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Morphological and skill-related fitness components as potential predictors of injuries in elite female field hockey players

Marlene Naicker
Derik Coetzee
Robert Schall


This study investigated whether morphological or skill-related factors measured pre-season can predict injuries sustained in-season by field hockey players. In this cohort-analytical study, 30 female South African national field hockey players underwent pre-season testing including anthropometry, balance, flexibility, explosive power, upper and lower body strength, core strength, speed, agility and isokinetic testing of the ankle. A questionnaire was used to collect demographic data,  elite-level experience, playing surface, footwear and injury history. Injuries in  training and matches were recorded during the subsequent season using an injury profile sheet completed by injured players. Eighty-seven injuries, mostly involving ligaments and muscles of the ankles, hamstrings and lower back, were recorded. Univariate analyses showed that ankle dorsiflexion strength was a strong predictor of ankle injuries (p=0.0002), while ankle dorsiflexion deficit (p=0.0267) and  eversion deficit (p=0.0035) were significant predictors. Balance indices  (anterior/posterior, p=0.0465; medial/lateral, p<0.0001; and overall, p<0.0001) were pre-season performance measures significantly predicting potential ankle  injury. For lower leg injuries, univariate associations were found with ankle inversion deficit (p=0.0253), eversion deficit (p=0.0379), and anterior/posterior balance  index (p=0.0441).

Key words: Elite female field hockey players; Morphology; Skill-related fitness components; Predictors of injuries.