If you are considering playing soccer, you may want to know the risk of injury and the most dangerous position to play in. As is the case with every contact sport, injuries are a common occurrence in the game of soccer. But what is the most dangerous position in soccer?
The most dangerous position in soccer is definitely goalkeeper. Goalkeepers are not the most likely to be injured, but they sustain more severe injuries than any other position, with the worst injuries being concussions and other head injuries.
So now you know that goalkeeping is the most dangerous position in soccer. But why is this so? And what are the most common injuries a goalkeeper can suffer? I'll answer all these questions and more in this article.
The goalkeeper is the most dangerous position in soccer. According to a recent study, the number of injuries per player who played as a goalkeeper was 10.8%. So 10.8% of all goalkeepers in this study received some injury. Goalkeepers accounted for 16% of all injuries during the study.
Although goalkeeping is undoubtedly the most dangerous position to play, it isn't the position with the highest likelihood of injury.
The position with the highest likelihood of injury in soccer is actually the forward position.
(Click here to find out which positions in soccer have the most injuries)
According to the same study, the number of injuries per player who played as a forward was 14%. (30.7% of all injuries in the study)
However, the injuries that happen to goalkeepers are often a lot more severe than any other position on the pitch. This is what makes goalkeeping the most dangerous position in soccer.
It's also worth remembering that forward players make contact with opposition players much more often than a goalkeeper throughout a game.
This means that the slight 3.2% difference between the two positions actually shows just how dangerous it is to play as a goalkeeper.
The severity of the injuries to goalkeepers is why it is the most dangerous position in soccer.
Playing as the goalkeeper means you are in a position where you are most likely to come into high-speed physical contact with another player.
Because goalkeepers are the only players who can handle the ball in the penalty area, they are responsible for trying to catch or collect the ball every time it comes into that area.
This means goalkeepers often jump through a crowd of players to try catching the ball from a corner or a cross.
This often leads to goalkeepers colliding with other players. It is not uncommon for a goalkeeper to get hit by arms, legs, or even head-to-head clashes.
The same can be said for one-on-one situations.
Let's say a forward player breaks through the defense and finds himself with only the goalkeeper to beat.
The keeper will often sprint off his goal line and try to steal the ball from the attacker's feet before he can shoot. As you can imagine, this often leads to the goalkeeper being accidentally kicked or hit.
This type of collision often happens at high speed as well, especially as some soccer players can reach speeds of up to 23.6 mph (38 km/h).
Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid these collisions if you want to play as a goalkeeper. The goalkeeper is expected to be the bravest player on the pitch.
If a goalkeeper were to back away from a potential collision, it would probably mean the opposition team scores a goal, and the keeper might lose his place to another player.
With these high expectations in mind, it's really not surprising just how severe the injuries can be to goalkeepers.
These collisions can often lead to concussions, bone fractures, muscle tears, and dislocations.
It's not just collisions with other players that goalkeepers need to be concerned with.
Throughout a game of soccer, the goalkeeper is, of course, tasked with stopping shots at his goal.
These shots can sometimes hit incredible speeds, with the fastest shot of all time clocking in at 131.8 mph (210.9 km/h).
This can easily result in a broken finger or a dislocated wrist for the goalkeeper. Broken noses and other facial injuries are also a possibility.
Unlike some other sports, a goalkeeper in soccer does not wear any protective equipment other than gloves and shin pads.
It's also worth remembering that the goalkeeper usually has to dive to stop the ball. This means there is always a risk of them hitting one of the goalposts or getting injured when landing.
So now we know why goalkeepers get so many injuries, but what are the most common ones?
Below are the most common injuries to goalkeepers:
Out of all these common goalkeeper injuries, there's no doubt that head injuries are the most dangerous.
As with any sport, head injuries in soccer are a big concern.
Although there have been many incidents of outfield players getting bad concussions, there's a good argument to be made that goalkeepers are the most at risk.
The most famous example of this is the Petr Čech incident.
While playing for Chelsea in a game against Reading, goalkeeper Petr Čech rushed out to try and capture a loose ball before an oncoming Reading player could reach it.
This resulted in the attacking player's knee colliding with Čech's head. Čech was left semi-conscious and unaware of what was going on around him.
Čech was substituted off and would later complain about intense and painful headaches before finally being diagnosed with a depressed skull fracture.
The doctors told the Chelsea goalkeeper that he could have died if he had stayed on the pitch and received a second blow to the head.
A second collision would not have been out of the question either, as the substitute goalkeeper who replaced Čech that day had to leave the pitch after another collision.
Petr Čech would eventually return to playing. However, he would choose to wear a protective helmet for the rest of his career.
Some people in the game believe that this sort of helmet should be worn by all goalkeepers, though this has never been enforced.
To this day, Petr Čech has no memory of the incident.
Of course, severe injuries are not exclusive to goalkeepers. Since soccer is a contact sport, there is a risk of injury for every position.
Below I will mention a few more positions that, like the goalkeeper, have a high chance of sustaining an injury.
As we already discussed, forward players are the most likely to get injured.
Although strikers and wingers pick up more injuries than any other players, most of their injuries are not as severe as goalkeepers.
The injury we see the most amongst forward players is muscle strain, with strained hamstrings being the most common.
This is because of how much running is expected from forward players, especially wingers.
Forward players are just as likely to injure themselves by running as they are 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).
We already know that goalkeeping is the most dangerous position, but forward players also suffer from severe injuries such as concussions, fractures, and dislocations.
Ironically, many of these more severe injuries often result from colliding with a goalkeeper.
It's tough to decide which is the second most dangerous position after the goalkeeper, but there's a good argument that it's the defender.
Although forward players have a higher injury frequency (14%) than defenders (7.4%), defenders often find themselves in more dangerous situations.
Center backs are particularly at risk for similar reasons to the goalkeeper.
Just like the goalkeeper, they are expected to jump through crowds of players to try to defend their goal during corners and crosses.
As we already know, this can easily lead to concussions and other injuries.
Another similarity they have with goalkeepers is that they are expected to go in for nearly every challenge.
This isn't an issue for attacking players. If a forward doesn't feel comfortable going in for a challenge, he can probably get away with pulling out with little consequence.
One of the most common injuries for defenders is contusions, particularly to the head. Sprained ankles and concussions are also quite common for defenders.
If you are considering taking up soccer, just be aware that being a goalkeeper is the most dangerous position on the field.
Head injuries are the most severe type of injuries, and goalkeepers are the most at risk.
Forwards and defenders (particularly center backs) are also dangerous positions. Forwards are highly likely to pick up muscle strains, while head injuries are once again common for defenders.