A number of research studies have been conducted to characterize the injury pattern in competitive indoor volleyball during the past two decades . In contrast, although beach volleyball has experienced tremendous growth during the previous decade and has been recognized as an Olympic sport since 1996, very little is known about the injury pattern of beach volleyball. Thus, the aim of the FIVB Beach Volleyball Injury Study is to describe the incidence and pattern of injuries in beach volleyball at the elite international level for men and women.
Methods: The main part of the study will be done in the form of a retrospective survey of all injuries incurred from June 11 until the start of the FIVB World Championships in Klagenfurt August 1 (7½ weeks of training and competition). A total of 48 men's and women's teams - i.e. 196 players will take part in the tournament. The registration will be done in the form of an interview based on a standard form, including exposure and injury data. An injury is defined as any brain concussion causing cessation of the athletes participation for physical observation before return to play or any dental injury requiring professional attention or any injury causing cessation of the athletes customary participation in competition or training (time loss injuries) or requiring substansive professional attention by a physician, physical therapist or chiropractor (medical attention injuries).
Exposure will be recorded retrospectively for each week, including the number of matches played (including matches to qualify for the main draw in World Tour events), the number of hours of beach volleyball training and other forms of training (strength and conditioning).
In addition to the retrospective survey, we will carry out a prospective registration of all injuries recorded during the FIVB World Championships in Klagenfurt, as well as the FIVB World Tour in Stavanger and Espinho. During each of these tournaments, all injuries for which the player seeks medical attention will be recorded by the tournament medical staff (physicians, physical therapists, or chiropractors), using the same injury forms as in the retrospective survey.
A total of 54 acute injuries were recorded during 4,241 player-hours of match play and 12,788 player-hours of training covered by the retrospective study. Of these, 23 (43%) caused the player to miss one or more days of practice or competition. Thus, the incidence of acute time-loss injuries was 3.1 per 1000 competition hours (2.9 for men and 3.3 for women) and 0.7 per 1000 training hours (0.8 for men and 0.7 for women). Knee injuries (30%), ankle injuries (17%) and finger injuries (17%) accounted for more than half of all acute time-loss injuries. In addition, the players reported 79 overuse injuries for which they had received medical attention; of these 20 (25%) caused them to miss training or competition. The three most common overuse injuries were low back pain (26 players, 33%), knee pain (21 athletes, 27%, mainly patellar tendinopathy), and shoulder problems (17 athletes, 22%).
Teams that had withdrawn because of injury prior to the start of the World Championships were not available for interview, and we know that potential World Championship participants had previously suffered season-ending injuries including a few cases of serious knee injuries that have not been included in these data. Consequently, the injury rates presented here are minimum estimates. We conclude that the rate of acute time-loss injuries in beach volleyball is considerably lower than most other team sports similar to that seen in indoor volleyball. The injury pattern also resembles that of indoor volleyball, but with fewer ankle sprains. Overuse injuries affecting the low back, knees and shoulder represent a significant source of disability and impaired performance for professional beach volleyball players.