As public awareness of healthy living and exercise rises in the face of the American obesity pandemic, more Americans than ever are participating in sport and recreational physical activity.
Roughly 30 million people participate in sports in the United States, and with the increased activity, the rates of injury have also increased.
Regardless of how skilled or experienced someone is, injury is always a potential risk. From Olympians to kids playing out on the street, these sport injury statistics will highlight the extent of personal injury from recreation in the US.
Top Sport Injury Stats (Editor’s Choice)
- 8.6 million injuries occur each year while participating in sports
- 28% of children up to 14 years old get injured while playing football
- More than 3.5 million children under the age of 14 get injured each year during school sporting events
- According to a sport injury statistics graph, most sports injuries occur during basketball games, followed by American football, soccer, and baseball
- Statistics show that 90% of student-athletes report sports injuries
- People tend to get the most head injuries while cycling, skating, and skateboarding
- Children between 5 and 14 years old report the most sports, skateboarding, and cycling injuries
- In 2019, more than 60% of injuries were related to the lower extremities during the NFL season, with knee injuries or Achilles injuries being the most common
Youth Sports Injuries Statistics
The number of children and youth participating in sports has been steadily increasing over the last few decades. Upwards of 55% of high school students participate in an organized sport, with some of the most common being football, basketball, volleyball, baseball, and soccer.
While it’s positive to see increased activity levels among American youth, injuries have also increased. As kids take to the streets to play with their friends or join a community team, sports injury statistics for 2020 show that injury prevention should be a prime focus of attention.
1. Each year, more than 3.5 million kids younger than 14 get injured participating in sports and recreational activities.
(Stanford Children’s Health)
Falling down and getting hurt is part of childhood and the majority of injuries to children under the age of 14 happen while they are on a playground, playing a sport, or riding a bicycle. Notably, youth sport injuries statistics reported that 775,000 children are treated in a hospital for sports injuries every year, usually because of being struck by an object, a collision, or overextension while playing.
2. More than 88,000 children between the age of 5 and 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for soccer-related injuries.
Soccer is becoming a prevalent activity among American youth, and as the number of participants rises, so do the number of injuries incurred every year. Interestingly, soccer injury stats show that 62% of these injuries occur during practice, and one-third of parents admit they don’t make their child wear the same protective gear as they do during a game.
3. Bicycle-related injuries were responsible for 200,000 child visits to hospital emergency rooms between 2006 and 2015.
While rates of bicycle-related injury have been decreasing as the population becomes more aware of using helmets, cycling is still the leading cause of head injuries in sports, statistics indicate.
While the use of a helmet has shown to dramatically decrease the possibility of a head and neck injury, accidents that involve a motor vehicle dramatically increase the likelihood of a severe or lethal incident.
4. 25,000 cheerleaders ended up in the hospital in 2007.
Over the last few decades, the face of cheerleading has changed from a few girls waving pom-poms on the sidelines to a full-on acrobatic professional sport. High school sports injury statistics show that in 2007 nearly 25,000 cheerleaders ended up at the hospital due to injuries.
While most were common sprained ankles and knees, one study noted that cheerleading was more dangerous than all other female sports combined due to its risk of fatal accidents.
5. Nearly 170,000 children between the age of 5 to 14 were treated in a hospital due to basketball-related injuries.
Basketball is currently the fourth leading sport for causing injuries in youth in the United States. The most common type of injury occurs to the ankle, accounting for 39.7% of all reported basketball accidents.
Basketball injury statistics show that abrupt changes in direction, jumping, hard surfaces, and contact between players are primarily responsible.
6. 30,000 high school athletes are hospitalized, and 500,000 visit the doctor each year.
Athletes in high school have been increasing since the 1970s and so have sport-related injuries. The main reasons for many injuries among high schoolers is the tendency to “play through the pain,” not properly warming up, and lack of proper safety equipment.
7. Younger children get more injuries to the arms, head, or neck while skateboarding, whereas older children injure the lower extremities more often.
Sport injury statistics show children between the age of 5 and 10 were more likely to injure their upper extremities than older children. Primarily these injuries occurred while skateboarding at home or out on the street, but few were serious enough to end up in the hospital.
Children between the age of 11 and 14, however, were more likely to injure their legs, and while the injuries also occurred at home or on the street, they appeared far more severe and resulted in more hospitalizations.
Professional Sports Injuries Statistics
Just because professional athletes participate in advanced level sport, and are in better physical shape than amateurs, doesn’t exclude them from risk of injury. Pro athletes can hurt themselves for similar reasons as any other human, such as not warming up, not maintaining physical activity, accidents, and contact with other players during games and matches.
8. According to studies, strains, and sprains make up 40% of all football injuries.
Professional sports with the most injuries often require regular quick changes in direction, sprinting from standing positions, or jumping on hard surfaces, and as such, these athletes are at a much higher risk of straining or spraining certain parts of the body such as ankles, knees, and hamstrings.
Football is known for its risk of injury, especially among pro athletes who push hard and play hard. Besides the incurrence of injury due to contact with other players, sprain and strain is the second most common reason.
9. Sports concussions stats show that up to 3 million athletes experience concussions.
Around 300,000 of sport-related concussions are a result of football injuries, but more concerning is that it’s predicted that 5 out of 10 concussions go unreported or undiagnosed. The long-term impact of concussions is now under deep investigation, and recent research shows that repeated mild head injuries can cause neurological issues later in life.
10. The Summer Olympic Games held in Beijing in 2008 saw 1,055 injuries among the 10,942 competing athletes.
(BMJ journals, PubMed)
According to professional athletic injury statistics, during the Summer Olympic Games in 2008, 72% of athlete injuries occurred during competition rather than during practice or warmup. The highest incidence of injury was in football matches, with knee injury being the most common.
11. Pitchers in Major League Baseball are 34% more likely to experience an injury than field position players.
While it may not seem like the most dangerous sport, baseball injury statistics indicate that many professional baseball players end up unable to play because of long-term injury. Notably, pitchers are most likely to injure themselves, usually to the upper extremities (67%) compared with field players (32%).
Field players were, however, more likely to injure their lower extremities than pitchers. Injury to the spine and core musculature was the next most common injury for all players, with an 11.7% prevalence.
12. Professional tennis sports injury statistics show that female pro tennis players are more likely to be injured than male players.
A study conducted on injury prevalence in professional tennis players over ten years showed that women experienced more injuries than male participants. The predominant form of injury in tennis was a result of overuse causing strain and accounted for almost 30% of all injuries experienced by both males and females.
13. Professional boxing has the rates of brain injury according to sports concussions stats.
(AP Sports Editors)
Contact sports come with an increased risk of experiencing a head injury due to regular collision with other players. Notably, 87% of professional boxers have experienced a brain injury at some point in their careers, and 20% of them are diagnosed with a chronic traumatic brain injury (CTBI), a condition of brain damage in which symptoms of concussion are permanent.
Sports Injury Statistics By Sport
All sports come with a risk of injury, but with some, the likelihood is greater. The most dangerous sports may not be the ones you think, either. While contact sports often headline the news for serious or lethal head and neck injuries, other sports such as gymnastics, diving and skating also have their fair share of serious injuries.
14. Roughly 50,000 people were injured skating in 2015.
The latest statistics on sports injuries show that while skating and playing hockey is a wonderful winter pastime for many, it doesn’t come without risk. While most injuries while skating are ankle sprains and fractures, the next most common injury is head injury.
15. Basketball has the highest injury rate of all sports.
(AP Sports Editors)
Football might get all the press, but basketball has the highest number of injuries out of all sports. Despite being a limited contact sport, basketball players often change direction quickly, jump regularly, and play on hard surfaces resulting in many ankle and knee injuries.
16. American football injuries statistics show that an estimated 1.2 million football-related injuries occur annually.
(AP Sports Editors, ProtectTheBrain)
Strains and sprains take the top of the list for football, accounting for 40% of all reported injuries. Bruises account for 25% of all injures, and less frequently, dislocations and fractures occur between 10% and 15% of the time. Perhaps the most known injury in football is head injury, due to causing 95% of football-related fatalities.
The NFL releases injury stats at the end of each season in effort to promote awareness and safety for all players of the sport.
17. 27, 208 high school athletes get injured annually while playing baseball.
(Coach&A.D, Stanford Children’s Health)
Baseball may not be a close contact sport, but injuries resulting from being hit with a ball, bat, or another player are quite common. While most injuries are mild bruises, sprains, and strains, there is a darker side to baseball: it has the highest child fatality rate than any other sport, with three to four children dying every year because of a related injury.
18. Sports concussion stats show that cycling head injuries are responsible for 30% of hospital visits and 60% of deaths.
Bicycle-related injuries can be very severe. With a thousand people dying every year from bike accidents, the emphasis on injury prevention is necessarily growing. Despite increased awareness of helmet-wearing, there were 40,000 bicycle accidents in the United States in 2015.
19. According to sports injuries statistics, the sport with the least likely chance of injury is bowling.
Bowling has been a Great American pastime for decades, and it might be one of the safest activities, too. There are 764 reported bowling injuries each year, far less than other recreational sports. One study found that the most common injury for bowlers was to the finger, accounting for 20% of injuries reported. The most common age group to experience an injury were children under the age of 7.
20. Snowboarding injuries in sports statistics show that 64,571 youths are injured every year.
Snowboarding has gained significant popularity since its introduction in the 1920s, but injuries are common. In a study on snowboarding youth, 89% of those injured were adolescent boys. More interestingly, 38% of the injuries occurred at home, and 30% occurred while boarding on the streets.
The most common injuries reported were dislocations, sprains, strains, and bruises.
21. According to stats on sports injuries, 57% of snowboarding injuries are to the lower extremities.
Winter sports see a large number of injuries per year. In 2017, nearly 14,000 people were injured while using toboggans, sleds, or snow discs. Snowboarding comes with a greater risk, however, with the most common injuries being to the shoulders, wrists, and ankles.
Snowboarding has a steep learning curve, and statistics show that 60% of injuries happen to beginners.
Sport Injury Statistics: Conclusion
Physical activity and participation in sports is steadily gaining popularity in the United States, but with an increase in recreation, injury rates also rise.
Youth and children are greatly impacted by injury in sport, and while most are non-severe in nature, awareness, and prevention is needed to mitigate potential serious and life-threatening instances.
From basketball ankle and knee sprains to head and neck injuries in football, cyclists ending up in the emergency room, and bowlers spraining their fingers; learning how to play and play safe is just as much a part of healthy living, as the activity itself.
People Also Ask
Some sports are more dangerous than others, and it might come as a surprise, but basketball is the sport where sports injuries are most likely to happen.
Basketball requires fast changes of movement and jumping on hard surfaces, which increase the chance of injury. The most common injuries are hamstring strains, groin pulls, shin splints, Anterior Cruciate Ligament tears, and brain concussions.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, up to 8.6 million sports injuries occur annually. One-third of which happen in sports facilities, athletic fields, and children’s playgrounds.
Due to increasing rates of obesity and as such more awareness of healthy lifestyle in the United States, physical activity and participation in sports is on the rise. As activity levels increase, so do rates of injury, even if most of them are non-serious in nature.
Generally, 8.1 out of 1000 exposures end with an injury. In 2020, 15 NFL players suffered an Achilles-related injury. According to NFL statistics, an average NFL player has around a 4% chance each game to suffer an injury.
There are several different ways to prevent injury while participating in sports.
- Warm-up before you play
- Stretch afterward
- Wear protective gear
- Use proper form
- Don’t play hurt
When it comes to football, injury occurs mostly due to contact with another player or tackling. 64% of injuries come from player-to-player contact, followed by 13.4% because of player-with-surface contact.
Sport injury statistics show that the most injured players in football by position are offensive linemen accounting for 18.3% of injuries, linebackers with 14.9%, and wide receivers at 11.9%.