CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 · Sports Med Int Open 2024; 08: a21804594
DOI: 10.1055/a-2180-4594
Orthopedics & Biomechanics

Exploring Growth, Maturity, and Age as Injury Risk Factors in High-Level Youth Football

1   FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence, Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar
2   Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway
3   Institute of Sport and Exercise Medicine, Department of Exercise, Sport and Lifestyle Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
4   Division of Physiotherapy, Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Karim Chamari
1   FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence, Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar
1   FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence, Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar
Valter Di Salvo
5   Football Performance and Science Department, Aspire Academy, Doha, Qatar
6   Department of Movement, Human and Health Sciences, University of Rome 'Foro Italico', Roma, Italy
Warren Gregson
5   Football Performance and Science Department, Aspire Academy, Doha, Qatar
7   Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Institute of Sport, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Roald Bahr
1   FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence, Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar
2   Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway
› Author Affiliations


Rapid somatic growth and biological maturity status may affect injury patterns in youth football, yet firm conclusions cannot be drawn from the existing research. We aimed to explore growth velocity, maturity, and age as injury risk factors in 95 academy players (11.9–15.0 years), using anthropometric (height and body mass), maturity (skeletal age), injury, and football exposure data collected prospectively over three seasons (2016/17–2018/19). We compared the relative quality of mixed-effects logistic regression models with growth velocity for 223 growth intervals (average 113 days) included as fixed effects and adjusted for age (chronological or skeletal) plus load (hours/week). Associations were considered practically relevant based on the confidence interval for odds ratios, using thresholds of 0.90 and 1.11 to define small beneficial and harmful effects, respectively. We observed harmful effects of older age on overall (OR: 2.61, 95% CI: 1.15–5.91) and sudden onset (1.98, 1.17–3.37) injury risk. Significant associations (p<0.05) were observed for higher body mass change and greater maturity on sudden onset injuries, and for higher hours/week on gradual onset, bone tissue, and physis injuries. Future studies should include larger samples, monitoring athletes from pre-adolescence through maturation, to enable within-subject analyses and better understand the relationship between growth, maturation, and injuries.

Publication History

Received: 08 March 2023
Received: 02 September 2023

Accepted: 18 September 2023

Accepted Manuscript online:
11 October 2023

Article published online:
08 January 2024

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Bibliographical Record
Eirik Halvorsen Wik, Karim Chamari, Montassar Tabben, Valter Di Salvo, Warren Gregson, Roald Bahr. Exploring Growth, Maturity, and Age as Injury Risk Factors in High-Level Youth Football. Sports Med Int Open 2024; 08: a21804594.
DOI: 10.1055/a-2180-4594
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