Epidemiology of 10,000 high school football injuries: patterns of injury by position played

J Phys Act Health. 2013 Feb;10(2):160-9. doi: 10.1123/jpah.10.2.160. Epub 2012 Jun 12.


Background: With more than 1.1 million high school athletes playing annually during the 2005-06 to 2009-10 academic years, football is the most popular boys' sport in the United States.

Methods: Using an internet-based data collection tool, RIO, certified athletic trainers (ATs) from 100 nationally representative US high schools reported athletic exposure and football injury data during the 2005-06 to 2009-10 academic years.

Results: Participating ATs reported 10,100 football injuries corresponding to an estimated 2,739,187 football-related injuries nationally. The injury rate was 4.08 per 1000 athlete-exposures (AEs) overall. Offensive lineman collectively (center, offensive guard, offensive tackle) sustained 18.3% of all injuries. Running backs (16.3%) sustained more injuries than any other position followed by linebackers (14.9%) and wide receivers (11.9%). The leading mechanism of injury was player-player contact (64.0%) followed by player-surface contact (13.4%). More specifically, injury occurred most commonly when players were being tackled (24.4%) and tackling (21.8%).

Conclusions: Patterns of football injuries vary by position. Identifying such differences is important to drive development of evidence-based, targeted injury prevention efforts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Athletic Injuries / etiology*
  • Football / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Schools / statistics & numerical data*