Safe sports: common sense practices


Sports-related injuries can have a substantial impact on the long-term health of student-athletes. You know that your child should wear safety equipment for the big game. But are you equally vigilant at your child’s practice? If you aren’t, you’re not alone. According to Safe Kids USA, 33 percent of parents take more safety precautions for games, even though 62 percent of organized sports-related injuries happen at practice.

There’s no doubt that sports benefit kids. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that every child participate in sports or another activity that promotes physical activity. So what can parents do to make practices safer?

First, make sure your child is healthy enough to play sports in the first place. Children should receive sports physicals before signing up for any sport.

Make sure that practice facilities are safe and that kids wear the proper safety equipment for their sport. Equipment should fit well and look well maintained. Children should wear the same equipment for practice as they do at games.

Don’t allow your child to overtrain. In the past, youth athletes played different sports each season. Now, kids face pressure to choose one sport and play it all year, leading to overuse and repetitive-motion injuries, such as pitcher’s elbow. Encourage children to try different sports.

Keep kids fueled. Overexertion and dehydration also pose problems on the practice field. Provide healthy snacks, and make sure that kids drink enough water. In hot weather, coaches should give children frequent breaks.

Make sure that your child is mature enough to participate. In general, kids aren’t equipped for the rules and cooperation required in team sports until age six or seven. But each child develops differently. Don’t push children if they’re not ready.

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