6 Sports Safety Tips To Share With Your Kids

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The fall is here, and that means football and basketball and intense athletic training. As a follow-up to our piece on season-specific safe driving tips for teens, we’d like to focus our attention on those of you who have athletic children — particularly those engaged in the high-impact sports listed above (or any other, for that matter).

Don’t let your child suffer a setback now that will follow them through life. If at all possible, make sure they’re adhering to these best practices per the Youth Sports Safety Alliance.


Get A ‘Physical’

Of course, a “physical,” as coaches and kids often refer to it for short, is a physical examination that is used to determine the readiness of a child’s body for the athletic endeavor they’re about to embrace. According to the YSSA, “Physical exams can determine if your children are healthy enough to play and can also detect any pre-existing conditions that may affect their performance.”

While early detection may mean that your child doesn’t get to take part in a sport that he or she would like, it beats the alternative of risking a long-term injury.


Don’t Skimp On Protective Gear

Each year, kids are reminded of how dangerous sports like football can be. Overheating during late summer practices, concussions, and broken bones, are merely a part of what they might face. YSSA advises that “Before purchasing new youth sports equipment, have your child try it on. Ensure the gear fits correctly and is neither too big nor too small. If your child already owns gear, however, examine it closely for wear and tear that may affect its performance.”

In other words, it isn’t enough simply to be wearing protective gear; you must ensure that it’s the right gear for your child’s body type, or it could leave vulnerabilities.


Make Sure They’re Warming Up

Any coach worth his salt will ensure that your kids are doing what they need to be doing to warm up before engaging in high-impact athletic activity. Limbs and muscles should be loose and ready to respond. “Doing a regimen of warm-up stretches before taking to the field can reduce the likelihood of an injury,” YSSA states, adding that “A light jog can also help ease muscle tensions.”


Keep Them Hydrated

Make sure that your kids understand the importance of proper hydration, and no, that doesn’t mean drinking four 20-ounce bottles of Diet Coke. “To prevent dehydration, drink water before, during and after play,” YSSA notes. “Children and teens will more likely drink flavored beverages, rather than plain water, so keep some sport drinks in your cooler.”

The usual recommendation is eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, but it can vary by body type. The main thing is to ensure your child’s primary liquid for each day is water.


No Overtraining!

Working harder than the other kids is usually how successful athletes are formed. However, kids who push themselves to excel by over-exercising can injure themselves, YSSA says. “If you notice sudden changes in their behavior, such as irritability, fatigue and lack of enthusiasm, they may indicate burnout. If the activity is too demanding for your athlete, consider a less intense activity.”

The only thing overtraining proves is that you’re not ready to train responsibly as an athlete. Don’t do it, and if you’re an adult with any influence over the child, discourage it.


Rest, Rest, And Rest Some More!

Resting is how the body rebuilds itself after an intense workout. It’s where most of the mental and physical growth occurs, especially for those in the throes of a growth spurt as your children will be at this point in their lives. “Help them with their daily schedule to allow them to get plenty of sleep,” the YSSA writes. “Sleep deprivation hampers performance on the field and could contribute to sports injuries.”


In Summary

While “safety first” may not be considered a cool motto to live by for teens, it’s one that will take them further in life. Make sure your kids are grounded enough to know that competitive sports are usually fleeting and don’t often continue past college life. There is an expiration date, in other words, and they want to make sure they still enjoy a good quality of life after that date has past.

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