Context: Participation in high school sports has grown 16.1% over the last decade, but few studies have compared the overall injury risks in girls' softball and boys' baseball.
Objective: To examine the incidence of injury in high school softball and baseball players.
Design: Cohort study.
Setting: Greenville, South Carolina, high schools.
Patients or other participants: Softball and baseball players (n = 247) from 11 high schools.
Main outcome measure(s): Injury rates, locations, types; initial or subsequent injury; practice or game setting; positions played; seasonal trends.
Results: The overall incidence injury rate was 4.5/1000 athlete-exposures (AEs), with more injuries overall in softball players (5.6/1000 AEs) than in baseball players (4.0/1000 AEs). Baseball players had a higher initial injury rate (75.9/1000 AEs) than softball players (66.4/1000 AEs): rate ratio (RR) = 0.88, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.4, 1.7. The initial injury rate was higher than the subsequent injury rate for the overall sample (P < .0001) and for softball (P < .0001) and baseball (P < .001) players. For both sports, the injury rate during games (4.6/1000 AEs) was similar to that during practices (4.1/1000 AEs), RR = 1.22, 95% CI = 0.7, 2.2. Softball players were more likely to be injured in a game than were baseball players (RR = 1.92, 95% CI = 0.8, 4.3). Most injuries (77%) were mild (3.5/1000 AEs). The upper extremity accounted for the highest proportion of injuries (63.3%). The incidence of injury for pitchers was 37.3% and for position players was 15.3%. The rate of injury was highest during the first month of the season (7.96/1000 AEs).
Conclusions: The incidence of injury was low for both softball and baseball. Most injuries were minor and affected the upper extremity. The injury rates were highest in the first month of the season, so prevention strategies should be focused on minimizing injuries and monitoring players early in the season.