The Most Common Football Sports Injuries

Common Injuries Suffered on the Gridiron

Miami Dolphins Quarterback Trent Green is taken off the field
Miami Dolphins Quarterback Trent Green is taken off the field. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

More than 185,000 kids aged 5 to 14 were seen in the emergency department for football-related injuries in 2003. In fact, 28 percent of youth football players report sustaining an injury. It's a contact sport and there is bound to be some damage done. Practicing -- rather than playing the actual game -- is where the majority of injuries happen.


Injuries to the knee and ankle are the most common in football, but brain injuries are by far the most dangerous.

A study published in the July 2007 issue of The American Journal of Sports Medicine found that high school football players had a disproportionately high incidence of head injury when compared with college players. The authors advocate pulling any player from competition that shows the symptoms of a concussion.

Symptoms include:

Spinal Cord Injuries

Helmets provide quite a bit of protection for players' heads, but they offer little protection from spinal cord injuries. Only one fatality could be directly attributed to the sport of football during 2006, and it was a spinal cord injury sustained during practice. A 17-year-old player was injured during a defensive drill. Any player with shortness of breath, numbness, tingling or paralysis after a fall or contact with another player should be considered to have a spinal cord injury.

Other Common Football Injuries

In addition to knee, ankle, spine and head injuries, the following are common in football:

Practicing in the Sun

Football is one of the earliest scholastic sports, starting before summer is even over. Late July and early August usually include two practices every day in the heat.

All that sun exposure can lead to dehydration or sunburns.

Staying Safe on the Football Field

The National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research has these and other suggestions for keeping safe on the gridiron:

  • mandatory medical exams before players start the season
  • proper conditioning
  • medical staff at all games and practices (emphasis added)
  • strict enforcement of all regulations
  • proper technique, especially in the case of tackling and blocking
  • immediate medical attention for any player with signs of brain injury
  • placement of an AED on the sidelines at all practices and games


"FACTS ABOUT CHILDHOOD SPORTS INJURIES." Safe Kids Worldwide. Safe Kids Worldwide. 

Mueller, Frederick O., and Jerry L. Diehl. "ANNUAL SURVEY OF FOOTBALL INJURY RESEARCH 1931-2006." 27 Feb 2007. National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research. American Football Coaches Association.

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