Psychological predictors of sport injuries among junior soccer players


Soccer is a high-intensity team-sport that demands high levels of physical and technical skills, which results in a relatively elevated injury rate. Overall, international soccer players exhibit an injury frequency equal to 9.4 injuries/1000 h of soccer practice (Waldén et al., 2005). Two different factors are critical to injury vulnerability: external factors (e.g., sport type and weather conditions) and internal factors (e.g., physiological and psychological factors) (Williams & Andersen, 2007). Williams and Andersen (1998) divided the psychological risk factors into three main categories: personality, stressor history, and coping resources. Research has clearly shown a significant connection between sport injuries and high stress levels (Maddison & Prapavessis, 2005). On the other hand, a previous study demonstrated that athletes practicing stress management techniques presented fewer injury days compared to the control group. As a result, some authors have argued that it is possible to prevent sport injuries by improving athletes’ psychological skills, through stress management or self-confidence training techniques (Maddison & Prapavessis, 2007). In this context, it is important to examine and better specify additional psychological aspects related to increased injury risk. It is crucial to make accurate recommendations for practitioners and coaches for the prevention of injuries in soccer players. 


The aim of this study was to identify psychological factors that could lead to an increased injury risk among junior soccer players.


After examining the responses of five specific questionnaires (i.e., State Trait Anxiety Inventory, Sport Anxiety Scale, Life Events Survey for Collegiate Athletes, Athletic Coping Skills Inventory-28, and Swedish universities Scales of Personality) completed by 108 male and female junior soccer players, the authors identified four significant predictors that together explained 23% of injury occurrence, which were: 

  1. life event-stress
  2. somatic trait anxiety
  3. mistrust
  4. ineffective coping


The findings of this study support previous stress–injury models and shed light on the need for continued research in this area and, especially, for regular psychological support for soccer players, not only to improve performance, but also to reduce the risk of injury. 


  • Coaches and practitioners should be aware that psychological factors may potentially increase the risk of injury as well as affect injured soccer players during the rehabilitation process.
  • Preventive stress management programs and techniques seem to be effective strategies to integrate a multidisciplinary and evidence-based approach to injury management and prevention in elite soccer.
  • Valid psychological assessments should be employed to properly evaluate the psychological state of soccer players and used to better understand the complex factors which involve injury occurrence and prevention. 

Waldén, M., Hägglund, M., & Ekstrand, J. (2005). UEFA Champions League study: a prospective study of injuries in professional football during the 2001–2002 season. British journal of sports medicine, 39(8), 542-546.

Williams, J. M., & Andersen, M. B. (2007). Psychosocial antecedents of sport injury and interventions for risk reduction.

Williams, J. M., & Andersen, M. B. (1998). Psychosocial antecedents of sport injury: Review and critique of the stress and injury model’. Journal of applied sport psychology, 10(1), 5-25.

Maddison, R., & Prapavessis, H. (2005). A psychological approach to the prediction and prevention of athletic injury. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 27(3), 289-310.

Maddison R, Prapavessis H. (2007). Preventing sport injuries: a case for psychology intervention. In: Pargman D, ed. Psychological bases of sport injuries. Morgantown: Fitness Information Technology, 25–38.