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The NCAA and Injury Prevention: 16 Years in the Making

Nov 5, 2013

NCAA injuries

In a recent study conducted by the NCAA, college athletes from 15 different sports were observed over 16 years to figure out the most common sports injury causes. Here's the breakdown of the NCAA injury statistics and some sports injury prevention tips:

When do players get injured?

The results from the studies showed that in games, injuries occurred most frequently in the regular season and least frequently in the postseason. However, in practices, injuries occurred most often in the preseason and least often in post season.

What does it mean?

There are a variety of reasons why injuries occur most often in preseason practices. The study found that most likely the biggest reason is that many athletes return to practice out of shape. Second are long practices or multiple practice times a day. We believe this is partly an exposure situation where the combination of exposure to injury and wear & tear lead to injuries. Third, some preseason practices can include walk-on's who may have little training or coaching which can skew numbers.

So what to do?

Colleges and high schools should pre-participation exams to make sure all athletes are qualified to practice. Also, workouts should also include longer, mandatory recovery times and practice times could be more accommodating to the environment, like heat waves. But most importantly, offseason strength and conditioning, especially the closer it is to the season, is the biggest factor in preventing injuries as a whole.

Where do players get injured?

The study showed that most players, no matter what sport, were injured in their lower extremities (the legs). More than 50% of all injuries occurred here.

So what to do?

Taping and bracing vulnerable areas is important, especially if the athlete has been injured there before. Beyond that, more research is necessary to lower this statistic.

What sports are most vulnerable?

Unsurprisingly, high contact sports like football have the highest injury rates. In fact, football and wrestling had the most injuries, while baseball had the least amount of injuries over the course of the study.

So what to do?

Limiting the amount of player contact in practice can help prevent sports injuries. Even though it is a contact sport, hockey injury rates in games are 8 times the amount in games than in practices, most likely related to the fact that contact is decreased to a minimum in practice. The NCAA continues to explore ways to decrease dangerous injuries contact in sports while still allowing teams to effectively practice the nature of their sport.

What's the most common injury you deal with? Do you think high contact sports should be have more rules to avoid injury? Or is it just part of the game?


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