Common Injuries in Youth Sports

Updated June 02, 2022

Physical activity is important for a healthy lifestyle, and organized sports can help develop life skills such as communication, teamwork, and responsibility. The downside is that injuries can and do occur. Children and teens suffer about three million injuries due to sports or recreational activities every year, according to the CDC, and one in every five pediatric visits to the ER is for a sports or recreational injury. The good news is that about half of them are preventable. 

Here, Duke sports medicine specialist Rebecca Wadlinger, DO, offers tips to keep your child healthy on and off the field.

Strategies for Preventing Injuries

No matter which sport your child plays, they can guard against injury by following these recommendations.

  • Avoid sport specialization at a young age. This can lead to overuse injuries.
  • Take time off between seasons and take rest days during the week.
  • Engage in proper warm-ups and cool-downs.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
  • Wear appropriate protective equipment. 
  • Always be honest about injuries and allow for a full recovery before returning to your sport.

Sports-Specific Injuries

Baseball and Softball
Growth plate irritation and tendinitis

  • Follow pitch count rules. 
  • Take days off during the week.
  • Learn proper throwing technique. 

Ankle sprains: Wear appropriate, well-fitting shoes.


  • Learn and follow proper tackling techniques.
  • Follow the rules of the game. 

Head and face injuries: Wear proper protective equipment including a helmet, mouth guard, and goggles.

ACL tears: Consider an ACL prevention program to correct muscle imbalances and improve jumping and cutting skills.

Track and Field
Shin splints and stress fractures

  • Engage in a proper warm-up and cool-down.
  • Get conditioned before the first practice to avoid going from 0 to 100.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet to account for calories burned.

Shoulder injuries

  • Engage in a proper warm-up.
  • Strengthen your rotator cuff.

Your Sports Medicine Team Can Help

Sports medicine specialists including doctors, physical therapists, athletic trainers, nutritionists, and others are specially trained in and committed to injury prevention. We are also here for pre-season appointments that could save you or your child from pain and injury down the road.

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