youth sports concussion

Which youth sports have the highest rates of concussions in kids? The answer might surprise you!

Youth sports concussions vary by individual sports as do the safety precautions that are in place and safety gear that can be utilized. In honor of today’s Team Up Speak Up Day, we’ve compiled some information about each sport’s concussion rate and safety precautions so that you can help prevent injuries to your child and make more informed decisions.

Youth sports concussions by sport:

Concussions are not exclusive to team sports, as head injuries can occur anywhere. However, some sports do have higher incidents of injury. Here’s our round up of concussion probability based on’s concussion rate per 100,000 children in sport as well information that will help keep your child safer.


BASEBALL                 GIRLS                          BOYS

Likelihood:                   n/a                              4.6 – 5

Precautions:                Baseball is one of the safer sports but concussions are a possibility due to player collisions or errant balls. The least safe position is catcher as balls can make contact if not caught. Helmet makers are continuing to develop better head gear for this position, but it remains one of the more dangerous spots on the field.

BASKETBALL             GIRLS                          BOYS

Likelihood:                   18.6 – 21                     16 – 21.2

Precautions:                The majority of injuries are as a result of head hitting the floor or head hitting head. As a result, some padded headgear like this have been developed that help “pad” the skull from major impact.


Likelihood:                   11.5 – 14

Precautions:                 Ensure that your program is led by experienced, licensed trainers and safety equipment is prominent. All skills must be developed on appropriate equipment that will keep your body safer in case of impact. Discourage your child from performing moves on the driveway, at school or in the yard or anywhere without proper matting.  Since cheerleading involve more than one athlete, some head to head or head to body collisions may occur – this is why it is so important to have experienced trainers that can teach at levels that are appropriate for each age group, as well as assess any injuries.


ScoutJr Field Hockey mask

Likelihood:                   22 – 24.9

Precautions:                According to the NCAA, “the proportion of injuries to the head and face in field hockey is higher than in sports such as basketball, football and wrestling, but less than sports such as ice hockey. Goalkeepers must wear a goalie mask, throat protector and chest protector while field players are permitted to wear face masks like theseprotective head covering and eye goggles. Players have the OPTION of wearing soft headgear, subject to game official approval.

FOOTBALL                  ALL

Likelihood:                   64 – 76.8

Precautions:                The NFL leads many other sports with the creation of its Flag Football league, a much safer alternative and in some ways more athletic. The rules remain the same but bodily contact is not permitted and enforced through penalties. Flag Football is available to youngsters up to 8th grade, so kids that are still developing can enjoy playing America’s favorite game in a safer environment.

ICE HOCKEY              BOYS

Likelihood:                   54

Precaution:                  Due to body checking, ice hockey has more than its fair share of concussions. Have your child learn to stretch and warm up prior to playing – this will help him or her be more agile and be able to move quicker. Your child should wear safety gear that fits well.

Safety gear becomes less effective if it is too large or small, so it is important that it fits properly. For kids under the age of 13, ensure that your program does not permit body checking as it is prohibited at the younger ages.

LACROSSE                 GIRLS              BOYS
Likelihood:                   31 – 35                        40 – 46.6

Precautions:                Interestingly, girls and boys lacrosse have higher rates of concussion for different reasons. For boys, the main source of head injury is body to body contact. Maintaining and increasing agility through speed training, stretching and warming up can help athletes avoid collisions. Boys wear helmets, which helps protect them from injury to the head from balls or sticks.

Girls are not required to wear helmets except for the goalie. Girls main sources of concussions are hits to the head by sticks and wayward balls. Over the past few years there has been increased attention to the girls’ game, which is different from the boys game, and the possibility of them wearing headgear.  Recently, Cascade, a lacrosse helmet maker debuted new headgear developed for girls. As of now, the headgear is optional in most states but some states, like Florida, are making them required.

SOCCER                     GIRLS              BOY

Likelihood:                   33                    19-19.2

Precautions:                There have been many studies about the phenomenon of girls’ increased risk of concussion from playing soccer.  Some say that girls’ necks don’t develop as quickly as boys. As a result, girls heading resulted in substantially more injuries. Others believe that girls play harder than boys.

ScoutJr soccer headgear

Whatever the reason, USA Soccer opted to ban heading the ball for all kids up to and including U11. This means that if your son or daughter plays in G12, they may encounter heading at the age of 10 or 11. So as a parent, you can speak with your child’s coach to ensure that he or she is no promoting heading.

Soccer headgear has also been developed in the form of soft, padded headband-like headgear like this. Headgear like this can help avoid concussions and offset pain caused by head to head contact or inadvertent hits to the head.

SOFTBALL                  GIRLS

Likelihood:                   16 – 16.3

Precautions:                 We were a bit surprised by this number. Why were girls softball players getting injured at a greater rate than boys baseball players? Turns out that though there isn’t a concrete

answer, leaders suspect that it’s due to the shorter distance between the pitcher’s mound and batter’s box. As of now, some safety gear is available in the form of catcher’s helmets, pitcher’s helmets and fielder’s face guards.

VOLLEYBALL             GIRLS              BOYS

Likelihood:                   6 – 8.6             n/a

ScoutJr volleyball helmet

Gamechanger Volleyball Helmet

Precautions:                According to Gamebreaker, a headgear manufacturer, the amount of jumping, spiking, blocking and more trauma can occur both from taking a volleyball to the face or head area, as well as the occasional fall on hard floor hitting the head.  Gamebreaker and other manufacturers have created full foam helmets that some players have been wearing as a safety precaution.

Symptoms of Concussions in Kids

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the most common symptoms of a concussion include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Memory loss
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Balance problems, dizziness
  • Difficulty speaking and communicating
  • Depression
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Changes in sleep patterns

Help prevent youth sports concussions

When we first published this article, it was Today is Team Up Speak Up Day, a day that was created to help to fight the effects of untreated concussions. According to the Team Up Speak Up website, in 1905 Harvard’s safety director gave this brief speech to athletes at the start of each season.

“In case any man in any game gets hurt by a hit on the head so that he does not realize what he is doing, his teammate should at once insist that time be called and that a doctor come onto the field to see what is the trouble.”

Since then, Team Up Speak Up has been encouraging coaches to share a similar speech to their athletes. While the language can be different, the points should remain the same:

1 We’re a team and we look out for each other

2  A teammate with a concussion needs your help

3  A good teammate will speak up to the coach or other persons of authority on behalf of the injured athlete


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