Player wellness (soreness and stress) and injury in elite junior Australian football players over 1 season
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
Human Kinetics Publishers Inc
Exercise Medicine Research Institute
© 2020 Human Kinetics, Inc. Purpose: To investigate the association between player wellness and injury in elite junior Australian football players over 1 competitive season. Methods: Prospective cohort study. Elite junior Australian football players (N = 196, average age = 17.7 y, range = 16–18 y) were recruited in the under-18 state league competition in Victoria, Australia. They recorded their wellness (sleep, fatigue, soreness, stress, and mood) according to a 5-point Likert scale 3 times weekly, with injuries (missed match/ training session) entered into an online sport-injury surveillance system. A logistic generalized estimating equation was used to examine the association (expressed as odds ratio [OR]) between wellness and injury (yes/no). Results: Soreness was associated with injury at each time point across the week, with the strongest association evident for soreness reported 6 d postmatch (OR = 1.30; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.17–1.44; P < .001). Stress and injury were associated with injury for average stress values across the week, as well as specifically on day 1 postmatch (OR = 1.10; 95% CI, 1.01–1.21; P = .038). Mood reported in the middle of the week (3 d postmatch) was associated with injury (OR = 0.87; 95% CI, 0.78–0.97; P = .014), as was fatigue (OR = 1.10; 95% CI, 1.00–1.22; P = .044). Conclusions: This study demonstrates key associations between wellness and injury in elite junior Australian football, specifically soreness, stress, fatigue, and mood. Monitoring strategies help identify injury-risk profiles, which can help decision makers (coaches or medical staff) intervene when relevant to reduce injury risk.