Basketball Common injuries and locations: sprains, strains, bruises, fractures, scrapes, dislocations, cuts, injuries to teeth, ankles, and knees. (Injury rates are higher in girls, especially for the anterior cruciate ligament or ACL, the wide ligament that limits rotation and forward movement of the shin bone.) Safest playing with: eye protection, elbow and knee pads, mouth guard, athletic supporters for males, proper shoes, water. If playing outdoors, wear sunscreen and, when possible, a hat. Injury prevention: strength training (particularly knees and shoulders), aerobics (exercises that develop the strength and endurance of heart and lungs), warm-up exercises, proper coaching, and use of safety equipment.
Track and Field Common injuries: strains, sprains, scrapes from falls. Safest playing with: proper shoes, athletic supporters for males, sunscreen, water. Injury prevention: proper conditioning and coaching.
Football Common injuries and locations: bruises, sprains, strains, pulled muscles, tears to soft tissues such as ligaments, broken bones, internal injures (bruised or damaged organs), concussions, back injuries, sunburn. Knees and ankles are the most common injury sites. Safest playing with: helmet, mouth guard, shoulder pads, athletic supporters for males, chest/rib pads, forearm, elbow, and thigh pads, shin guards, proper shoes, sunscreen, water. Injury prevention: proper use of safety equipment, warm-up exercises, proper coaching techniques and conditioning.
Baseball and Softball Common injuries: soft tissue strains, impact injuries that include fractures caused by sliding and being hit by a ball, sunburn. Safest playing with: batting helmet, shin guards, elbow guards, athletic supporters for males, mouth guard, sunscreen, cleats, hat, detachable, “breakaway bases” rather than traditional, stationary ones. Injury prevention: proper conditioning and warm-ups.
Soccer Common injuries: bruises, cuts and scrapes, headaches, sunburn. Safest playing with: shin guards, athletic supporters for males, cleats, sunscreen, water. Injury prevention: aerobic conditioning and warm-ups, and proper training in “heading” (that is, using the head to strike or make a play with the ball).
Gymnastics Common injuries: sprains and strains of soft tissues. Safest playing with: athletic supporters for males, safety harness, joint supports (such as neoprene wraps), water. Injury prevention: proper conditioning and warm-ups.
Adapted from Play It Safe, a Guide to Safety for Young Athletes, with permission of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.