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.