Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research

Can pre-season fitness measures predict time to injury in varsity athletes?: a retrospective case control study

Michael D Kennedy1*, Robyn Fischer2, Kristine Fairbanks2, Lauren Lefaivre2, Lauren Vickery2, Janelle Molzan2 and Eric Parent23

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

2 Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

3 Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, Alberta Health Services, Edmonton, AB, Canada

For all author emails, please log on.

Sports Medicine, Arthroscopy, Rehabilitation, Therapy & Technology 2012, 4:26  doi:10.1186/1758-2555-4-26

Published: 23 July 2012



The ability to determine athletic performance in varsity athletes using preseason measures has been established. The ability of pre-season performance measures and athlete’s exposure to predict the incidence of injuries is unclear. Thus our purpose was to determine the ability of pre-season measures of athletic performance to predict time to injury in varsity athletes.


Male and female varsity athletes competing in basketball, volleyball and ice hockey participated in this study. The main outcome measures were injury prevalence, time to injury (based on calculated exposure) and pre-season fitness measures as predictors of time to injury. Fitness measures were Apley’s range of motion, push-up, curl-ups, vertical jump, modified Illinois agility, and sit-and-reach. Cox regression models were used to identify which baseline fitness measures were predictors of time to injury.


Seventy-six percent of the athletes reported 1 or more injuries. Mean times to initial injury were significantly different for females and males (40.6% and 66.1% of the total season (p < 0.05), respectively). A significant univariate correlation was observed between push-up performance and time to injury (Pearson’s r = 0.332, p < 0.01). No preseason fitness measure impacted the hazard of injury. Regardless of sport, female athletes had significantly shorter time to injury than males (Hazard Ratio = 2.2, p < 0.01). Athletes playing volleyball had significantly shorter time to injury (Hazard Ratio = 4.2, p < 0.01) compared to those playing hockey or basketball.


When accounting for exposure, gender, sport and fitness measures, prediction of time to injury was influenced most heavily by gender and sport.

Exposure; Prognosis; Range of motion; Strength; Vertical jump; Sports injury