This is a guest post by Brittany Cotton with tips for keeping young athletes safe and concussion-free.
With summer in full swing, your young child or adolescent may be involved in organized sports through their school or other community organizations. While youth sports is a great way for kids to get involved, get plenty of exercise, and boost their self-esteem, many sports are potentially dangerous, leading to serious injuries like concussions.
Whether your child is playing summer sports or plans on signing up for sports in the fall, there are ways that you can try to prevent your child from being seriously injured without taking away their opportunity to get involved in sports.
Who’s in Charge of Keeping Your Young Athlete Safe on the Field?
When your child signs up for a sport, you sign permission slips, take your child to a doctor’s appointment to ensure they are physically able to handle the sport, and you show up to matches to cheer your child on but who’s in charge of keeping your child safe?
Coaches and coach assistants are responsible for keeping your child safe on the field (whether you’re watching from the stands or not). Even if the coach is attentive to all types of “wipe outs” on the field, there’s no guarantee that they will take every fall, trip, or collision with another player seriously.
While the culture and attitudes surrounding sports (and injuries) has changed, some coaches have a “walk it off” mentality or young athletes are afraid to speak up if they get hurt, especially if they think they will be mocked by their peers.
Whether your child is playing a summer sport or is planning to join a team during the school year coaches and organizations are responsible for your child’s safety, but so are you.
What You Can Do To Keep Your Young Athlete Safer
Bruises, scrapes, and even minor sprains are common injuries in youth sports and are often considered to be just “part of the sport.” Serious injuries like concussions, fractures, or other brain and head injuries are not part of the “norm” and should be taken seriously.
When your child signs up for sports, make sure that you understand how the coaches treat all types of injuries. It’s also important to inspect all equipment and protective gear. Regardless if your child plays soccer, baseball, or football, protective gear (like helmets and pads) should be in good condition and fit well.
If you notice pieces missing, thin padding, or cracks in the gear, don’t let your child wear it and request new equipment before you let your child participate.
Other Safety Tips for Young Athletes
Aside from safety gear and having a good relationship with the coaches, you should remind your child that it’s okay to speak up if they are hurt and that they don’t need to push their physical limitations, especially if they are worried about getting hurt.
To ensure your child’s health, safety, and reduce the risk of injury, encourage your child to get plenty of sleep, stay adequately hydrated, eat healthily, and stretch out or stay active during downtime.