Top 5 Soccer Positions With The Most Injuries (Find Out Now)

Injuries are a danger in any sport for both professionals and amateurs. In fact, in a contact sport like soccer, injuries are common. But what is the soccer position with the most injuries?

The forward position in soccer is most likely to be injured. According to a recent study, the number of injuries per player who played as a forward was 14%. However, the severity of injuries sustained by forwards is less than for goalkeepers, who are the most likely to be injured after forwards.

In this article, you'll find out which five soccer positions are most likely to suffer an injury. In addition, I also explain the most common soccer injuries.

Which Soccer Positions Have The Most Injuries?

If you're looking to take up soccer, you may be concerned about the risk of injury. You may also want to know which position has the most chance of getting injured.

There's no denying that injuries in soccer are pretty common. Just like any other contact sport, there's really no avoiding it.

What we can determine is which positions have the highest chance of picking up injuries, and I will list them for you right now.

1. Forwards (strikers and wingers):

Forwards are the players who are most likely to get injured in a game of soccer.

You are statistically at the highest risk of picking up an injury when playing as a striker or a winger.

According to a recent study, the number of injuries per player who played as a forward was 14%. (30.7% of all injuries in the study)

This was higher than any other position on the field.

Although the forward position has the highest likelihood of injury, the most common injuries to forwards are not as severe as in other positions.

The most common injuries to forwards are muscle strains. This is because of how much running is expected from forwards, especially the wingers.

More specifically, hamstring strain is the most common injury that occurs to forward players. In fact, forward players are just as likely to injure themselves by running or turning as by colliding with another player.

Sprained ankles are also very common for forward players, as are knee injuries such as kneecap bursitis (inflammation of the kneecap).

If you were to take up the position of a forward in soccer, it's worth remembering that not all injuries are minor. Major injuries can still occur to strikers and wingers.

Of course, forwards can suffer more severe injuries such as concussions, fractures, and dislocations. Leg fractures, in particular, can be worse for forwards than any other position.

This is due to how much contact forward players receive from opposition defenders. They can also pick up bad injuries from colliding with goalkeepers, with head injuries being the worst.

A recent example of a bad head injury to a striker is Wolverhampton Wanderers player; Raul Jimenez.

On 29 November 2020, in a match against Arsenal, the Wolves striker was left unconscious after clashing heads with Arsenal defender David Luiz.

For ten minutes, medics surrounded Jimenez as supporters in the stadium feared the worst. The player was later diagnosed with a fractured skull and told he was lucky to survive.

Raul Jimenez would miss eight months of Premier League action before fully recovering. For a short while after returning, the player wore a protective helmet.

Overall, forwards do receive the most injuries. Mostly, they are minor injuries such as muscle strains and sprained ankles. However, remember that more severe injuries are not entirely avoidable to forward players.

2. Goalkeepers:

The second-most likely soccer position to get injured is the goalkeeper. Goalkeeping injuries are also the most severe in soccer.

If you were to play as a goalkeeper, you statistically have less chance of getting injured than if you were to play as a forward.

This is due to goalkeepers seeing less contact throughout a game than forward players do.

According to the same study I mentioned earlier, the number of injuries per player who played as a goalkeeper is 10.8%.

So 10.8% of all goalkeepers in this study received some type of injury. Goalkeepers accounted for 16% of all injuries during the study.

Although goalkeepers are second to forwards when it comes to injury frequency, you want to be careful before picking up a pair of gloves and becoming a goalkeeper.

The most dangerous position in soccer is definitely the goalkeeper.

Goalkeepers pick up more severe injuries than any other position, with the worst of those injuries being concussions and other injuries to the head.

Injuries to goalkeepers may be less frequent, but they are almost always a lot more severe. This is why being a goalkeeper is the most dangerous position on the field.

The reason that injuries in this position are worse than the forwards is due to a goalkeeper's responsibilities.

Goalkeepers are tasked with catching the ball whenever it comes into their penalty area. This results in keepers often jumping through a crowd of players, which can result in some nasty bumps and bruises.

Also, in one-on-one situations, the goalkeeper will often come sprinting off their line to try and steal the ball from the attacking player's feet.

This can easily result in a nasty collision between the keeper and the attacking player.

Concussions, contusions, sprains, fractures, and muscle strains are all common injuries for goalkeepers.

3. Center backs:

The center back position is the third-most likely soccer position to receive an injury.

Much of what is said about goalkeepers can also be applied to center backs.

Players in this position are expected to challenge for every ball and will often collide with opposition players when doing so.

This can lead to many head injuries, including concussions and other common soccer injuries like contusions and muscle strains.

You may often see a player running about with a bandage on their head after clashing heads with another player. More times than not, this is usually a center back.

According to the study, the number of injuries per player who played as a defender was 7.4%. (26.9% of all injuries in the study)

You may notice that the percentage of all injuries is actually higher for defenders than for goalkeepers. This is because there are more defenders on the field.

The percentage of injuries per player is still higher for goalkeepers.

It's also worth mentioning that this study does not differentiate between center backs and fullbacks when discussing defenders. 

We can easily conclude that center backs receive more injuries by looking at the number of center backs who missed game time in the 2021/22 Premier League season.

Below are the top 10 players who missed the most games through injury in the 2021/22 Premier League season:

PlayerPositionGames missed
1. Nathan FergusonCenter back35 games
2. Ryan BertrandFullback33 games
3. Wesley FofanaCenter back29 games
4. Patrick BamfordForward (striker)28 games
5. Angelo OgbonnaCenter back27 games
6. Harvey ElliotWinger/midfielder26 games
7. Pedro NetoWinger/forward25 games
- Ben ChilwellFullback25 games
8. Japhet TangangaCenter back20 games
9. Jeremy SarmientoWinger/forward19 games
10. Paul PogbaMidfielder18 games

As you can see by this table, center backs missed more game time than fullbacks.

In case you're wondering why forwards and goalkeepers don't dominate this list, forward players have more frequent yet less severe injuries and miss less game time overall.

There are also fewer goalkeepers in the Premier League than in any other position. So it's rare they would make this list.

4. Fullbacks / Wingbacks:

We have discovered that center backs are more likely to get injured than fullbacks. However, fullbacks are still the fourth-most likely soccer position to get injured.

Full backs are a little bit more protected than center backs, as they are not expected to jump through crowds of players to win the ball.

They also head the ball a lot less. This means that head injuries are less frequent to fullbacks.

However, they are still expected to stop oncoming attacks from wide players (usually wingers), which can result in many physical contacts.

Depending on team tactics, some fullbacks will also be tasked with getting up the field to help with the attack. These are often called wingbacks.

This means that attacking fullbacks (or wingbacks) are at similar risk to forward players when it comes to muscle strains from running or turning.

They are also at risk of being tackled by the opposition team's fullbacks if they were to try and attack.

5. Midfielders:

Statistically, playing in central midfield is the safest position in soccer.

However, if you were to play as a central attacking midfielder (CAM) or a defensive midfielder, you would risk receiving similar injuries to the positions we have already discussed.

Of course, attacking midfielders are at similar risk to forwards, while defensive midfielders have some of the same risks as center backs.

Unfortunately, there really isn't enough data to determine which position between attacking and defensive midfielders is more dangerous.

Though if we were to go off the data, we have already discussed, there's a good argument to be made that attacking midfielders are the fifth-most likely position to pick up an injury.

This is because they have some similar duties to a forward, which is the position with the most frequent number of injuries.

Generally speaking, though, playing in midfield is the safest option when it comes to injury frequency.

According to the study, the number of injuries per player who played as a midfielder was only 6.8%. (23.1% of all injuries in the study)

The study did not differentiate between central, attacking, and defensive midfielders.

Central midfielders are most likely to be in the safest position as they are neither making challenges nor being challenged anywhere near as often as other positions.

The Most Common Soccer Injuries

So now you know which soccer positions have the most injuries. You may now be wondering what the most common injuries are in soccer.

Ankle sprains:

Ankle sprains are extremely common no matter what position you play in. This is due to the continuous pressure that is put onto a soccer player's ankles throughout a game.

Muscle strains and tears:

Strains and tears to the muscles are just as frequent as ankle sprains.

The hamstring is by far the most commonly injured muscle in soccer and is usually damaged while running. This usually happens if the player isn't warmed up properly or if the muscle is overworked.

There can be many different levels of hamstring strains resulting in different amounts of healing time.

Tearing a hamstring is the worst type of this injury and can keep players out for up to three months.

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears:

The ACL is a ligament in your knee that helps provide stability. This ligament can easily be torn in soccer when a player changes direction too fast.

There are many different levels of severity for ACL tears, with the worst case keeping players on the sidelines for up to nine months.

This injury is very common for forwards and center backs who both need to turn and run a lot during a game.

Concussions:

A concussion is arguably the most dangerous injury in soccer, especially as it's hard to determine when a player has suffered one.

Concussions are most likely to happen to goalkeepers and center backs, but strikers have also been known to get them.

Groin strain:

Soccer players stretching to get the ball can often suffer from a groin strain; this can easily happen to any player on the field.

Kneecap bursitis:

Kneecap bursitis is an inflammation of the knee that can occur after a collision to the knee or after a long period of pressure is put onto the knee.

Fractures (foot):

Fractures to the foot are very common in soccer and often happen because of a bad tackle or collision. Fractures to other body parts can also happen; however, the foot is the body part most at risk.

Conclusion

The most frequently injured position in soccer is the forward players. However, the injuries that forwards suffer are not as severe as goalkeepers.

Goalkeepers are the second-most injured players with the most severe injuries overall. Center backs are the third-most injured position.

According to the data, playing in midfield is actually the safest position in soccer, with the least risk of getting injured.

(You can find the study I used for this article here)

James Miller

Soccer has been my passion since I was a kid. After my own career, I became a coach, something I have been doing for 15 years now. Sharing my knowledge about soccer is what I love most. So I hope you can appreciate my articles.
Published: 
July 26, 2022
Published: July 26, 2022