Can we reduce injury risk during the adolescent growth spurt? An iterative sequence of prevention in male academy footballers

Review written by Sam Blanchard info

Key Points

  1. The three risk factors identified were; 88% to 92.8% of predicted adult stature, a growth rate of ≥7.2 cm/year, and leg length increases of ≥3.6 cm/year.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

Injuries in academy football can limit both playing and training time, impeding player development. Beyond the immediate effects, injuries can have lasting physical and psychological impacts, elevating the risk of future injuries, wider health issues, dropout rates, and burnout from sport. The adolescent growth spurt, marked by accelerated growth following puberty onset, introduces extra risks for injury in youth athletes. The most rapid point of growth, known as peak height velocity (PHV), occurs around 13.8 years on average in males. Addressing injuries during this pivotal growth stage becomes crucial for sustained player well-being, performance and retention.

The objective of this study was to use an interdisciplinary collaboration between technical coaches, sports scientists, and medical staff to mitigate the risk of injury in young male footballers.

The most rapid point of growth, known as peak height velocity (PHV), occurs around 13.8 years on average in males.
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By identifying risk factors related to timing and rate of growth, the football academy in this study were able to implement a multi-disciplinary approach that was well received by both coaches and players.

METHODS

A group of 77 male academy footballers underwent observation over two seasons. Players at risk were identified based on somatic maturity status and growth rates in stature, utilizing thresholds ranging from 88% to 92.8% of predicted adult stature, a growth

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