The relationship between psychological factors and the number of injuries sustained by elite male African youth soccer players

Julius Jooste, Suzanne Jacobs, Linda Van Den Berg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Review of literature indicates that information regarding the psychological factors associated with injury occurrence in young elite sport participants is limited and incomplete. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between specific psychological factors and the prevalence of injuries among elite youth male soccer players. One hundred and forty-nine elite, male African national soccer players from 11 African countries participated in this study. The participants completed a self-administered questionnaire adapted from Twizere (2004) to report the injuries sustained over a two-season period. Psychological factors were measured with the use of the Competitive Anxiety Inventory-2 (Martens et al., 1990); Athletic Coping Skills Inventory-28 (ACSI-28) (Smith et al., 1995), and Bull’s Mental Skills Questionnaire (Bull et al., 1996). Results revealed a positive relationship between the soccer players’ cognitive anxiety scores and the number injuries they have recorded (CSAI-2). No relationship between any of the coping skills and injuries was revealed (ACSI-28). It was, however, indicated on the Bull’s Mental Skills Questionnaire that better relaxation ability is associated with reduced risk of injury occurrence. Even though the psychological data were collected during an international soccer tournament which could have affected the participants’ general responses, the study still provides useful insight on particular psychological factors that contribute to the occurrence of injuries amongst elite youth soccer players. The study recommends that relaxation skills in attempt to regulate cognitive anxiety should be considered in youth soccer injury prevention programmes. For a comprehensive understanding on the role psychological factors play in injuries among elite youth athletes, one should evaluate their individual perspective and interpretation of their stress-coping mechanisms along with other contributing stressful life events.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-320
Number of pages12
JournalAfrican Journal for Physical, Health Education, Recreation and Dance
VolumeSupplement 1
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


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