What Are the Most Common Injuries in Youth Sports?

By: Nora Brabston, PTA

The quick answer to the most common injuries in youth sports are:

  • ankle sprains
  • knee pain
  • ACL injuries
  • Little Leagues Elbow
  • Osgood-Schlatter Disease

Youth sports are usually defined as children between the ages of 7-18 years old. These sports can be through an organization or school.

What are the most common injuries in youth sportsWhat Are the Most Common Injuries in Youth Sports?

What Are The Most Common Injuries in Youth Sports?

Ankle sprains are one of the most common youth sports injuriesAnkle sprains are one of the most common injuries in youth sports

Some of these injuries can be caused by overuse or repetitive movements such as Little Leagues Elbow and Osgood-Schlatter Disease. 

Little Leagues Elbowis a common overuse injury usually found in pitchers but can also be found in other sports and positions. It is caused by repetitive stress to the growth plate on the inside of the elbow. Symptoms are usually pain along the inside of the elbow that may run down the forearm, swelling on the inside of the elbow, and/or weak or painful grip.

Osgood-Schlatter Disease is inflammation just below the knee cap area. It occurs mostly in adolescents and during growth spurts. Symptoms are usually pain or tenderness at the top of the tibia (shin) bone, just below the knee cap, swelling, and/or tight muscles in the front of the thigh (quad muscles). You may also feel a bump in this area. 

Other common injuries in sports youth, such as ankle sprains and knee pain, can be caused by twisting or rolling mechanisms. With ankle sprains, there are various degrees of a sprain. 

You can view an article about ankle sprains HERE.

The most common symptoms of an ankle sprain or knee injury are pain, soreness, swelling, trouble with weight-bearing on that leg, moving the ankle or bending the knee, walking, and/or bruising.  

When Should the Youth Lift Weights?

Lifting weights is a great benefit for youth as it will enhance their ability to perform well at their chosen sport. The child must be mature enough to follow instructions. The focus should be on performing the exercise with the correct form before introducing weights, then adding light weights for strengthening. 

Per Dr. Picerno with Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute, “The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is now endorsing controlled weight lifting at younger ages. The keyword is controlled.  It needs to be done in a setting that has oversight and with the right goals in mind.” H recommends “starting at the age of 13,” beginning with resistance training.  His recommendation is to begin “with bodyweight exercises with the transition to band resistance (when the exercise allows) prior to weight training.”  He then suggests that once weight training is started, “the key focus is a proper form with light weights to prevent injury and allow the musculoskeletal system to begin to modify for resistance training.” Dr. Picerno states that “once the form is mastered then it is safe to progress with heavier weights.”

Dr. Richard Picerno gives recommendations for when youth should begin lifting weighsDr. Richard Picerno

Below is a list of Dos and Don’ts for youth weightlifting:


  • Ensure the child can perform the exercise in proper form before adding weight. 
  • Use low weights to avoid injury with higher reps for strengthening. 
  • Be sure the child performs a warm-up and cool down with stretching to stay flexible and decrease the risk of injury. 
  • Ensure your child is trained by a professional such as a licensed Physical Therapist, Physical Therapist Assistant, or athletic trainer.


  • Don’t force weight training if a child isn’t interested. 
  • Children should be old enough to follow directions and perform the exercises properly; if they can't, they shouldn’t be lifting weights. 

Is My Child Playing Sports Too Much? 

The quick answer is your child’s age is the number of hours your child should play a sport per week. 

If you or the coach notice poor technique and increase fatigue, allow your child to rest to avoid an injury. Also, be sure that your child participates in multiple sports to avoid over children should play multiple sports to lower the risk of common youth sports injuries caused by overuse injury and allow for cross-training, which will be more beneficial to your child as he/she develops.  

Want to keep learning about what are the most common injuries in youth sports? Read this ARTICLE about elbow injuries in youth athletes. 

Tips for Preventing Sports Injuries in Kids & Teens

Below is a list of way to prevent sports injuries in children:

  • Promote multiple sports cross-training.
  • Have your child get a preseason physical.
  • Communicate with your child to be sure the coach is not encouraging to push through the pain.
  • Provided healthy foods and encourage hydration.
  • Be sure your child is participating in a warm-up and cool down.
  • Provide the appropriate equipment.
  • Focus on proper form.
  • Pay attention to injuries and seek medical advice when appropriate.

When to See a Doctor for your Sports-Related Injury

most common youth sports injuries should see medical advice ifjoint giving away or instability Know when to seek medical advice for
 common youth sports injuries

If your child has consistent pain during or after their sporting activity or swelling around the joint, seek medical advice. Other reasons to seek a doctor can be:

  • Your child complains of joint giving away or instability 
  • Your child feels a painful pop
  • Pain that does not dissipate after a period of rest and ice

To schedule physical therapy at one of the 12 JOI Rehab Centers, please call 904-858-7045

Sports Medicine Doctors in Jacksonville

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