Are you a guy playing team sport? How to avoid injuries

As we get older, playing sport still remains an integral part of some men’s lifestyles, whether it be recreational, weekend sporting competition, or competing at a semi-professional or even an elite level.

In 2020, 89% of adults (aged 15 and over) participated in sport or physical activity, with 69.6% of men participating in at least some sport related activities.

Australia’s most common team sports played by adult men include cricket, AFL, rugby league and rugby union, either played casually on weekends or in professional/elite settings.

The benefits of playing team sports

Playing sport, just like engaging in exercise and physical activity, provides a wide range of benefits for the physical and mental health of adult men, whether it be played at a recreational or more professional level.

    • Physical health benefits for men include a stronger heart, improved lung function, and better sleep. The mental health benefits include alleviated symptoms of anxiety and depression, whilst also helping to manage life stresses.
    • Playing sport can also improve men personally by developing better time management skills, boosting confidence and self-esteem, increasing discipline, and stabilising emotions.
    • The social aspect is also significantly important when participating in team sports as it not only provides an opportunity for men to make new connections, but it can also offer a “safe place” to have important conversations about their mental health, family and work stresses, and other typically tough topics. Team sports plays an integral role in providing men with a sense of camaraderie or mateships.
    • For those men who have children in their lives, participating in sport provides a positive role modelling service for the younger generations to look up to. Children are more likely to be involved in sport and physical activity if an adult in their life is engaged in it also.
    • Team sports aren’t restricted to just those in 20s – 40s either, older adults can still play too! In older age, sport can be engaged in either recreationally or competitively and can provide numerous health benefits for active ageing.

How to prevent injuries

Team sports, and sport in general, have a high rate injury occurrence. Some injuries will be unavoidable with contact sports, but chronic or adaptive injuries can be addressed through a number of factors:


Warming up effectively before training is important to allow your body time to function correctly and prepare for the physical and physiological demands of the sporting activity.


If time allows, an easy way to avoid injury is by using proper and correct techniques on game day. Setting time aside for training can not only improve these skills but ensure you’re in good shape to avoid injuries.

Protective gear:

It’s there for a reason and it’s not just for those who are “weak”, it’s for everyone. A simple way to avoid being hit at an alarming speed by a cricket ball or football is to wear the protective pads, mouth guards, helmets, gloves, and anything appropriate for the relevant sport.

Avoid the heat:

A lot of Australian men are playing recreational team sports on a weekend, and sometimes this in the middle of the day which can be the hottest. Avoiding the heat may be tricky in Australia when you’re a weekend sportsman, so make sure to stay hydrated with lots of water to avoid fatigue which can lead to an injury.

Get some sleep:

A good night’s sleep gives the body a chance to repair and regenerate from the day to help prevent overuse injuries. Sleep also helps to improve performance by assisting with reaction time, which is integral in most sports.

Eat regular, healthy meals:

Maintaining a strong, healthy body is the most effective way to avoid common sports injuries. Experts recommend eating small meals or healthy snacks at regular intervals throughout the day to keep your body and mind going strong.

Avoid the risks

If returning to sport after a long break, whether it be due to an injury or other commitments, it’s important to take it easy to avoid injuring yourself (potentially again!). Ensure that you have undertaken some training before returning as you may have lost some of your strength or mobility due to the period of inactivity.

It is better to take it slow and steadily to build your strength back up than to do too much too fast and sustain an injury before you’ve had a chance to hit or kick a ball again.

It’s important to rest and consecutive days of training can increase your risk of injury. Whether you’re currently injured or playing team sports regularly, opportunities for appropriate rest will allow your body a chance to recover and keep your body healthy.


This latest eBook by Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) has been designed to encourage Australian men to become more active for their physical and mental health. It also covers the benefits of exercise for a wide range of common conditions adult men may encounter.

When to seek help

You should see a doctor for your sports-related injury if you experience the following:

      1. Consistent pain during or after sports
      2. Persistent or new swelling around a joint
      3. Recurrent instability – joints “give way”
      4. Painful pops (nonpainful pops are OK)
      5. Pain that does not respond to a period of rest

Playing competitively and look for some coaching or strength and conditioning training? Contact an Accredited Sports Scientist. Sports Scientists use exercise to improve sporting performance and can optimise preparation for both teams and individual athletes.

Want to improve your general fitness to help get in shape for an upcoming event? Then an Accredited Exercise Scientist or an Accredited Exercise Physiologist can provide you with guidance and an easy-to-follow exercise program designed just for you.

Find an accredited exercise and sports science professional in your area.


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Written by Exercise & Sports Science Australia. Peer reviewed by Exercise and Sports Science Professionals.