Organized sports provide countless opportunities for personal growth, especially in young children. Sports instill a sense of sportsmanship, promote physical health, and they can be a great way for children to develop social skills and lifelong friendships. However, the biggest drawback of participating in sports is the potential for injury. Enrolling your children in reputable sports programs that are age appropriate can do much to help them avoid injuries while still taking advantage of all the benefits sports have to offer. Here are more tips on how to help your children safely enjoy organized sports.
Prior to signing up your child for sports, make an appointment for a sports physical. The examination will typically involve two parts, a review of the child and family’s medical history, and the physical examination itself. The primary reason why a physical is important prior to enrollment in any sport is that it’s necessary to determine whether or not your child is physically and emotionally ready to engage in the sport he wants to play. Sometimes, parents enroll their children while they’re too young, and other times, the sport that is chosen simply isn’t a good fit. So, a physical will help you match your child with the most appropriate sport for his ability and age.
The Right Organization
Before allowing your child to play in an organized sport, make sure the organization itself is reputable. The sports group should demonstrate an active commitment to prevention of injury. Its staff should also be trained in first aid and only allow properly protected and equipped children to participate. If safety is not the number one concern of the sports organization, consider enrolling your child elsewhere.
In the event that you’ve enrolled your child in a sport that requires safety gear, such as helmets and pads, purchase the highest quality equipment you can afford. If you’re unsure about which brands manufacture the best safety gear, ask the coach or other staff member for guidance. A well-made and properly adjusted helmet can make all the difference when it comes to severity of head injuries. Regardless of whether you purchase the equipment or it is provided by the team, inspect each piece for integrity every time, before allowing your child to play.
Warm Up and Cool Down
Ensuring your child’s safety while playing sports doesn’t end with choosing the right sport, organization and equipment. Once practice begins, you will need to remain vigilant in ensuring that he is as safe as possible. To that end, have him make a habit of warming up and cooling down. Reputable coaches representing reputable sports organizations will always insist their players warm up and cool down prior to and after any game or practice session. Regardless of whether your child participates in summer or winter sports, five minutes of light exercise and stretches can help prevent muscle strains and pulls, and myriad other sports-related injuries.
Warming up and cooling down before and after the game is important, but so is what happens during the game. Children should take water breaks every 20 minutes, and they should be monitored for signs of overexertion. Exhaustion and muscle fatigue can easily lead to injury.
Enrolling your children in sports can be one of the best decisions you make for them, but conversely, it can end up being one of the worst if he becomes injured. By following some common sense tips relative to choosing the right sport, sports organization, and equipment, and ensuring that your child warms up, cools down, hydrates, and rests, you will be doing your part to ensure that his time playing youth sports is memorable for all the right reasons.