Fall Sports Safety Tips
With fall approaching, many kids are starting their fall sports seasons. Whether your children play football, soccer, lacrosse, or another sport, it’s important to know the best ways for them to stay safe and healthy throughout the season.
Here are tips to help keep your young athlete safe and healthy this fall:
Ensure they have the proper gear
Regardless of age, every child must wear proper-fitting protective gear while playing sports. Check to make sure your child’s gear is in good condition and still fits them, as younger kids are likely to grow out of gear quickly. If you’re ever unsure regarding the condition of your gear, ask the coach of the team for their evaluation of the equipment’s condition. If it’s bad, replace it with new gear. If money is a concern, you can also check for used equipment on places like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, which will often have parents selling their children’s old equipment. When purchasing from those sites be sure that the equipment is safe and properly functioning.
Also, some teams may provide equipment for kids to use. However, the equipment may not fit every kid, so if your children express concern over the provided equipment not fitting them properly, consider getting them their own gear.
Remind them to drink plenty of water
Some kids get lazy when it comes to drinking enough water. While the fall might not involve hot weather (depending on where you live), it’s still possible to get dehydrated. Remind your kids to drink up, especially before, during, and after games and practices—although make sure they don’t drink too much if it’s a sport that involves a lot of movement, to avoid cramps! In total, children should aim to consume the following levels of water based on age:
- five glasses (1 liter) for 5 to 8 year olds
- seven glasses (1.5 liters) for 9 to 12 year olds
- 8 to 10 glasses (2 liters) for 13+ year olds
Know the signs of a concussion
Concussions are one of the most common injuries in sports. If your child takes a hard hit to the head from a ball or another player, make sure they’re pulled from the game and checked for these concussion symptoms: headache, confusion, blurred vision, dizziness, light or sound insensitivity, and haziness, fog or memory problems. Make sure your child has appropriate protective headgear, such as a properly-fitted helmet in football or lacrosse, to help reduce the chances of a concussion.
Teach proper conditioning
Stretching helps loosen up muscles and prevent injuries. Talk to your children about the importance of stretching and make sure they know a few stretches they can do not just before games, but also practices (62 percent of sports-related injuries occur doing practices).
Coaches should teach young athletes not only stretching routines but also skill-based warmups for their sport. For example, kicking a soccer ball back and forth with another player to practice stationary passing will help kids get loose before exerting more energy during intense drills and games.
For other conditioning tips, check out this article.
Make sure they have pre- and post-game snacks
With food being “fuel” for the body, make sure your child is not hungry before a game, so they have the energy to compete at a high level. Keep in mind that snacks should be light and healthy to avoid feeling “stuffed” before a game—food like fruits, veggies, energy bars, etc. should do. Also, ensure that they refuel after games so their body can properly recover from the physical stress of game time.
Encourage kids to rest
While kids are full of energy and itching to play, even outside of team practices and games, it’s important to remind them to take it easy now and then to allow their muscles time to recover. Try to make sure your kid is getting at least eight hours of sleep every night (more for younger kids) and not over-exerting themselves outside of games and practices.
Also, if a young athlete is very tired or in pain, coaches and parents should encourage him or her to rest, not continue playing. While kids may not want to stop playing, rest is key to avoiding fatigue and worsening a lingering injury.
Complete and give medical release forms to coaches
A completed medical release form allows your child to be treated by Certified Emergency Personnel (i.e., EMT, First Responder, etc.) in the event that you aren’t present when an injury occurs. These forms also help make your child’s coach aware of any medical conditions or allergies affecting your child. Most leagues require one to be filled out, so make sure you take care of it as soon as possible.