Football is one of the most popular sports played by young athletes in the United States. It also leads all other sports in the number of yearly injuries. In 2007, more than 920,000 athletes under 18 years of age were treated in the emergency room, doctor’s office and/or clinics for football-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Some injuries are unavoidable. However, some can be prevented or at least minimized with certain precautions.
Traumatic injuries can occur during football due to the combination of intense practice sessions, seasonal hot weather, high speeds and full contact. More so than other sports, football players’ bodies are susceptible to collision injuries because of the man-to-man contact involved in blocking and tackling. Despite the use of protective equipment, major injuries, such as concussions, spinal injuries, fractures and knee injuries, occur with regularity. Even though many football-related injuries occur during game situations, the reality is most injuries occur during practice because of the increased number of minutes of exposure that football players have in practice compared to actual competitive situations.
While there is little that can done to reduce the intensity of play during games, there are many strategies one can use to reduce contact at practice and thus control the risk of concussions and other serious injuries. For example, common sense tells you to be able to achieve the risk reduction needed for concussions in practice, then we should obviously limit the number of full-contact practices and eliminate drills that put players at high risk of head injury. That means only a small percentage of practices should be devoted to full contact.