Machine learning methods in sport injury prediction and prevention: a systematic review

Hans Van Eetvelde*, Luciana D. Mendonça, Christophe Ley, Romain Seil, Thomas Tischer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Injuries are common in sports and can have significant physical, psychological and financial consequences. Machine learning (ML) methods could be used to improve injury prediction and allow proper approaches to injury prevention. The aim of our study was therefore to perform a systematic review of ML methods in sport injury prediction and prevention. Methods: A search of the PubMed database was performed on March 24th 2020. Eligible articles included original studies investigating the role of ML for sport injury prediction and prevention. Two independent reviewers screened articles, assessed eligibility, risk of bias and extracted data. Methodological quality and risk of bias were determined by the Newcastle–Ottawa Scale. Study quality was evaluated using the GRADE working group methodology. Results: Eleven out of 249 studies met inclusion/exclusion criteria. Different ML methods were used (tree-based ensemble methods (n = 9), Support Vector Machines (n = 4), Artificial Neural Networks (n = 2)). The classification methods were facilitated by preprocessing steps (n = 5) and optimized using over- and undersampling methods (n = 6), hyperparameter tuning (n = 4), feature selection (n = 3) and dimensionality reduction (n = 1). Injury predictive performance ranged from poor (Accuracy = 52%, AUC = 0.52) to strong (AUC = 0.87, f1-score = 85%). Conclusions: Current ML methods can be used to identify athletes at high injury risk and be helpful to detect the most important injury risk factors. Methodological quality of the analyses was sufficient in general, but could be further improved. More effort should be put in the interpretation of the ML models.

Original languageEnglish
Article number27
Pages (from-to)27
JournalJournal of Experimental Orthopaedics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2021


  • Injury prediction
  • Injury prevention
  • Machine Learning
  • Sport injury


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