Winter sport enrolments and matches are well underway and, according to latest figures, it’s likely that some players will also be signing themselves in to the emergency room this season.

Sports research and injury experts, however, don’t want the potential risk of injury to stop people from getting involved and they point to preventative measures people can take to avoid spending time on the injury bench.

Which sports are the safest?

More than 52,300 people Australian wide were hospitalised for sports injuries in 2019 and 2020, according the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW),

The graph below shows the hospitalisation numbers for sport injuries obtained across five common team sports.


Based on the data, soccer (football) takes the trophy for the most injuries compared to all other common team sports, with 3279 players sent to the hospital across the two years.

Rugby saw a total of 2653 hospitalisations from injuries, with over a quarter of these being head and neck injuries.

For those worried about injuries, the data indicates hockey might be the sport for you with only 379 hospitalised injuries across 2019 and 2020.

The study revealed 1197 netball players were sent to hospital for their injuries on the court across the two years. With these lower injury numbers, along with the fact that netball is considered a non-contact sport, it would be easy to assume netball is a safe sport to play.

However, 16-year netball veteran Abbey Murphy sees it differently.

Ms Murphy spent time in hospital yesterday due to a knee-cap injury suffered while playing netball, and was shocked to learn about the lower number of injury hospitalisations from netball.

“I feel like netball injuries are really, really common,” Ms Murphy said, recalling a team member breaking both her arms and her mum snapping both her achilles tendon on the court.

Is there anything I can do to prevent injury?

The short answer … yes.

University of Wollongong Associate Professor Deirdre McGhee teaches graduate medicine and exercise rehabilitation, and she said taking preventative measures before running onto the field is key to helping lower the risk of serious injury during sport.

A/Prof. McGhee said  fitness levels and prior history with the sport are the two major preventative measures you can take.

“If someone goes from doing nothing, and then…boom, ups their activity levels to start a sport, then they are far more likely to be injured if they didn’t already have good cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength,” she said.

A/Prof. McGhee recommended once your fitness levels are in check, then you can focus on preventing injuries specific to your sport, something Ms Murphy does before starting every netball season.

“Because of my past shoulder, knee and ankle dislocations from netball, I now go to the physio before the season starts to get my joints sorted and get guards…otherwise I would have to be strapped up from head to toe,” Ms Murphy said.

If you want to do everything in your power to prevent injury this sport season, Professor McGhee recommends attending pre-season training to get your joints and muscles ready to play.