22 players in each season). During the 6-week pre-season training period (8 training sessions and a friendly match every week, 14–18 training hours/week) there was a significant improvement in VO2 max, a significant increase in ideal and total sprint time and no change in vertical jump, flexibility and repeated sprint-test performance decrement. During the two consecutive seasons, 28 injuries were recorded. Ten injuries were classified as mild (missing 3–7 days of practice/match), 8 as moderate (missing 8–28 days) and 10 as severe (missing >28 days). The rate of match injuries was higher (9.4 per 1000 match hours) compared to practice injuries (4.7 per 1000 training hours). Most injuries were overuse injuries (72%) of the lower limbs (71%). Most of match injuries occurred during the last 15 min of each half. There were no differences in fitness characteristics in the beginning of pre-season training between injured and non-injured players. However, improvements in VO2 max during the pre-season training period were significantly lower among injured players (0.9±5.5%) compared to non-injured players (10.4±6.5%, p<0.05). Our results emphasize the importance of pre-season training in professional soccer players not only for improvement in fitness but also for injury prevention during the following competitive season.

  • References

  • 1 Andersen TE, Tenga A, Engebretsen L, Bahr R. Video analysis of injuries and incidents in Norwegian professional football. Br J Sports Med 2004; 38: 626-631
  • 2 Arnason A, Sigurdsson SB, Gudmundsson A, Holme I, Engebretsen L, Bahr R. Physical fitness, injuries, and team performance in soccer. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2004; 36: 278-285
  • 3 Arnason A, Sigurdsson SB, Gudmundsson A, Holme I, Engebretsen L, Bahr R. Risk factors for injuries in football. Am J Sports Med 2004; 32: 5S-16S
  • 4 Bishop D, Spencer M, Duffield R, Lawrence S. The validity of a repeated sprint ability test. J Sci Med Sport 2001; 4: 19-29
  • 5 Brenner JS. American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. Overuse injuries, overtraining, and burnout in child and adolescent athletes. Pediatrics 2007; 119: 1242-1245
  • 6 Brink MS, Frencken WG, Jordet G, Lemmink KA. Coaches’ and players’ perceptions of training dose: Not a perfect match. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 2014; 9: 497-502
  • 7 Cloke D, Moore O, Shah T, Rushton S, Shirley MD, Deehan DJ. Thigh muscle injuries in youth soccer: Predictors of recovery. Am J Sports Med 2012; 40: 433-439
  • 8 Dauty M, Collon S. Incidence of injuries in French professional soccer players. Int J Sports Med 2011; 32: 965-969
  • 9 Deehan DJ, Bell K, McCaskie AW. Adolescent musculoskeletal injuries in a football academy. J Bone Joint Surg Br 2007; 89: 5-8
  • 10 Dragijsky M, Maly T, Zahalka F, Kunzmann E, Hank M. Seasonal variation of agility, speed and endurance performance in young elite soccer players. Sports 2017; 5: 12
  • 11 Dupont G, Nedelec M, McCall A, McCormack D, Berthoin S, Wisloff U. Effect of 2 soccer matches in a week on physical performance and injury rate. Am J Sports Med 2010; 38: 1752-1758
  • 12 Dvorak J, Junge A, Chomiak J, Graf-Baumann T, Peterson L, Rosch D, Hodgson R. Risk factor analysis for injuries in football players. Possibilities for a prevention program. Am J Sports Med 2000; 28: S69-S74
  • 13 Eirale C, Farooq A, Smiley FA, Tol JL, Chalabi H. Epidemiology of football injuries in Asia: A prospective study in Qatar. J Sci Med Sport 2013; 16: 113-117
  • 14 Ekstrand J, Hagglund M, Walden M. Epidemiology of muscle injuries in professional football (soccer). Am J Sports Med 2011; 39: 1226-1232
  • 15 Ekstrand J, Walden M, Hagglund M. A congested football calendar and the wellbeing of players: Correlation between match exposure of European footballers before the World Cup 2002 and their injuries and performances during that World Cup. Br J Sports Med 2004; 38: 493-497
  • 16 Ergun M, Denerel HN, Binnet MS, Ertat KA. Injuries in elite youth football players: A prospective three-year study. Acta Orthop Traumatol Turc 2013; 47: 339-346
  • 17 Fuller CW, Bahr R, Dick RW, Meeuwisse WH. A framework for recording recurrences, reinjuries, and exacerbations in injury surveillance. Clin J Sport Med 2007; 17: 197-200
  • 18 Hagglund M, Walden M, Bahr R, Ekstrand J. Methods for epidemiological study of injuries to professional football players: Developing the UEFA model. Br J Sports Med 2005; 39: 340-346
  • 19 Hagglund M, Walden M, Ekstrand J. Injury incidence and distribution in elite football – a prospective study of the Danish and the Swedish top divisions. Scand J Med Sci Sports 2005; 15: 21-28
  • 20 Harriss DJ, Macsween A, Atkinson G. Ethical standards in sport and exercise science research: 2018 update. Int J Sports Med 2017; 38: 1126-1131
  • 21 Hawkins RD, Fuller CW. A prospective epidemiological study of injuries in four English professional football clubs. Br J Sports Med 1999; 33: 196-203
  • 22 Hawkins RD, Hulse MA, Wilkinson C, Hodson A, Gibson M. The association football medical research programme: An audit of injuries in professional football. Br J Sports Med 2001; 35: 43-47
  • 23 Hill-Haas SV, Coutts AJ, Rowsell GJ, Dawson BT. Generic versus small-sided game training in soccer. Int J Sports Med 2009; 30: 636-642
  • 24 Jaspers A, Brink MS, Probst SG, Frencken WG, Helsen WF. Relationships between training load indicators and training outcomes in professional soccer. Sports Med 2017; 47: 533-544
  • 25 Johnson A, Doherty PJ, Freemont A. Investigation of growth, development, and factors associated with injury in elite schoolboy footballers: Prospective study. BMJ 2009; 338: b490
  • 26 Junge A, Dvorak J. Soccer injuries: A review on incidence and prevention. Sports Med 2004; 34: 929-938
  • 27 Le Gall F, Carling C, Reilly T, Vandewalle H, Church J, Rochcongar P. Incidence of injuries in elite French youth soccer players: A 10-season study. Am J Sports Med 2006; 34: 928-938
  • 28 Magal M, Smith RT, Dyer JJ, Hoffman JR. Seasonal variation in physical performance-related variables in male NCAA Division III soccer players. J Strength Cond Res 2009; 23: 2555-2559
  • 29 Meckel Y, Gefen Y, Nemet D, Eliakim A. Influence of short vs. long repetition sprint training on selected fitness components in young soccer players. J Strength Cond Res 2012; 26: 1845-1851
  • 30 Meckel Y, Harel U, Michaely Y, Eliakim A. Effects of a very short-term preseason training procedure on the fitness of soccer players. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 2014; 54: 432-440
  • 31 Morgan BE, Oberlander MA. An examination of injuries in major league soccer. The inaugural season. Am J Sports Med 2001; 29: 426-430
  • 32 Pfirrmann D, Herbst M, Ingelfinger P, Simon P, Tug S. Analysis of injury incidences in male professional adult and elite youth soccer players: A systematic review. J Athl Train 2016; 51: 410-424
  • 33 Price RJ, Hawkins RD, Hulse MA, Hodson A. The Football Association medical research programme: An audit of injuries in academy youth football. Br J Sports Med 2004; 38: 466-471
  • 34 Spencer M, Fitzsimons M, Dawson B, Bishop D, Goodman C. Reliability of a repeated-sprint test for field-hockey. J Sci Med Sport 2006; 9: 181-184
  • 35 Stolen T, Chamari K, Castagna C, Wisloff U. Physiology of soccer: An update. Sports Med 2005; 35: 501-536
  • 36 Taylor J, Portas MD, Wright MD, Hurst C, Weston M. Within-season variation of fitness in elite youth female soccer players. J Athl Enhanc 2012; 1:
  • 37 van Mechelen W, Hlobil H, Kemper HC. Incidence, severity, aetiology and prevention of sports injuries. A review of concepts. Sports Med 1992; 14: 82-99
  • 38 Walden M, Hagglund M, Ekstrand J. Injuries in Swedish elite football – a prospective study on injury definitions, risk for injury and injury pattern during 2001. Scand J Med Sci Sports 2005; 15: 118-125
  • 39 Walden M, Hagglund M, Ekstrand J. UEFA Champions League study: A prospective study of injuries in professional football during the 2001–2002 season. Br J Sports Med 2005; 39: 542-546
  • 40 Wong P, Hong Y. Soccer injury in the lower extremities. Br J Sports Med 2005; 39: 473-482