Kids and Sports

Knowing the Score

Organized sports, recreational activities, and play are important parts of childhood. They can improve a child's physical fitness, coordination, self-discipline, and teamwork and give your child a sense of personal satisfaction and accomplishment. Participation in organized and informal sports is big and getting bigger. Nearly three-quarters of U.S. households with school-age children have at least one child who plays organized sports. Many children also participate in recreational activities such as inline skating, skiing, skateboarding, and many other indoor and outdoor activities. But these activities come with some risk of injury—many of which are preventable. Children are more susceptible to injuries because they are still growing and gaining motor and cognitive skills.

Sports Injury Facts

More than 3.5 million children ages 14 and under receive medical treatment for sports injuries each year. Here are some facts about childhood sports injuries from the National SAFE KIDS Campaign:

  • Overuse injury, which occurs from repeated motion, is responsible for nearly half of all sports injuries to middle- and high-school students. Immature bones, insufficient rest after an injury, and poor training or conditioning contribute to overuse injuries among children.
  • Nearly half of all sports- and recreation-related head injuries to children are caused by bicycle, skating, and skateboard incidents.
  • Brain injury is the leading cause of sports- and recreation-related death. Injuries associated with participation in sports and recreational activities account for 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among children in the United States.
  • Collision and contact sports are associated with higher rates of injury. However, injuries from recreational activities and individual sports tend to be more severe.
  • Most organized sports-related injuries (62 percent) occur during practices rather than games. Despite this fact, a third of parents often do not take the same safety precautions during their child's practices as they would for a game.
  • A recent survey found that among athletes ages 5 to 14, 15 percent of basketball players, 28 percent of football players, 22 percent of soccer players, 25 percent of baseball players, and 12 percent of softball players have been injured while playing their respective sports.

Injury Prevention Tips

  • Make sure your child receives proper training and physical and psychological conditioning.
  • Use appropriate safety equipment and a safe playing environment with adequate adult supervision.
  • Make sure your child wears sport-specific, properly fitting safety gear.
  • Make sure your child drinks adequate liquids while engaging in athletic activities, and takes rest periods during hot or humid weather.