Whether you are a beginner or a skilled soccer player, it’s important to know the potential injury risks you face when on the field. Let’s take a look at the most common injuries for male soccer players.
Researchers reviewed 15 years of injury surveillance data from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and found that the risk for injury changes depending on if it’s practice or a game1:
- The injury rate during games was 4 times higher than during practices.
- Game injuries were often contact injuries between players, while practice injuries were often not.
- In both games and practices, more than 60% of injuries were in the lower extremities.
Here are the 5 most-common injuries for male soccer players:
The most common injury: ankle sprain
A sprained ankle is the most common injury for male soccer players and accounts for 17% of all injuries in both games and practices, according to the study. Ankle sprains are often caused when you make a sudden stop or change of direction, causing the ankle to twist unnaturally.
Ankle sprains can usually be treated by following the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevate) protocol. However, ankles that have not thoroughly healed are vulnerable to re-sprains. Recurrent ankle sprains accounted for 24% of the total sprains in the survey.
Other top soccer injuries for men
There are clear trends for other types of injuries that male soccer players are prone to. All of these injuries rank in the top 5 of injuries that were experienced either in practice or games:
- Muscle-tendon injuries to the upper leg. These include injuries to the quadriceps and hamstring muscles.
- Muscle-tendon injuries to the hip or pelvis. Because of the complex anatomy of this part of the body, injuries to the soft tissues of the hip and pelvis are often described under the general label of sports hernia (athletic pubalgia).
- Knee injuries. These include tears in ligaments like the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or to the meniscus.
- Concussion. Since there is a likelihood of player-on-player contact during games, concussions were 14 times more likely to occur during a game than during practice.
The researchers concluded by noting that, since player contact accounted for a majority of the injuries during soccer games, the best way to prevent these injuries is to make sure the rules around aggressive game moves like charging and tackling—particularly slide tackling—are followed and enforced.
- Agel J, Evans TA, Dick R, Putukian M, Marshall SW. Descriptive epidemiology of collegiate men's soccer injuries: National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance System, 1988-1989 through 2002-2003. J Athl Train. 2007;42(2):270–277.