Volleyball Match

Updated June 2021

Volleyball has the overall lowest rate of concussion for all youth sports. Despite being a non-contact sport, volleyball players are still susceptible to concussions. So, what is the most common way concussions are sustained in volleyball? Are more concussions sustained during practice or games? Read on to learn more about concussions from volleyball.

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Learning the Latest Stats on Concussions from Volleyball

The following details the percentage of concussions from volleyball sustained during practices, games, and warm-ups:

  • 5% occur during practice
  • 4% occur during games
  • 1% occur during warm-ups

And these are the most common ways to get a concussion in volleyball:

  • 1% ball-to-head contact
  • 2% player-to-player contact
  • 5% head-to-floor contact

Contact with the net/pole can also be associated with concussions and closed head injuries.

Knowing How to Recognize a Concussion

Symptoms may worsen with immediately continued exertion, so an athlete with a suspected concussion should not return to play until they are symptom-free. In observing a player whom you suspect may have sustained a concussion, you may notice they:

  • Appear to be dazed or stunned
  • Are confused about their assignment
  • Forget plays
  • Are unsure of the game, score, or opponent
  • Move clumsily
  • Answer questions slowly
  • Lose consciousness (even temporarily)
  • Show a behavior or personality change
  • Forget events prior to hit (retrograde)
  • Forget events after hit (anterograde)

The player may report experiencing:

  • A headache
  • Nausea
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Double or fuzzy vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Sluggishness
  • Fogginess
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Concentration or memory problems

A professional on the sidelines of a practice or game can conduct on-court cognitive testing, including:

  • Orientation
    • What stadium is this?
    • What city is this?
    • Who is the opposing team?
    • What month is it?
    • What day is it?
  • Anterograde amnesia
    • Ask the athlete to repeat the following words: girl, dog, green
  • Retrograde amnesia
    • What happened in the prior set?
    • What do you remember just prior to the hit?
    • What was the score of the game prior to the hit?
    • Do you remember the hit?
  • Concentration
    • Repeat the days of the week backward (starting with today).
    • Repeat these numbers backward:
      • 63 (36 is correct)
      • 419 (914 is correct)
  • Word list memory
    • Ask the athlete to repeat the three words from earlier: girl, dog, green

Any failure should be considered abnormal. Consult a concussion expert following a suspected concussion.

Staying Safe on the Court

While there is a comparatively low risk of concussion in volleyball, there are still protective measures facilities, teams, and individual players should take to further minimize that risk. Here are just a few:

  • Place protective pads on all net poles prior to beginning play
  • Avoid crossing the court while serving is taking place
  • Call your ball to avoid collisions
  • Remove all extra equipment from the court
  • Always serve and hit in the same direction
  • Don’t huddle during the other team’s warmup

The UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program can help concussion patients through active treatment approaches. Call 412-432-3681 or visit our website for more information.

About Sports Medicine

Sports and physical activity bring with them a potential for injury. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury – or improve athletic performance – UPMC Sports Medicine and the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program can help. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our experts partner with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers, and about 100 other high school, college, and regional teams and events throughout Pennsylvania – working daily to build better athletes.