There are numerous athletic injury reporting systems currently in place. In order for our understanding of athletic injury epidemiology to advance, we must be able to compare data from divergent sources. This paper provides a review of existing athletic injury reporting systems in North America. The epidemiological designs employed in these systems are outlined, along with a description of the strengths and weaknesses of each approach to reporting. The differences between the case-series and cohort methods are delineated and the importance of injury definition, sources of error, denominator data and exposure estimation are discussed within this context. Four recommendations are then offered to assist in moving toward more universal systems for athletic injury reporting. First, comparability of data between systems should be maximised through clear indication of the reporting system design and the methods of data collection. Secondly, an exact definition should be given as to what constitutes a reportable event ('injury'). Thirdly, whenever possible, outcome information should be collected on each reported event so that an injury definition may be applied at the time of data analysis. Lastly, any limitations or sources of error should be acknowledged.