The safest sports to play are those with the lowest injury rates. While almost any activity can pose some injury risk -- even if it’s just a pulled muscle or wear-and-tear to a joint -- non-contact sports generally are the safest ones. While basketball, for example, isn’t specifically a contact sport the way football is, there is plenty of pushing and other contact when players approach the basket. Similarly, sports that use a hard ball traveling at high speeds, like baseball, pose a higher risk than a sport with a softer ball like tennis.
Swimming in a supervised pool is one of the safest sports, according to a 2007 report by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research. Researchers suggested that there would likely be no major injuries in swimming if teams prohibited racing dives in the pool's shallow end during practice. Competitive swimming does require the ability to swim a variety of strokes, hold your breath and have the stamina and fitness to finish races strongly. However, swimmers who are coached in proper techniques -- to avoid shoulder and back problems, for example -- and who stay in shape should find it a safe and rewarding sport.
Among the most serious threats to golfers -- aside from being caught on the course in a lightning storm -- are injuries that arise from the repetitive action of swinging a golf club with a certain amount of force. The golf swing's powerful twisting motion can place strain on the back, hips and knees. However, conditioning -- which includes strengthening the muscles around those joints -- and practicing technique that limits strain on the joints can allow you to play golf most of your life. As long as you stay alert for stray golf balls, and stay far from someone swinging a club, you should avoid this sport's rare contact injuries.
As with any sport, overworking certain muscles and joints in tennis can keep you off the court nursing an injury. However, if you avoid overuse and you rest when you start to feel soreness or other discomfort, you can prevent these types of injuries. Tennis is one of the safest sports to play, according to the center. Throughout 25 years of research, the center stated that more than 500,000 track and field injuries were reported in the U.S., more than 400,000 high-school baseball injuries were reported, and less than 140,000 tennis injuries were reported.
Ironically, a sport that features a weapon is also among the safest sports for its participants. Australia's Office of Communities notes modern-era safety equipment drastically boosts the safety of the sport. Because fencers wear protective headgear and padding around their torso and legs, they are well protected against the blunt tip and dull blade of all types of fencing swords. However, conditioning and flexibility are crucial to preventing injury, as extending one's arms and legs and reacting quickly to an opponent's actions are key parts of the sport.