Healthy Family | Home Safety | Health and Wealth | Relationship Issues | Career Advice | Growing Family
Get the SixWise e-Newsletter FREE!
Google Web
Free Newsletter Subscription
Get the Web's Most trusted & Informative Health, Wealth, Safety & More Newsletter -- FREE!


Share Email to a Friend Print This

The 7 Most Dangerous Youth Sports in America

The benefits of sports for children are seemingly limitless. They can build character, self-esteem and social relationships, instill a sense of belonging and team building concepts, be a venue for social development-not to mention the positive effects that activity has on a child physically.

But as with so many things in life, with the benefits comes the potential risk for injury. According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, some 20 percent of children participating in sports activities are injured-and one out of four of these injuries is considered serious.

Knowing how to reduce your child's risk of injury is the first step to ensuring that he or she has a positive sports experience, which is why has compiled a list of tips to keep your children safe while they play.

Based on information from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and an ESPN sports poll published in the Sports Business Journal, here is a general risk of injury from seven of the top sports in America.

Risk of Injury in Seven Top U.S. Youth Sports

Sport Percentage of injuries vs. total participation
1. Football 13.8%
2. Mountain biking 7.7%
3. Basketball 6.0%
4. Soccer 3.5%
5. Skateboarding 2.7%
6. Baseball 2.6%
7. Softball 2.3%


Wearing protective equipment is one of the more important ways to minimize the risk of injury. Necessary equipment that is, fortunately, required by most youth football leagues includes:

  • Helmet
  • Shoulder pads, hip pads, tail pads, knee pads
  • Pants (one piece or shell)
  • Thigh guards
  • Jersey
  • Mouthguard with a keeper strap is require
  • Athletic supporter
  • Proper shoes (individual leagues have varying requirements, so check with the coach for details)
  • If eyeglasses are worn, they should be made of non-shattering glass
Mountain Biking (and other bicycling)

According to the National Head Injury Foundation, each year nearly 50,000 bicyclists suffer serious head injuries leaving them with permanent disabilities.

The good news is that helmets can greatly reduce this risk. A study in Seattle found that wearing a bicycle helmet reduced the risk of head injury by 85 percent. Other biking risks include:

  • Collision with a car or another bicycle
  • Loss of control
  • Mechanical and structural problems
  • Getting hands, feet or clothing tangled in the bike
  • Feet slipping from the pedals

In regard to bike helmets, which should be worn EVERY time your child-or you!-rides a bike, the helmet should:

  • Sit level and firmly on your child's head, but not be so tight that it's uncomfortable.
  • Not be tilted forward or backward.
  • Not be worn over a baseball hat.
  • Have strong, wide straps that fasten snugly under the chin (you shouldn't be able to fit more than a finger under the strap if it's on properly).
  • Always be fastened while riding.
  • Be replaced after a serious fall, as helmets lose their capacity to absorb shock after taking a hit.
Louis Garneau Grunge Kids Helmets look so cool that your kids will be begging to wear them. Just don't tell them about all the added safety features like the:
  • Quick-release buckle fastener with ergonomic shape.
  • Airdry Fusion that provides better comfort and ventilation. Helmet stabilizing device for integrated receptacle.
  • Rack-and-pinion mechanism for tight and quick adjustment. Airdry padding for optimum comfort.
  • (For ages 6 to 15)

If you have a hard time getting your older child or teen to wear a helmet-you're sure that he takes it off as soon as he gets down the has some Louis Garneau Grunge Kids Helmets that look so cool your kids will be asking for one in each color!


Sprains and strains to the ankle and knee are the most injuries in basketball. Some 38 percent of boys and 36 percent of girls playing basketball have had an injury to their ankle or foot.

According to a study by the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA), the most common causes of injuries in basketball result from:

  • Scrambling for loose balls (34.4% boys; 36.3% girls)
  • Controlled pattern activity (27.7% boys; 32.6% girls)
  • Rebounding (26.0% boys; 30.8% girls)

To reduce the risk of sprains and strains, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends that athletes:

  • Follow a pre-season conditioning program to build muscle strength.
  • Warm up before the sports activity, including practice.
  • Listen to their bodies and never run if he or she experiences pain in the foot or ankle.
  • Replace athletic shoes when they are worn out.
  • Always wear properly fitted shoes that are tightly laced. Loose-fitting shoes allow the foot to twist from side to side.


Shin guards are extremely important for young soccer players. Soccer tournament records show that most players who suffered from lower leg injuries were not protected adequately by shin guards.

The following tips can help to prevent soccer injuries, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons:

  • Cold muscles are more prone to injury, so always take time to warm up and stretch.
  • Wear shin guards to help protect your lower legs. Soccer tournament records have shown that most players who suffered lower leg injuries were not adequately protected by shin guards.
  • Wear shoes with molded cleats or ribbed soles. Shoes with screw-in cleats often are associated with a higher risk of injury. However, shoes with screw-in cleats should be worn when more traction is needed, such as on a wet field with high grass.
  • Synthetic, nonabsorbent balls should be used on wet playing fields, as leather balls can become water-logged and very heavy when wet, putting players at high risk for injury.
  • Goals should be well padded and secured to reduce the risk of head injuries if players collide with the posts.
  • Injuries and deaths have occurred when goals have fallen onto players, so don't climb on or sit on goals.


Since skateboarding involves moving quickly over hard surfaces, it can result in injuries ranging from minor cuts and bruises to serious brain injury. Many injuries involve the wrist, ankle or face and result when a person loses their balance or control and falls.

To reduce the risk of injury, proper equipment must be worn, which includes:

  • A properly fitting helmet
  • Wrist guards
  • Knee and elbow pads
  • Proper shoes

Other tips include:

  • Use a high-quality skateboard
  • Keep your skateboard in good condition
  • Learn the basic skills of skateboarding

Baseball and Softball

According to a NATA study, the most common injuries suffered by baseball players are:

  • Scrapes, bruises, muscle cramps/spasms
  • Strains
  • Sprains
  • Fractures

To protect your young baseball or softball player, make sure that he or she:

  • Wears appropriate safety gear
    • Helmets
    • Eye protectors
    • Shoes with molded cleats
    • Additional safety gear for catchers
  • Limits pitching time and takes required rest periods if pitching
  • Warms up before playing
  • Does not keep playing if in pain
  • Listens to coaches safe playing advice, such as not allowing headfirst sliding for young players and dodging a ball pitched directly at him or her

And for all sports, make sure to keep the focus on fun! Too much pressure to win can push children too hard and increase the chances that they could get hurt.



American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

To get more information about this and other highly important topics, sign up for your free subscription to our weekly "Be Safe, Live Long & Prosper" e-newsletter.

With every issue of the free newsletter, you’ll get access to the insights, products, services, and more that can truly improve your well-being, peace of mind, and therefore your life!

Share Email to a Friend Print This