Risk factors for injury in talented soccer and tennis players: a maturation-driven approach

Alien van der Sluis

Research output: Ph.D. ThesisPhD Research external, graduation external


Young talented athletes that mature have an increased injury risk. Human movement scientist Alien van der Sluis studied soccer players of the talent development program of FC Groningen and tennis players of the talented development program of the Royal Dutch Lawn Tennis Federation (KNLTB).
The soccer players were followed for three years around their adolescent growth spurt. In the year of their growth spurt, players have more injuries compared to the year before or the year after, and they miss more training sessions and matches. A possible cause is the different rates in which bone tissue, muscle tissue and tendon tissue adapt to the growing body. More specific, players that grow more than 0.6 cm in one month, have an increased risk for injury in the next month. Moreover, players with a late growth spurt are relatively small compared to their peers, and this leads to more injuries compared to their ‘earlier mature’ counterparts.
Furthermore, tennis players high in risk-taking behavior (typical for puberty), have more injuries and players with better metacognitive skills such as monitoring, have less injuries. Players may be better capable of monitoring small physical complaints, which could help them to prevent themselves from having more severe injuries.
Van der Sluis concluded that during puberty, there are specific risk factors for injuries in talented athletes. Coaches and trainers should estimate the moment of the adolescent growth spurt, to take injury preventive measures at the right moment. Monthly monitoring of length, could help to predict an increased risk of injury in periods of intensive growth. At last, it is advised to provide feedback to players high in risk-taking and to educate athletes in monitoring their own training process.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Center for Human Movement Sciences
  • Visscher, Chris, Supervisor, External person
  • Brink, Michel, Supervisor, External person
  • Elferink-Gemser, Marije, Supervisor, External person
Award date15 Feb 2017
Place of PublicationGroningen
Print ISBNs978-90-367-9534-0
Electronic ISBNs978-90-367-9535-7
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2017


  • talents
  • athletes
  • injuries
  • growth

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