Many parents are choosing specific sports over others in an effort to keep their children safe while still allowing them to participate in team sports. It’s important for parents to understand that any sport in which youngsters participate has the potential for injury. However, there are ways to improve the level of safety for young athletes and mitigating the possibility of a serious injury from occurring.
Get a Physical
Ensuring that a would-be athlete is in good enough health to participate is a critical step. Most teams require a physical exam prior to playing. Parents should take their child in for a preseason physical, even if the youngster received a clean bill of health the previous year. An underlying condition may have developed or an unknown injury sustained.
The Right Gear
Certain pieces of equipment are mandated for play in any number of youth sports. It’s essential that the right equipment is used and meets appropriate safety standards. It should also be in good repair. Used equipment can save money, but the child’s safety is the foremost consideration.
Many youngsters are focused on one sport to the exclusion of all others, but parents should encourage their children to try other sports. It relieves stress on young muscles that can result in repetitive motion injuries.
Rest, Eat, Hydrate
Even elite athletes take a break between practices, special events and competitions. Young athletes need to take a break between practices and games, and get enough sleep. The body repairs itself during slumber and athletes that don’t get enough rest are at greater risk of overuse injuries. Maintaining proper hydration and eating a diet that fuels the body properly are also critical elements to avoid injuries.
Talk to Children
It’s imperative that parents talk to their youngsters and emphasize the importance of letting parents know if they’re experience pain or if something just doesn’t feel right. If the athlete has sustained an injury, don’t let them try to re-enter practice or competition until a doctor has certified them ready to play. Youth athletes should never feel as if they’re letting the team down. Many youngsters will try to push through the pain, which can transition a smaller injury to a major health consideration.