Injuries cost much more than medals

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System

Did you ever wonder why the world of sport is so obsessed with injury prevention? On the face of it, the answer is quite simple. If you are injured you just can’t perform at your best, if at all, and therefore your chances of success are little better than slim. However, it would be naïve to think that the cost of injury is calculated in terms of glory or medals alone, as in the modern world of sport there is a lot of money at stake.

When you consider that it is estimated that globally the cost of injuries in elite sport is in the region of $16 billion per annum, then you get an understanding of why sports science has become a huge part of the industry in recent years. A huge amount of time and money have been invested into the area with the aim being to reduce the impact of injuries on both individuals and team. There has been an increased emphasis on monitoring, reducing injury risk and treating injury along with a focus on ensuring as quick a return to action as possible.

Organisations invest heavily in their departments and there are many tales of almost top-secret treatment areas within clubs where the latest techniques are being developed and carried out. The reason is to ensure that athletes or teams have the best possible chance of winning. Success at the elite level means riches, not only for the athlete but also for owners and coaches, along with many other members of the organisation.

Money and success inextricably linked

Naturally, the two concepts of success and money are inextricably linked and ensuring your star players are available for selection is key for any team. Put simply, the monetary rewards can only be a reflection of success on the field of play and this has been highlighted by data recently published relating to injuries in the English Premier League. The data reveals that a total of 20,576 days were lost to injury during the 2016/17 season which represents a total wage bill for injured players of £131,314,980.

The stats showed a total of 614 significant injuries with the highest occurrence being:-

  • hamstring (166)
  • ankle/foot (161)
  • knee (151)
  • knocks/muscular (149)
  • groin/hip (115) and
  • calf/shin (112)

Apart from the cost, which affects all clubs, the other aspect of this research is the impact on success, and it is clear that those teams with less injuries – particularly to their star players – are most likely to have a successful season. It is no coincidence that Chelsea, who finished the season as champions, were the second lowest in terms of days lost through injury at 358 days. West Brom was the only team with less (319) but they can claim to have had one of their best seasons in some time. In terms of the small margins between success and failure, the effects of injuries can be significant and this is illustrated by a comparison between Chelsea and their main rivals, Tottenham.

Total Injuries
Chelsea: 46
Tottenham: 58

Total days
Chelsea: 529
Tottenham: 1026

Significant Injuries
Chelsea: 20
Tottenham: 27

Total days
Chelsea: 358
Tottenham: 859

The findings also point to the fact that at a key period of the season when Tottenham were without two important defenders, they won only three of ten games. Meanwhile, Sunderland, who finished bottom of the league, had the most number of significant injuries (47), and had the most number of days lost (1813).

The economics of sport

These stats illustrate just how important it is to minimise the risk of injury and the time lost as a result. It is a subject dealt with by Robert Hudson in an article entitled How Economists Tackle Sports Injuries in the Financial Times when he states:

How long players – and especially star players – spend recovering, therefore, becomes a matter of vital concern. Team doctors, for better or worse, are focused on helping players get back on the field as quickly as possible: in professional sport, the difference between 10 days and 12 days can be the ball game

He points to a forthcoming article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, where John Orchard outlines just how important it is to deal with injury. He reveals that according to Orchard, the differences in skill between the top clubs’ players are so slight that he’s surprised teams don’t seem to appreciate

what seems obvious from the outside: injury outcomes will be a key factor in determining who wins the Premiership each year

Not surprisingly this is not just a phenomenon in the Premier League and Hudson reminds us that of the ten healthiest teams in the NFL in 2008, seven made the play-offs. He also points out that a knee injury to New England Patriots’ Tom Brady saw him sit out all but ten minutes of that same season, while being paid a salary of $14m.

Less physical contact

The cost of injury is one of the main reasons why there have been so many changes in a variety of sports over recent years that have resulted in stricter rule enforcement by referees, retrospective punishment and a decrease in physical contact. An example of this is highlighted by Andrew Leigh in The economics of sport: how the cost of injured players has ensured fewer fights. Leigh reveals that the number of fights in the Australian Rugby League has dropped dramatically in recent years. This is due to the fact that the authorities have got tough in terms of punishing players involved in fights, and he explains just why.

The answer is that, as the economic cost to the NRL of fighting has gone up, rugby league officials have seen to it that the supply of fights goes down. As teams have invested more in their players, the cost of an injured or suspended player has steadily risen

Injury prevention

As a result there has been a huge investment in technology that will help reduce injury and it is now accepted that monitoring athletes is vital in terms of preventing injuries. This area has been explored by Tim J Gabbett in The training-injury prevention paradox: should athletes be training smarter and harder?. We dealt with this article in a previous blog (New study highlights benefits of monitoring) where we pointed out that the findings of Gabbett’s study create a very strong case for careful monitoring of athletes. There is a clear need to ensure that athletes are following the correct training programme, doing sufficient training to build up their physical capacities or to ensure that they aren’t doing too little training.

Monitoring with Metrifit

Keeping track of an athlete’s routine not only in terms of training, but also nutrition and sleep along with overall well-being is a facility offered by Metrifit and one that has been highly successful when implemented in High Schools and Colleges throughout the United States, and with sports teams right across the globe.

Please share this post so others may benefit.

About Metrifit

Metrifit is an athlete monitoring system that gathers subjective and objective information from both coaches and athletes to drive behavior modification and improvement through insights modeled on descriptive and predictive analytics. It sounds complicated but Metrifit prides itself on its simple intuitive interface and advocates a simple effective approach that doesn’t overwhelm the athlete or the coaching/staff member. It has received high praise for its intuitive interface and it allows monitoring to be scaled for all levels of athletes and teams. Recent research by Anna Saw (Deakin University, Australia) has shown that use of Metrifit is associated with increased athlete sporting self-confidence. Metrifit is ‘athlete-centric’ helping to develop self-awareness, encourage creative thinking and emotional intelligence as well as developing ownership and responsibility within the athlete for their own success.

Our base product is also very affordable starting from $499 per year for up to 30 athletes and 5 coaches and is also available at monthly price of $44.99 with option of cancelling your subscription with 30 days notice.

To find out more information please visit Metrifit Overview or contact us at



Premier Injuries Season Review – 2016 / 2017

The economics of sport: how the cost of injured players has ensured fewer fights by Andrew Leigh

How economists tackle sports injuries by Robert Hudson

Tech and Sports Injury Prevention

New Study highlights benefits of monitoring | Metrifit

The training-injury prevention paradox: should athletes be training smarter and harder? | Tim J Gabbett

The importance of knowing when an athlete has reached load limit | Metrifit