top of page

Play Youth Sports But Learn to Be Safe

Forty years ago approximately 4 million boys and girls participated in high school athletics nationwide, 7.4% of which were girls. 1 Today this figure has nearly doubled to 7.6 million participants with 41% being girls. 1 For both genders the rate of participation continues to rise at an average rate of 45,000 athletes a year. The importance and benefits of participation in youth sports are well documented. With childhood obesity rates triple what they were a generation ago, sports participation should be actively encouraged. 2 However, being active comes with the risk of injury.

Among high school athletes participating during the 2010–2011 athletic year, the most common regions of the body injured for each sport include:

• Football — It carries the highest overall risk of injury of any high school sport at 3.5 injuries for every 1,000 times the athlete participates in a practice or game. 1,3 The top three locations of injury were: head/face (24%), knee (17%), and hand/wrist (11%). 3

• Soccer — For female athletes the top three locations of injury were: ankle (29%), head/face (22%), and knee (15%). 3 In contrast, 26% of male soccer injuries occurred at the head/face, 18% at the ankle, and 17% at the knee. 3

• Basketball — Basketball had the highest risk of ankle injuries for male athletes out of all sports surveyed (31%). 1 Head/face injuries (24%) were the second most common with the knee a distant third, comprising 10% of injuries. 3 Female athletes followed the same trend: ankle (25%), head/face (24%), and knee (20%). 3

• Baseball and Softball — Although both genders had the lowest rates of injuries out of all sports, the injury patterns between the two are strikingly different. 3 Male athletes demonstrated a far greater chance for hip/thigh/ upper leg (13%) and shoulder injuries (18%), compared to females’ injuries at 3% and 4%, respectively. Females injured their wrist (24%) and ankle (19%) more, with males sustaining only 9% and 8% of injuries.

• Volleyball — It has the third lowest rate of injury behind softball/baseball. 1 However, these athletes are still prone to injury, with by far the majority of injuries occurring at the ankle (39%), knee (17%) and head/face (13%). 3

• Wrestling — It has the second highest rate of injury out of the sports discussed here (2.01 injuries for every 1,000 activities). 1,3 Wrestling athletes most commonly sustain injuries to the head/face (23%), shoulder (16%), and knee (13%). 3

To help prevent injuries, it’s important for athletes to remember to warm up consistently before games and practices, wear properly fitted equipment, get a pre-season physical, and tell a parent, coach, or physician if they are experiencing any type of pain. It’s not worth it to possibly make an injury worse by “playing through the pain.”


1. National Federation of High School Associations. 2010-11 High School Athletics Participation Survey. 2011.

2. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Obesity rates among all children in the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last Updated April 2012.

3. Comstock D, Collins CL, McIlvain NM. Data from the High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, US, 2010-11. Unpublished Raw Data, 2011. resources/1/rio/2010-11OriginalSummaryReport.pdf.

Featured Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page