Examining play counts and measurements of injury incidence in youth football

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Bibliographic Details
Title translated into German:Erforschung der Anzahl der Spiele und die Messung der Verletzungsinzidenz im Jugendfußball
Author:Kerr, Zachary Y.; Yeargin, Susan W.; Djoko, Aristarque; Dalton, Sara L.; Baker, Melissa M.; Dompier, Thomas P.
Published in:Journal of athletic training
Published:52 (2017), 10, S. 955-965, Lit.
Format: Publications (Database SPOLIT)
Publication Type: Journal article
Media type: Electronic resource (online) Print resource
ISSN:1062-6050, 0160-8320, 1938-162X
Online Access:
Identification number:PU201711010197


Context:  Whereas researchers have provided estimates for the number of head impacts sustained within a youth football season, less is known about the number of plays across which such impact exposure occurs.
Objective:  To estimate the number of plays in which youth football players participated during the 2013 season and to estimate injury incidence through play-based injury rates.
Design:  Descriptive epidemiology study.
Setting:  Youth football.
Patients or Other Participants:  Youth football players (N = 2098; age range, 5−15 years) from 105 teams in 12 recreational leagues across 6 states.
Main Outcome Measure(s):  We calculated the average number of athlete-plays per season and per game using independent-samples t tests to compare age groups (5–10 years old versus 11–15 years old) and squad sizes (<20 versus ≥20 players); game injury rates per 1000 athlete-exposures (AEs) and per 10 000 athlete-plays; and injury rate ratios (IRRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) to compare age groups.
Results:  On average, youth football players participated in 333.9 ± 178.5 plays per season and 43.9 ± 24.0 plays per game. Age groups (5- to 10-year-olds versus 11- to 15-year-olds) did not differ in the average number of plays per season (335.8 versus 332.3, respectively; t2086.4 = 0.45, P = .65) or per game (44.1 versus 43.7, respectively; t2092.3 = 0.38, P = .71). However, players from smaller teams participated in more plays per season (373.7 versus 308.0; t1611.4 = 8.15, P < .001) and per game (47.7 versus 41.4; t1523.5 = 5.67, P < .001). Older players had a greater game injury rate than younger players when injury rates were calculated per 1000 AEs (23.03 versus 17.86/1000 AEs; IRR = 1.29; 95% CI = 1.04, 1.60) or per 10 000 athlete-plays (5.30 versus 4.18/10 000 athlete-plays; IRR = 1.27; 95% CI = 1.02, 1.57).
Conclusions:  A larger squad size was associated with a lower average number of plays per season and per game. Increasing youth football squad sizes may help reduce head-impact exposure for individual players. The AE-based injury rates yielded effect estimates similar to those of play-based injury rates.