There are many benefits when it comes to children playing sports. Kids that play sports are more physically active, learn teamwork skills, and get a self-confidence boost. Plus, playing sports is fun!
However, when it comes to having kids play sports, something parents and coaches need to take into consideration is how to keep young athletes safe.
Broken bones and fractures might be common in kids when they play hard, but precautionary safety methods can help keep your young athlete from getting seriously injured.
Wear protective gear
Protective gear is designed to keep athletics of all ages safe. Familiarize yourself with appropriate protective gear for the sport being played and make sure your child has access to the right gear. It is also important that they have the right size protective gear.
Children grow quickly. It can be hard to have to buy new gear every season, but a pair of shin guards in a larger size is less expensive than a fractured shin bone. If you’re having trouble finding gear in your child’s size, take them to a professional sports store for measurements.
Know the rules of the game
Ensuring that all kids on the team are familiarized with a common set of rules before playing can prevent accidental injuries. For example, kids should know whether or not physical contact is allowed while playing. If physical contact is allowed, children should also know how to appropriately approach another player.
Having every member of the team (and any opposing team) following the same set of rules and guidelines establishes a safer playing field. Sites such as the Skill Speed Power website can supply instructions on how to play the most common sports or you can determine the rules as a team.
Warm-up and take breaks
Warming up before playing a sport loosens the joints, stretches the muscles, and increases heart rate. This can prevent sore muscles and other unwanted injuries. Remind your child to stretch and jog before getting on the field.
It is also important for your child to take regular breaks to prevent fatigue. Make sure your child stays hydrated during breaks (though be mindful that they aren’t overhydrating because this can make them sick). While most kids can keep going until they wear themselves out, taking regular breaks ensures that their bodies aren’t getting pushed to extremes.
Group by age, size, and ability
Make sure your child is playing against kids that are of similar age, size, and ability. Most leagues will automatically group children based upon age, which helps keep kids balanced in terms of size and ability. Some leagues also host tryouts.
While there will always be kids on a team that perform better than others, you want to avoid having your child playing against a kid that is several years older than them. This puts your child at an unfair advantage and could also lead to injuries.
Learn the signs of common injuries and pull your child from the field if needed. For example, limping could be a sign of a strained muscle. Instead of waiting for your child to “walk it off”, pull them from the field and start treating the injury.
Treating injuries early on can help prevent them from growing worse. Common youth injuries include ankle sprains, broken bones, dislocations, and ACL tears. If you ever suspect your child has an injury but you’re not sure what it is, take them to their pediatrician or urgent care before letting them play.
Maintain the field
Finally, make sure the playing field is free from holes, rocks, and other tripping hazards. If they’re playing for a league, it is the responsibility of the league to maintain safe playing fields.
If your child is using your backyard for practice, you’re going to want to check to make sure that they have an area where they can safely play without the risk of injuries. While it can be hard to get rid of every hole and every stone in a backyard, you’ll at least want to make sure there aren’t any major obstacles.
Bumps and tumbles are a normal part of childhood, especially when you have a young athletic! And while bruises and cuts are going to happen, you’re going to want to take the necessary steps to keep your child from getting seriously injured.
However, keep in mind—accidents happen! Even if you think you’ve done everything in your power to keep your young athletic safe, you still might find yourself visiting urgent care on occasion.