Head contact and suspected concussion rates in youth basketball: Time to target head contact penalties for prevention

Christy Fehr, Stephen West, Brent Hagel, Claude Goulet, Carolyn Emery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To compare game events, head contact (HC) rates, and suspected concussion incidence rates (IRs) in boys' and girls' youth basketball.

Design: Cross-sectional.

Setting: Canadian club basketball teams (U16-U18).

Participants: Players from 24 boys' and 24 girls' Canadian club basketball teams during the 2022 season.

Assessment of Risk Factors: Recorded games were analyzed using Dartfish video analysis software to compare sexes.

Main Outcome Measures: Poisson regression analyses were used to estimate HCs [direct (HC1) and indirect (HC2)], suspected concussion IRs, and IR ratios (IRRs). Game event, court location, and HC1 fouls were reported.

Results: Division 1 HC rates did not differ between boys (n = 238; IR = 0.50/10 player-minutes; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.43-0.56) and girls (n = 220; IR = 0.46/10 player-minutes; 95% CI, 0.40-0.52). Division 2 boys experienced 252 HCs (IR = 0.53/10 player-minutes; 95% CI, 0.46-0.59); girls experienced 192 HCs (IR = 0.40/10 player-minutes; 95% CI, 0.35-0.46). Division 2 boys sustained higher HC1 IRs compared with Division 2 girls (IRR = 1.42; 95% CI, 1.15-1.74). Head contacts, rates did not differ between boys and girls in either Division. Suspected concussion IRs were not significantly different for boys and girls in each Division. Head contacts occurred mostly in the key for boys and girls in each Division. Despite illegality, HC1 penalization ranged from 3.9% to 19.7%. Head contact mechanisms varied across Divisions and sexes.

Conclusions: Despite current safety measures, both HCs and suspected concussions occur in boys' and girls' basketball. Despite the illegality and potential danger associated with HC, only a small proportion of direct HCs were penalized and therefore targeting greater enforcement of these contacts may be a promising prevention target.
Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Journal of Sport Medicine
Early online date9 Jul 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Jul 2024

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