Kids risk injury no matter where they are or what they’re doing. Do a little searching on YouTube to find a wealth of video examples of kids getting hurt doing seemingly safe things; even blowing out a birthday cake. Sometimes you can’t avoid injury, but with proper precautions in youth sports you can decrease the probability of injury considerably.
Kids today often fall into two very different groups; those who sit at home playing video games and those that go out and play sports. Say what you want about this most recent reality, but the fact remains the kids who are playing sports tend to be more serious about them than ever before.
Given the high-stakes nature of collegiate athletics with scholarships awaiting hundreds of thousands of talented athletes and the lucrative realities of the over 4,000 roster spots on major sports teams, many kids today playing sports are playing for much more than just the fun of the game. They are playing for their futures.
In such a competitive environment with so much at stake, the athletes and parents face a lot of opportunities to loose perspective and risk serious injury. Everybody’s met someone who blames a career ending injury on an overzealous coach or parent during youth athletics. Whether the story is true or false belies the fact that a young kid should probably never be put in the position to think something like that was even possible.
The truth is, too many kids sustain preventable life-long injuries during youth sports. A simple example is the coach that lets his pitcher blow past a safe pitch count because he knows the best chance to win the game is to leave the ace in. Other sports have similar examples where good judgement is trumped by competitive spirit.
When it comes down to it the parents and coaches must ensure that kids stay safe, because a kid who’s focused on winning will absolutely ignore good sense if he thinks the adults responsible condone winning above all else. This reality is true all the way to the pro level. The NFL’s crackdown on concussions is a prime example of a bunch of smart people losing perspective on the balance between good sport and reckless endangerment.
Some easy ways to help keep your kid safe are:
•Use the appropriate equipment and clothing. Make sure everything fits correctly and does not inhibit movement.
•Take precautions for the playing environment. Sunscreen in sunshine, proper hydration, extra layers in cold weather, etc. These are simple ways to eliminate risks beyond the playing field.
•Stretching. Kids muscles grow slower than their bones. Make sure those muscles are properly warmed up.
•Be aware of the recommended built in limitations such as pitch counts or minute limits. Coaches in leagues without such things should implement their own based on medical recommendations. Parents should demand them and help to monitor these very important limits for their own kids.
•If a kid feels pain during play, rest. Don’t give them an Advil and send them back out. If an injury appears to be more serious, seek medical attention immediately.
Regardless of the opportunities awaiting young athletes, the goal of participation in youth sports should be to have fun. Staying safe and being aware of simple ways to prevent injuries is a crucial step towards having fun.