Is Lacrosse as Dangerous as Football?

27 July 2022

When I think of injuries caused by sports, my mind automatically goes straight to football. After all, getting tackled to the ground at a high rate of speed is a natural part of the game. The players are wearing pretty intense body armor, too!

Imagine my surprise when I learned that the sport of lacrosse is actually ranked third among men’s sports for players that sustain a serious injuries.

Because of this, I found myself wondering, is lacrosse as dangerous as football?

According to the Lacrosse All Stars website, lacrosse is higher in the rankings of serious injuries than football, making it technically more dangerous to play than football.

Let’s take a look at some of the factors in the debate of lacrosse versus football, starting with determining what makes the game of football dangerous, what kind of injuries can be sustained in lacrosse, and comparing the two sports!

What Makes Football Dangerous?

Football was more well-known to me than lacrosse, but when I learned that lacrosse was considered more prominent in injuries to players, I decided to find out what was dangerous about football. Check out the list I compiled below to start comparing the dangers of the two sports!

  1. Sprains
  2. Concussions
  3. Dislocations

Let’s take a closer look together at what kinds of strains, concussions, and dislocations are common in football and their repercussions.


A sprain happens when the ligament around the joint is stretched out, torn, or twisted up. A ligament is important because they connect the bones and the cartilage around the joints, which stabilize the bone itself. 

Football is a big source of sprain injuries in athletes because most sprains are caused by weight being pressed too suddenly on the outer ligament of a joint. Football includes weighty players putting strain on these ligaments in lots of sudden movements, like pivoting to avoid a defensive player or stopping suddenly to throw a ball before being tackled.

Sprains are one of the topmost common injuries related to playing football.


Football players typically wear heavy-duty helmets to prevent concussions. A concussion is when the head experiences enough of a blow to cause the brain to hit the inside of the skull. Even a minor bump to the brain can cause a concussion. 

Even though helmets worn in football are there to keep the players from experiencing concussions when their heads are struck by the ground during a fall or by another player’s body during a tackle, they do have one downside. 

This downside is that a helmet-to-helmet impact is pretty common in football. Helmet-to-helmet contact as players tackle and try to stop one another is common enough to be the main source of concussion injuries in the sport.

Concussions are dangerous because they can damage the brain. Some concussions are mild enough only to cause a slight headache. However, others cause defects in physical coordination. For example, if you have a concussion you could find yourself clumsily staggering or feeling dizzy. Extreme concussions are scary because they can sometimes lead to death.


The most common dislocation in football players is a dislocated shoulder. When this happens, the ball-shaped part of the shoulder joint pops out of the actual socket it belongs in, much like a broken action figure joint.

That’s not only extremely painful, but it usually stops the athlete from being able to move their shoulder and makes it look square and obviously wrong in shape rather than round and natural.

The cause of a dislocated shoulder is any hard fall or blow to the shoulder area. That, of course, happens all the time in a high-contact sport like football when athletes are often tackled while their arms are outstretched or their shoulders are lowered to absorb impacts.

Is Lacrosse as Dangerous as Football?

The most common injuries in lacrosse are:

  1. Knee and ankle sprains – These occur at a higher rate than football because lacrosse involves something called cutting and dodging. These involve sudden stops and changes in direction, which can be hard on the ligaments of the leg. While football does involve sprains, the players do not change direction as suddenly as they do in lacrosse.
  2. Head injuries – Concussions are frequent in lacrosse because not only are the players contacting one another at high levels of impact like football players do, but they are also coming into contact with lacrosse sticks more often. 
  3. ACL Tears – Tearing the ACL ligament is very common in Lacrosse players. Often players will twist their knees in the wrong direction. An ACL injury can take up to a year to fully recover from and even result in surgery to correct. 


In summary, though lacrosse is not as physical as football, it still manages to result in a higher number of injuries than football. Lacrosse injuries can result in more sprains and muscular recovery time than football injuries do, overall. This makes lacrosse more dangerous than football, though both involve health risks to the human body!