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View Full Version : Sports: Can a player really be 'injury prone?'


WoodenTaco
04-05-2009, 09:42 PM
With the NFL draft approaching, projections are flying around for where players will be drafted. One thing constantly referred to is the "injury history" of players - if they are out for any substantial amount of time, they immediately get a reputation as less "durable."
My question is, how strong is the correlation between injuries in college and in the pros? Is it true that a player who has been injured often in the past is more likely to get injured in the future?

I know this will quickly lead a bunch of people to rattle off a bunch of anecdotes. Please don't - I really am looking to see if anyone has any data on this. The idea of "durability" of a person seems rather odd to me, and it would seem to require some evidence.

I can understand that if a player tears up a knee, he is more likely to get that knee injured. But durability is usually stretched to beyond that. Fred "Fragile Fred" Taylor has a reputation for being easily injured, but a look at his injury list (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/football/nfl/players/4259/injuries.html) shows that his injuries are spread all over his body with little coherent correlation. In what way would he be "fragile?" Are all of his limbs and muscles just more easily ripped up?

Genericuser234
04-05-2009, 10:10 PM
Some players play more aggresivly than others and take more risks. Unfortunatly, this can result in those types of players getting injured more frequently than other more conservative players. Injuries can happen to anyone though, especially if the player has not properly warmed up for a game or training.

RickJay
04-05-2009, 10:18 PM
With the NFL draft approaching, projections are flying around for where players will be drafted. One thing constantly referred to is the "injury history" of players - if they are out for any substantial amount of time, they immediately get a reputation as less "durable."
My question is, how strong is the correlation between injuries in college and in the pros? Is it true that a player who has been injured often in the past is more likely to get injured in the future?
The problem you have here is that every player is his own data set. Players can't get injured enough in college to really prove any sort of trend, and you can't replay a college player's college career to prove that the same thing would happen.

However, there is little doubt that injuries are indicative of the possibility of similar injuries occurring in the future. If Henry Halfback has a couple of injuries to his right knee, the concern is not so much that Henry is "injury prone" in a general sense, but that his right knee is irretrievably damaged. That is unquestionably a concern with many players, and you can name examples in ANY sport - Bobby Orr in hockey, Tony Oliva in baseball, so on and so forth.

Santo Rugger
04-05-2009, 10:32 PM
Some players play more aggresivly than others and take more risks. Unfortunatly, this can result in those types of players getting injured more frequently than other more conservative players. Injuries can happen to anyone though, especially if the player has not properly warmed up for a game or training.
In my experience, the overly aggressive players tend to hurt conservative players more often than they get hurt themselves. The more aggressive player has more control about what's happening on the pitch. From the other side, playing half-ass is a good way to get yourself hurt.

CC
04-05-2009, 10:51 PM
I think two other factors may be at work. First, some people have higher levels of tolerance for pain. What one person considers a debilitating and painful injury, someone else may be able to play with. We see this a lot in baseball, I think. Second, it certainly seems probable that some people's bodies simply withstand trauma better than others. Their bones may be stronger, or less brittle, or shaped in such a way that they are less likely to break, their tendons may be thicker, stronger, and more likely to hold joints together when they're being twisted or pulled, and so forth. Either of these factors could come into play when someone is placed in a situation in which injury could occur. And some would come out of those situations injured. Others wouldn't. I've always considered those the two main factors in what we call "injury prone."

Really Not All That Bright
04-05-2009, 10:58 PM
Is it true that a player who has been injured often in the past is more likely to get injured in the future?
Yes and no. Certain types of injury are likely to recur. Most aren't.

For example, the acromion (top of the shoulder, basically) comes in three different types in humans. Type I is "normal". Types II and III, which occur nearly as often as the Type I, are more curved (and the type III is hooked). People with type II and III acromions are at greatly increased risk of rotator cuff tears and tendinitis. So, a quarterback with a Type II or III acromion might be considered injury-prone.

Chad Pennington had a type II, which became a type III after an injury stimulated additional bone growth, for example.

The same thing can happen with the hip or knee joints- bone spurs or just oddly-shaped bone heads can make a player more likely to tear or injure the labrum and other soft tissues.

Bluffcityguy
04-06-2009, 07:14 AM
I think two other factors may be at work. First, some people have higher levels of tolerance for pain. What one person considers a debilitating and painful injury, someone else may be able to play with. We see this a lot in baseball, I think. Two Words: Albert Pujols.

(To expand a bit for you non-baseball fans (or non-Cardinals fans)--Pujols has been playing for most of his career (IIRC) with a number of chronic, more-or-less painful conditions. The scary thing is that he's already racked up future-Hall-of-Famer numbers; think of how good he'd have been if he'd been healthy all that time. ;) ).

Cheers,

bcg

Alessan
04-06-2009, 07:43 AM
I can understand that if a player tears up a knee, he is more likely to get that knee injured. But durability is usually stretched to beyond that. Fred "Fragile Fred" Taylor has a reputation for being easily injured, but a look at his injury list (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/football/nfl/players/4259/injuries.html) shows that his injuries are spread all over his body with little coherent correlation. In what way would he be "fragile?" Are all of his limbs and muscles just more easily ripped up?

Maybe he's just a klutz.

Face it, some people fall down more than others. It has nothing to do with their bodies and everything to do with their brains. Fred might be one of those people - you know, the kind who don't look where they're going and keep on bumping into things.

Loach
04-06-2009, 08:13 AM
I took a small side step to the left and tore my ACL. Some bodies are built stronger than others. Some people are more flexible. Some people are more durible. Even at the top level.

wolfman
04-06-2009, 10:06 AM
You do have to take the style of play they have into account as well.

As a red wing fan I love Tomas Holmstrom and Johan Franzen. They both have consistantly missed many games over the past three years or so, sometimes for long periods. But nobody I knows condsiders them fragile. It's just a part of the way they play their game. Which is to stand infront of the opposing Goalie to distract, deflect, and just annoy the hell out of.

It's a very valuable skill, but it leads to repeated cross-checks in the lower back, and 100 mile and hour pucks whizzing off hand, ankles, feet, face etc. They are going to miss time, compared to a set up and wristshot center.

Loach
04-06-2009, 10:22 AM
You do have to take the style of play they have into account as well.

As a red wing fan I love Tomas Holmstrom and Johan Franzen. They both have consistantly missed many games over the past three years or so, sometimes for long periods. But nobody I knows condsiders them fragile. It's just a part of the way they play their game. Which is to stand infront of the opposing Goalie to distract, deflect, and just annoy the hell out of.

It's a very valuable skill, but it leads to repeated cross-checks in the lower back, and 100 mile and hour pucks whizzing off hand, ankles, feet, face etc. They are going to miss time, compared to a set up and wristshot center.

Sort of like Brandon Jacobs for the NY Giants. He is huge for a running back. Often he can not be brought down by the first or second guy that tries. But often he will be slowed down so that the third and fourth guys can come in and hit him from the back or sides.

Also Ken Griffey Jr. No telling what his stats would be if he didn't run into walls chasing down fly balls.

astorian
04-06-2009, 11:30 AM
There ARE injury-plagued players, no doubt. I just hate using the phrase "injury-prone" because it's often used in a sneering, judgmental way, as if the player in question is a wimp or weakling who keeps getting hurt.

On one hand, it's perfectly rational for scouts to look at a player they're thinking of signing and wonder if a previous injury will limit the player's effectiveness. I don't blame a team for being wary of drafting, say, a USC running back who's alreayd had a knee operation. On the other hand, such wariness often works its way into the newspapers as "Scouts question his toughness" or "Insiders think he's too fragile." And that's frequently both stupid and unfair.

There's a huge amount of sheer dumb luck involved in who gets hurt. Problem is, once you sustain a serious injury (even if it's through NO fault of your own), you're liable to get injured again. Human knees are delicate, even if you're NOT playing a sport in which 300 pound guys are constantly driving you into the ground. If you injure your knee once, there's a good chance it will NEVER be completely healed, even if you have excellent medical care. Your injured knee is likely to get twisted again... or you may end up favoring that leg so much that the OTHER gets stressed out and needs treatment.

But fans or media who don't understand that are likely to start questioning an injured player's manhood, or telling him to "suck it up and walk it off."

KneadToKnow
04-06-2009, 12:58 PM
think of how good he'd have been if he'd been healthy all that time. ;)

Two other words to think about in that light: Mickey Mantle.

ShibbOleth
04-06-2009, 01:02 PM
Once you incur an injury it can also become likely to injure something else, especially if your team pressures you to play again before ready. Let's say you injure your right leg and then when you come back, the leg is not 100%. You're going to naturally favor the other leg, even if it's not really noticeable. The extra stress on the "good leg" can cause a new injury. I notice this happen when I rush back from a muscle pull sort of injury. In a knee injury you'd expect the off leg to retain more strength as well.

The Great Philosopher
04-06-2009, 01:12 PM
I took a small side step to the left and tore my ACL. Some bodies are built stronger than others. Some people are more flexible. Some people are more durible. Even at the top level.

I think this sums it up. Basically, your answer is 'yes, some players are more injury prone than others'. The very fact that, as you've said, there are players who never injure the same body part twice but still pick up injury after injury seems to indicate that their bodies are just more injury prone.

In my experience, the overly aggressive players tend to hurt conservative players more often than they get hurt themselves. The more aggressive player has more control about what's happening on the pitch. From the other side, playing half-ass is a good way to get yourself hurt.

I disagree. If you're throwing yourself into tackles all over the place, you're putting yourself into hard-impact collisions with high momentum more often than other players. That's always going to increase your risk of injury. Just because you've initiated the collision doesn't mean it isn't still hard on your body.

Really Not All That Bright
04-06-2009, 01:15 PM
I disagree. If you're throwing yourself into tackles all over the place, you're putting yourself into hard-impact collisions with high momentum more often than other players. That's always going to increase your risk of injury. Just because you've initiated the collision doesn't mean it isn't still hard on your body.
England footballer Paul Gascoigne ruptured all three of the cruciate ligaments in one knee while attempting an illegal above-the-knee slide tackle. Knocked him out of the game for more than a year.

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