Preventing Youth Sports Injuries
August 20 2015 / By:
Causes of Sports Injuries
Participation in any sport, whether it's recreational bike riding or Pee-Wee football, can teach kids to stretch their limits and learn sportsmanship and discipline. But any sport also carries the potential for injury.
By knowing the causes of sports injuries and how to prevent them, you can help make athletics a positive experience for your child.
Kids can be particularly at risk for sports injuries for a variety of reasons. Kids, especially those younger than 8 years old, are less coordinated and have slower reaction times than adults because they are still growing and developing. Also, kids mature at different rates, with differences in height and weight between kids of the same age. And when kids of varying sizes play sports together, there can be an increased risk of injury.
As kids grow bigger and stronger, the potential for injury increases, largely because of the amount of force involved. For example, a collision between two 8-year-old Pee-Wee football players who weigh 65 or 70 pounds each does not produce as much force as that produced by two 16-year-old high school football players who may each weigh up to 200 pounds.
Also, kids may not judge the risks of certain activities as well as adults would, which can lead to injuries.
Preventing Sports Injuries
You can help protect your kids from being injured by following some simple guidelines:
Use of Proper Equipment
It's important for kids to use proper equipment and safety gear that is the correct size and fits well. For example, they should wear helmets for baseball, softball, bicycle riding, and hockey. They also should wear helmets while they're inline skating or riding scooters and skateboards.
Ask your child's coach about the appropriate helmets, shoes, mouth guards, athletic cups and supporters, and padding. For racquet sports, field hockey, lacrosse, basketball, softball, and baseball, ask about any protective eyewear, like shatterproof glasses.
Protective equipment should be approved by the organizations that govern each of the sports. Hockey face masks, for example, should be approved by the Hockey Equipment Certification Council (HECC) or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). Bicycle helmets should have a safety certification sticker from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
In the United States, the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) sets many of the standards for helmets, face masks, and shin guards. Besides meeting the NOSCAE standards, all equipment should be properly cared for so it stays effective over time.
Maintenance and Appropriateness of Playing Surfaces
Check that playing fields are not full of holes and ruts that might cause kids to fall or trip. Kids doing high-impact sports, like basketball and running, should do them on surfaces like tracks and wooden basketball courts, which can be more forgiving than surfaces like concrete.
Adult Supervision and Commitment to Safety
Any team sport or activity that kids participate in should be supervised by qualified adults. Select leagues and teams that have the same commitment to safety and injury prevention that you do.
The team coach should have training in first aid and CPR, and the coach's philosophy should promote players' well-being. A coach with a win-at-all-costs attitude may encourage kids to play through injury and may not foster good sportsmanship. Be sure that the coach enforces playing rules and requires that safety equipment be used at all times.
And make sure your kids play sports that match their skill level, size, and physical and emotional maturity.
Just as you wouldn't send a child who can't swim to a swimming pool, it's important not to send kids to play a sport that they're unprepared to play. Make sure that they know how to play the sport before going out on the field.
Kids should be adequately prepared with warm-ups and training sessions before practices and before games. This will help ensure that they have fun and reduce the chances of an injury. They also should should drink plenty of fluids and be allowed periods of rest during practices and games.