Facts on Australian football Injuries

How many Australian football players are there?

Australian football is one of the most popular sports in Australia, with thousands playing and watching the sport each year. 

Statistics show there were over 650,000 registered participants in Australian football across the country in 2017.

Australian football is a contact sport that often results in injuries from tackling, kicking, running, handballing, marking and constant physical competition for the ball.

How many injuries in Australian football?

  • From 2002-2003, 3944 people were admitted to hospitals across Australia for Australian football-related injuries.
  • In Victoria, from 2002-2004, 9562 people visited Victorian emergency departments for Australian football injuries.
  • 48% of hospital treated Australian football injuries occur to players aged 15-24 years.
  • 96% of all injury cases are male.
  • Recent studies have indicated that the rates of injury in junior Australian football, particularly AFL Auskick, are very low.

If you’d like yo know how this compares to the round ball game – soccer – you can read more here.

The causes and types of football injuries 

  • Common causes of Australian football injuries are being tackled, hit/struck by another player, bit by the ball and falls.
  • Injuries are more likely to occur in the first four weeks of the playing season.
  • Injuries to the thigh, knee, lower leg and ankle are most common in non-hospital-treated injuries.
  • Overuse injuries occur frequently among higher level and older players.
  • Sports medicine clinics most commonly treat knee and ankle sprains.
Rows of empty seats in an Australian football stadium ru

Factors increasing your football injury risk

  • Having had a sports injury in the previous 12 months.
  • Being aged 25 years or older.
  • Playing in midfield positions.
  • Persistent back problems diagnosed by a health professional.
  • Increasing age and decreasing quadriceps flexibility, for sustaining hamstring injury.
  • A history of two or more injuries to the lower body, in the previous Australian football season.

Factors decreasing your football injury risk

  • Playing Australian football in the last 12 months.
  • Excellent stamina.
  • Cooling down after training sessions.
  • Playing a modified rules version at junior level.
  • Participating in one or more hours per week of weight training during the season, to decrease the risk of lower body injury.

Safety tips for Australian football

Good preparation is important

Providing a safe football environment

  • Check the ground to remove or cover hazardous objects e.g. broken glass or sprinkler heads.
  • Cricket pitches should be covered with a soft surface.
  • Fences should be a minimum of three metres from the boundary line.
  • Goal posts must be padded with high-density foam, at least two metres high and with 35 millimetres thickness. Padding should be in good condition and replaced when worn or damaged.
  • Qualified first aid personnel, first aids kits, ice packs and a stretcher should be available at all times.
  • Telephone access, to contact emergency services, is essential.

Pre-game safety checks

  • Complete a warm up including stretching, slow jogging and running activities, with and without a football. 
  • Eat a balanced, nutritional diet.
  • Drink water before a game or training session. 
  • Avoid drinking alcohol 48 hours before a game. 
  • Seek professional advice about the most appropriate boots to wear for playing conditions. 
  • Wear sunscreen and re-apply during breaks on sunny days
  • Be aware of game rules, play fairly and respect opponents and umpiring decisions.

If all of this talk of injury is making you nervous, perhaps watching a round-up of some of the marks of the year will inspire you!

Australian football Game safety

Modify rules and equipment for children 

  • Games for children and teenagers should be played in accordance with the Australian Football Match Policy for the conduct of the game for players aged 5-18 years. 

If an injury occurs

  • Players should seek prompt attention from qualified first aid personnel. 
  • A health professional should make the decision whether an injured player returns to the field.
  • Ensure players are fully rehabilitated before returning to play after injury.

For further information contact:

Australian Football League


Prepared by Deakin University 1998. Updated by Monash University Accident Research Centre.