Does variability in biological maturation and training load influence injury risk in youth gymnasts?

  • Tejal Sarika Patel

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Health (DHealth)


The research presented in this thesis intends to explore growth and maturation, and training load as risk factors of injury in young, competitive gymnasts in order to inform future practice in gymnastics.
The thesis begins by investigating the current knowledge, awareness and practices of coaches related to growth and maturation, and training load in gymnastics. Injuries were believed to be associated with the adolescent growth spurt. In addition, knowledge and practice of monitoring growth and maturation, and training load differed between coaches and different gymnastics disciplines. It was also recognised that there are numerous inconsistencies with current injury surveillance in gymnastics. Therefore, study two developed injury surveillance recommendations based on the consensus of international practitioners working within artistic gymnastics. Recommendations included injury definitions and methods for reporting injuries, with the aim of promoting more consistent injury surveillance in gymnastics. The next chapter builds from the first study and examines the interaction between growth and training load on injury risk of young gymnasts. The risk of injury appears to increase during the adolescent growth spurt and with higher weekly loads in trampoline gymnasts. Consequently, monitoring growth spurts and training load may help reduce the risk of injury in gymnasts. Part two of this chapter supplements the previous work by further investigating the relationship between training load variables, injury, and a marker of performance, using retrospective data from senior trampoline gymnasts. However, the findings from this study were inconclusive. The final study incorporates the COVID-19 pandemic and explores the return to training process following the first national lockdown in the UK. Findings from this study, particularly in relation to training load and injury risk, can be considered in everyday practice as well as during a return to training scenario.
The overall findings in this thesis suggest that the adolescent growth spurt and training loads may increase the risk of injury in young gymnasts. More importantly, this thesis emphasises the importance of monitoring growth spurts and training load to help reduce the risk of injuries in young gymnasts.
Date of Award13 Dec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SponsorsBritish Gymnastics
SupervisorSean Cumming (Supervisor), Sean Williams (Supervisor), Alex McGregor (Supervisor) & Karen Williams (Supervisor)


  • Gymnastics
  • Growth & Maturation
  • Training Load
  • Injury

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