Sports Injuries Statistics and Facts

3D Image of bodyInjury patterns tend to be specific to the sport, the age of the athlete, and the unique style and play of an athlete, i.e., a tennis player like Rafael Nadal has an intensity that makes him more prone to knee and shoulder injuries than Roger Federer. Overuse injuries to the patellar tendon (known as jumper’s knee) can be debilitating, and more often affect people who play volleyball, basketball, soccer, and tennis. Acute injuries, such as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, occur more often in American football, soccer, basketball, and skiing. Stress fractures affect runners, dancers, and gymnasts more frequently.

Statistics are readily available for injuries incurred in the U.S. through the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) administered by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The number of visits made to hospital emergency rooms is tracked by multiple criteria including the product category (such as a specific sport), age, type of injury, body part injured, and severity of injury. Worldwide statistics are more difficult to find, although some other countries including Australia have some mechanism to track them, and international sports associations publish some injury data.

Water Sports

For many people, lying on a gorgeous Caribbean beach and dipping a toe in the water is what they consider a water sport. However, many people are engaged in far more rigorous sports and recreational activities such as water skiing, water polo, swimming, and diving. Swimmers are prone to overuse injuries affecting the shoulder, neck, lower back, and knees. Swimmer’s shoulder is the most common injury in competitive swimmers and involves inflammation of the rotator cuff. Water skiing is a high-speed sport so many of the injuries are acute and serious, affecting many parts of the body including the neck, shoulder, elbow, thigh, knee, ankle, and hip.

Football (Soccer)

According to the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the ankle, knee, and hamstring incur the most orthopedic injuries. Ankle sprain is the single most common injury in football, worldwide. There were a total of 239,943 injuries treated at U.S. hospital emergency rooms, and of these, 48,806 were fractures, 79,384 were strains and sprains, and 5,401were dislocations.


Cricket injuries vary depending on the position played. Bowlers tend to suffer the most injuries due to both the repetitive motion and the high forces used, but fielders also suffer shoulder or elbow overuse injuries. Common injuries include rotator cuff tears, impingement syndromes, ankle sprains, as well as medial ligament injuries to the elbow. On average, about 9% of cricketers on a squad of 25 have an injury at any given time, although the incidence in fast bowlers can be as high as 15%.


Rugby involves a great deal of running, so overuse injuries like tendinitis in the knee or ankle, bursitis, ankle sprains, and muscular strains are all common. Rugby is also a collision sport, which can lead to more serious injuries such as fractured bones; dislocated fingers, elbows, collarbones, and shoulders; sprained or torn ligaments and tendons; medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligament sprains; neck injuries; and acromioclavicular joint sprains (AC separations). Studies show that in children ages 10 to 18, 35% of injuries are fractures, and of those, 24% are to the clavicle. An estimated 57% of injuries occur during matches, more often in the second half of the game.


Experts believe that a recent increase in injuries among professional basketball players is due to overuse injuries caused by year-round training and athletes playing through smaller injuries, which make them vulnerable to more serious, and often season-ending injuries. Whether playing a pick-up game in your local park or on a high school team, orthopedic injuries are the most likely basketball injury you can incur. A survey of U.S. high school athletes found that 42% of the injuries were to the ankle/foot, 60% occurred in practice, and 59% of game-related injuries happened in the second half. There were a total of 522,817 injuries treated at U.S. hospital emergency rooms, and of these, 78,851 were fractures, 210,779 were strains and sprains, and 19,938 were dislocations.

Baseball & Softball

Baseball and softball are popular sports in the U.S., Caribbean, and other countries all over the world. An Australian study found that nearly two-thirds of baseball injuries were to the shoulder or elbow, due to the extreme speeds of throwing, with pitchers having a 2.6 times higher risk of incurring these injuries than other players. Lower limb and spinal injuries may also occur due to running, sliding, and bending activities involved in both baseball and softball. There were a total of 225,841 injuries treated at U.S. hospital emergency rooms, and of these, 38,927 were fractures, 50,455 were strains and sprains, and 5,450 were dislocations.


Millions of people worldwide ride bicycles for recreation and some as their primary form of transportation. Given the large number of people that ride bicycles, and the fact that they often ride in traffic, it is not surprising that every year there are fatal accidents. Although the most serious common injuries are related to head trauma, orthopedic injuries occur more frequently. There were a total of 551,781 injuries treated at U.S. hospital emergency rooms, and of these, 107,741 were fractures, 53,894 were strains and sprains, and 5,679 were dislocations. About 234,983 of these injuries were in children younger than age 18.

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