A comparison of women’s
collegiate and girls’ high school volleyball injury data collected
prospectively over a 4-year period

JC, Gregory A, Berg RL, Comstock RD. Sports Health. 2015;7(6):504-510.

Take Home Message: Differences
exists between injury patterns of female collegiate and high school athletes.

is considered a relatively safe sport; however, due to the growing popularity
of the sport a sport-specific injury prevention program should be implemented. Unfortunately,
there is limited quality injury data comparing high school and college
volleyball, which hinders the development of an injury prevention program,
which may need to be age specific. Therefore, the authors assessed injury data from
2 injury surveillance systems [
National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Injury Surveillance System (NCAA ISS) & High School Reporting Injuries Online (HS RIO)] to compare volleyball
specific injury data during a 4-year period (2005/2006 to 2008/2009) to
determine whether differences existed in injury pattern characteristics between
female high school and collegiate athletes. During this time period both
systems implemented the same definition of an injury (any condition resulting
in the loss of at least 1 day of practice or competition) as well as athletic
exposures (AE; 1 athlete’s participation in 1 practice or competition without
regard to duration of participation). Additionally, both systems relied on
athletic trainers to report and describe injuries to their respective Internet-based
reporting system. Overall, volleyball-related injury rates were three times
higher in collegiate athletes during both competition (injury rate ration =
2.9) and practice (injury rate ration = 3.5) compared to high school athletes.
Collegiate athletes have a higher rate of time loss due to acute and overuse injuries.
Collegiate athletes had a higher rate of ankle sprains, patellar tendinosis,
and should injuries (i.e., rotator cuff tendinosis, musculotendinous strain,
and glenohumeral subluxation/dislocation). Ankle, knee, and shoulder injuries
rates declined during the study interval in both groups; however, concussion
rates increased in both groups. Concussions represented 5% of total collegiate
injuries and 4.8% of total high school injuries. Ligamentous injuries (college:
11.7/10,000 AE; high school: 6.1/10,000 AE) were the most frequently reported
injury with ankle sprains representing the most common injury in both groups (college:
10.4/10,000 AE; high school: 4.3/10,000 AE).

data reported in this study demonstrates that although similar there are
distinct differences between the injury patterns of female collegiate
volleyball athletes compared to high school athletes. Collegiate athletes have
an overall higher rate of injury as well as greater time loss due both acute
and overuse to injury. This suggests that collegiate athletes may be playing
with a different style of play, more intensity, and aggressiveness as well as
have an increased risk of injury due to higher prevalence from a previous
injury. It was concerning to note that within both groups concussion rates
increased. Concussion represented the fourth most frequent diagnosis among collegiate
athletes and third most frequent in the high school group. The increase in
concussion diagnosis may be due to increased awareness of concussion injuries;
however, future research should investigate sport position and age factors for
concussion to determine whether changes to rules or coaching tactics may help
decrease concussion rates. Medical professionals should note the differences
among collegiate and high school female volleyball athletes to better understand
injury patterns and rates to formulate an injury prevention program.

Questions for Discussion:
Do many of your volleyball athletes sustain concussions? Do you implement
sport-specific preventive programs?

by: Jane McDevitt, PhD
by: Jeff Driban


Reeser, J., Gregory, A., Berg, R., & Comstock, R. (2015). A Comparison of Women’s Collegiate and Girls’ High School Volleyball Injury Data Collected Prospectively Over a 4-Year Period Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach, 7 (6), 504-510 DOI: 10.1177/1941738115600143