ACL Tear – Who Is At The Most Risk?

I spent my athletic days playing soccer, rugby, volleyball and skiing all of which I thought had a had a high chance of ACL tears, but when I decided to research and find out what sport has the highest rate of ACL tears it surprised me! What sport would you think has the highest rate of ACL tears? I thought it would be a high speed/contact sport either Football, Rugby, Hockey or Skiing but the answer is the most at risk athletes for tearing their ACLs are girls high-school soccer players.

Tearing your knee playing soccer is one of the most common ways people tear their ACL. If you are a female it has been shown that you are more susceptable to tearing your ACL playing Soccer (Gray, J. A survey of injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament of the knee, International Journal of Sports Medicine).  In fact the National High School Sports-Related Injury collection listed all sports and the rate of ACL tears, Womens soccer is the most common sport that involves ACL tears. (ACL Study) Here is a list of the highest rate of ACL tears…


  1. Girls Soccer – 1 torn ACL for every 6,500 times a girl competes or practices
  2. Boys Football – 1 torn ACL for every 9,800 times a guy competes or practices
  3. Girls Basketball – 1 torn ACL for every 11,000 times a girl competes or practices

After seeing these stats and thinking about the results it does make sense to me. My wife played competitive soccer and went to University on a soccer scholarship, comparing the number of teammates of hers that tore their ACL it was higher than any team I ever was on. Although in our house I am “loosing” 2-0 in ACL tears the real life comparison of her teams ACL tears vs my teams ACL tears makes these statistics believable.

Common ACL Tear Story From Female High School Soccer Player

I’m a 16yr old girl and I tore my ACL back in August 2011 playing soccer and I finally had my surgery on the 10th of January using a patella graft taken from the same knee.

First of all I want to thank you for your website as it has helped me a lot especially leading up to the surgery!

I was having a look at the recovery timeline and I am worried that I am a little behind, so I am 12 days in and I am still on crutches(2 but I only lean on one most of the time and use the other for balance mainly) and I am finding the straight leg raises very difficult and the problem is that on friday I popped one of my stitches and I popped another yesterday so now it is more fear that makes it more difficult for me as well as the pain.

Another thing, I can only bend my knee 90º and I am afraid to push it further because it is very painful in the front of my knee(patella area). Should I be worried that it could damage my patella tendon or should I push it further?

And finally, the day of my surgery, a few hours after it I had to go to the loo so I got up on my crutches and on my way there I fainted. Then after 5 days I had my first physio appointment, which was the first time I had been up and about since the surgery, after about half an hour or so I got very light headed and felt like I was going to faint but didnt. Then again today I decided that I had to do more exercise to make my muscles work a bit more so I went to a shopping centre and after just 15mins I had to go back to the car because I was very light headed again. I was wondering, since you have probably heard alot about these surgeries,I was wondering  if this is normal and when will it go away because I cant go back to school at the moment if Im going to faint after a few minutes?

My physio has asked me to order this machine to stimulate my quads because they are not responding like they should:

Hopefully this will help because the worst part about this for me is that it is all so slow and I get very frustrated when I cant do the straight leg raises.

My Answer to her and other girls soccer players in a similar situation…

Everyone recovers and different grates depending on how much work the surgery was….don’t worry that it’s taking a little longer.

Regarding the popped stitches I don’t think its too big of a problem you just need to be a little more careful about keeping the wound clean and dry.

With you lying down so much being light headed when you wake up is pretty normal. Try and have yourself get up and move around a little bit every hour you are awake this will help both with the recovery and the light headed issue.

Hope some of these tips help and good luck with the recovery.

Professional Female Soccer Players Tear Their ACL

Professional female soccer players are not immune to ACL tears. US Soccer Star Ali Krieger is now out for 6-8 months with an ACL tear. Playing against the Domincan Republic Jan 20, 2012 she was struck in the knee and went down in pain as shown in the video below.

Prevent ACL Tears in Female Soccer Players

If you are a female soccer player and want to learn how to prevent ACL tears I recommend having a look at the easy to follow knee injury prevention exercises. Click Fere for soccer knee injury prevention.

The Top 5 At Home Exercises
I did that helped get me walking 4 days after surgery

Click Here to see the exercises


  1. I love soccer but now I have had 2 ACL tears and I am not even out of high school. I dont want to quite this sport that I love but I dont know what to do.

    Any girls out there still able to play after 2 ACL tears?

  2. I am a junior in high school and I recently tore my ACL in September of 2011 and got my surgery in October 2011. Along the process of recovering I actually found out that ACL tears are very common, especially amongst girls playing soccer. I just thought I like to share that through all the recovery stories I have heard, everyone heals differently and thier process is all different, same like mines.

  3. Im a junior in high school also and I got my acl surgery in december 2011. I missing this school season of course. Im doing really well, getting better by the day.

    My question. Will this largely affect my chances of playing college soccer? Is there still hope? I just want to play soccer. Anywhere.

  4. Karolina…the good news with female soccer players is that an ACL tear is so common that college coaches don’t automatically right someone of because they have had it. If you recover fully from this surgery than it will not affect your chances at playing at college.

  5. I think you can do it. I am a freshmen in high and I just had my second ACL surgery on my right knee last week after having it on my left back in 7th grade. I still plan on trying out for soccer this fall! I was wondering the same thing, that maybe soccer wasn’t worth going through all the surgery again but I think I would miss it too much. I hope you decide to keep playing!

  6. If it is something that you really want to do, they yes it is possible, but two ACLs can be tough. I play DI soccer and am studying biomedical engineering. I currently have 4 teammates rehabbing their second or third ACL. Unfortunately, none of these girls made it a full season between ACLs. Part of the issue is that multiple tears indicates a weakness in body mechanics which increases likelihood to re-tear. I don’t know if you are thinking about college soccer or not but I can say from experience that it can be very taxing on your body and is a HUGE commitment that may not be worth it if you spend half the time in the training room. I am really not trying to deter you or be negative, I just think your are right to consider things.

  7. Karolina, I’m an engineering major and play college soccer right now in the Northeast-10, a very competitive league. I tore my first acl in april senior year playing club (so I had to miss my freshman fall season) and my college coach was totally understanding and has helped me so much. 3 weeks into playing again getting ready for spring season I tore my other acl and having surgery in a few days. I love playing soccer and yes I have the fear of tearing my acl again, but honestly if you love playing soccer then nothing can replace it. College coaches are really understanding and not as intimidating as you may think. If you keep working hard and practice on your own then you’ll be able to play in college. Don’t lose motivation!

  8. I’m a senior in high school. I recently tore my acl playing for my high school soccer team. I obviously can’t come back this year. I had been considering to play club volleyball or soccer in college next fall, but that won’t be happening either. Once I can come back I’m not sure which sport I should stick with. I feel like I will be more likely to re-tear it playing soccer but I feel like diving on it won’t be too great for my knee either. Would one be better than the other?

  9. Samantha says:

    I’m 15 just tore my ACL this past weekend. How did you pick which graft to do. Patella or Hamstring? Thanks

  10. My experience in order of graft strength….
    1. Patellar
    2. Hamstring
    3. Cadaver

    So many factors play into it. What is your body type, sports you wish to play again etc. I am big and stocky and needed the patellar to have full security. I snapped hamstring and cadaver grafts like they were tissue paper. That was with very solid rehab. If I had a less muscular and wide frame I think the hamstring would have held. Just focus on getting your strength back , especially hamstrings if you have a hamstring graft.

  11. Hey guys,

    I just tore my ACl playing field hockey.. here is my website for anyone curious how the healing process works day by day for a teenage athlete..

  12. Hey everybody, so glad I found this site. I’m a junior in highschool. I play soccer at a VERY competitive level for club & play for my highschool. I tore my ACL this July on the 15th. I am still waiting to schedule my surgery *sigh* & have been doing physical therapy and working at the gym. PT just stopped my sessions because I have full range of motion & my strength back. I guess my question is… What is the best graft for me? I’m 95 lbs 5ft tall, speedy & very aggressive outside mid.. I tore my ACL by just simply crossing. I’m leaning towards patellar but I’ve heard about knee pain many years after surgery. I want to continue to play & be active my whole life.

    Thanks so much for the help,

  13. im a junior in high school and just tore my acl about a month ago in the last thirty seconds of my first eligible game and am having surgery done in two weeks and im kind of nervous but it just is crazy to me how often high school girls tear them including my older sister