The UEFA injury study recently published highlight’s a number of observations for football coaches, and possible implications for training. The report concludes:
1. An average 8 injuries per 1000 hours of football exposure
2. The incidence of injuries is higher in games (27.5) than in training (4.1)
3. A player has an average of 2 injuries per season i.e. 50 injuries per team of 25 players
4. Thigh injuries are the most common injury subtype (17% of all injuries)
5. Re-injuries constitute 12% of all injuries
6. Re-injuries lead to longer absences among players than original injuries (24 v 18 days)
7. The risk of injury increases with time in both halves of a game
8. Hamstring injuries are most likely to occur in the competitive season
There are interesting questions that can be posed in light of the above. Given that a player is six times more likely to injure in a game v training, we can wonder if the training stimulus in training is adequately physical, intense, or of the required volume (or a combination) for a competitive game. Or is a competitive football game that much more intense in nature than training? Perhaps is a gap that can be bridged here between training and competitive games.
An interesting finding is that original injuries account for an average of 18 days absence. This could equate to absence for 5-6 competitive games, and perhaps a further 3-4 games needed before re-gaining match fitness. A worrying statistic for coaches is that fact that re-injuries occur 12% of the time, and can lead to 24 days absence. This means at least 8-12 game absence in the competitive season. This would represent greater than 25% of games in the major European and British seasons, making it almost impossible for a player to maintain his position in the team, or indeed stay match fit for an entire season.
Finally, given that hamstring and thigh injuries are most prevalent during the season, more work is needed on training these muscles for competition, and in helping players recover from training and competitive games.