Common School Sports Injuries

Discover the most frequent organized sports injuries, essential equipment, and prevention tips.

Whether your kids play basketball, soccer, or any other youth sport, they always run the risk of injury. Help reduce their chances by getting familiar with common injuries and essential equipment for each sport.

FOOTBALL
Common injuries and locations: Bruises, sprains, strains, pulled muscles, soft tissue tears such as ligaments, broken bones, internal injuries (bruised or damaged organs), back injuries, sunburn. Knees and ankles are the most common injury sites.

Safest playing with: Helmet; mouth guard; shoulder pads; athletic supporters for males; chest/rib pads; forearm, elbow, and thigh pads; shin guards; proper shoes; sunscreen; water.

Prevention: Proper use of safety equipment, warm-up exercises, proper coaching and conditioning.

BASKETBALL
Common injuries and locations: Sprains, strains, bruises, fractures, scrapes, dislocation, cuts, dental injuries. Ankles, knees (injury rates are higher in girls, especially for the anterior cruciate ligament, the wide ligament that limits rotation and forward movement of the shin bone), shoulder (rotator cuff strains and tears, where tendons at the end of muscles attach to the upper arm and shoulder bones).

Safest playing with: Eye protection, elbow and knee pads, mouth guard, athletic supporters for males, proper shoes, water. If playing outdoors, add a hat and sunscreen.

Prevention: Strength training (particularly knees and shoulders), aerobics (exercises that develop the strength and endurance of heart and lungs), warmup exercises, proper coaching, and use of safety equipment.

SOCCER
Common injuries: Bruises, cuts and scrapes, headaches, sunburn.

Safest playing with: Shin guards, athletic supporters for males, cleats, sunscreen, water.

Prevention: Aerobic conditioning and warmups, and proper training in “heading” the ball. (“Heading” is using the head to strike or make a play with the ball.)

BASEBALL AND SOFTBALL
Common injuries: Soft tissue strains, impact injuries that include fractures due to sliding and being hit by a ball, sunburn.

Safest playing with: Batting helmet, shin guards, elbow guards, athletic supporters for males, mouth guard, sunscreen, cleats, hat, breakaway bases.

Prevention: Proper conditioning and warmups.

GYMNASTICS
Common injuries: Sprains and strains of soft tissues.

Safest playing with: Athletic supporters for males, safety harness, joint supports (such as neoprene wraps), water.

Prevention: Proper conditioning and warmups.

TRACK AND FIELD
Common injuries: Strains, sprains, scrapes from falls.

Safest playing with: Proper shoes, athletic supporters for males, sunscreen, water.

Prevention: Proper conditioning and coaching.

Source: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases