Soccer Related Injuries, Especially Concussion Rates, Rise

soccer related injuries

Soccer (known as football outside the United States) is one of the most popular team sports in the world. Soccer also can be a way to encourage children to be physically active while they learn about teamwork and sportsmanship.

With the growing popularity of soccer comes a greater number of injuries. However, the risk of injury can be reduced.

As U.S. youth soccer participation soared in recent decades, so did the rate of injuries–especially concussions–related to the sport, according to a study in the October 2016 Pediatrics

The study, “Soccer-Related Injuries Treated in Emergency Departments: 1990 – 2014,” found roughly 2,995,765 children between ages 7-17 years were treated in U.S. emergency departments for soccer-related injuries during the 25-year period examined, with the annual injury rate rising 111%. 

  • Patients ages 12-17 accounted for 73% of the injuries, and the average age of a child injured while playing soccer was 13 years old.

  • Contact with a person or object, most often another player or the ball, was involved in 35% of the injuries.

  • Injuries most commonly diagnosed were sprain/strain (35%), fracture (23%) and soft tissue injury (22%).

  • Concussions/closed head injury accounted for 7% of the injuries, but the annual rate of concussions increased substantially, by 1,596%.

Tips to Help Prevent Soccer Injuries

  • Equipment. Players should use the right equipment.
    • Protective Mouthguards
    • Protective Eyewear. Glasses or goggles should be made with polycarbonate or a similar material. The material should conform to the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
    • Shoes. Cleats should provide sufficient heel/arch support and grip.
    • Balls. Soccer balls should be water-resistant, the right size based on age, and properly inflated.
    • Preseason Training. There is growing evidence that preseason conditioning and balance training may reduce the risk of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.
  • Fair Play. Violent behavior and aggressive play increase the risk of injury and should be strongly discouraged. Parents and coaches should encourage good sportsmanship and fair play.
  • Field Conditions. Uneven playing surfaces can increase risk of injury, especially in outdoor soccer. The field should be checked for holes or irregularities. Goal posts should be secured to the ground at all times even when not in use. Follow installation guidelines from the manufacturers and Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • Heading Technique. The risk of a head injury is comparable to other contact/collision sports, though evidence does not support repeated heading as a risk for short- or long-term cognitive issues. However, to reduce the risk of injury from heading the soccer ball, players should be taught proper heading technique at the appropriate age and with an appropriate-sized ball.


Soccer injuries can be prevented when fair play is encouraged and the rules of the game are enforced. Also make sure you have the right equipment and play safely.


SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics