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The collegiate spring football season, which currently consists of five noncontact and ten contact practices, has been associated with a high incidence of injury. This study uses NCAA Injury Surveillance System (ISS) data to compare injury patterns in collegiate fall (FF) and spring (SF) football over the past four seasons. A reportable injury was defined as restricting the athlete's participating for at least one day. An athlete-exposure (A–E) was recorded for each individual participating in each practice or game. Results showed that the four-year practice injury rate for SF (9.0 injuries/1000 A–E) was more than double that of FF (4.0 injuries/1000 A–E). The top three types of injuries (knee, ankle, and shoulder) were identical in SF and FF with similar percentages of all reported injuries. Specific analysis of injury severity (time loss and required surgery), concussions, and new injuries also showed a higher rate in spring practice. There was little difference in the types of injuries that occurred in SF and FF: the SF injury incidence was just greater. Variables such as training, intensity, and recovery time may be factors in the increased SF injury rates. Reducing the number of contact practices in the spring may be one way of normalizing injury rates.
injury, spring football, fall football, noncontact
Assistant director of Sports Sciences, National Collegiate Athletic Association, KS