OBJECTIVE: To establish the relationship between the history of hip and groin injuries in elite junior football players prior to elite club recruitment and the incidence of hip and groin injuries during their elite career. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study. SETTING: Analysis of existing data. PARTICIPANTS: 500 Australian Football League (AFL) players drafted from 1999 to 2006 with complete draft medical assessment data. ASSESSMENT OF RISK FACTORS: Previous history of hip/groin injury, anthropometric and demographic information. MAIN OUTCOME MEASUREMENT: The number of hip/groin injuries resulting in > or =1 missed AFL game. RESULTS: Data for 500 players were available for analysis. 86 (17%) players reported a hip/groin injury in their junior football years. 159 (32%) players sustained a hip/groin injury in the AFL. Players who reported a previous hip or groin injury at the draft medical assessment demonstrated a rate of hip/groin injury in the AFL >6 times higher (IRR 6.24, 95% CI 4.43 to 8.77) than players without a pre-AFL hip or groin injury history. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrated that a hip or groin injury sustained during junior football years is a significant predictor of missed game time at the elite level due to hip/groin injury. The elite junior football period should be targeted for research to investigate and identify modifiable risk factors for the development of hip/groin injuries.