Keeping Kids Playing Injury-Free
More kids than ever are being sidelined by sports injuries; don't let your child be one of them.
What the Research Shows
"A lot more research needs to be done on youth and high school
populations," says Almquist. "Most research is done on college kids,
and it doesn't always translate well to younger populations."
NATA released a detailed three-year study in 1999 showing trends in high
school injuries in 10 sports: boys football, boys basketball, girls basketball,
boys wrestling, girls field hockey, girls volleyball, boys soccer, girls
soccer, boys baseball, and girls softball.
Overall, in every sport except field hockey, sprains and strains accounted
for at least half the injuries. Of injuries requiring surgery, 60.3% were to
knees. On average, more than half the injuries occurred during practices.
Besides comparing injuries among sports, the study showed percentage rates
for the comparative frequency of each type of injury (general trauma,
fractures, etc.) within a given sport. For example, in baseball, sprains
accounted for 16% of all injuries.
Following is a summary of study results for baseball, softball, basketball,
football, and soccer:
Baseball and softball. The proportion of baseball injuries
requiring surgery was nearly the same as that for football. Baseball and
softball had the highest rate of fractures (8.8%), while baseball had the
lowest rate of knee injuries (10.5%).
Basketball. The highest proportion of surgeries was for
girl's basketball (4.0%). More than one-third of the injuries for both boys and
girls were to the ankle and foot and occurred while players scrambled for loose
Football. Football had the highest rate of injuries
compared with the other sports. During the 1995 season, 39% of varsity football
players were injured, but the severity of injuries had decreased compared with
a 1988 study. Most injuries were to the hip, thigh, and leg, followed by the
forearm, wrist, and hand. During games, the offensive lineup had 55.5% of
injuries, the defensive team, 35.8%, and special teams, 4.3%.
Soccer. Of the 10 sports surveyed, the highest frequency of
knee injuries was in girl's soccer (19.4%). Nearly one-fourth of the boys and
girls playing soccer had at least one time-loss injury during a season. Nearly
one-third of soccer injuries were to the ankle and foot.