It’s hard to say definitively, since there’s no one governing body that counts sports injuries. In fact, there’s not even a definitive way of counting them. That said, looking at a few different sets of numbers reveals some pretty good rough conclusions, some surprising, some not.
For boys, football remains a leader in injuries overall. One study looking at high school sports found football injury rates during competition higher than 12 injuries per 1,000 athletic exposures, defined as one athlete’s participation in a practice or competition. Combining practice and competition, the total injury rate for football was nearly four per 1,000 overall. Wrestling racked up 2.23 per 1,000 overall, and boys’ ice hockey, soccer and lacrosse all averaged 1.7 to 1.8 overall.
The lowest injury rate for boys went to swimming, tennis and cross-country, with rates of significantly less than one injury per 1,000 exposures overall.
Soccer, field hockey and basketball clocked the highest injury rates for girls, with 2.7, 2.0 and 1.8 injuries per 1,000 respectively, while swimming and tennis averaged the lowest risk for girls as well. Cheerleading, although relatively low-risk with an injury rate of 0.75 per 1,000 exposures, accounts for 65% of catastrophic injuries in female high school athletes.
In terms of concussions, football, hockey and lacrosse post the highest concussion rates for high school boys, while swimming, diving, baseball and track report the lowest. For high school girls, the highest concussion rates go to soccer, field hockey and lacrosse, with track, swimming, diving and volleyball posting the lowest.
Source: Dr. Kyle Nagle