Objective: To review 16 years of NCAA injury surveillance data for women's volleyball and to identify potential areas for injury prevention initiatives.
Background: Participation in NCAA women's volleyball has increased greatly over the past 16 years. As with all sports, women participating in volleyball assume an inherent risk of injury each time they practice or participate in a game. In order for clinicians to better understand the risks associated with volleyball, it is critical to gather data that illustrates injury rates and patterns among volleyball athletes. Furthermore, with knowledge of injury mechanisms and risk factors comes the ability to initiate prevention strategies to minimize future injury.
Main results: Over the past 16 years, the rate of injury in a game situation was slightly higher than in practice (4.58 versus 4.10 game injuries per 1000 athlete-exposures, rate ratio = 1.1, 95% confidence interval = -1.0, 1.2, P < .01). A total of 2216 injuries from more than 50 000 games and 4725 injuries from more than 90 000 practices were reported. The lower extremity accounted for more than 55% of all game and practice injuries, with ankle ligament sprains representing 44.1% of game injuries and 29.4% of practice injuries. Approximately 20% of all game injuries involved the upper extremity. The majority of injuries during a game situation occurred while athletes were in one of the front 3 positions. A player landing on another player and contact with the floor each accounted for 21% of game injuries.
Recommendations: Ankle injuries appear to be the most common injuries in women's volleyball. Future preventive efforts should focus on preventing first-time ankle sprains and acute traumatic knee injuries, as well as reducing the risk of ankle sprain recurrence.