Contact sport

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A tackle in Australian rules football. Caddy tackling Pendlebury (cropped).jpg
A tackle in Australian rules football.

Contact sports are sports that emphasize or require physical contact between players. Some sports, such as mixed martial arts, are scored on impacting an opponent, while others, including rugby football, gridiron football and Australian rules football, require tackling of players. These sports are often known as full-contact, as the sport cannot be undertaken without contact. Other sports may have contact, but such events are illegal under the rules of the game and are incidental or accidental and do not form part of the sport.


It can also include impact via a piece of sporting equipment, such as being struck by a hockey stick or football.

Non-contact sports are those where participants should have no possible means of touching, such as sprinting, swimming, darts or snooker, where players use separate lanes or take turns of play. Consideration should also be given to other sports such as motocross, BMX, and road cycling, which all involve riding/racing in packs of riders. This often results in brushing and bumping off other riders.


United States of America

Current medical terminology in the United States uses the term collision sport to refer to sports like rugby, American football, ice hockey, lacrosse and roller derby. The term contact sport is used to refer to sports such as basketball and handball, and the term limited-contact sport to sports like baseball, volleyball and squash. [1]

The American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement was revised in 2008 included the following definitions:

In collision sports (e.g. boxing, ice hockey, American football, lacrosse, and rodeo), athletes purposely hit or collide with each other or with inanimate objects (including the ground) with great force. In contact sports (e.g. basketball), athletes routinely make contact with each other or with inanimate objects but usually with less force than in collision sports. In limited-contact sports (e.g. softball and squash, contact with other athletes or with inanimate objects is infrequent or inadvertent. [1]


Many sports will penalize contact with rules for certain situations or instances to help reduce the incidence of physical trauma or litigation for assault or grievous bodily harm. Many sports involve a degree of player-to-player or player-to-object contact. The term "contact sport" is used in both team sports and combat activities, medical terminology and television game shows, such as American Gladiators and Wipeout , to certain degrees. Contact between players is often classed by different grades ranging from non-contact, where there is no contact between players, to full-contact or collision sports, where the rules allow for significant physical contact.


St. Louis Blues player David Backes with ice hockey helmet. David Backes.JPG
St. Louis Blues player David Backes with ice hockey helmet.

As a result of the risk of injury, some sports require the use of protective equipment, for example American football protective equipment or the gloves and helmets needed for underwater hockey. Some sports are also played on soft ground and have padding on physical obstacles, such as goal posts.

Most contact sports require any male players to wear an Abdominal Guard to protect their male genitalia.

The cost of equipment can be an obstacle to participating in many sports.[ citation needed ]



Two U.S. Marines compete in a wrestling match. USMC-10881.jpg
Two U.S. Marines compete in a wrestling match.

A (full) contact sport is any sport for which significant physical impact force on players, either deliberate or incidental, is allowed or within the rules of the game.

Contact actions include tackling and blocking and a whole range of other moves that can differ substantially in their rules and degree of application.

Examples of full-contact sports include American football, Canadian football, Australian rules football, rugby union, rugby league, rugby sevens, ice hockey, lacrosse, hurling, arena football, Futsal, [2] underwater football, water polo, slamball, roller derby, kabaddi, quidditch, shinty and wheelchair rugby.

Full-contact martial arts include boxing, mixed martial arts, Sambo, Sumo, wrestling, Muay Thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo, Sanshou, Historical European Martial Arts, Taekkyon, various forms of full contact karate, and some forms of Taekwondo


A semi-contact sport is typically a combat sport involving striking and containing physical contact between the combatants simulating full-power techniques. The techniques are restricted to limited power, and rendering the opponent unconscious is forbidden.

Some semi-contact sports use a point system to determine the winner and use extensive protective gear to protect the athletes from injury. Examples of semi-contact sports include karate, kickboxing, kalaripayattu, Kenpo, various Korean martial arts that incorporate contact rules sparring, kendo, some types of historical European martial arts, and taekwondo.

Another indicator of a semi-contact martial arts competition system is that after a point is rewarded the adversaries will be separated and resume the match from safe distance, but often it is possible to argue if some martial arts sports belong in one contact group or another.


A basketball game (FIBA Europe Cup Women Finals 2005 in Naples, Italy). Three point shoot.JPG
A basketball game (FIBA Europe Cup Women Finals 2005 in Naples, Italy).

Limited-contact sports, or sports which involve, "incidental" contact, are sports for which the rules are specifically designed to prevent contact between players either intentionally or unintentionally. Contact can still happen, but penalties are often used to disallow substantial contact between players.[ according to whom? ]

For instance, "Basketball, by rule, is a non-contact sport." [3] However, there is a great deal of contact in basketball, which referees tolerate at their discretion until it negatively affects the game. Players are usually not permitted to bump or knock a player down in basketball (with some exceptions such as bumping an opponent with your forearm in the paint on defense, and offensive players are allowed to back down defenders), as opposed to full-contact sports like rugby where it is perfectly legal to knock a player off the ball, or even to the ground in several ways. Excessive contact will result in penalties which provide a tactical advantage to the team which endured the foul play, or temporarily or permanently dismissing the offending player(s) from the match.

Examples of limited-contact sports


Non-contact sports are sports where participants compete alternately in lanes or are physically separated such as to make it nearly impossible for them to make contact during the course of a game without committing an out-of-bounds offense or, more likely, disqualification. Examples of non-contact sports include cricket, tennis, table tennis, badminton, golf, bowling, bowls, croquet, pool, snooker, bossaball, darts, curling, tug of war, bodybuilding, swimming, diving, gymnastics, sprinting, running, track and field, bicycle race, rowing, archery, freestyle football, footgolf, fistball, tchoukball and sepak takraw.

Sports injury prevention

There has been an increasing medical, academic, and media focus on sports involving rapid contact in the late 20th to early 21st century and their relationship with sports injuries. Several sports governing bodies began changing their rules in order to decrease the incidence of serious injuries and avoid lawsuits. In some countries, new laws have been passed, particularly in regards to concussions.


United States of America

At the professional level, America's professional football league, the National Football League, began banning concussed players from re-entering the same game in which they were injured in order to reduce the risk of further injury and damage.[ citation needed ]


In Canada in 2018, Rowan's Law was passed after the death of a young Canadian female athlete. Rowan Stringer died in 2013 of Second Impact Syndrome, "...the result of suffering multiple concussions playing rugby three times in six days." [4]

See also

Related Research Articles

There are a variety of articles listing sportspeople of a particular sport.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wheelchair rugby</span> Team sport

Wheelchair rugby is a team sport for athletes with a disability. It is practised in over twenty-five countries around the world and is a summer Paralympic sport.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Amateur sports</span> Sport played by non professionals

Amateur sports are sports in which participants engage largely or entirely without remuneration. The distinction is made between amateur sporting participants and professional sporting participants, who are paid for the time they spend competing and training. In the majority of sports which feature professional players, the professionals will participate at a higher standard of play than amateur competitors, as they can train full-time without the stress of having another job. The majority of worldwide sporting participants are amateurs.

Semi-professional sports are sports in which athletes are not participating on a full-time basis, but still receive some payment. Semi-professionals are not amateur because they receive regular payment from their team, but generally at a considerably lower rate than a full-time professional athlete. As a result, semi-professional players frequently have full-time employment elsewhere. A semi-pro player or team could also be one that represents a place of employment that only the employees are allowed to play on. In this case, it is considered semi-pro because their employer pays them, but for their regular job, not for playing on the company's team.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mouthguard</span> Protective device for the teeth and gums to avoid injury to them

A mouthguard is a protective device for the mouth that covers the teeth and gums to prevent and reduce injury to the teeth, arches, lips and gums. An effective mouthguard is like a crash helmet for teeth and jaws. It also prevents the jaws coming together fully, thereby reducing the risk of jaw joint injuries and concussion. A mouthguard is most often used to prevent injury in contact sports, as a treatment for bruxism or TMD, or as part of certain dental procedures, such as tooth bleaching or sleep apnea treatment. Depending on application, it may also be called a mouth protector, mouth piece, gumshield, gumguard, nightguard, occlusal splint, bite splint, or bite plane. The dentists who specialise in sports dentistry fabricate mouthguards.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sports in Canada</span> Overview of sports within Canada

Sports in Canada consist of a wide variety of games. The roots of organized sports in Canada date back to the 1770s, culminating in the development and popularization of the major professional games of ice hockey, lacrosse, basketball, baseball, and football. Canada's official national sports are ice hockey and lacrosse. golf, soccer, baseball, tennis, skiing, ringette, badminton, volleyball, cycling, swimming, bowling, rugby union, canoeing, equestrian, squash, and the study of martial arts are widely enjoyed at the youth and amateur levels. Great achievements in Canadian sports are recognized by Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, while the Lou Marsh Trophy is awarded annually to Canada's top athlete by a panel of journalists. There are numerous other Sports Halls of Fame in Canada.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sports equipment</span> Object used for sport or exercise

Sporting equipment, also called sporting goods, are the tools, materials, apparel, and gear used to compete in a sport and varies depending on the sport. The equipment ranges from balls, nets, and protective gear like helmets. Sporting equipment can be used as protective gear or a tool used to help the athletes play the sport. Over time, sporting equipment has evolved because sports have started to require more protective gear to prevent injuries. Sporting equipment may be found in any department store or specific sporting equipment shops.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ejection (sports)</span> Removal of a participant due to a rules violation

In sports, an ejection is the removal of a participant from a contest due to a violation of the sport's rules. The exact violations that lead to an ejection vary depending upon the sport, but common causes for ejection include unsportsmanlike conduct, violent acts against another participant that are beyond the sport's generally accepted standards for such acts, abuse against officials, violations of the sport's rules that the contest official deems to be egregious, or the use of an illegal substance to better a player's game. Most sports have provisions that allow players to be ejected, and many allow for the ejection of coaches, managers, or other non-playing personnel. In sports that use penalty cards, a red card is often used to signal dismissals.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Outline of sports</span> Overview of and topical guide to sports

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to sports:

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shepherding (Australian rules football)</span> Legally pushing, bumping or blocking

Shepherding is a tactic and skill in Australian rules football, a team sport. Shepherding is the act of legally pushing, bumping or blocking an opposing player from gaining possession of the ball or reaching the contest.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sport Wales</span> National sports organization of Wales

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lacrosse in the United States</span>

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  2. Junge, A.; Dvorak, J. (2010). "Injury risk of playing football in Futsal World Cups". British Journal of Sports Medicine. 44 (15): 1089–1092. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2010.076752. PMID   20961918. S2CID   36295797.
  3. "How Basketball Works". How Stuff Works. 10 March 2003. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  4. "Rowan's Law". Rugby Ontario.