Objective: To review 16 years of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) injury surveillance data for men's baseball and identify potential areas for injury prevention initiatives.
Background: Prevention and management of collegiate baseball injuries may be facilitated through injury research aimed at defining the nature of injuries inherent in the sport. Through the NCAA Injury Surveillance System, 16 years of collegiate baseball data were collected for the academic years 1988-1989 through 2003-2004.
Main results: College baseball has a relatively low rate of injury compared with other NCAA sports, but 25% of injuries are severe and result in 10+ days of time loss from participation. The rate of injury was 3 times higher in a game situation than in practice (5.78 versus 1.85 injuries per 1000 athlete-exposures [A-Es], rate ratio = 3.1, 95% confidence interval = 3.0, 3.3, P < .01). Practice injury rates were almost twice as high in the preseason as in the regular season (2.97 versus 1.58 per 1000 A-Es, rate ratio = 1.9, 95% confidence interval = 1.8, 2.0, P < .01). A total of 10% of all game injuries occurred from impact with a batted ball, an injury rate of 0.56 injuries per 1000 game A-Es. Sliding was involved in 13% of game injuries.
Recommendations: Proper preseason conditioning is important to reduce injuries. Athletic trainers covering practices and games should be prepared to deal with serious, life-threatening injuries from batted balls and other injury mechanisms. Further study of batted-ball injuries is warranted, and the use of breakaway bases to prevent sliding injuries should be supported in college baseball.