The scientific foundations and associated injury risks of early soccer specialisation

Read, Paul J, Oliver, Jon L, De Ste Croix, Mark B ORCID: 0000-0001-9911-4355, Myer, Gregory D and Lloyd, Rhodri S (2016) The scientific foundations and associated injury risks of early soccer specialisation. Journal of Sports Sciences, 34 (24). pp. 2295-2302. doi:10.1080/02640414.2016.1173221

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Early specialisation is characterised by formal participation in a single sport at the exclusion of others. Limited data are available to support this approach in the development of soccer players who attain elite status later in life. Of growing concern is the associated increased risk of injury and suggestions that single sport specialisation is a risk factor independent of age, growth, biological maturation and training volumes In the United Kingdom, elite soccer organisations have recently adopted an early sport specialisation approach following the introduction of the Elite Player Performance Plan. A key tenet of this programme is increased opportunities for training through a marked rise in the specified on-pitch hours per week. The accumulation of high training hours may be less of a relevant marker for success, and the impact of such a significant increase in training volume for young athletes who are experiencing a range of growth and maturational processes is currently unknown. This critical commentary includes an evidence based discussion of the effectiveness of early sport specialisation and the potential injury risks associated with such programmes placing a specific focus on elite male youth soccer players. Available data indicate that modifications to the existing EPPP framework could enhance player development and reduce injury risk. Proposed alterations include reduced volume of soccer specific training at key stages of growth and maturation and guidelines for the provision of a greater variety of physical activities that are integrated within other programme components.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Sports Sciences on December 2016, available online:
Uncontrolled Keywords: Soccer, Injury, Overuse, Elite Player Performance, Early specialisation
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV557 Sports
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV557 Sports > GV861 Ball games: Baseball, football, golf, etc.
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Research Priority Areas: Health, Life Sciences, Sport and Wellbeing
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2016 15:30
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 09:09

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