7 Sports Most Likely to Cause Injuries

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Sandra Gordon on January 8, 2023

More than 3 million people were treated for sports injuries in emergency rooms in 2021.

  • woman-holding-baseball-bats
    Keep Your Family Safe When Playing Sports
    Being physically active is good for you, but it comes with the risk of getting hurt. Nearly 3 million people suffer from sports-related injuries every year and end up in the emergency room, according to data from the National Safety Council. Luckily 90% of those who are treated for sports injuries are released without a hospital stay

    Surprisingly, more people are injured using exercise equipment or bicycles than any team sport. Get the facts on the sports most likely to cause injury and how to keep you and your family safe.
  • Group of basketball players in action
    1. Basketball causes the most injuries.
    Basketball is a popular sport—more than 26 million youngsters ages 12 to 17 play it—but it causes the most injuries for players of all ages. Roughly 260,000 players were treated for injuries in the United States in 2021. Play it safe: Wear eye protection, elbow and knee pads, a mouth guard, and an athletic supporter (boys and men). Strength training can also help you avoid injury.
  • Making the handoff
    2. Football injuries are common in teens.
    In 2021, more than 220,000 Americans were treated for injuries related to football. Play it safe: Wear all pads and other safety equipment and warm up properly before playing. Remind your child of proper tackling techniques and to limit head contact.
  • kicking soccer outdoors
    3. Soccer contact and collisions are common.
    More than 140,000 people show up in U.S. emergency departments because of soccer injuries each year. Collision or contact sports, such as soccer, football, basketball and baseball, account for about 80% of all sports-related emergency department visits for children ages 5 to 14. Play it safe: For sports in which “heading” is involved, make sure the coach is teaching the kids how to properly use their head to strike or make a play with a ball.
  • Youth League Batter
    4. Baseball and softball have risks.
    Baseball and softball are risky sports your child plays or you join in recreationally. More than 116,000 people were treated for baseball and softball injuries in U.S. emergency departments in 2021. Play it safe: Wear all safety equipment, such as a batting helmet and shin and elbow guards, and use detachable bases. Warm up before playing, too. Stretch your muscles and get your heart rate up before you play ball.
  • Youth ice hockey team at practice
    5. Ice hockey causes the most concussions.
    Activities involving skating, including ice hockey, land fifth on the list of sports-causing injuries. Nearly 70,000 skating injuries are treated in the emergency room each year. Play it safe: Limit head contact during play. Don’t tough it out. As with any sport, encourage your child to tell someone if he or she thinks an injury has occurred.
  • Golfer Kristy McPherson
    6. Golf is more dangerous than it looks.
    Even though golf isn’t a contact sport, it still results in nearly 60,000 injuries each year. What’s more shocking is that golf is responsible for more injuries than rugby. Many injuries involve golf carts and errant golf balls, in addition to stress and overuse injuries. Play it safe: Stay alert when hitting the links.

  • woman-downhill-skiing
    7. Snow skiing and snow boarding require a helment.
    Although skiing and snowboarding are perceived by some as risky sports, the rate of injury is lower than many more popular sports on this list. Still, these wintry activities result in roughly 57,000 injuries each year. Snowboarding has a higher rate of injury than skiing, but skiing can result in more serious injuries. Play it safe: wear a helmet when participating in either of these activities.
7 Sports Most Likely to Cause Injuries
  1. Sports and Recreational Injuries.
  2. Game Changers. Stats, Stories and What Communities Are Doing to Protect Young Athletes. Safe Kids Worldwide. www.safekids.org/research-report/game-changers-stats-stories-and-what-communities-are-doing-protect-...
  3. Handout on Health: Sports Injuries. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Sports_Injuries/default.asp
  4. Preventing Musculoskeletal Sports Injuries in Youth: A Guide for Parents. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Sports_Injuries/child_sports_injuries.asp
  5. Sports and Recreation-Related Injuries. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. www.cdc.gov/healthcommunication/toolstemplates/entertainmented/tips/sportsinjuries.html
  6. Is Skiing Safer Than Snowboarding?
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Last Review Date: 2020 Nov 17
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.