Sports are a great activity for children that provide many benefits besides physical fitness—it helps with discipline, confidence, coordination, and teamwork. However, parents and coaches need to do their part to reduce the chance of injuries. Children are still growing, and are therefore more susceptible to sports injuries that can cause long-term or even permanent damage.
You may not be able to prevent every injury, but you can greatly reduce your child’s risk of injury during sports if you follow these suggestions.
Make sure they aren’t doing too much.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) reports that doctors have seen a significant increase in overuse injuries among children during recent years. A lot of these injuries can be attributed to sports-related activities. Children are still growing, so they need more rest time than an adult would. Kids often like to try out different sports to see which ones they like the best, but AAOS recommends that parents limit the number of teams a child plays for in one season and do not allow children to play one sport year-round without a break. Both of these recommendations can help to reduce your child’s risk of developing an overuse injury. Also, make sure your children know that it’s okay to stop and take a break if they’re tired or hurting, and they should let you or their coach know if something is painful or doesn’t feel right.
Remember, they’re just kids—avoid the “win at all costs” attitude.
The competitive nature of sports can teach your child a lot of valuable life lessons and skills, but avoid putting them in an environment that is overly-competitive and unhealthy. Putting too much emphasis on winning can push a child to keep going even if he or she is in pain or exhausted. This increases the chance of an injury that could have otherwise been prevented. You should encourage your children to do the best they can, but don’t set unrealistic expectations. Sports should be fun for your child, not stressful.
Make sure your child is wearing the right protective gear.
Protective gear is available to help keep your child safe and prevent injuries. Kids may resist wearing the safety gear, but you need to make sure they do wear it, and are wearing it correctly. Make sure helmets and body padding fit properly and snugly enough that they aren’t shifting out of place during activity.
Make sure they receive the right training.
A child should be educated on the rules of his or her sport and abide by them. Many rules are put in place to keep players safe and free from injury. Conditioning is also important because it prepares an athlete’s body for the sport. Conditioning should be tailored to the sport your child is playing, so it may be helpful to work with a coach and/or trainer to make sure they are doing the right exercises. Training builds fitness, strength, and endurance, all of which will help your child become a better athlete and help prevent injuries.
Sports can be a fun way to keep your kids active, but some parents are nervous about putting their kids in sports due to the risk of injury. Accidents do happen sometimes, but these tips should help to put your mind at ease and minimize your child’s risk of injury.