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Basketball Injuries: Most Common, Risks, and Types

Basketball is a popular sport, especially among children and young adults. But the sport carries a risk for injury, whether played in an organized league or with friends on a local park court:

  • More than 200,000 basketball-related injuries occur to young people under age 15 each year requiring treatment in hospital emergency departments. 
  • Basketball is the fourth leading cause of injury in both unorganized settings and organized community team sports. 
  • Injuries to basketball players are usually minor, mostly sprains and strains. The ankle and knee are the most common sites of injury, followed by the lower back, hand, and wrist.
  • Eye injuries are frequent, usually as a result of being hit with fingers or elbows. Along with baseball, basketball is one of the leading causes of sports-related eye injuries in children. 
  • Along with baseball, basketball accounts for nearly half of all sports-related mouth injuries
  • At the high school and recreational levels, injuries occur more frequently during practice; college players are injured more often during games. 
  • Girls and women appear to have a slightly higher rate of injury than boys and men. And many of the injuries female players sustain are more serious than those of their male counterparts (e.g., knee injuries) 
  • According to a study by the National Athletic Trainers Association, two players on every high school basketball team in the country, regardless of gender, are likely to be injured during a season.

Types of Injuries

Of injuries suffered by high school basketball players, the NATA study found that the most common were:

  • Sprains (a partial or complete tear of a ligaments around a joint -- wrist, finger, knee, ankle, toe)(44.6% boys, 44.2% girls).
  • General trauma (26.5% boys; 19.6% girls) 
  • Strains (a partial or complete tear of a muscles or tendons) (13.3% boys, 16.2% girls)
  • Body part injured
    • Ankle/foot (38.3% boys, 36.0% girls) 
    • Hip/thigh/leg (14.7% boys, 16.6% girls)
    • Knee (10.3% boys, 13.0% girls) 
    • Forearm/wrist/hand (11.5% boys, 11.2% girls) 
    • Face/scalp (12.2% boys, 8.8% girls)