Risks and hazards associated with sports participation

Virtually all sporting activities involve an element of risk to the performer. Potential hazards should be identified to prevent risk of injury to the performer. Risks can be categorised into how likely they are to happen from ‘high’ to ‘low’. Hazards can be divided into three main groups.

People Factors

Warming up before performing helps reduce the risk of injury such as muscle strains. Warming up helps the circulatory system pump blood to the muscles gradually. Cold muscles do not absorb shock or impact which makes them more prone to injury.

Other benefits of warming properly include; helping with metal preparation, improved co-ordination, reaction speed and also it prepares the muscles for stretching. Warming up also increases oxygen and nutrients which helps prevent shortness of breath. Low impact exercise is the best way to warm up, such as walking, rowing machines, stretching and jogging.

The use of alcohol before sports participation is likely to affect physical performance and most serious athletes avoid alcohol completely.

Alcohol is a drug so will affect behaviour and can cause aggression, intolerance and depression, all of these affects could make a performer a hazard other participants as well as themselves. Alcohol affects co-ordination so could be extremely dangerous when using equipment. A good example would be a dart player over indulgence of alcohol could become a hazard if the player became aggressive by consuming too much alcohol. Another good example would be a gymnast because if they have consumed alcohol it would affect hand eye co-ordination and if they are using equipment they could fall of and badly injure themselves.


The appropriate equipment should be used to prevent risk of injury and used in the correct manor so as not to cause a hazard. Shin guards for example must be covered by socks to prevent any sharp plastic cutting another player. They are worn to prevent a player from broken ankles or shinbones also to prevent bruising. Even the use of such a small piece of equipment is regulated by health and safety rules and is also a law in the FA book.

Perhaps the first hazard to be checked for potential hazard and risks would be the area of sports participation such as a football pitch. The surface would have to be checked for holes as these could cause sprains or broken bones if a player falls awkwardly. Glass would be another hazard especially if broken as this would cause cuts which could then lead to the cut getting infected. The pitch could harbour animal excreta; this could cause the risk of disease or even blindness if worms are present in the excrement. On the field of play equipment such as goal posts need to be checked for suitability because if they fell they could cause concussion or crushing. If the posts could not be fixed another suitable venue would have to be sourced.


Rain on a pitch can be a real hazard as games will still take place putting the players at risk. A Hazard associated with wet pitches would be slipping on the wet surface which would put the player at risk of sprains and tears to the muscles and tendons and also could be at the risk of broken bones if there is impact from two players slipping. Cold could be a hazard if the rain is falling, this puts the body under strain as the heart beats faster as water conducts heat away from the body.

Hot weather during sporting activity is a hazard to an athlete as heat stroke is one of the few potentially lethal risks to a healthy individual. When performing in heat the circulation struggles to supply nutrients to muscles and regulate heat. This becomes a real hazard if sufficient fluid is not consumed during hot conditions. Athletes should learn to recognise the early signs of heat injury such as fatigue and slower performance. Sports drinks are a good replacement fluid.

To summarise most sports present various hazards to individuals and sometimes spectators, recognising the hazards and providing measures to limit the risks to improve sport participation for everyone involved.

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