What Sport Has the Most Injuries?

Sports Injuries

Feb 14, 2024


Participating in sports is a very healthy hobby that can help you stay active and give you a community to belong to. This is why many parents introduce sports to their children at young ages to promote teamwork and social skills and keep them active for healthy development. However, it’s no secret that most sports carry a significant risk of injury. According to Stanford Medicine, almost one-third of all injuries incurred in childhood are sports-related injuries.

As an emergency room, we see many patients come in due to sports injuries of varying severity. What sport has the most injuries? Whether you are a parent who is worried about your child being injured or are wondering which sports are more likely to land you in the ER, in this article we will be discussing which sports have the highest risk of injuries and what you can do to prevent them. 

Sports with the most injuries

The sports with the most injuries are contact sports such as basketball, football, soccer, rugby, and hockey, all of which are high-intensity sports with frequent and sometimes high-impact contact between players. These contact sports are considered the most dangerous sports because they involve intense physical activity and have a higher likelihood of collisions, which contributes to a greater risk of injuries. 

1. Basketball

What sport has the highest injury rate? Although this may surprise you, basketball is actually the sport with the highest injury rate. Because basketball involves rapid movements, sudden changes in direction, and frequent jumps, the risk of collisions and falls is higher than in other sports, which leads to a higher incidence of injuries — and because both children and adults can participate in basketball, anyone is susceptible to getting hurt.

Common basketball injuries include:

  • Knee injuries, which are common due to the repetitive stress on the knees from constant running, jumping, and abrupt changes in direction.
  • Ankle sprains from quick lateral movements like pivoting, abrupt stops, and jumps. 
  • ACL tears from rapid changes in direction, ​​landing awkwardly after a jump, or colliding with another player.
  • Dislocated fingers from forceful impact of the ball or contact with opponents can cause the fingers to bend in unnatural ways.
  • Wrist sprains and other hand injuries, which often occur when players fall or attempt to break their fall with an outstretched hand.
  • Back injuries due to repetitive movements, running, jumping, and having contact with other players.
  • Muscle strains, particularly in the hamstrings, which can occur as players constantly sprint, jump, and suddenly stop, causing the hamstring muscles to stretch beyond capacity.
  • Concussions and other head injuries as a result of accidental collisions, falls, or contact during intense plays.

2. Football

In the South we take our football very seriously. It is very common, especially in Texas, for children to start playing football at an early age, which is why it’s important to understand why football is considered a dangerous sport. 

Football is widely acknowledged as a physically demanding sport with a high risk of injuries due to its intense physical contact, high-velocity collisions, and fast-paced environment. The tackling, blocking, frequent starting and stopping, and general speed of the game can put you at risk of developing all sorts of injuries. 

Common football injuries include:

  • Concussions after being tackled or colliding with another player.
    • The biggest risk that comes with high-contact sports like football is the possibility of head injuries. Concussions are a medical emergency and can be fatal if not treated promptly (keep reading: should I go to the ER for a concussion?). 
  • Sprains and strains from sudden movements such as darting back and forth.
  • Fractures or broken bones, which can occur from impacts or falls.
  • Dislocations, commonly in fingers or shoulders, when joints are forced out of their normal positions.
  • ACL Tears in the knee, often from abrupt stops or changes in direction.
  • Shoulder injuries like rotator cuff injuries or separations, usually as a result of tackles and falls.
  • Knee injuries, which can occur as a result of tackles, sudden stops, rapid changes in direction, and repetitive stress on the knee joint.

3. Soccer

Soccer is a sport that is loved by children and adults alike. If you are someone who enjoys watching club soccer teams or professionals play on television, you will have seen how painful soccer injuries appear to be. Although sometimes the players ham it up in hopes of coaxing a red card, soccer injuries can be incredibly serious and painful. 

Common soccer injuries include:

  • Sprained ankles due to quick direction changes, pivoting, and collisions that stretch and tear the ligaments.
  • Groin injuries, which occur when the muscles on the inner thigh are strained or torn as a result of rapid lateral movements and sudden changes in direction.
  • Shin splints due to overuse, repetitive running, and stress on the shin cause inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue.
  • Knee injuries and ACL tears, which can happen when a player exhibits twisting movements, abrupt stops, and collisions with other players.

4. Rugby

Rugby is widely known as one of the most dangerous sports due to its incredibly intense nature and a lack of protective gear for the players. Imagine playing football without a helmet or pads…that’s rugby. The players engaging in tackles, scrums, and rucks expose them to a number of potential risks.

Common rugby injuries include:

  • Concussions and head injuries due to the nature of tackles and collisions. This is exacerbated even further as rugby players do not wear protective headgear.  
  • Shoulder dislocations from forceful tackles, which can force the shoulder joint out of its normal position. 
  • ACL tears, often resulting from abrupt changes in direction or tackles that put excessive stress on the knee joint.
  • Fractures or broken bones, particularly in areas like the collarbone, ribs, and bones in the extremities, which are vulnerable due to high-impact tackles and collisions. 
  • Lacerations, often caused by contact with opponents’ cleats, scrum caps, or other body parts are common due to the lack of protective gear. 
  • Knee injuries from the combination of running, sudden stops, and physical contact.

5. Hockey

Hockey is known to be an incredibly dangerous sport for a few reasons: first, the combination of high-speed skating, close-quarters play, and the use of a hard stick and puck elevates the risk of injuries on the ice; second, players are more likely to slip and fall on slippery ice than they would be on a court or a field. Hockey also has a reputation for being a particularly violent sport, as players often get into fights throughout the game. Although the sport is undeniably fun and exhilarating, it can also put you at risk for a lot of painful injuries.

Common hockey injuries include:

  • Concussions and other head injuries, which are prevalent in hockey due to body checks, collisions, and accidental contact, causing significant trauma to the head.
  • Collarbone fractures from falls, collisions, or checks into the boards.
  • Shoulder separations, which often occur when players are checked into the boards or involved in physical play, causing the ligaments holding the shoulder joint to stretch or tear.
  • Lacerations and wounds from the impact of the puck or collisions with opponents, sticks, or boards, causing cuts and bruises. 
  • Wrist injuries as a result of high-velocity shots, stick checks, and falls.
  • Knee injuries and ACL tears due to the abrupt stops, changes in direction, and potential for collisions on the ice.

Outside of contact sports, winter sports injuries and gymnastics injuries are also common. While these sports may not seem dangerous due to their lack of physical contact with other individuals, athletes who participate in these sports are prone to falls, sprains, breaks, and muscle strains that can land them in the emergency room.

What is the #1 injury occurring in sports?

Did you notice a common injury amongst all of the ones we listed above for each sport? There is one injury that is the most common among contact sports and non-contact sports and that is knee injuries.

Sports, whether it’s a high-impact sport like basketball or a low-impact sport like pickleball (yes, knee injuries are one of the most common pickleball injuries), put a lot of stress on your knee joints. Many of the sports we listed above involve continuous running, jumping, abrupt stops, rapid changes in direction, and intense physical contact which make their players more susceptible to knee injuries.

Because the knees are more vulnerable to ligament tears, meniscus injuries, and other strains,  athletes often find themselves struggling with knee pain which can impact their performance. So, when is a knee injury a medical emergency? Here are some examples of when to go to the ER for knee pain:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Redness (can also be warm to the touch)
  • Instability or weakness
  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty straightening or bending the knee 
  • Popping or crunching noises

If you can’t put weight on your knee or it looks visibly swollen after a sports injury, have it checked out by a medical professional to ensure that the damage isn’t severe and that surgical intervention isn’t necessary.

Complete Care can provide medical care for any sports injuries

So, what sport has the most injuries? Sadly, many of the contact sports that we love to play come with a risk of injury. Whether you’re an adult trying to keep active or a parent introducing your kid to the world of sports, injuries are an unfortunate reality of getting in the game.

Understanding the risks associated with different sports, recognizing common injuries, and knowing when to seek emergency care are vital aspects of maintaining health and well-being for athletes. Taking the necessary safety precautions such as wearing protective gear, doing proper warm-ups and cool-downs, staying hydrated, and resting in between games can help reduce the risk of injury.

Here at Complete Care, we help our athletes and our sports fans alike get in, out, and back to their games. No matter the injury, our state-of-the-art medical facilities are equipped to diagnose and treat your sports injury with compassion and efficiency. 

“I went to Complete Care ER Fossil Creek for a foot injury. Including the wait time, X-ray, diagnosis, treatment, etc. I was in and out in about an hour, maybe 1.5 hrs max. Everyone was very nice and professional, and they ran my insurance info before I was seen to make sure I was in the network and not surprised with charges. It was great and I am so happy to have them in my neighborhood.”

April S. | Fossil Creek Complete Care Patient

We have multiple locations in Texas (Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas/Fort Worth, East Texas, Lubbock, and San Antonio) and in Colorado Springs that are open 24/7 to care for any sports injury.

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