How to Prevent Sports Injuries

Baseball player scooping up ball at base
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Whether you play sports for competition or fitness, you don't want to be sidelined with an injury. Time away from the game or in forced inactivity is something we all want to avoid. While it is impossible to prevent every injury, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says research suggests that injury rates could be reduced by 25% if athletes took appropriate preventative action. Use these general rules for injury prevention no matter what sport you play.

Be in Proper Physical Condition to Play a Sport

Keep in mind the weekend warrior has a high rate of injury. If you play any sports, you should adequately train for that sport. It is a mistake to expect the sport itself to get you into shape. Many injuries can be prevented by following a regular conditioning program of exercises designed specifically for your sport.

Know and Abide by the Rules of the Sport

The rules are designed, in part, to keep things safe. This is extremely important for anyone who participates in a contact sport. You need to learn them and to play by the rules of conduct. Respect the rules on illegal procedures and insist on enforcement by referees, umpires, and judges. These rules are there to keep athletes healthy. Know them. Follow them.

Wear Appropriate Protective Gear and Equipment

Protective pads, mouth guards, helmets, gloves, and other equipment are not for those you consider weak; they are for everyone. Protective equipment that fits you well can save your knees, hands, teeth, eyes, and head. Never play without your safety gear.


Athletes with a high number of consecutive days of training, have more injuries. While many athletes think the more they train, the better they'll play, this is a misconception. Rest is a critical component of proper training. Rest can make you stronger and prevent injuries of overuse, fatigue and poor judgment.

Always Warm-Up Before Playing

Warm muscles are less susceptible to injuries. The proper warm-up is essential for injury prevention. Make sure your warm-up suits your sport. You may simply start your sport slowly, or practice specific stretching or mental rehearsal depending upon your activity.

Avoid Playing When Very Tired or in Pain

This is a set-up for a careless injury. Pain indicates a problem. You need to pay attention to warning signs your body provides.

Factors That Increase Your Risk of Sport Injuries

Research provides us with helpful clues about the cause of sports injury. There are two factors that outweigh the rest when it comes to predicting a sports injury. They are:

  • Having a history of injury. Previous injuries to a muscle or joint tend to develop into chronic problem areas for many athletes. It is extremely important to warm up, and stretch previously injured parts.
  • A high number of consecutive days of training. Recovery days reduce injury rates by giving muscles and connective tissues an opportunity to repair between training sessions.
2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Avoiding Sports Injuries. Garfield Medical Center.

  2. Saragiotto BT, Di pierro C, Lopes AD. Risk factors and injury prevention in elite athletes: a descriptive study of the opinions of physical therapists, doctors and trainers. Braz J Phys Ther. 2014;18(2):137-43.

Additional Reading
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Public Information, March 2000

By Elizabeth Quinn, MS
Elizabeth Quinn is an exercise physiologist, sports medicine writer, and fitness consultant for corporate wellness and rehabilitation clinics.