Soccer Injury Statistics
By Martin Graham | 14th December 2023
Soccer, football, the beautiful game, or whatever you call this sport, there is no doubt that it is one of the most popular, if not the most popular, sport in the world that boasts millions of players and fans worldwide. Soccer is very popular because it is a simple, fun, and healthy activity considered safer than other sports, such as Basketball, Rugby, and American Football.
However, this does not mean sports injuries do not occur in soccer. Soccer injuries occur whether a player plays recreationally, competitively, or professionally, and there are severe soccer injuries, which can take months to heal, and minor injuries, which can take days or weeks to heal.
Because soccer is a contact sport, around 75% of the injuries are contact injuries, and 25% are non-contact. Typically, contact injuries are acute, meaning they happen suddenly during the impact. In contrast, non-contact injuries result from dysfunction in the body, leading to overuse until a specific body part can no longer take it and gets injured, usually in tears or sprains.
Both types of injuries are more common now than ever before, and it seems like every week, there is news of the best professional soccer players in the most prestigious competitions in the world, such as the UEFA Champions League and Premier League, getting injured and having to sit out for months.
For example, one of the biggest English professional football clubs, Chelsea, might face a relegation battle, and one of those reasons is due to having a lot of key players injured. Many injuries have also led to essential players missing out on international competitions like the World Cup.
Soccer-related injuries take away some of the beauty of the beautiful game, and understanding these statistics can reveal crucial insights as to how to prevent soccer injuries or reduce the risk of injury.
Image by Yogendra Singh
Importance of Understanding Sports Injury Data
Understanding or at least being aware of common soccer injuries is beneficial for any coach, player, or soccer enthusiast. The analysis of injury data provides valuable insights into the prevalence, types, and severity of injuries, which is crucial for injury prevention and player management. The following points highlight the significance of observing such data.
Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation
- Soccer injury data reveal the frequency and distribution of injuries, from minor injuries like ankle sprains to more severe ones like head injuries or anterior cruciate ligament injuries.
- Injury data also helps identify risk factors, injury patterns, and injury mechanisms, which aid in developing and implementing an evidence-based injury prevention programme.
Injury Epidemiology Insights:
- Injury data also provides epidemiological insights into the prevalence of injuries among different player demographics, such as male and female soccer players, professional soccer players, and youth players. This enables the development of age and gender-specific injury interventions.
Risk Factors Contributing to Soccer Injuries
Many risk factors contribute to how long the injury lasts and how fast the injury heals. These are some of the most crucial risk factors to remember when dealing with a potential sports injury.
- How hard you get hit
- Where you get hit
- How you get hit
- Previous injuries recorded
- Previous injury severity
- Previous injury location
- Playing surface
- Footwear on and off the field
- Athleticism levels
- Self-beliefs about injuries, injury prevention, and performance
- Poor equipment or low-quality equipment
- Not following a proper injury prevention programme
- Lifestyle habits include nutrition, sleep, and time spent in nature.
Most Common Sports Injuries Among Soccer Players
Due to the nature of soccer, a contact sport played with the feet, most soccer injuries are to the lower extremities and head. However, some upper extremity injuries can also occur, although they mainly affect goalkeepers.
Injuries can occur due to getting hit by an opponent, such as during a slide tackle, colliding with the opponent, overuse of specific muscles, bones, or tendons, or not having the proper soccer equipment, such as the right cleats and shin guards.
- Cuts and Bruises
- Neck Sprain
Foot and ankle Injuries
- Ankle Sprains
- Achilles Tendinitis (pain to the Achilles tendon)
- Foot Fractures and dislocations
- Shin Splints
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury (ACL injury)
- Medial Collateral Ligament injury (MCL Injury)
- Patellar Tendinitis (pain to the knee cap)
Overuse Muscle injuries
- Hamstring injuries
Upper extremity injuries
- Wrist sprain
- Wrist fracture
- Shoulder dislocation
Must-know Soccer Injury Statistics
Now that you better understand why it is essential to look over soccer injury data, let’s go over specific soccer injury facts from around the world.
- There are an estimated 400,000 soccer-related injuries every year. (source)
- About 75% of soccer-related injuries are to the lower extremities, mainly ankle and knee injuries. (source)
- Knee injuries account for nearly 25% of all soccer injuries. (source)
- Head injuries, specifically concussions, account for 22% of all soccer injuries (source)
- Hamstring injuries account for nearly 12% of injuries. (source)
- Overuse injuries are related to about 40% of all soccer injuries. (source)
- Epidemiology studies indicate that professional soccer players sustain about 4 to 35 injuries per 1000 hours of game exposure. (source)
- Match injuries, which occur during competitive games, have a 4.1 times higher chance of occurring than injuries during team training and practice. (source)
- The estimated injury incidence rate for elite adult female soccer players is 19.5 injuries per 1000 hours playing during competitive games and 3.1 injuries per 1000 hours during training. (source)
- The overall injury incidence rate in collegiate soccer players is 8.51 injuries per 1000 hours of playing (Source)
- Female soccer players are 2.8 times more likely to face an ACL injury, such as a torn ACL, compared to male soccer players due to having joints with more looseness and range of motion (source)
- ACL tears are the most common non-contact injury in female soccer players, with nearly 75% of all ACL cases being non-contact injuries. (source)
- 40% of all soccer injuries occur in children and adolescents aged 12 to 17. (source)
- The risk of injury increases with age. As soccer players age, their risk of injury increases, reaching a high in males 15-19 and females 12-14. (source)
- Muscle injuries account for 31% of all injuries in professional soccer players, and they are responsible for 25% of days of absence from training and competition. (source)
- Goalkeepers are five times more likely to sustain upper extremity injuries than outfield players. (source)
- Between 2014 and 2019, the most commonly reported injuries in MLS players were hamstring strains, ankle sprains, and adductor strains, and a mean of 1.1 per year per player was identified, with midfielders sustaining the most significant number of injuries. (source)
- A new analysis released by the College of Podiatry and Opta on the 2018/19 season’s injuries found that the Premier League and the Bundesliga had more injuries per player than other major European league (source)
- The research also found that the Premier League experienced a higher rate of injuries per game in the winter period, reporting 2.3 injuries per game on average, compared to the average of the other top four comparable leagues, which was 1.94 injuries per game. (source)
- Premier League players play the most matches out of any league in the world because of all the competitions they are part of. Due to this higher number of games, the Premier League accounted for 40% of all injuries reported across the top five European leagues during winter, with a fifth (21%) of those injuries to the foot and lower limb. (source)
- The average recovery time for Premier League players was 27.86 days. (source)
- Injury costs across Europe’s top leagues reached $562 million for the 2021/22 season. (source)
- In the 2021/22 season, there were 4,810 injuries, which was a 20% increase from the prior campaign. (source)
- Of the nearly 5,000 total injuries in Europe’s top five leagues, the Premier League experienced 1,231 by themselves, which means this league is responsible for almost 25% of all injuries. (source)
- On top of that, younger players are also starting to get more injuries now than before. During the 2021/22 season, there were 326 total injuries to U21 players, and just three seasons before this one; there were only 30 injuries to players in this age group (source).
The statistics and research on soccer injuries emphasize the need for comprehensive injury prevention. With an estimated 400,000 annual soccer-related injuries, understanding the prevalence, types, and risk factors is crucial.
Today, soccer and the world of sports medicine are supposed to be more advanced than ever before. The biggest professional soccer clubs in the world have the most money, the best physiotherapists, and the most up-to-date equipment, and yet they cannot keep their elite-level athletes healthy and on the soccer field, ready to play the sport they love.
Soccer injuries are too common nowadays, and most people have accepted that they are “part of the game.” However, suppose you are someone who wants to avoid becoming part of this soccer injury data. In that case, it is best to become a better soccer player by training correctly, taking care of every aspect of your life that impacts injury occurrence, and following a proper injury prevention programme.