Safety has been a hot topic in youth sports for many years. Growing concerns about head injuries have only added to the conversation about how to keep kids safe when they are on the field or ice.
While there’s no guaranteed protection against injury, parents can take a few simple precautions to ensure kids are safe while playing the sports they love. These four tips can go a long way towards keeping young athletes protected and in the game.
- Check that qualified adults are supervising. Choose sports leagues and teams that have the same commitment to safety and injury prevention that you do. Coaches should be trained in first aid and CPR and have a solid emergency plan. They should also be well versed in the proper use of safety equipment and enforce rules on equipment use.
- Make sure your kids are properly rested and ready to play. Warm-ups and stretches need to take place before every practice or game. Never push a child to play a sport if they feel uncomfortable or physically incapable of participating in the sport. Likewise, never push a child who is injured while playing to “play through” the pain of an injury.
- Make sure kids are wearing the right protective gear. Young athletes must understand the correct use of protective gear and know it needs to be worn at all times when playing. Even the best equipment won’t prevent all injuries. Some, like the Q-Collar, a device that helps protect the brain from sports-related impacts, are specially designed to be worn with other protective gear to maximize safety. Always check to make sure helmets, guards and other equipment are sized to fit properly.
- Make safety an ongoing topic of conversation. Parents and coaches shouldn’t be the only ones who are educated about sports safety. Make it a point to talk to your kids about safety to ensure they understand how to protect themselves and the vulnerable areas of their body.